Since 2005 I particpate in the ENDLT network with people from the area Westerkwartier in Groningen. Together we form a Dutch team and we have been visiting other teams in Ireland, Wales, Sweden and Finland trying to learn in-depth from other rural development practices in other cultures. Along the way we developed a manual for cross cultural learning which was discussed and tested this year January (see blogs 26-1 and 29-1). Our Swedish partners have taken up initiative to write the manual which is available now for all who want to set up cross cultural exchanges.
Our network, based on LEADER funding, differs in three ways from usual transnational LEADER visits:
- Teams involve different types of expertises, from local activists, to scientists, to local government officers and governors
- Visits are multi-team visits in which learning not only takes place in confrontation with the visiting area but also in the confrontation with other cultural perspectives from other visiting teams
- Multiple visits within the same network over the years
All three factors serve to make knowledge exchange and learning more effective. It pays off to invest in longer term relationships because for in-depth learning people need time, trust and enabling/safe interaction. We indicated this as one of our success factors in the factsheets that we produced for the ruract network. This network describes itself as:
1) A cooperation network gathering European Regions politically involved for promoting rural innovation at operational and regional level. 2) A resource centre providing methodological tools and an updated database with regional good practices for rural areas and analyzed in terms of transferability. 3) A field of experimentation for European Regions allowing them to exchange and find solutions face to global challenges of rural territories.
This French initiative links up good practices in rural development all over Europe. Our experience in the ENDLT network will be available on this website early summer.