A New Approach to a Vintage Forum

Ag Women's Network prides itself on having both an online and in-person community for members to network and learn from each other. We have members from across Canada, from diverse backgrounds and locations and it’s always an ongoing challenge to develop new ways to help connect everyone.

Virtual events like AWN’s Winter Warm-up have been successful in facilitating discussions and we are always looking at new technology as potential aids in communication but as is the case in many situations, sometimes the best ideas come not when you look at the future, but seeing what worked well in the past.

Image Source: National Farm Radio Forum Blog

Vintage chic. Vintage tractors. Vintage shoes. Vintage virtual events.

There is a lot of fascination with all things vintage these days. As Canada celebrates 150 years of Confederation, there will be many opportunities to hear stories of dancing while wearing Mary Janes’, horses pulling single-furrow plows and family meals around chrome & vinyl kitchen sets.

But what about “vintage” virtual events? Are there any stories that include mass communication, specific themes, information, socializing, and results that brought change? For sure there are! Let’s talk Canadian National Farm Radio Forum.

In 1954, N.M Morrison of the CBC wrote “National Farm Radio Forum was promoted as an educational program, but there was no doubt in our minds that it was education for action to improve the economic and social lives of rural people.” R.W. Sandwell, 2012, stated “Its purpose was to provide the communication infrastructure needed for rural education and social activism by exploiting the democratic potential of the new media-the radio.”

“Its purpose was to provide the communication infrastructure needed for rural education and social activism by exploiting the democratic potential of the new media-the radio.”

Canadian National Farm Radio Forum began in January of 1941. Three newly-formed organizations partnered up to create this program for rural Canadians. The Canadian Association for Adult Education, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture created a movement that lasted 25 years. The media was the radio. The audience was rural. The organizers were detailed and dedicated. The system was finely tuned. The influence was long-reaching. The resulting actions brought change.

On April 7th, we are inviting members of our AWN community to open their homes to their friends and neighbours for an informal evening of discussions and fellowship as we all discuss the topic of ‘community’.

Like the Canadian National Farm Radio Forum the small in-person groups will discuss the same questions, and instead of a mail-in survey, we will be using SurveyMonkey to tabulate data on what AWN members have discussed. For those who are unable to attend an in-person event, we will also be running the questions on our Facebook Group so that everyone has an opportunity to participate.

Peel Township women gather together for a National Farm Radio Forum broadcast. Photo courtesy of Mapleton Historical Society. Photo credit: "The Community News".

In order for this trial event to work, we are looking for hosts! All you need is some space in your home, or a restaurant, that has internet access and be able to coordinate getting a few friends/neighbours together for an evening of discussions. If you are interested in hosting please reach out to Joan Craig or Mary Ann Doré through facebook or email info@agwomensnetwork.com . It’s your opportunity to be part of an exciting new AWN virtual and in-person venture!

The history of the weekly Farm Radio Forum is fascinating. It tells a story of how rural Canadians used their current technology (the radio) to meet both face to face and virtually as they dealt with situations and created change. Over the next few weeks we will be featuring several posts about Farm Radio Forum as we lead up to our event on April 7th.

Even if you are not into vintage – we think you’ll enjoy this feature about rural Canada and it’s people.

  • Joan Craig & Mary Ann Doré

Source - ‘Read, Listen, Discuss, Act’ : Adult Education, Rural Citizenship and the Canadian National Farm Radio Forum 1941-1965 (R.W. Sandwell, 2012)

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