NRE25 Update

On November 9th, 2022, we organized a Zoom meeting of NRE researchers and fans to explore various ways to celebrate the 25th year of the NRE and reconnect with the many friends we found through the project. We were thrilled to find that more than a dozen people were able to make the meeting. Several others were interested, but unable to attend. This page will help you catch up.

For those who are new to the NRE: It has been about 25 years since the New Rural Economy Project (NRE) was initiated. During the 11 years of the project, we produced numerous books, academic and professional publications, databases, innovative methodological approaches, and stimulated several additional projects. We are also proud of the ways in which we engaged people from rural and remote communities in the process. We systematically chose 32 communities from all parts of Canada and invited them to work with us over the 11 years as part of a "Rural Observatory". We always met in rural places for our workshops and conferences and supported community members from the field sites to meet with us, guide our research work, and exchange insights and perspectives with other sites.

In 1998, our work caught the attention of colleagues from Ibaraki University in Japan who wished to adopt our approaches to Japanese communities. They chose two field sites in Japan (Awano-machi and Iitate-mura). This collaboration led to several exchanges of researchers, field site community members, and a ground-breaking book in comparative analysis (Revitalization: Fate and Choice).

In order to update and expand this network, we have provided some links below where NRE Fans can view a video of the meeting, read some of the written updates we received, and hopefully be inspired to contribute stories, materials, or suggestions for the use of NRE legacy materials. We are particularly interested in supporting a new generation of researchers, community practitioners, or policy-makers to make use of the insights, data, and network created by the NRE project.

NRE25 Zoom Agenda (Nov 9th, 2022: 1:00 PM EST)
1.	What have you been up to since the NRE days?
2.	How should we celebrate the NRE and its legacy? Some suggested options have been the following
a.	A Zoom Birthday Party where we all sing Happy Birthday and then blow out a candle on our personal chocolate cupcake followed by sipping a coffee (or other beverage) while telling each one’s nomination for the Best NRE Tall Story
b.	A plethora of academic papers that would be presented at a dedicated ‘NRE at 25’ event (maybe in conjunction with a future CRRF conference) and then subsequently published in a special issue of an academic journal (or maybe a chapter in a book). These papers might be based on the analysis of existing NRE data, updates to the data, field site developments, or new projects.
c.	An update on the NRE website ( with entries/stories of the NRE legacy regarding researchers, communities, policies, etc. For example, the Japanese field site (Iitate) was evacuated as a result of the Fukushima nuclear powerplant disaster in 2011. Our CJ Partner has kept us informed regarding the consequences for the people ( 
d.	Establishment of an invitation networking website for NRE update news and suggestions.
e.	…something else
3.	Who would like to help do it?
4.	When should we meet again?

The Zoom meeting was about 80 minutes. During the first 40 minutes we had a lively chat about our NRE and post-NRE experiences. It was inspiring to hear the many accomplishments and contributions of our colleagues–even in the face of a number of challenges. During the next 40 minutes, the discussion moved to how to celebrate the NRE at 25. The brief “minutes” of this part of the meeting are the following.

  • In some cities (e.g., Vancouver, Montréal), there are many NRE alumni. They expressed excitement about mini-convergences for in-person get-togethers.
  • Where have all the students gone? Many on the call on Nov 9th were NRE students but there was interest in the career / life trajectories of other students and participants.
  • Update / re-analyze the data / information for communities in the “Rural Observatory.”
  • Unanimously,  we should have, at some point, a giant Zoom birthday cake celebration where everyone can raise a glass of good cheer and devour their favourite birthday cake
  • There is interest in initiating / promoting various academic avenues that might / could / should:
  • Bring forth the learnings of the NRE and discuss the applicability / relevance to the current situation in rural Canada
  • Update and analyze / re-analyze the trajectories of the NRE study sites (the “Rural Observatory”)
    • Perhaps apply the NRE sampling frame to all communities in Canada and look at census data over time to uncover the role of each category in the sampling frame (e.g. metro-adjacency vs non-adjacent to metro; degree of exposure to global markets; degree of local capacity, etc.) in explaining the pattern of rural development over time.
  •  plus other avenues / options to extend NRE learnings
  •  This might be a session at a future CRRF (Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation) conference or a stand-alone workshop or a stand-alone conference or a special issue of a rural journal or a book or numerous Master’s theses or all of the above.
  • Subsequent to the meeting, Dianne Looker sent the following comment. “I have been mulling ways we could move forward.  One thought was to apply for a Connection grant from SSHRC.  See” See her elaboration of this suggestion in the Zoom meeting link below.

Anna Woodrow has agreed to call the next meeting in mid-December in order to guide the forward movement on some / many / all of these ideas

If you wish to see the personal updates that we received, or view the Zoom meeting, you can click on the link below. It is password protected so contact Ray, Bill, or Anna for the password.

NRE25 Zoom Meeting 2022-11-09

Thanks again to all who joined us on Nov 9th. Anyone who is interested in passing on stories, exploring future options related to the NRE, and/or celebrating with us in future meeting, contact Ray, Bill, and/or Anna–or leave a comment on this site.

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