Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Communities Are Strengthened By Telling Their Own Stories

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 by Sara Jewell.

If we don’t tell our stories, who will?

That’s the question being asked by authors and publishers around Nova Scotia as they watch the province’s once-viable film industry collapse.
Worried that cuts to funding will send the publishing industry into the same tail spin, the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association has launched a new awareness campaign called “Books Start Here”. I attended the official launch in Halifax a couple of weeks ago not only because a Nova Scotia publisher is releasing my first book in October but also because the best way to learn about Nova Scotia’s culture and history is to read stories by the people who live here.
Seven authors, ranging from the well-known and internationally acclaimed to the newly published, spent their three minutes at the podium relating how a small publisher in Nova Scotia made all the difference to their writing career; for most, just like me, it was a Nova Scotia publisher who launched their career.
The sole publisher to speak was Andrew Steeves of Gaspereau Press. He told the crowd that “writing is an activity that simmers away in the background but if it disappears, there will be something missing”.
Janice Landry, who has published two books with Pottersfield Press, wrapped up the speeches with a call to action: “Write your MLA,” she said. So...

Dear Terry Farrell,
I am writing to express my support for the current funding for Nova Scotia’s publishing industry.
In October, my first book will be published with Nimbus. It is a collection of essays about living in rural Nova Scotia that both celebrates this way of life and laments what we are losing as our rural areas empty and close up. This is not the kind of book a publisher in Toronto is looking for which means regional publishers are essential. Who will share the story of a young boy growing up along the River Philip in the fifties and sixties? Who will share the story of the couple from Buffalo who chose to move to Wallace Bay for their retirement? Who will share the story of how a writer from Ontario dreamed of becoming a Nova Scotia country girl because she hung around a dairy farm in Pugwash when she was a teenager?
Culture is just as important as business. Books are just as important as vineyards. Reading is just as important as computing. Yet if the rug of support is pulled out from under the collective feet of our publishing industry, the industry will suffer and the culture we know and cherish as Nova Scotia will be threatened.

Who will tell our stories if we don’t?

It’s like our lighthouses, Mr. Farrell. Unique to coastal areas, lighthouses should be prime tourist attractions as icons of Maritime culture yet both the federal and provincial governments have failed to recognize this and maintain our lighthouses. Please don’t allow this to happen to our publishing industry. Nova Scotians deserve to tell their unique stories, Nova Scotians deserve to read their stories in print, and Nova Scotia culture deserves to be preserved in books.
Author and poet Sylvia Hamilton closed the “Books Start Here” campaign launch on February 4 with these words: “We needs books like we need fertile ground for growing our food.”
I hope the residents of Cumberland County, who include several published authors, can count on your full and tenacious support of the Nova Scotia publishing industry.
With thanks,
Sara Jewell

And dare I say, it’s up to us, the residents and voters of Nova Scotia, to buy these local books (and community newspapers) if we want to keep telling our stories.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sara. You expressed the thoughts of many Nova Scotia readers and authors - as always you stated the facts clearly and to the point. We cannot afford to lose funding for the publishing industry and we must all support "Books Start Here!"