Last November I participated at the SIMRA Course on Social Innovations in (Marginalized) Rural Areas at IAMZ-CIHEAM (Zaragoza). 34 professionals and 13 lecturers from across Europe and the East and South Mediterranean we learnt and debated out of a large number of initiatives flagged as Rural Social Innovations (RSI), and all the knowledge generated by SIMRA, soon on the worth visiting SIMRA project website; an on-line course will be also openly available by next February.
A long week course that ends in high momentum must have had great contents and debates: concepts and definitions, case studies, group exercises, participation methodologies, adaptive management of SI, and a enlightening SIMRA Evaluation framework for Social Innovation synthesized in this video, to which I will dedicate a future post, considering its high interest and value.
I did acquire many useful learnings at this course, and I am eager to apply them to new collaborations and networking; and a central idea that emerged for me after a week is “co-empowerment”, a process that I would define as the joint development of ideas, methodologies and strengths –that is, altogether, social learning- within a group of so-called “rural social innovation coaches” as we all have learnt to become after this course. Thanks to co-empowerment, our learnings of SIMRA can now spread across a vast geography of dispersed rural areas in Europe and the Mediterranean, and hopefully continue co- empowering existing and to-be innovators in villages and landscapes across. This is, after all, the power of networking, so essential for projects, communities and for life. Shall we start networking rural social innovation together?
P.S. Thank you to Elena Gorriz (EFI) for sharing the concept of “Rural Social Innovation Coaches” during the course evaluation.