I believe that using what you have can transform the future…and that talking about it can make others believe it too. I know you need teams to execute plans, but every project begins with an idea, and de facto, every project needs a promoter to tell its story. First, of course, you need an idea that everybody can understand and act upon. Then you need someone to sell it. I am going to try and sell you my transformative idea.
It is to brand Annapolis Royal and area as a world-renowned Design Destination – a centre of excellence for the design arts. I believe we should use what we already have – our existing heritage, beauty and creative community – as a springboard for sophisticated and sustainable rural development. We can make it happen, because we have everything we need to make it happen.
Annapolis Royal is Canada’s oldest settlement, founded more than four centuries ago. It’s already a remarkable place, home to fewer than 500 people, and it’s where I run my tiny business, Mrs. Nicholson Inc. It’s also my husband’s home town, so I have a vested interest in its continued survival.
It’s true we’re not doing so well from an economic point of view. No need to enumerate the reasons why…we all know them. We also know governments can’t support us now. So our futures must be determined by our own ability to use the things we have around us. We have to learn to see those things as assets and then transform them into reasons why people from other parts of the world will want to visit us, buy from us or hire us to help them realize their own dreams.
In other words, we have to engage in transformational change. We have to learn to use what we have. So what do we have in Annapolis Royal? We are blessed with charm, character, heritage, award-winning attractions and extraordinary people. We have enough devoted and experienced artists, designers and craftspeople with established reputations and impeccable credentials to support our claim as a world-class centre of excellence for the design arts.
I believe that branding ourselves as a Design Destination is an economic development opportunity that would increase the value of the arts/craft/design community to the area economy. I believe that if we all worked together to attract our target audiences, we could:
- enhance the business and marketing capacity of our creative community members
- increase our local market range
- build our export markets, and
- attract new artists, craftspeople, designers and commercial applications to our area.
And who would be our target audiences? Well, interior designers and decorators and folks who just love houses and people who love to shop and set designers and gardeners and preservation architects and heritage contractors and you get the picture. Anybody living within a thousand miles…and everybody else in the world via Facebook, Twitter and all the other new media we didn’t have seven years ago when I first thought of this.
I believe we can create such a captivating reality in Annapolis Royal and its surrounding area that people will not be able to resist coming to see what that “design destination” buzz is all about. Why? Because the world is fraught. People are emotionally weary, with even less time to spend on themselves and the refreshment of their bodies and souls. I believe Annapolis Royal and area is almost uniquely positioned to provide hope and relief to the people who will be drawn to participate in what we have to offer.
Through our heritage, they’ll see continuity with the past. Through our geography, they’ll see unspoiled rural beauty. Through our wealth of restored and re-purposed buildings, they’ll see an example of the successful recycling of old and unwanted structures.
Through our artists and craftspeople and shop owners and volunteers, they’ll see an intelligent, vibrant economy and relevant cultural institutions. Through our citizens, they’ll see a real community. Who wouldn’t want to come and visit us, shop with us, learn new skills with us, raise their children among us?
And when they come, we will reap the economic benefit. Annapolis Royal, the birthplace of our country, will be standing on its own two feet….firmly planted in today’s global economy. That’s the goal of the Design Destination idea… to use what we already have to support ourselves. I believe it’s an idea whose time has come. We should get to it.