Commentary

Putting Down Roots In a Transient World

Image: Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we encourage people to put down roots in a specific geography even as societies are becoming more open.

One way is to encourage a kind of Trumpian nativism where people long for a golden age in the past when things were so much better and harmonious. The outcome of that is to encourage stronger borders, internalizing trade and investment and limited the flow of people.

I’m not sure going backwards is the way to go.

I would prefer to come up with a new regime where people are deeply connected to the place they live even as they are firmly positioned in a global economy and populace.

When I first moved to Moncton 20 years ago I checked out Resurgo Volumes I & II from the library and read them cover to cover. Resurgo was written as a summary of the region’s history going back 200 years. It’s not an easy read because it was written basically as a summary of what went on each year pulled from newspapers and other sources.

But it was fascinating. If you can handle the clunkiness you read all the colour and all about the interesting people in this area (including Oscar Wilde’s visit) going back two centuries.

There are stories about the fist-fight between a mayor and a newspaper editor, about the use of Albert County natural gas as an energy source in Moncton, about a politician out surveying in his rubber boots in the muddy Petitcodiac right before an election to make it seem like if he was elected we would get a new bridge. The first ‘bilingual’ men’s clothing store 50 years before Len Jones.

I’d like to find a way to get all high schoolers in the Moncton region to read Resurgo or maybe read chunks of it and report back on the highlights to their classmates. I don’t know. All I know is that my kids know more about the founding of the United States than their own province or city.

Whether it is our young people or new immigrants, we need to be more intentional about this issue of putting down roots.

David Campbell writes a blog about economic development in Atlantic Canada called It’s The Economy, Stupid. This post was republished with permission. Campbell also operates Jupia Consultants, a consulting company that conducts demographic and economic analysis.

Huddle publishes commentaries from groups and individuals on important business issues facing the Maritimes. These commentaries do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Huddle.