Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

Filling the emptiness

From resistance to resilience: Building collective power in the depopulated rural areas


Who is behind this?

Violeta Aguado Delgado

Centre for Rural Development Carrión de los Condes - Rural University Paulo Freire



Idea pitch

Living in the rural areas has become an act of resistance. Our project seeks to transform the resistances from isolated communities into capacity of resilience, through participatory processes where the diverse people of the territory become the main character. To this end, we will generate processes of social cohesion through the Paulo Freire Rural University, a popular education project whose aim is to promote alive rural areas in pursuit of cultural democracy and the people’s sovereignties.

Where will your project idea take place?

Villages with less than 400 inhab. from the region Tierra de Campos, Palencia,Castilla y León, Spain

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The social challenge to which the project aims to respond is the absence of community identity and social cohesion that foster physical and emotional emptiness in a region belonging to the so-called "Empty Spain". This situation highlights the need to develop a strategy that allows the reappropriation and repopulation of the territory. To this end, it is necessary to facilitate the participation of the current inhabitants as well as to promote the territorial dynamization with the aim of generating new spaces and opportunities for the population that was forced to emigrate from the territory.

Who are you doing it for?

The project is aimed at the local population in general with special attention to the most vulnerable people:
- Migrants, who lack spaces for integration and opportunities for development.
- Young people, who are forced to emigrate in the absence of work opportunities. (Around 2,175 young people from the region emigrate per year. In 168 villages there are no inhabitants under 20)
- Rural women, who do not have spaces for their individual and collective empowerment. (High levels of masculinization. 87% of the territory there are more men than women)
- The elderly, who are affected by the reduction of public services and the loneliness generated by the depopulation. (1 in every 3 inhabitants is over 60 years old).

How do you plan to get there?

In order to promote rural cohesion, activities will be carried out through a gender, sustainability and human rights approach:

Implementation of the "Forums for dialogue and the expression of new utopias". An event to discuss issues of interest and common problems with the participation of experts in the field. The objective is to create a space for popular democratic learning.
- Carrying out a participatory Diagnosis to identify topics of interest.
- Creation of a community space to facilitate synergies among participants.

Launching of the "Biodiversity Network for the exchange of seeds and knowledge among rural inhabitants".
- Identification of actors.
- Creation of pedagogical processes for the exchange of seeds and knowledge.

Launching of a rural community radio station.
It will be created with the intention of giving voice to the community. Radio is a means of connecting people living in areas with a lack of communication infrastructures. It is also an intergenerational medium thanks to its analog and digital formats.

Creation of an interactive digital map of rural migratory movement. The collection, storage and projection of a database will be implemented through geographic information software. This map will be hosted on a web space for the promotion of a people`s network in order to make the gap visible and create possibilities for them to return.

What are the expected results?

The expected results are the following:
Greater interaction among the territory inhabitants thanks to shared spaces and times.
Exchange of knowledge to recover the popular community culture
Creation of a mutual support network
Communication between different agents working in the territory
Knowledge of tools, spaces and people to count on.
Increased democratic citizen mobilization
Raising awareness of the situation of the territory
Recovery of lost identity
Enabling spaces for the return of the emigrated population.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The idea is to convey that the lack of social cohesion suffered in the territory due to the depopulation phenomenon is not only a private issue, but also a public one. The pedagogy of the project is marked by a permanent and popular education whose objective is to transform the role of citizens' involvement in their contexts from democratic local development processes. The experience, knowledge and skills of citizens in the territory will be the starting point for their empowerment as active agents of change. Participation plays a fundamental role, where dialogue and communication flow in all directions, being able to generate and build debates, analysis and responses, creating networks of experiences as a permanent meeting of ideas. It is a learning for a all, from all and by all people.

Why is this idea important to you?

We are four young women with training and work experience in various fields (arts, social education, technology and communication) who were forced to emigrate from their small villages and now wish to return but cannot find opportunities to develop professionally in their territories. Our roots sink in the land of "Empty Spain", we were educated to want to leave here but in the course of our youth we realized that returning to the land is the answer to the model of life we would like to have: to live in a more sustainable and socially committed way by creating living spaces in a place destined to abandonment. We have the capacity and the skills to carry it out, but even more importantly we have the personal conviction that this is our path.

€ 35964,-

Total budget

€ 34964,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs (Planning, execution, evaluation and communication tasks). (3 people/12 months):: 22,596 €.
Expenses for panellists: 5,000 €
Operating expenses (space rental, supplies, posters...): 2,200
Equipment expenses (conference microphone, radio equipment, video recording material, tables and chairs): 1,428 €.
Communication expenses (internet connection, domain and web edition): 660 €
Travel and accommodation expenses: 2,430 €
Consumables: € 400
Other management expenses: 250 €

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Any comments or experience on how an empty physical territory can be repopulated through communitary processes would be wellcome, al well as any observations and questions that give us to tools to detect possible weaknesses in our project.

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