Creative Rural Minds aims to foster collaborations
About 100 people attended the Creative Rural Minds gathering at the Mill PEC restaurant in Consecon last Thursday evening. It was an opportunity for the County’s artists, entrepreneurs and business owners to meet and exchange ideas and perhaps forge new partnerships over a glass of wine and snacks from Chef Sebastien Schwab’s kitchen. The event was organized by Krista Dalby and Lenny Epstein, and is part of an ongoing series. “Creative Rural Minds is a quarterly networking event for the creative community,” says Dalby. “We mean creative in the larger sense. Obviously people in creative fields like artists, but also small business owners and people that are new to the County. It’s a really good opportunity to meet other people face to face.”
People attending the event were encouraged to bring three things: a non-perishable donation for the foodbank, their business card, and to offer an item or service—written on a card—on the “giving wall”. If they offered something, they were free to take someone else’s item on offer. The offerings were many and varied. A pound of freshly roasted coffee beans from Cherry Bomb coffee was promptly snapped up, as was the offer of a banana cream pie from baker Patti Hetherington. Other items on offer included a free movie download, a year’s membership on the Arts Council, ballroom dancing lessons, a radio advertising spot, vegetarian cooking lesson or help with technical writing. It is a somewhat whimsical way of making connections and also advertising the talents that people have. The giving wall was certainly the focus of attention throughout the evening.
The Creative Rural Minds events started about three years ago, following the cancellation of the similarly themed Creative Minds, then run by the County’s Economic Development Department. Epstein and Dalby recognized the importance of having such networking events, and with the help of the Prince Edward County Arts Council and the County’s Community Development Department they resurrected it in its new form. “I think it’s easy in a rural environment to feel a bit isolated, “ says Dalby. “This is really designed to create new collaborations and it just generally strengthens our social fabric. It’s especially valuable to people who are newer to the County to give them a bit of an introduction to who’s here, but we have some people that come to every one.”
There was a good mix of new and old at the event, and the volume of conversation indicated that plenty of connections were indeed being made. One of the newcomers to the event was Karen Palmer. A recent arrival to the County, she is looking to parlay a passion for quilting into a viable income source with her venture, Bentpath Quilts. She is a writer and journalist and chose to move to the County for the lifestyle it offers. “I love how creative this place is,” she says. “I can get inspired here, and people are supportive. I can’t wait to be part of it.” Then she adds with a laugh, “There’s all that wine, too.”