Uncertain, uncomfortable, unlocked: what does the ‘new normal’ for community economic development look like?
A confluence of crises has marked 2020 as a year unlike any time we’ve experienced in several generations. The COVID-19 pandemic, a widespread reckoning with systemic racism, and a global climate emergency are overlapping, making it clear that ‘normal’ was not working.
They have forced our collective hand, asking us to radically reconsider how we work together as we consider what we will do now and next. How do we build back better (instead of just doubling down on the status quo)? What is the role of community economic developers in navigating uncertain and uncomfortable futures? How do we unlock the potential of our communities to support interesting, inclusive, vibrant futures for everyone? This session will share emerging examples and insights about recovery and resilience and encourage community economic developers to reflect on their roles and responsibilities as leaders during challenging times.
About the Speaker
Ashleigh Weeden is an award-winning rural innovator who splits her time between Ontario’s Bruce and Wellington Counties. A long-time advocate for community engagement, open government, and meaningful applied technological innovation, Ashleigh’s work leading Grey County’s Connected County Initiative directly contributed to the County receiving recognition as one of the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2017 by the Intelligent Community Forum and the top achiever in its population category in the 2018 ‘By the Numbers’ report from the ICF.
Ashleigh is currently completing her PhD in Rural Studies at the University of Guelph. Her research interests include rural innovation, community capacity building, and future-oriented public policy. Her work is fundamentally concerned with the way people, place, and power dynamics play out in rural communities. From broadband infrastructure to economic development, public sector renewal to people-based leadership, Ashleigh’s advocacy for thoughtful, evidence-informed approaches to building resiliency while facing multiple uncertain futures can be read in publications like The Conversation, IRPP Policy Options, the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, The Torontoist, Canadian Government Executive, and Municipal World. She has also provided expert commentary on issues in contemporary rural development to outlets like Buzzfeed News, the CBC, the Philanthropist, the Ryerson Review of Journalism, and many other media outlets across print, radio, television, and podcasting. You can learn more about Ashleigh’s doctoral research and her work as a part of the research team under the Libro Professor in Regional Economic Development at www.ruraldev.ca