The Tiny House Movement: A progressive movement or a reactive defense of place?

Isabelle van Acquoy wrote an essay on the Tiny House Movement for the course RSO-55306 A Global Sense of Place. Is the Tiny House Movement a progressive movement reaching out or a reactive sense of place, she asked herself? Below a condensed version of her essay.  

The Tiny House Movement is an upcoming ‘social and architectural trend that advocates living simply in small spaces’ (Anson, 2014). A tiny house is on average between 10 and 40 square meters and is originally a mobile house, however they exist in different sizes and shapes. The movement became booming in the United States as a result of the housing market crash in 2007 and 2008 in which a lot of people lost their homes due to the inability to pay their enormous mortgages. Quite recently, the movement also became of interest in the Netherlands where different pioneers are experimenting with this alternative way of housing and living. Continue reading

A glimpse of an organic farm in the Netherlands

By Tian Yu, a PhD candidate at Wageningen University, who’s research focusses on organic farming and rural development.

Since the ecological movement came into being in the sixties, organic farming has kept on developing and now has a history of half century in the Netherlands. Today’s organic farm is different from what it was in the beginning. Some ‘modern elements’ have been added, but the underlying social and environmental principles are still the same.

After doing some readings and interviews about organic farm in the Netherlands, I finally got the chance to experience a real, tangible Dutch organic farm. The farm I visited is located in the famous Dutch ‘polders’ in the Flevoland province, and produces mainly vegetables. It has 75 hectares of land, which is bigger than the average organic farm in Holland. Even though it has no plants or work in the field during wintertime, still I have experienced and seen a lot, especially regarding energy- and labour use on the farm. It’s easy to notice at first that some fuel-based and electricity-based machines were used for planting, harvesting and washing vegetables, which is kind of out of my imagination. But also the so-called new energy – solar energy and methane – are used here.

Continue reading

Food Otherwise Conference 2016 February 12-13

Food Otherwise bannerFebruary 12 and 13 the 2nd Food Otherwise conference takes place in the Orion building of Wageningen University. The first Food Otherwise Conference took place in 2014 and has been an overwhelming success with 800 participants and full of spirit to make a difference. The Food Otherwise conference is supported by many organisations that published the Foods Otherwise manifesto: Towards fair and sustainable food and agriculture systems.

Next to the plenary programme there will be 60 workshops in four parallel sessions on four themes: 1. Agroecology, soil & permaculture; 2. Short chains and urban farming; 3. Fair agriculture and trade policies; 4. Access to land and land rights. You can download the full programme and guidelines on how to register yourself. There is a special programme for kids, so you can take them along.

The plenary programme offers inspiring key note speakers from home and abroad: e.g. Irene Cardoso (Chair of the Brazilian Agroecology Association, Professor of Soil Science), Jyoti Fernandes (farmer and member of La Via Campesina Europe), Sieta Keimpema (Dutch Dairymen Board), Jonathan Karpathios (Greek- Dutch chef, food blogger and gardener), Olivier De Schutter (IPES-Food), Jocelyn Parot (Urgenci), Maryam Rahmanian (FAO) and Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (Wageningen University).

Reclaim the Seeds is a special co-event on Saturday, from 10.00-17.00 in the Forum building.

The Rural Sociology Group supports the Food Otherwise Conference. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (professor Transition Studies) contributes on Saturday with an overall reflection and convenes a workshop on ‘Gebiedscooperaties: zelfsturing en autonomie’ with speakers from the Northern Frisian Woodlands and Province of Friesland.

Local, fresh and directly from the farmer!

By Potira Preiss, visiting PhD-candidate from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul State who is doing a doctoral internship at the Rural Sociology Group

That is the slogan carried by De Groene Schuur, where 70 families of consumers cooperate to get good organic food. The initiative started on 2013 and has being growing since. Mobilized by the situation of local farmers struggling to sell their products in the conventional markets, De Groene Schuur offers a market with fair payment for farmer and a lower price for consumers. Few kilometers, little packaging, seasonal products and old fashioned varieties give a special taste to the food!
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Request for a MSc student on leadership of place

Picture leadershipThe Rural Sociology Group is looking for a MSc student who is willing to do his/her master thesis research on leadership in 2 Dutch regions in the context of an international comparative research in the spring of 2016.
The central question is how leadership plays a role in rural and metropolitan regional development. Continue reading

Landbouw als oplossing voor illegale stroperij? Naïef en tegenstrijdig

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Vandaag verscheen er een opiniestuk in de Trouw, geschreven door Paul Hebinck en Bram Büscher, collega’s van de Sociology of Development and Change Group, over de jacht op illegale stroperij:


16 oktober 2015 | door: Paul Hebinck en Bram Büscher, wetenschappelijk medewerkers Wageningen Universiteit

Internationale jacht op stropers vanuit Den Haag naïef en tegenstrijdig

Staatssecretaris Dijksma van EZ heeft financiële steun toegezegd aan de door WNF opgezette Wildlife Justice Commission om stroperij in Afrika en Azië te helpen bestrijden. De plannen zijn echter onrealistisch en naïef.

Ten eerste is het idee dat landbouw de ruggengraat is van de (rurale) economie en zodoende op korte termijn een (legale) alternatief inkomstenbron kan vormen onrealistisch. Boeren keren zich al decennia in toenemende mate van de landbouw af omdat  inkomsten uit landbouw al jaren weinig soelaas biedt voor kleine boerenfamilies om een redelijk bestaan op te bouwen. Migratie naar de stad, maar ook illegale handel in houtskool, drank en wild zijn welkome aanvullingen op een vaak mager bestaan. De staatssecretaris doet er goed aan om samen met collega Ploumen initiatieven te ontwikkelen om van landbouw een aantrekkelijke(re) bron van bestaan te maken. Onderhandelingen over een zgn. vrije wereldmarkt en de exponentiële landroof voor de productie van gewassen voor de wereldmarkt of de productie van hop voor Heineken waar premier Rutte over repte in de recente algemene vergadering van de VN werken dit echter al jaren tegen. Laat de staatssecretaris zich daar maar druk over maken en collega Ploumen overtuigen boeren te ondersteunen in hun strijd om land en redelijke prijzen voor hun waar. Zolang Ploumen echter vrijhandel belangrijker blijft vinden dan lokale boerenrealiteiten in Afrika zal agrarische ontwikkeling niet echt een alternatief bieden voor stroperij.  Continue reading

RETHINK Final conference in Brussels December 2, 2015

RETHINKOn behalf of the Rural Sociology I’m having a seat in the Advisory Board of the RETHINK: a transdisciplinary research project supported by the European Commission and funding bodies in 14 countries under the umbrella of FP7 and the RURAGRI ERA-NET. The RETHINK Final conference will take place in Brussels, December 2, 2015. It will be an interesting event with a final reflection by:

  • Rob Peters, Head Unit ‘Research & Innovation’ of DG Agri;
  • Christiane Canenbley, Unit ‘Agricultural Policy Analysis and
    Perspectives’ of DG Agri
  • Egizio Valceschini, Director of Research at L’Institut National de la
    Recherche Agronomique (INRA), representating the RURAGRI ERA network
  • A RURAGRI country representative

You can download the program here and register yourself at the RETHINK website.

For more information you can contact the RETHINK scientific coordinator Dr. Karlheinz Knickel: knickel@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Professor Bettina Bock asks “what future do we want for the country side?”

Dr. Bettina Bock from the Rural Sociology Group, also Professor of Population Decline and Quality of Life for the Northern Netherlands at Groningen University,  is in the news asking questions about the future of the Dutch country side. Check out here interview here: Bock Interview

Apologies but it is only available in Dutch.

Course Global sense of place in period 2

Volcano-crater-observation-deck-by-Javier-Mera-Jorge-Andrade-and-Daniel-Moreno_dezeen_784_3The course RSO-55306 A Global Sense of Place starts soon, so please register if you are interested to follow this. It  is an optional interdisciplinary course on sustainable place-based development for students from various master programmes (e.g. MDR, MES, MID, MLP, MUE, MOA, MFN). The course builds on the BSc course RSO-56806 Sociology and Anthropology of Place-shaping providing an introduction to place-based approaches in development. Knowledge of this introductory course is an advantage, but is not assumed. The course aims to make students acquainted with an interdisciplinary and place-based approach to development.

A relational place-based approach is seen as key to the understanding of interrelated rural and urban transformation processes and ergo sustainable development. In a relational approach places are considered as contingent but in time and space differentiated outcomes of three interrelated interdependent and unbounded transformative processes: political-economic, ecological and social-cultural. Places are time and space specific constructs, like their boundaries and connections.

By means of this course students will achieve profound understanding in key-concepts and methods on place-based sustainable development. Work from key thinkers in sustainable place-making will be critically discussed and examined on the basis of various cases. Guest speakers are invited to reflect on place-based approaches to sustainable development and illustrate these through case studies. Ultimately students will acquire a place-based perspective on development.

Main themes of the course

Central to a place-based approach is the conceptions of place as: 1) Arenas for negotiation, conflicting interests and power struggles; 2) Endowed with meaning and the constitution of identities, subjectivities and difference.

Different interdisciplinary themes will be addressed such as:

  • a relational approach of place and space;
  • key thinkers on place and space;
  • politics of place;
  • community development;
  • cultural approaches of place-based development
  • ‘the human dimension’, encompassing collaboration and leadership
  • ‘defence’ of places and conflicts

For more information, you can contact lummina.horlings@wur.nl