I had the amazing opportunity recently to attend the 2017 ESRI User Conference in San Diego, California. The ESRI ‘UC’ as it’s known is an annual event that showcases what’s new and hot in the ESRI GIS world, and provides a chance for over 16,000 GIS and map nerds to get together, learn from each other, and generally celebrate everything geospatial.
I also had the chance to take part in many of the UC events, including the vendor expo, map gallery, Canada night social and other events. One thing I couldn’t help noticing was the shout-out to Roger Tomlinson, the ‘father of GIS’, on this display of the ESRI press 20th anniversary. I had the pleasure a number of years ago to meet Dr. Tomlinson at a reception after his awarding of an honorary degree at McGill, and the naming of Dr. Renee Sieber’s research lab in his honour.
Lastly, no trip to California would be complete without some delicious fish tacos beside the water. Here was one particularly notable dinner at the Carnitas Snack Shack on the San Diego harbourfront. Great tacos and great Alpine Duet IPA. And yes, that 99/100 rating on Ratebeer.com is well-earned!
The social economy has long been an interest of mine. As a former employee of MEC, one of Canada’s largest and most successful consumer cooperatives, I’ve experienced first-hand the advantages (and challenges) of the ‘third sector’ (not-for-profit, co-op, volunteer organizations, etc.).
Last year, I decided to turn my interest in the social economy into a presentation at the 2009 Canadian Association of Geographers Annual Meeting at Carleton University. I had always been struck by the possibility of social economy enterprises (check here for a great list from the Canadian Social Economy Hub) within rural or remote areas where capital may be scarce. I began to do some research on existing tourism-related social economy enterprises and while there are a few prominent ones, I was surprised at how few references I found. My presentation for the CAG conference described many of the Canadian examples that I could find and theorized that there are two main roles that social economy enterprises can play in rural tourism development:
1) Supportive, such as financing, tourism association, advertising co-op. There are many of examples of co-operative tourism associations across Canada, but one standout example is the Viking Trail Tourism Association in Newfoundland and Labrador.
2) Direct product delivery, such as operating an attraction). There are not as many examples of this category, but another excellent one is North Caribou Farm Tours (FARMED) in BC.
I was then invited by Dr. Rhonda Koster, from Lakehead University to develop this presentation into a paper for publication in the Journal of Rural and Community Development (JRCD). It is a modest paper, more of a literature review and outline for further studies, but nevertheless, I hope that it can start to bring the rural tourism and social economy literatures closer together. JRCD is an open access journal, so you can download the paper here.