Last week, as I had published, I had the opportunity to participate in Edgeryders event in the Council of Europe (Strasburg). As I explained, I was interested in two things:
a) To know more about how citizen movements were working around some issues (all of them related to world transformation).
b) To share my own research with my Edgeryders colleagues.
On the one hand, there were some topics regarding transition, which are being worked in the same direction. To summarize, collaboration is a good way to improve the current situation (remember the main goal of the event was discussing about Europe, indeed). On the other hand, the rural development on the whole has a great opportunity in that context. In spite of the rural areas have had less economic opportunities until now; they must have an important role in transition.
Even though we worked debating different subjects (you could find out more information looking at the missions), I will focus my summary on ICT4RD and the items related to it.
We discussed about different topics in the official programme. But there were some specific sessions: hacktivism, engagement, e-democracy or resilience to name but a few. I took part in the last one. We worked in small groups. When we were discussing, we could see big connections between the resilience concept and rural development. Why? Rural areas are used to surviving with more contact with the environment. However, the excuse is the pick oil theory but, at the end, it is a motivation to work in a different way.
Framework. The starting point is very basic. The specific needs of individuals, groups and organizations. Despite we have a lot of commodities, if we analyze it carefully, we don’t need too many things to survive. What is more, networks are the best approach to fight against unexpected crisis periods.
The challenge. In case of bad economic situations, how can we manage to survive? Advice must focus in three different stages (before, after and during the crisis). Apart from the current interest, the exercise helped us to think about the real needs humans have. As usual, there are a lot of added needs, which could be in a second stage.
Prevention. It is the best way to avoid future troubles. The challenge in that step is to involve the maximum number of people around it (making resilience contagious). A good opportunity is the creation of a P2P and direct network ties for food networks, healthy behaviour networks, and resilient behaviour networks. What is more, the participants of the current networks could re-brand resilience: making it attractive.
Treatment. Setting up networks of practitioners to provide specific advice on frequent diseases and foment instant neighbour networks.
Post-crisis. Building a system that is primed for resilience. Making sure treatment and lessons continue after external support is removed, and carrying on improvements to tackle problems in the long term, at both the state level and between the patient and doctor. That prevents from further breakouts.
For some of my readers, that vision could be exaggerated but I believe it must be considered. As other Edgeryders have commented, I guess resilience and transition movement must go further than current vision of something funny, so as to approach to something useful.
Rural Development Session
Apart from the resilience session, I participated in a meeting about rural opportunities. Participants with specific interest for that subject shared their knowledge in order to improve their own projects. Edgecamp sessions, with the unconference format, on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th , helped us to meet people working in specific subjects.
Andrea proposed the session. He, with other colleagues, is starting an interesting project in the South of Italy (Matera). They are trying to create a co-working space and, in fact, they are trying to involve more people in another way to work (based on collaboration).
Daily life is hard for the rural people. For instance, the participants on the session mentioned the problem among producers to launch their products in the market. It seems that everybody is waiting for the perfect product. If a vegetable doesn’t have the perfect size and the best appearance, consumers don’t get it. For that reason, a big quantity of good food is being avoided in the marketplace. All in all, the challenge is creating new culture about food consumption.
Andrea, as an example of how to approach differently, has the idea to take advantage of a global vision of rural, trying to involve people from the city for some periods of time. The idea is matching urban knowledge (related to ITC or specific subjects) with rural experience. And, all together create a new approach to the rural area. At the end, matching subjects could reach new projects. Even though, urban people could improve rural areas, the idea is to create more community among the people who are living in the rural spaces.
Another option commented during the session was matching owners and users. For example in ‘Land share’ you are able to find people who grow your crops (if you have a land) or you can get in contact with owners (in case you don’t have a land) to be helped.
To sum up, rural areas have a big opportunity in that context. Relations among consumers and producers must be considered. Rural zones have to increase the knowledge about their products. Urban areas have to consider the advantages in consuming proximity products. In addition, the benefits for the community and the environment are much better than transport between origin production and final consumption.
Edgeryders, what is more?
Taking advantage of this long post, I am going to share my vision of the community. Edgeryders had made an effort before going to the conference. Their work helped to improve the communication during the event. Some of us, with the same worries, could get in touch quickly and we were able to share ideas / knowledge. During the meeting, the community had a good opportunity to continue working. Some general visions unified our way, and the specific issues could continue improving in small groups. So, publics administrations have a way to contact with real situations / behaviours around citizens. There are a lot of tips and signs to visualize behind each personal project presented during the meeting. Governments could take advantage of that to improve their policies. However, the ways to impulse them are different: bottom-up. Maybe, it is less attractive to get media attention, but I am sure it is more useful. The Council of Europe has been the first step as an easy-going body. Let’s go on, then.