Community development, Environment and sustainability


Transforming rural realities


Who is behind this?

Joxean Hernandez Gomez

Impact Hub Donostia San Sebastian S. Coop.


Who is joining forces?


Idea pitch

Although 23% of the area of the Goierri region is a useful land area and 20% of the population is rural, primary sector employment accounts for only 1% of the total. The main objective is to generate citizen participation forums that allow the promotion of rural areas in the region with an integrated vision in sustainability. This complex "glocal" scenario is addressed through U Theory, creating new paradigms in the key to sustainability and local development.

Where will your project idea take place?

Goierri region in Gipuzkoa, northern Spain

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The revision of the new Rural Development Plan (2021-2022) offers us the opportunity to carry out a process of participation with the methodology of Theory U for:

> Improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the agricultural sector.
> Provide rural and coastal areas with adequate infrastructure and services to ensure living conditions comparable to the urban environment and the maintenance of the population.
> Rejuvenate the primary sector as a guarantee of the future; promote innovation and research to improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.
> Promote organic farming and its transformative industry.

All this from a systemic perspective involving the different agents that directly and indirectly influence the process.

Who are you doing it for?

> Farmers, ranchers, foresters: the collective of the first sector of the region will be called as a key pillar in terms of knowledge and experience.
>Associations and agents of change: the participation of GOIMEN and LANDAOLA organizations will be fundamental.
> Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in rural areas.
> Young people: we will have the participation of young people from the university and vocational training centres.
> Seniors: the experience and integration of people of retirement and advanced age will give the project the perspective of generation and experience.
> Women: the role of women in the primary sector is also key.
>Migrants: the insertion and integration of the migrant collective also plays a relevant role.

How do you plan to get there?

This project is based on the U Theory developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From its three sides it offers tools to converge problems with motivations and talents in a group process to create projects with positive impact really needed and desired by the whole society.

PHASE I - STUDY AND CONNECTION (Nov. 2021 - Jan. 2022)
T1.1: Adaptation of the methodology for the application of Theory U to rural areas in Gipuzkoa.
T1.2: Analysis of needs and connection with agents in the Goierri area through the application of tools of the U Theory.

PHASE 2 - IMPLEMENTATION (Jan. 2022 - September 2022)
T2.1 Realization of the process of Theory U: Selected participants will apply the 5 phases of Theory U in a maximum of 15 interventions. Facilitation tools such as conflict management or decision-making will be incorporated.

T3.1 Documentation: The entire process will be documented and a guide will be made to transfer the learning to other territories with similar situations.
T 3.2 Evaluation: Evaluation process to measure the impact before and after the intervention.

There will be a transversal phase for the coordination and communication of the project.

What are the expected results?

At the end of the project:
> Bridges have been established between all relevant rural agents in the Goierri region.
> Dialogue between participating agents will be improved.
> The level of awareness of what is truly important for rural development in the territory will have increased.
> Prototypes will be available to scale to pilot projects.
> Initiatives will bring the region closer to the goals of the 2030 agenda.
> There will be a more hopeful vision of the future.
> A replicable experience model will be available in its format.
> It will improve the vision of the rural environment in the region by increasing its perceived value.
> Media relevance has been reached throughout the territory.

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

Rural challenges can be successfully addressed from a systemic point of view by offering participants the following tangible and intangible assets:

> Dynamics such as generative listening dialogue, learning journey, interviews with people involved, 3d and 4D mapping and many more.
> Structured meetings with guides in Spanish and Basque adapted from the Presencing Institute.
> Prototypes of concrete application and with the involvement of the responsible institutions
> Give the ability to be seen as part of a larger system, at local, regional and global levels.
> By involving very different agents and integrating marginalized members of the system through the design of the project itself, a broad knowledge of the operating structures will be obtained.

Why is this idea important to you?

Impact Hub Donostia has more than 5 years of experience in U Theory processes applied to social challenges. He has organized 6 editions of the Ulab and created more than 50 prototypes among all editions.

The project team will consist of Verena Hammes and Joxean Hernandez. Verena and Joxean are expert facilitators in U Theory and both have experience in facilitating groups and processes in addition to knowing the challenges of the rural environment of the Goierri region.

Impact Hub Donostia seeks through its projects to positively transform its territory and the rural environment is one of the most critical and delicate aspects of Gipuzkoa. We have been working on the subject for more than a year and have very relevant partners to achieve an impact that lasts over time.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Human resources 27.800€
Travel and diets: 900€
Office costs: 300€
Communication and marketing: 6.000€



Idea created on April 26, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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