CELEBRATED IN THE SIERRA DE GATA.
In the Sierra de Gata (Cáceres) between December 6 and 9, the first edition of MOSAICULTURA was held, an event created to highlight rural culture and fight against the depopulation of the territory.
In this meeting, products that are bringing new resources and ideas to the rural economy were exhibited, numerous workshops were held, cultural events were organized and visits to innovative experiences in the area were organized.
One of the most important activities consisted of four round tables, imbricated one in another, entitled respectively: Exemplary initiatives against depopulation. Undertake against all odds in the villages. How do we facilitate the incorporation of young people to the agrarian sector? Cooperative social innovation in rural environments.
According to the organizers, these round tables “have been an interesting and intense process of reflection at a personal level and at a collective level on the fight against the depopulation of the rural environment in general and of Sierra de Gata in particular”. It should be noted that we are at a national and even global level, in a process of extinction of the rural world and that this will bring serious environmental, cultural, economic and political consequences. Therefore, what is discussed in the Sierra de Gata, affects all of our national territory and has an interest that transcends the local. Adding voices and analysis, sharing motivations, favoring priorities and strategies is an urgent task, in addition to Sierra de Gata.
In the days of the meeting, through reflections and experiences between the four tables, with people from the territory and other guests from outside, it was possible to draw up a general picture of priorities. These conclusions have been divided into two parts, as a strategic expression of what should be the task to be undertaken: General actions, which affect the whole country, because the whole country suffers the effects of depopulation, and another more focused on the local realities. This double approach already tells us that all rural politics, committed to this formidable challenge, to be local and national. Rural norms and policies can not be uniform, at the same time, the road to walking can not be in the solitude of the people and the particular initiatives.
General conclusions that affect the entire Spanish state.
In a first analysis, we see the need to value the traditional rural economy, such as the figure of the farmer, the shepherd or the farmer. Make a collective effort to eradicate the stigmas of the “failure” that returns to the people, give the people greater presence and dignity in the historical clashes with the urban demands. The strategic importance of women was also highlighted in the round tables, given that it is a fact that women are playing an important role in innovative and cooperative projects in rural areas, particularly in the transformation of artisanal food products. A general aspect that affects everything else, is the need to strengthen the rooting and collective identity, that which gives content to the particularity of rural culture, to avoid the instrumental erosion of our economic system and the development policies that they fly over local realities. An example that was highlighted is rural tourism, a phenomenon that, with a more porous and sustainable conception, is an aid to strengthen the local economy, but that with an uprooted and utilitarian conception contributes to erode the differential fact.
On the immediate and urgent fight against depopulation, several reflections were raised, first of all it is necessary to coordinate the different strategies undertaken in different places and specify the objectives that are intended. It was also commented that sometimes, it is not so important the number of people who can live in the villages, but their qualitative capacities to undertake, cooperate and relate to the territory they guard. In order to obtain results in the search for new settlers, it was proposed that it was necessary to change and make more flexible the CAP and specifically the Aid to Young Farmers: with a model of progressive incorporation and in the contemplation of the agri-food transformation (linked to exploitation) as an agricultural activity.
In addition to this specific reform, it was pointed out that for the full integration of new settlers there is a lack of support, intermediation and accompaniment. In this sense, it is important to foster a culture of cooperation and the common good, without forgetting the Art and the different cultural languages as builders of a living human landscape. The experience of people who come from the city to live in a town, should be valued as an opportunity and for this purpose we must seek channels of mutual understanding and shared benefit.
Proposals that are presented with a more local approach:
As soon as the attention is focused on the closest realities, in the immediate experience, many proposals arise to favor new settlers come and the existing ones do not leave. It is possible that some of these ideas or reflections are not necessary in other territories, that some of the deficiencies announced are not such in other places, or that vice versa, in the Sierra de Gata, it is not necessary to implement actions that for others Places are urgent. Each territory has its symptoms and its realities.
For the Sierra de Gata, apart from the general comments discussed above, ideas as diverse as:
Guarantee the availability of land banks and rental housing in the municipalities themselves. Modify the autonomous forest legislation, to allow special regimes of change of use in areas with a high risk of depopulation or fire. Avoid inappropriate actions of administration technicians, establishing channels of dialogue and spaces of joint work and less bureaucratized. Creation of the figure of a specialized “facilitator”, who can personally guide the entrepreneur, at every moment of his process, and can help him to speed up bureaucratic procedures. To put in contact farms and ranches in operation, with people who want to learn the management of these exploitations, before settling in the territory as enterprising people. Facilitate from the programs of rural development, courses of customized formation, for the transformation and obtaining of products of excellence, with professionals of recognized prestige. Design training trips from rural development funds to visit experiences in other regions. Create a Great Theatrical Event about the history of Sierra de Gata that will act as a reference within and outside the Sierra, and that will help create community.
Sierra de Gata and Hurdes Mosaic Project
RELATIONSHIP OF CONCLUSIONS APPROVED BY THE ASSISTANTS TO THE ROUND TABLES:
In the conclusions of these round tables, made known at the beginning of this year, it is highlighted at a general level that:
1. There is a clear need to coordinate actions in the search for new inhabitants and to specify the specific objective of that search.
2. It is essential the social revaluation of the profession of farmer and farmer, as well as the eradication of the idea of “unsuccessful” for the one who remains or returns to the field.
3. It is a fact that women are playing an important role in innovative and cooperative projects in rural areas, particularly in the transformation of artisanal food products. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on the important role of women in rural areas, as they can develop their capacities in this area and carry out their vital projects in the manner they consider appropriate, in dealing with inclusive, welcoming and dynamic spaces and communities. , supportive and creative.
4. The strengthening of the local cultural resource over the concept of “tourist attraction pole” allows generating collective identity, roots and feeling of belonging, as well as having a mentality open to criticism, diversity and predisposition to creativity.
5. It is necessary to reflect on the importance of conflicting visions and conflicts between the urban and the rural in the development of strategies for the rural environment, for whose resolution it is necessary to give decision spaces to the people who inhabit it and who live on their resources.
6. In relation to depopulation-repopulation the important thing is not the number of people living in the territory but the quality of those people in terms of their ability to undertake and relate to the territory and the people who live in it..
7. It is important to know how to assess the complementary profiles of people coming from the urban environment who join the rural territory.
8. It is the primary sector (to give new use to the resources of the rural environment) that can mainly make recolonization effective as an antithesis of depopulation, provided that it bears accompanying policies. An example would be the creation of Grants for the Incorporation of Young Farmers different from those promoted for decades by the CAP; this difference would be based on: a model of progressive incorporation, a creation of networks of farms where practical training is provided and which allows a “self-exam experiential” and in the contemplation of agro-food transformation (linked to exploitation) as an activity agrarian.
9. The full integration of new inhabitants requires accompaniment and social mediation, not only in terms of entrepreneurship, economy, settlement and re-population, but, above all, in the search for scenarios for the encounter with the native population.
10. It is necessary to strengthen associations and groups in general by fostering a culture of cooperation and allowing their participation and integration in institutional figures.
11. Given its inclusive nature, Art and culture are fundamental tools to promote the development of rural territory.
12. MosaiCultura can and should in the future host a greater number of national (or international) experiences to learn from, as well as being a vehicle to export “our” way of doing things or to attack common problems such as depopulation.
Regarding the proposals that are proposed with a more local approach, related to the Mosaic project, the need to:
1. Guarantee the availability of land banks and dynamic housing organized from the town councils with due advice. There are repopulation experiences in the area that, with different methodologies, are helping to reduce the rate of population loss and to attract, settle and integrate new people.s.
2. Modify the autonomous forest legislation to allow special regimes of change of use in areas with a high risk of depopulation or fire.
3. Avoid inappropriate actions by administrative technicians, who must go from being a difficult staff to a facilitator, establishing channels of dialogue and spaces of joint work and less bureaucratized.
4. Modify the call for aid to the first installation of young farmers so that it contemplates the direct transformation of the primary product by the own farmers / farmers as an agricultural activity, and not as a separate industrial activity.
5. Creation of the figure of a specialized “facilitator” who can personally guide and follow the young person in each moment of his process and can help him to speed up the bureaucratic procedures. Recovering the figure of the Local Development Agent and leaving him space to develop his work is another alternative for this objective.
6. Organize a way of relating farms and ranches in operation with people who want to experiment and / or learn the management of these farms before settling in the territory as enterprising people.
7. Facilitate from the rural development programs personalized training courses for the transformation and obtaining of products of excellence with professionals of recognized prestige.
8. Design training trips from rural development funds to visit experiences in other regions; what “others” do is always observed without the prejudices with which one looks at “the neighbor” of the next town.
9. Strengthen the municipal and regional association fabric, establishing synergies not only between associations, but also with the public administration and the private sector, working for common objectives and facilitating citizen participation.
10. Create a Great Theatrical Event about the history of Sierra de Gata that will act as a reference and / or as an image inside and outside the Sierra, and that will help create community. This could be achieved by organizing a School-Workshop Theater in the house of culture of one of the towns of Sierra de Gata.
11. Attend specifically and priority to the role of rural women, in terms of needs, demands, opportunities, training, weight in the organs of participation and government etc…
12. Provide more and better means to local cultural projects that address the concepts of identity, belonging, memory and attachment to the territory, fundamentally focused on future generations.
Pedro Eizaguirre Massé (Director of Intrepid Theater, neighbor of Sierra de Gata).
Jorge Casas Cuadrado (Sociologist specializing in depopulation and rural development).