Article originally published in Spanish on Revista Agricultura Ecológica number 35.
Available in Spanish here.// Disponible en castellano aquí.
Traditionally, extensive farming[i] has been one of the activities that has fixed more population in disadvantaged rural areas in Europe and the Mediterranean. Moreover, it creates jobs and shapes most of our ecosystems. However, isolation and depopulation in these areas translate into the loss of their activities and the landscapes associated to it. That is why it is necessary to seek new practices that assure its social and economic sustainability.
In that sense, the European project SIMRA (Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas)[ii] shows us some examples. This project aims to make progress in the understanding of social innovation and innovative governance in agriculture, silviculture and rural development and enhance implementation in disadvantaged rural areas in Europe and the Mediterranean. It also understands social innovation as “reconfiguration of social practices, answering social challenges, looking to improve well-being and involve civil society’s actors.”[iii]
How should we arrange energy production sustainably? How can we ensure democratic and socially equitable decision-making on energy alternatives? And, how can post-industrial sites be revitalized for further use? SCENE2050 Twitter conference on the 17th of May 2019 will explore these questions and results will be discussed and elaborated in an on-site workshop to be held in Raahe Finland on the 24-25th of May.
Article originally published on Medforest.
What is social innovation? Over the last decades, social innovation has gained significant popularity as a process able to tackle societal challenges and improve well-being via the direct engagement of the civil society. Hundreds of initiatives have claimed to be linked to this concept both in urban and rural contexts and in all topics and domains. Is social innovation yet another fuzzy word in a modern century of trending topics and well-designed marketing strategies? One of the aims of the H2020 SIMRA project (Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas) is also this one: to identify and map what are the key variables desirable for Social Innovation to occur, so as to identify success (and failure) cases, and develop methods for their appraisal and assessment.
During the VI Mediterranean Forest Week, which took place from 1 to 5 April in Brummana, Lebanon, hundreds of researchers, policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders from the wide Mediterranean basin gathered to discuss Mediterranean-wide forestry issues. Emerging topics included: the role of forests for achieving NDC targets for COP21, existing linkages between forests and other sectors (water, cities and biodiversity), forest communication, socio-ecological resilience of forests and many more. Social Innovation was indeed one of them, with a SIMRA-organised workshop aiming at exploring the role of the Mediterranean region as an incubating model for social innovation, presenting real cases that demonstrate elements for success and best practices for replication and learning purposes.Continue reading
Article originally published in Spanish in Revista Soberanía Alimentaria, Biodiversidad y Culturas.
Biela y Tierra (in English crank and land) is an initiative started by Edurne Caballero and Ana Santidrián who aim to travel almost 3000 km of rural area by bike, and visit more than 80 other initiatives developed in rural areas, related to sustainable eating.
There are projects that are pure poetry: emanating passion all around, making you fall in love at first sight. Exactly what happened to me with Biela y Tierra. In these hectic times of cars invading our space and the media trying to convince us that there is no life beyond cities, Ana and Edurne have purposefully decided to hop on their bikes and show the world that our villages are full of life.Continue reading
A quick look at the collection of examples of social innovation in the SIMRA database makes you realise that food is a central element in most of them. Food production is traditionally connected to rural areas shaping landscapes, diets, and even cultural heritage (local cuisines, traditions, etc.).
SIMRA was invited to participate in early March in a forum exploring the social aspects of food production, preparation and consumption and the connections among and between people and places that are developed through food, organised within the activities programmed under Matera City of Culture 2019. This Social Food Forum gathered over 15 representatives from different types of activities involved in a variety of social food projects –including one of our cases studies, the Italian VàZapp’’- to discuss how food catalyses social projects around Europe. One of our SIMRA researchers, Diana Valero (Perth College –UHI) participated in this inaugural meeting of the Social Food Forum with examples of social innovation involving food recorded in the SIMRA research database.Continue reading
Only one year left of SIMRA! This coming year will be full of opportunities for you to contribute to the SIMRA project: local workshops will be organised to discuss the results of our case studies and innovation actions; a training course will be open for you to attend in November 2019 in Spain; and our policy and practice guides will be tested out.
Look out for the Special Issue of Forest Policy & Economics journal (expected to be published in March 2019) edited by the SIMRA project, contributing to advancing and exchanging scientific knowledge of social innovation in the context of forest dependent communities in remote rural areas.
Smart Village Scotland is a platform aiming at helping the development of Smart Villages in Scotland, by equipping rural territories with the same technologies as those existing in large cities. It provides a dedicated webpage to promote local businesses and social activities of smart villages in Scotland.Continue reading
Started in May 2018, SMARTA – Sustainable shared mobility interconnected with public transport in European rural areas (developing the concept of ‘smart rural transport areas’) is a two-year European-funded project which aims to understand the current relevance and future potential of on-demand and shared mobility services integrated with public transport in the European rural areas.Continue reading
During the European Industry Days, taking place in Brussels, on 5-6 February 2019, a special focus was given to the wider family of social innovation including social enterprises and digital social innovation. Both the European Economic and Social Council (EESC) and DIESIS, the EU network specialised in supporting social economy and social enterprise development, organised events taking stock of the current policy situation and providing concrete examples.Continue reading
Spring is in the air, and a seed is germinating and fighting to grow. On its own, it begins to make its way, breaking earth, little by little, following the rhythms of the sun, it will go on growing. But it needs water to sprout and grow. And if the water doesn’t reach it, it will fight to find it.
like seeds, we too are making our own way. They seem invisible at first, but they grow with the strength of our voices in a place full of life where we never stop forging community through our hands and our words.
We are also part of the life of our villages: the lullaby, the root, the heartbeat. And like seeds which hook onto the wool of transhumant animals and germinate thousands and thousands of miles from their place of origin, we resist and we fight. And we look at those who went before us and we realise why we cannot afford to remain silent.Continue reading