Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry

Davidson and Area Rural Spirit Research Project

What is the research about? We are trying to find out what helps rural people and communities experience fulfillment, deep connection, peace and spiritual growth, in all aspects of community life.  

Who is managing the project?  The project is managed by a steering committee made up of interested community members from Davidson and area, in partnership with CiRCLeM (an inter-denominational charitable non-profit dedicated to rural development).  The research leaders are Mary Smillie, a Davidson community member and Dr. Cam Harder, Executive Director of CiRCLe M.  Funding comes from the Rowntree Scholarship of the United Church of Canada.

Why does this project matter?  The well-being of rural communities matters.  The extent to which people experience peace, joy, healing, and acceptance—is critical to community well-being.  Communities grow and flourish as a result of hope and happiness.   There is very little research information available about what nurtures these qualities in rural life.

Do I have to be involved with a faith group of some kind?  Absolutely not, we are interested in the views of all community members whether they are involved in traditional faith community or not.

Do I have to have some special skill or experience?  Not at all. You are the expert on your own life.  Whatever your experience has been, it will make an important contribution to our research if you are willing to share it.  If you don’t have all the words, don’t worry—our facilitators will help you find a way to express yourself.

Will it be safe?  Yes, no one will be expected to share anything more than they are entirely comfortable with and particulars of the conversation will be confidential to the group.   And no one’s names or identifying information will be published in the research findings.

What will the focus group be like?  It will be in a comfortable setting.  It will begin with some food, getting comfortable with each other.  The facilitators will go through the questions (see below), allowing people an opportunity to respond as they feel comfortable.  One of the facilitators will take notes.

What questions will be asked?  There are four questions:

  1. What in your life makes you feel happy and fulfilled?  Tell about an experience of that.
  2. What community experiences have helped you feel connected, thankful, whole and fulfilled?
  3. Have you had an experience of awe, peace or spiritual connection that you could tell us about?
  4. What would you want your community or community organizations to do more to help support such experiences and strengthen rural spirit?

How will the research findings be used?  The research will be shared with individuals, community groups, churches, schools, health units and town councils in Davidson and area to help support the spirit of these rural people and communities.  CiRCLe M will also share the general findings with other rural communities and in academic/training programs.

How do I get involved?  If you or a group you are involved with would like to join (or form) a focus group please contact Colleen Rickard at 306-966-7864 (circle.m.ministries@gmail.com), or contact Mary Smillie at (306) 567-2099 (msmillie@sasktel.net).   Please provide your name, phone and/or email contact information and indicate the geographical area you would prefer to meet and general times (of day/week) that are best for you or your group in the next couple of months.  Once a few people in your area have signed up, we will contact you to arrange a time to participate in the discussion..