Learning From Others

I was listening to CBC Radio the other day. Thor Sigfusson was speaking with Jane Adey about a project in the Reykjavik Harbour, Iceland, called Ocean Cluster House, a project Mr. Sigfusson is very proud of Thor. What a great name, reeks of strength and purpose, doesn’t it? Anyway, Mr. Sigfusson has created space for young entrepreneurs to gather and brainstorm in what Sigfusson calls an “innovation incubator” – where ideas are pitched, examined, dissected, and pursued. Iceland is a country with limited resources, the ocean being its major, if not only, resource. In order to keep the country vibrant, able to retain its youth and to thrive, Iceland must think outside the box in terms of enterprises that create jobs and sustain the economy. Thus, was the foundation of Sigfusson’s brainchild. And it got me thinking. . .
I look at my grandchildren and I wonder what the world will look like when they take their place as contributing adults, and what dreams they will pursue, and what will be available to them. We need more creators with the vision of Thor Sigfusson, those who create a launch pad for youth, those who extend a hand in support, and provide a voice to advocate for the upcoming generation and an overseer who ensures all are welcome and opportunities are provided for everyone, not in theory alone, but in practice.
About 2,000 visitors have traveled to Ocean Cluster House to gather information they can use in their own backyards, to help build their economy and ensure opportunities are available to young entrepreneurs, to contribute to the success of the next generation. Newfoundland’s Memorial University has its Genesis Centre which provides space for tech start-ups. In September 2017, government officials, educators, and those from the fisheries industry visited Ocean Cluster House to “take notes” on how the Icelandic program operates and to examine the results of businesses that developed from using every possible part of a fish – meat, skin, collagen, enzymes, oil and bones. Genesis expanded in 2015, creating a second site in the Town of Holyrood at the BeachHead Innovation Center, providing for collaboration with the Marine Institute’s Holryood Marine Base. Newfoundland is considered one of Canada’s have-not provinces, but many of its residents don’t accept the “it’s good enough” attitude. They are striving to create, in as many ways as possible, opportunities with fresh ideas and start-ups.
I suspect there are many examples around the world of those who see the future as Sigfusson does and have created their own version of Ocean Cluster House and its programs. I think of the many entrepreneurs in the Rainy River District, who have created and are creating ideas to sustain them in an ever-challenging economy. We all become part of the network to support local enterprise, which in turn helps build a thriving and vital community. Perhaps now more than ever, where this pandemic has changed how we view the world and travel, what we’ve learned about doing with less, how the planet has exhaled while things were shut down, and we will think more clearly on how we should do things, how we can protect what matters, how we can aim for greater self-sufficiency and how we can invest in youth, in our communities, to create a future that celebrates who we are and provides opportunities for those coming along the path behind us, for my grandchildren and yours.
wendistewart@live.ca


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