The 2007 National CED Conference was a gamble. Held in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, it was well away from the strongholds of the Canadian CED Network (CCEDNet) in central and western Canada. It was also hosted by an organization that to this point has been understood as a very large youth group. Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador Youth (FINALY!) stretched its identity and its capacity to co-ordinate this event. It was not a conference with some 15-30 year olds "around"; they were running it and changing it to make it address their needs.
Most of the plenaries and many workshops concerned how small communities and organizations must leverage their smallness and understand it as a strength, not as a weakness we shed by "growing big." Conferees examined the policies that will enable CCEDNet to extend its membership and its political influence and how to work with a federal government that has grown remarkably self-satisfied. Facilitators detailed strategies they use to combine local and regional interests and energies: community-university research alliances, aboriginal fisheries management, co-operatives, community credit, and career fairs.
In the next few years, CCEDNet must find a way to do two things. It must grow "inward" by increasing its capacity to accomplish its mission with so many new members. It must also grow "outward" by seeking out and nurturing alliances with social justice, environmental, and labour movements.