British Columbia’s rural islands are social and cultural gems. They are home to diverse communities of changemakers, innovators, and creators. RIEP serves rural island communities—including Indigenous communities with traditional and reserve lands—on Bowen, the Broughton Archipelago, Cormorant, Cortes, Denman, Gabriola, Galiano, Gambier, Hornby, Lasqueti, Malcolm, Mayne, Pender, Quadra, Salt Spring, Saturna, Texada, and Thetis. Our Partnership includes individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments interested in fostering healthy and vibrant communities across the islands.
The Rural Island Economic Partnership (RIEP) recently hosted 5 monthly CONNECTION CAFÉ virtual events between November 2021 and May 2022, for rural islanders to attend and connect with each other, to share ideas and laughter, to learn something new, to share support, and to help build an enduring inter-islands community.
Nov 30/21 – Emergency Preparedness – Recap
From the Frontline: BC’s Rural Islanders Organize for Immediate Solutions To Climate Emergency
The Rural Islands Economic Partnerships (RIEP) Emergency Preparedness event on November 30th, highlighted the importance of inter-island reliance, and dependence on regional and national systems during crisis situations.
"Rural islanders understand one another... and the unique needs we face as a community,” said Gabriola islander Julie Sperber, a Board Director of RIEP. “No matter the crisis — whether it is a pandemic, fire, flood or other natural or man-made disaster — we need to learn how to plan for recovery by learning what has already worked at a local level, and what to consider on a national and global scale, and then find ways to adapt and implement the best emergency response for the benefit of our communities and businesses.”
During the event a panel of experts shared practical steps on how to mobilize rural communities to prepare for emergency response and recovery. . .
Jeff Ballingall, Quadra Island Emergency Program Coordinator, spoke about the importance of developing a volunteer-led initiative that engages the community at the grassroots level in order to prepare and plan for emergencies.
Jeremy Stone, Director and Founder of Recovery and Relief Services, shared the importance of strategic planning that takes into consideration economic recovery planning for rural communities.
Special guest: Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament (Green Party) for Saanich and the Gulf Islands said: “We must secure commitment and funding to empower rural communities to prepare and train in advance of the next crisis, and more importantly be ready for recovery.”
Break-Out Room Topics:
- Local emergency plan opportunities
Emergency Prep Resources
BC Emergency Support Service: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/local-emergency-programs/ess
Community Disaster Resilience Planning - The Justice Institute: https://cdrp.jibc.ca
Local Economic Recovery & Restart Toolkit - BCEDA: https://www.bceda.ca/local_economic_recovery_rest.php
See original event, INCLUDING VIDEO RECAP: https://ruralislandspartnership.ca/event/connection-cafe-networking-showcase/
Jan 25/22 – Rural Island Arts: Fostering Community Vitality – Recap
Across the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities of BC’s rural islands – from Cortes, Denman and Hornby, to Gabriola, Pender, and Salt Spring, to Bowen, Cormorant, Quadra, Malcolm, and beyond, these islands have long been home to unique, vibrant, and creative arts communities.
The artists and artisans of these communities are cultural leaders as well as contributors to the ongoing economic vitality of their individual islands. Most often reflected in inspirational and innovative programming for residents and visitors alike.
The January Roundtable included an exploration of the arts on BC's rural islands, featuring perspectives from arts leaders representing Gabriola, Hornby, Malcolm and Salt Spring Islands. They shared their experiences, successes, knowledge and concerns about the current and future vitality of the arts culture on BC's rural islands.
Gain an insider’s view of how the ‘arts work’ in the ‘new normal’. Including exploration for how to:
- Identify regional arts & cultural facilities with available ongoing advocacy and programming
- Understand what constitutes as an “arts-friendly” community and what resources are required
- Learn about current arts & tourism initiatives
- Recognize community champions of our local artistic and cultural heritage
- Value the impact of art and understanding the economic, community and individual benefits
- Future proof our islands arts communities in a post-covid world
- Directly engage with fellow artists, facilitators, service providers and community leaders
- Strengthen collaboration and rural arts network opportunities
- Yael Wand, Executive Director, Salt Spring Arts
- Mary-Louise Albert, Artistic Executive Director, BCMovement & Art Society - Malcolm Island
- Andrew Mark, Executive Director, Hornby Arts
- Carol Fergusson, Executive Director, Gabriola Arts
Break-Out Room Topics:
- Funding for the Arts
- Advocacy for Islands Arts
See original event, INCLUDING VIDEO RECAP: https://ruralislandspartnership.ca/event/connection-cafe-jan-25/
Feb 22/22 – Farmers & Local Food Resilience – Recap
February’s CONNECTION CAFÉ features a facilitated roundtable dialogue + Q & A with rural island farmers, food producers and food resilience champions from Cortes, Gabriola, Galiano, Malcolm, Salt Spring and more!
Enjoy shared perspectives about the ways the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities as well as opportunities related to:
- Building a robust local and islands wide food economy
- Biodiversity in the face of global warming and environmental conditions; fires, drought, floods, freezing, heat dome
- Addressing the supply gap and strengthening the value chain
- Best practices for distributing local produced-processed food
- Connecting local buyers to local producers
- Garden to Table trends and strategies
- Fundraising and marketing successes
- Filipe Figueria, Cortes Resilience Coordinator - Cortes Community Economic Development Association
- Graham Bradley, President - Gabriola, Gabriola Chamber of Commerce
- Ed Andrusiak, activist - Galiano
- Nick Jones, - Salt Spring, Salt Spring Agricultural Alliance
- Emma Davis, Coordinator, Galiano Food Program - Galiano
- Chris Hall, Loving Off The Land - Pender http://www.youtube.com/lovinofftheland
Break-Out Room Topics:
- Local Food Resilience & Security
- Farmers, Producers & Supportive Programs
- Investors & Fundraising Relationships
See original event, INCLUDING VIDEO RECAP: https://ruralislandspartnership.ca/event/connection-cafe-22-feb-2022/
Mar 29/22 – Sustainable Travel-Balancing Protection & Tourism – Recap
March’s CONNECTION CAFÉ included a facilitated Roundtable Dialogue + Q & A and topical break-out sessions with tourism activity providers, tourism organization reps, and sustainable travel enthusiasts who will share perspectives and experiences related to:
- Sustainable Travel – Rural Islands Destination Pledge
- Fostering Experiential Eco-Tourism & Edu-Tourism
- Promoting Carbon Neutral Travel & Carbon Off-Setting
- Reflections On Covid – Tourism Recovery ‘Pivots’ And Impacts
- Supporting Local Tourism Businesses
- Regenerative Tourism & Creating a Positive Impact on Destinations
- Kai Harvey, Cortes Kayak - Cortes
- Andreas Hagen (Dre), Discovery Islands Chamber Commerce Council - Quadra
- Jody Lorenz, Tourism Bowen Island Association
- Hannah Grant, Tourism Vancouver Island, Director of Digital Strategy
- Randy Cunningham, Chair, Southern Gulf Island Tourism Partnership
PLUS SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL SHOWCASE:
The Whale Trail 2022 https://thewhaletrail.org
Donna Sandstrom - Founder/Executive Director and Aaron Purdy - Oceanwise
Break-Out Room Topics:
- Eco / Edu Tourism Opportunities
- Climate Conscience Sustainable Travel
- Tourism Recovery - Generating Year Round Revenues
See original event, INCLUDING VIDEO RECAP: https://ruralislandspartnership.ca/event/connection-cafe-29-mar-2022/
May 31/22 – Stay Competitive: Biz Tools for Generating Year-Round Revenues – Recap
Check out the May Café recap (link below) to gain the knowledge and resources you need to market your business year-round!
This Connection Café featured business tools for year-round revenue. Interactive sessions dove deep into:
- Be Inspired! Small businesses that have used their creative currency to move through these challenging times.
- Think Local, Sell Global! Opportunities for growing your business beyond the shores of your island.
- We Love Local! Realize year-round benefits from online business directories and targeted campaigns.
- For New Businesses Looking to Launch: Creative ideas and directions for your marketing plans.
- Non-Profits Benefit: Resources available to refresh your communication plans.
- Fabrizio Alberico, Advisor, Export Navigator
- Pip Seymour, Co-Founder & Partner, Seymour Digital Media
- Emilie Kaplun, Catching Stars Gallery
Business Tools Showcase Feature:
- Rising Tide Business Services, the Digital Marketing Agency created by islanders, for islanders! Access the latest business tools and digital marketing solutions to fit your budget. Learn about the common small biz marketing pitfalls that waste precious time and money. - Sherese Johnson, Manager
Break-Out Room Topics:
- Casual Islander Connections
- Small Biz / Start-up Marketing Pain Points