Rural Spark

Rural Spark

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Welcome to Rural Spark – the podcast that explores and celebrates rural innovation! Join Helen Murphy, rural newspaper editor and entrepreneur, as she invites guests to share fresh thinking, success stories and lessons learned in rural innovation.


Introducing the four day work week
Jun 23 • 24 min
A sparsely populated rural municipality in Nova Scotia is garnering worldwide attention with its new four-day workweek. We have CAO Barry Carroll this week to tell us about the pilot project.
Small towns ask urbanites to stay home
Apr 20 • 34 min
With some urban centres in Canada becoming COVID-19 hotspots, rural communities are seeing some city dwellers retreat to small towns. Ashleigh Wheeden, a PhD student in Rural Studies at Guelph, joins us today to help break down why this is happening and…
Caremongering across Canada
Mar 24 • 25 min
Caremongering is a movement spreading across Canada in the face of COVID-19. Through social media, Caremongering works to promote kindness and share information and resources to help people cope. This week we check in with two Caremongering groups, in…
From Nairobi to Nova Scotia: a solution to staff shortages
Mar 19 • 23 min
Like many healthcare facilities across Canada, Glen Haven Manor experiences staff shortages. But in 2019, the Pictou County nursing home had an opportunity to find a solution at a refugee camp — and they seized it.
Leveraging your local college: the collaboration advantage
Mar 12 • 23 min
In B.C., a partnership between industry, community & the local college is changing manufacturing and innovation in area industries.
Planet, people and purpose in business: Going global from Cape Breton
Mar 1 • 36 min
Hear how the owner of a new ‘ethical’ business in Nova Scotia has quickly gained an international clientele.
Are rural people really happier? Some lessons for urbanites
Feb 7 • 41 min
Feel like escaping to the countryside? Rural life is seen by many as a happier alternative to long commutes and crowded cities, but what does the research tell us? We invited McGill professor Dr. Chris Barrington-Leigh to the podcast to share his…
From poverty-stricken to remote jobs leader: how connectivity transformed a rural Kentucky county
Jan 20 • 24 min
A small American town is beating the odds and creating new jobs in creative ways.
Makers, innovators, & entrepreneurs unite! The shared space solution?
Jan 13 • 24 min
Learn how a coworking space in Canada’s north has innovated beyond traditional public work spaces.
Grab a carbon neutral cold one
Dec 17, 2019 • 20 min
Find out how a rural brewery is about to become North America’s first carbon-neutral brewery.
Cradle to career: closing the rural education gap
Dec 8, 2019 • 27 min
This week we look into the gap in post-secondary education access and achievement for rural students. To help explain what’s being done to close that gap, we’re joined by Dreama Gentry of Berea College in eastern Kentucky and John White, former Deputy…
Success in rural medicine: The Marathon model
Nov 26, 2019 • 32 min
This is a model worth replicating. The small town of Marathon, Ont. has a surplus of doctors. And that’s benefiting not only locals, but also neighbouring communities that run short.New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor and…
Rural health problems and nurse practitioner solutions
Nov 18, 2019 • 26 min
Find out how nurse practitioners are improving access to primary care across Canada
Country roads, take me home, on my bicycle…
Nov 12, 2019 • 27 min
Cycling infrastructure isn’t just for cities. Learn more on this week’s episode.
Making the news: who will fill the gap in rural coverage?
Nov 4, 2019 • 42 min
Changes to news media are hitting rural Canada hard. From community papers closing or amalgamating to digital gaps limiting online solutions, access to stories about what’s going on in rural communities is becoming increasingly difficult. This week we…
Tiny home solutions vs big bylaw barriers
Oct 28, 2019 • 25 min
Tiny homes have the potential to help address numerous challenges in rural Canada. But first, their proponents have to take on local bylaws. Terrilee Kelford of Cornerstone Landing in Lanark Co., Ont. is on the front lines and shares her story with…
Is the Open Library a solution for rural Canada?
Oct 16, 2019 • 37 min
A pilot project in N.S. is showing how our libraries can be so much more.New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor and entrepreneur, invites guests to share fresh thinking, success stories and lessons learned. Be sure to…
Food tourism: an untapped buffet
Oct 8, 2019 • 23 min
It’s much more than food tours, and rural Canada has so many delicious experiences to offer. This week Jamie Reaume of Country Heritage Park tells us what we’re missing. New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor and entrepreneur,…
Renewal of the small town museum
Sep 30, 2019 • 21 min
One rural museum’s innovation to bring people closer to their roots and grow the local economy
Rural youth: the skills and entrepreneurship solution
Sep 13, 2019 • 20 min
An innovative program in Ontario is reversing negative trends in one of Canada’s highest youth unemployment areas.New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor and entrepreneur, invites guests to share fresh thinking, success stories…
Preserving an isolated culture: The forgotten Acadians
Aug 26, 2019 • 36 min
This week we look at three isolated Acadian communities and their fight to protect, preserve and celebrate their cultural heritage. In recent years, technology is helping. Have a listen!New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor…
Which resource-dependent small towns are most likely to survive and thrive?
Aug 15, 2019 • 29 min
The economic evolution of resource-dependent towns.
Doing business differently: The social economy solution
Aug 7, 2019 • 21 min
Today we’re talking about creating opportunities and breaking down barriers through the social economy. Michael Toye from CCEDNET tells us how finding new ways to do business can empower people and lift up communities.New to the pod? Every week Helen…
Small town survival guide: Clues to success
Jul 29, 2019 • 25 min
Find out about the clues to rural community survival.
Canada’s first net-zero municipality
Jul 22, 2019 • 32 min
How a rural municipality in Alberta, Canada meets their energy needs entirely through solar power.
Small town, big change: The Bonavista boom
Jul 15, 2019 • 38 min
How a small town in NFLD turned around its economy.
The immigrant connection: The PEI model for rural links
Jul 8, 2019 • 22 min
Learn how the Prince Edward Island Connectors Program gets immigrant entrepreneurs and investors out into its rural communities to meet local innovators. New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor and entrepreneur, invites guests…
How the Irish do it: Rural innovation on the Emerald Isle
Jun 27, 2019 • 24 min
This week we spoke with Dr. Felicity Kelliher to learn about how Ireland fosters rural innovation. Kelliher is a co-chair of the RIKON research group from the South East of Ireland that explores and nurtures growth for small businesses.New to the pod?…
Who’s watching the children?
Jun 20, 2019 • 26 min
Many rural communities lack quality childcare options, and it’s holding back families and communities. But whose job is it to solve the problem? This is something Sociology Professor Susan Prentice studies and this week she tells us why we should look…
How to save your rural school: The Petite story
Jun 13, 2019 • 28 min
How a rural community saved their elementary school from closing.
City mouse, country mouse: from downtown Toronto DJs to rural Cape Breton hosts
Jun 6, 2019 • 21 min
This week our guests are Stacey and Geoff, professional DJs who traded in the Big Smoke for the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia. New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor and entrepreneur, invites guests to share fresh…
The creative solution: Rural renewal through arts & culture
May 30, 2019 • 27 min
Peter Smith is the Project Director at the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity. On today’s episode, Peter shares the story of revitalization through the arts in Blythe, Ont., and plans to take it national. New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a…
New campus, new community: rural renaissance through post-secondary education
May 22, 2019 • 36 min
The impact of college campuses in rural communities.
Climate change, broadband & infrastructure: challenges facing municipal leaders
May 16, 2019 • 24 min
A look into the challenges facing municipal leaders in Canada
DIY Broadband: a solution for remote communities?
May 9, 2019 • 29 min
Learn how some remote communities are becoming their own internet service providers.
Can coworking help reverse outmigration?
May 1, 2019 • 32 min
Modern coworking spaces can help meet the needs of remote workers and entrepreneurs in rural communities. But how does it differ from urban coworking models? Can coworking help attract new rural residents? Andrew Button shares his insights with us. New…
Rural homelessness: The hidden plight
Apr 25, 2019 • 34 min
People experiencing hopelessness in rural communities will go to great lengths to hide it. That invisibility hinders awareness of the problem, and the action needed to find solutions. This week we talk to Terrilee Kelford of Cornerstone Landing in…
Minister on tour: Bernadette Jordan on creating a national rural strategy
Apr 17, 2019 • 20 min
The Minister of Rural Economic Development is on a tour of rural Canada to hear people’s concerns and ideas for a national rural strategy. She joins us in-studio this week to talk about what she’s learning - and what will come of it. New to the pod?…
Dispatching doctors: Is it time for a rural medical service in Canada?
Apr 11, 2019 • 23 min
Discussing bold new ideas to address the challenge around delivering rural healthcare services.
This isn’t your grandparents’ forest industry
Apr 4, 2019 • 17 min
Could forests help break our plastics habit? Yes, says Derek Nighbor, CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada. Innovation in forestry is happening in ways that may surprise you. New to the pod? Every week Helen Murphy, a rural newspaper editor…
Renewal in Rural Municipal Government
Mar 28, 2019 • 22 min
One Ontario mayors’ perspective on shaking up local leadership.
Building Age-friendly Communities
Mar 22, 2019 • 28 min
Exploring how a town in Newfoundland is building an age-friendly community.
Bridging the Digital Divide for Rural Canada.
Mar 15, 2019 • 23 min
Discussing the urgent need for broadband Internet in rural Canada, and what communities can do to help make it happen.
Sustainability and a Better Future for Rural Communities
Mar 5, 2019 • 33 min
Is it time for us all to think — and act — differently when it comes to rural Canada’s sustainability?
DIY Economic Development: One Woman’s ROI on Micro-loans
Feb 27, 2019 • 23 min
One woman’s story about investing micro-loans for entrepreneurs in her rural community.
Entrepreneurs unite! The QuinteVation story
Feb 20, 2019 • 24 min
How can communities harness entrepreneurial spirit to help their economy thrive?
Upside of aging: A Conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Russell
Feb 13, 2019 • 21 min
Exploring the challenges and opportunities of an aging population.
Immigration for Growth: The Winkler Example
Feb 8, 2019 • 23 min
A discussion on immigration as a means of driving the rural economy and addressing labour market needs.
Recruiting & Retaining Rural Doctors
Jan 30, 2019 • 36 min
Exploring the obstacles and solutions to recruiting and retaining doctors in rural Canada.
Building Rural Innovation Hubs
Jan 29, 2019 • 27 min
Building Rural Innovation Hubs
Mobilizing Rural Canada
Jan 16, 2019 • 39 min
Welcome to Rural Spark – the podcast that explores and celebrates rural innovation! Join Helen Murphy, rural newspaper editor and entrepreneur, as she invites guests to share fresh thinking, success stories and lessons learned. This week, Rural Spark sits…