Community Journalists First
Firstly, we are community journalists and our definition of community journalism will help you understand what we hope to mean to Cape Breton makers. Conventional journalism is about extracting information for public consumption. However, we see our role as cultivating and sharing information for the benefit of the community we serve. We see it as the difference between mining and gardening, community gardening at that. How Scrape develops will be determined by what we learn from our community.
Secondly, we are not neutral; we are participant observers. Elaine is a painter and sculptor and Archie is a photographer and we need this community as much as we hope they will need us. We will use the tools and vehicles of journalism to get information we all need to succeed at our craft. It could be finding experts in our own medium to critique our work and advise us on how to do it better or it could be tracking down experts on running an online store without falling prey to the horde of hackers out there.
We are at the exciting part of this project where it can go in any direction and we are open to that. We are starting with finding the makers in our immediate area around Arichat and doing short pieces about their work to put on our social media channels that they can share with their network. But behind the scenes we will be asking them about issues they struggle with being creators in a small market and what they believe they need.
After we’ve canvassed enough makers, then the real work will begin.
Why "The Scrape"
We live here now, on Petit-de-Grat Island, Cape Breton, drawn by the simple, determined, bare bones beauty. On the outcrops, trees and bushes, twisted and sturdy, hang on by their root hairs in the salty wind and take nourishment from the cracks in the rock.
The Mi’kmaw called this land Mekaqanji’jk. But the origin of its current name is uncertain. Some say it was called “degrat” meaning “fishing station” by the original Basque settlers. Others contend that it came from the French “gratuite” meaning “free”, or from “gras”, which means “fat”. Petit-de-Grat, “little fat”, means lean. Lean land, counterpoint to the bounteous ocean. I like all of those meanings, but the French verb “grater”, to scrape or scratch, evokes the spirit of this place best. Scraped, scrubbed and sculpted by glaciers, this island is exposed down to its essential foundation. Folded into the strata of this name are instructions as to how to live and flourish here. Adapt, minimize, seek a niche others forgo.
This elemental island is “The Scrape”. Many people here make things with their hands from scratch with what is on hand. Some lean toward the traditional — quilting, knitting, woodworking, metal forging; while others experiment with driftwood, beach glass, paints or clay. Making things is invigorating, satisfying, good for the spirit and provides income and community connection. We’re all for that.
Our online magazine,The Scrape, aims to explore Cape Breton environments and the people who make original creations — emerging artists and artisans, students and people who just like to make things. We want to increase their visibility and help build networks and relationships that support community driven artistic, economic and cultural development, starting here on Petit-de-Grat. We’ll do this through interviews and videos. Here we go, out our front door, starting from home.