Archived Newsletters

Letter to IRN Members and Adherents 13.12.02

Greetings from sunny North Queensland! (very sunny, very hot, and very dry)

As we approach the Festive Season I trust you and yours are well, happy and looking forward to a pleasurable break doing some of the fun things that add to life’s satisfaction and fulfilment.

The two big matters for IRN this year were the preparations for the conference next year and the development of the constitution and incorporation of IRN in Canada. Another real achievement was the creation of the IRN web page.


Those of us who have been involved in planning conferences have a good idea of the work and frustration involved. The warm glow of satisfaction and the recognition of achievement seem to be post-conference experiences. Until then life is full of uncertainty, lots of work, diminishing options, tricky negotiations, insufficient money, other [paid] work getting in the way, and perverse systems and machinery. There are, however, occasions when it is all worthwhile, like: meeting someone who is really excited at finding a conference which will bring them into contact with others of similar interests and passions; of hearing that the conference has been “recommended” by someone you respect; and once in a while colleagues saying “thanks and well done…so far”!

Our thanks and continued support go to Rhys and his Arkleton Centre colleagues; the Local Organising Committee; the International Advisory Committee and particularly to John Bryden…with whom the buck stops.

I believe the conference has been widely and effectively publicised in the developed world but am not so sure of the developing world. This may be something we can assess and address more effectively following the conference next year. [This comment prompted by my recent visit to China where I mixed with “rural” scholars and bureaucrats from China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia, none of whom had heard of the conference. They have promised to spread the word, a couple may even attend.]

According to reports from Rhys prospective attendance looks to be strong. Certainly, John’s report on the workshops and presenters does much to encourage and reassure us that the business of IRN resonates with scholars, practitioners policy makers and administrators. How to really reach, capture and involve “real” rural people is a trick we must try to learn quickly. Both Jim and I can recount stories of frustration and disappointment in this domain.

For your convenience the following is the conference website :

Web Page

Thank you to Andrea Wyman who managed to design and construct a site of which we can be proud. It would be interesting to know just how many times the site has been hit. This is already our main window to the world; let’s hope lots of folk look in and come to join us.

As the site develops I believe the material and linkages we will include will guarantee this to be one of the important “rural” sites on the Internet.

Constitution and Incorporation

While several of us have had fingers in the pie there is no doubt that the performer here is Tom Gougeon. Tom, we are very grateful to you for the time and effort you [and your wife] have given to the preparation of the By Laws and the other requirements of incorporation. Having once carried out such a task I can assure all that there is much more to do than one assumes at the outset.

Tom’s good grace, sensitivity, humour and patience were all put to the test, particularly when we experienced the worldwide circumnavigation of “the envelope”.

Special mention is made of the generous pro bono legal work done by Shane Saunders of Parlee McLaws LLP [Barristers and Solicitors], Calgary, in stitching together By Laws from various sources to meet the needs and whims of bush lawyers from around the world. But for Tom and Shane, IRN would be facing legal costs we could not cover.

IRN Meeting

I expect the formal life of IRN commences with incorporation. However, there are a few matters we should attend to in the meantime. Nikki and I have noted the following: Newsletter; role in Inverness conference [including a meeting of IRN]; decision on following conference in the USA; preparation for election of office bearers; membership campaign; preparation of an IRN brochure [hard copy and electronic]; discussion/review of website; publicity; others?

We have the choice of a teleconference or an email meeting, perhaps via a chat room or similar. Your advice would be appreciated, including a suggested date/week.


Of the matters listed I think the Newsletter has the potential to bring us together and keep us up-to-date with developments. So, the issue is WHO will volunteer to be editor of an electronic Newsletter? I expect we can rely on regular contributors eg Conference Chair, President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Director [?]; Web site manager, region/country reports; forthcoming conferences; web addresses; and so on.

A Note from the SecretaryAs mentioned by David, most of our correspondence this past year has been internal concerning the incorporation of the IRN. I have also sent out many invitations to people to become members. Some of these invitations have been generated from people who have heard about us from a friend of the organization. Word of mouth is our only current recruitment drive. At the moment I conduct most correspondence by email and direct people to the web site for further information about the IRN. It may be useful in the near future to have a concise form of information which, not only can be downloaded from the website but that members can use as a brochure to further our cause. Does anyone have the artistic flair to design this for me? If so send me an email and I will try to coordinate with Andrea Wyman to have something put on the web


When thinking about David's suggestion of how we can generate a newsletter without overloading a volunteer editor, it may be able to be split into two tasks, - a regular e-forum that doesn't express views but rather circulates information on conferences, important legislative changes, government papers etc (these need only be references to web addresses where the items can be found); the more major newsletter in need of editorial control could then be a less frequent publication. You may have some other / better ideas along these lines. Please send all ideas and names of volunteers and we will promise to try not to overload any one person but to spread the tasks about if possible.

About Money and Membership

Tom Gougeon, our Treasurer reports that the International Rural Network Inc. now has a trust account through the University of Calgary in Canada.

To date four people have paid subscriptions as Foundation Members. [Decoded, this means that Tom has done a lot of work for IRN and we can carry out (legal) financial transactions…again, thank you Tom]

The university can only accept fees in UK Sterling, US Dollars and Canadian Dollars, other currencies attract extra fees which IRN has to pay.

In brief: We do not have much money.

We do not have many members.

We are pretty bold to bill ourselves as an “international” organization!

[But, big things from little ones grow.]

You might like to consider either or both individual and institutional membership. Please send on to those you think might be interested in joining.

I look forward to 2003 … to seeing again long-time friends and colleagues, making new ones and being revitalised by the reports of scholarly endeavour and professional practice from around the rural world.

My best wishes to you for the Festive Season!

David McSwan



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