The debate of urban vs rural is enduring as the conflict of good and evil itself. For as long as mankind has been gathering in large numbers and forming communities I’m sure there have been debates between the benefit and detriment of larger groups vs smaller ones. To ask me where I stand on this particular discussion is an inquiry I lack the time to answer in full, but for the sake of this piece of writing I fully intend to come to the aid of the flailing rural argument.
This particular issue rose in the wake of our provincial governments budget that came down a number of weeks ago, which was the end to a number of arts programs offered at College of the North Atlantic in the rural community of Stephenville, Newfoundland.
I am journalism graduate of this campus and a native to the community so I am already anticipating the ignorant boasts of bias and accusations of anything other than an objective perspective on the upcoming conversation.
In the aftermath of the program cancellations (which itself is a beast of a topic on which I could write pages) rose a Facebook group I planned to fully support. The aptly named “SAVE THE VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM” is a group intended to show support for the program and hopefully find a way to preserve it. Personally I’m a huge supporter of the program and just from the feedback of friends that have come out of it in the past I felt strongly that it is something worth trying to rescue…. until I actually read some of the “ideas.”
There were lots of long winded, rambling comments made from both sides of the argument but essentially it all began to boil down to “this program should never have been in Stephenville, if it was in St. John’s it would have had a better chance.” From that very narrow minded stance it degraded into a Urban vs Rural discussion with the arts program falling to the wayside and becoming merely the scapegoat to perpetuate a Stephenville (rural) vs St. John’s (urban) debate.
If I am being completely honest I must admit that I was offended by the comments being thrown around by the “townies” and the like-minded individuals that believe that big, large, urban center is the only way this program could’ve succeeded. However, I can say that while for the most part the arguments made were sound I don’t think there is a very clear job explaining one key point in their defense.
The Urban-ists continually kept saying essentially that “we don’t want EVERYTHING to move to St. John’s, just the VA program would do better there.” I did not see any real good examples of someone trying to explain that just about every “fact” or “point” made in favor of moving the program can be made for EVERYTHING… and at some point I’m sure it HAS been used for EVERYTHING.
I’m not a backward hick, I’m not blinded by some irrational love of my hometown that I need to try and swoop to its defense. If I’m being completely honest here I really don’t harbor a whole lot of love for my hometown. I look at Stephenville as a trial if nothing else. It was a trial of my life I needed to persevere in order to get where I need to be which is ironically St. John’s (at least for now)
Here is my problem. The belief that St. John’s would be a better place for VA because of the various resources available and the larger population is the same case that has been made over and over to vie for everything to be put in the capital. It falls short when You really look at the skills required to be a success. I’ll get more into that in the next post.
The part that really got to me on a personal level was the arrogance. The flat out complete disrespect given to a community from people that I have seen first hand enjoying their time there. It isn’t that “I think the program should be moved to St. John’s here are my objective reasons”… more often than not it is more along the lines of “Oh My god, I don’t understand why the programs where even put out that far, it makes no sense. It’s stupid to not have them in St. John’s.”
Well sorry, but no. It isn’t that black and white. I really wanted to not get involved. I was perfectly fine letting the narrow minded say what they want. I always knew the difference so I didn’t really care, that is until someone linked me to CBC
To quote a friend of mine. “It’s nothing new just some more townie anti-rural attitude, and if was even posted as an opinionated piece then it would be best kind. But CBC actually posted this on their website as news??? That’s the actual piss off”
He’s right, and that has become my spark.
Next Post, my actual response.