A few years back I was living on Mountwood Ave. in Hamilton, Ontario. We were renting a beautiful house in the heart of the city and backing on to the Niagara escarpment. We were living in transition, my wife was attending medical school and I was working from home; it felt like a fairly creative point in my life. We both liked Hamilton but knew our time there was not permanent; we longed for a rural life and we thought we would find it back home in New Brunswick.
What does this have to do with Mountwood and what is Mountwood.
Mountwood is a concept, a fictional brand. The name of the street we were living on perfectly embodied the name of a small rural town in my mind. Many of the rural towns and spaces we knew and loved were ghost towns, void of business, a depressed economy, houses abandoned and on the verge of a broken spirit but there always seems to be a small collective of people who offer a glimmer of hope.
I became obsessed with the idea of working with community members to revitalize a rural town; I shared many late nights over beers discussing how this could be achieved with an architect friend. It was during this time that I also came across Emily Pilloton’s Ted talk on Bertie County.
Emily’s ted talk inspired me that much more in my interest for a sustainable rural economy. I researched and even visited a few towns that were successful in revitalizing their economy, they mostly had one thing in common a key person with a vision and financial backing to see the vision through. I think community support is important but ideas and vision can often be met with a little hostility at first especially if the ideas and vision are coming from someone who is from “away”; not local or someone who was once local but left only to return with ideas to improve the community.
One concept that came up aside from introducing new businesses to draw tourists to some of these communities was to work with local farmers and artisans and market their goods and services under one brand - Mountwood.
We did end up back in New Brunswick and have since left the province for other opportunities and Mountwood whatever it is, has fallen on the back-burner. Where will Mountwood go from here; I’m not sure, maybe it will become it’s own brand with it’s own line of products (I like to design/build and farm :)) to support some other ideas and initatives, or it will continue be shelved we’ll see.