Richard Bridge – Becoming Visible in 2011 – Old Rural Wisdom

Richard Bridge is a respondent to my question: What would you like to become more visible in 2011?

Richard is one of a handful of experts in charity, non-profit law in Canada. (  He has applied his multiple talents to a range of initiatives to improve civil society.  Only some of which involve the law.  In 2010 he authored a report on the emerging hybrid governance structures which blend social mission with moderated financial return.  Here is Richard's response to Becoming Visible:

Old Rural Wisdom

The invitation from Al Etmanski to write about a passion I am pursuing was irresistible, and the choice of topic obvious. It is a passion that led me to move to an old farm in the Annapolis Valley in rural Nova Scotia and that has had profound impact on my life and on my family. It is a passion that has led some family and friends to conclude that I have lost my sanity.

The passion is a search for old rural wisdom. Skills like making cheese and maple syrup, caring for hens, cows and bees, grafting apple trees, growing a diverse organic garden, saving seeds, making flour from your own grains, managing a forest for heat energy and building material, carpentry, preserving root crops over the winter, to list just a few. I have always admired folks with these skills and want my three boys to at least have some exposure to them.  So far, my 19 year old son has immersed himself completely in this environment, and teaches me and others what he has learned. See his farm blog at

This is knowledge that most people had and applied just three or four generations ago. But it has been lost on a staggering scale and at a disturbing pace. I believe this is the biggest case of collective amnesia in human history. I also believe this loss creates serious vulnerability.  

Pursuing this old rural wisdom provides new insights to several inter-related and fascinating subjects, including bio-diversity, food security, global trade, intellectual property law (Monsanto v. Schmeiser), demographics, rural community economic development and all of the sciences.

I hope in a decade to reach a basic level of competence with the key skills, and I can see more than a lifetime of learning on this path. Given the physical demands involved, I am hopeful that it will be a relatively long and healthy lifetime of learning. There is no need for a gym membership when there are old fashioned farm chores to do.    

NOTE:The PDF text for all 58 contributions will be released on January 1st.  You can also access the other contributions by clicking the Becoming Visible category on the right of your screen.

To access the post on hybrid financing and the reports Richard has authored click here.

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