November 15, 2004

Proto-Inkslinger #6: New Spirit Required

Telegram Community Editorial Board
Written from Carbonear, NL
Appeared in the St. John's Telegram on November 15, 2004

Rural towns lack local entrepreneurs

I wanted a change of scenery several days ago, so I went to Tim Horton’s in Carbonear, ordered my usual large double-double, found a quiet corner and sat down. I began to think. Why is there seemingly never anything to do?

I’ve grown up in Carbonear, and graduated from College of the North Atlantic’s journalism program. During the still on-going job hunt, I’ve been striving to find something to do. When you’re in your early twenties and you’re still living under your parents’ roof and by their rules, this can be a tough endeavor sometimes.

Nowadays, I have several hobbies to keep me occupied in my abundance of spare time. I work on my novel, I indulge in some photography, I drink coffee, I spend quality time with my cat, I read, I hone my culinary skills, I watch television and movies . . . and I spend an unhealthy amount of time on the Internet.

There isn’t much to keep a teen or a twenty-something person like me entertained around here. In my final year of high school five years ago (1999), my friends and I in Carbonear resorted to hanging out at the mall and the local fast food restaurants until we were inevitably kicked out. After much debate we then headed off to a playground for the remainder of the evening (yes, we were 18 at this time). Sometimes as an alternative we went to the Carbonear boardwalk and walked laps or sat on the hoods of our vehicles looking at the pond. Then, we all drifted our separate ways for home.

I have noticed that there is a stark contrast between the youth of my day and the youth of my parents’ day. Things were much more, for lack of a better word, tangible back then. There were no distractions like computers, the Internet or television. They engaged in face-to-face interactions, not staring at a beeping MSN or Yahoo Messenger with eyes glazing over like my generation is apt to do. They learned how to live life in the real world, which armed them with the ability to be resourceful to find things to do in the great outdoors. My father’s resourcefulness continues to amaze me.

For many people email and instant messaging is their primary medium of communication.

Technology and corporations have taken over. I’ll admit however, the Internet is a great means for keeping touch with people. As an example, last winter my journalism class all set up LiveJournals and we continue to use those in order keep connected at a glance.

In previous generations, people ran their own businesses to contribute to their local economy. From my position at Tim’s, Carbonear looked like a bustling city. Streams of cars filled with eager shoppers are constantly entering and leaving the town. But how much of the money is actually going into our local economy? Most if it is feeding the big corporations and franchises that surrounds me. Carbonear’s Water Street was once a vibrant marketplace. Now, it is virtually dead, because of the corporations and franchises that have set up shop on the other side of town.

The corporate machine is swallowing the human spirit of little towns and their citizens. We need some new entrepreneurial spirit to get things going.