Text: Simona Mancusi, support: Dominika Majewska
First and foremost, the training allowed Village Hosts to dive deep. To take a step back and reflect on their process. It helped them explore their feelings about their project. Working on their self-awareness was a growing experience, as they had to cross their fears: the fear of being a stranger, not belonging, of not being enough, of being alone. Yet, it was worth it.
We went through all their stories, challenges, aspirations, hopes and frustrations. Despite all their differences, these experiences were so similar. Inevitably, listening and sharing with each other brought Village Hosts closer. Most importantly, this process helped them build confidence and, to use the words of the participants, they actually discovered to be on the right path. They shared with us that the training empowered them with new skills and design tools, however, it also supported them in sensing and following their intuition. They grew acceptance and realised that patience is key for these open-ended processes in rural contexts.
One of the most significant takeaways from this self-dive was that Village Hosts need to learn to prioritise their well-being and mental health. In fact, they all struggled with balancing the community's needs versus their own needs. Exchanging perspectives helped them to see the importance of healing themselves first, in order to be a nourishing activator for their community.
The step forward in this training was to go from the individual experience to the collective experience. In fact, collecting different stories not only helped in seeing similarities but also in contextualising their own role. A Village Host is a practitioner who, through collaborative processes, engages various stakeholders and the local community on projects and activities for the common good. They are pioneers who are able and willing to see the potential of a place. They listen with attention, care and curiosity to build or restore the social and economical ecosystems of that place. They respect ecological time and the slownesses of processes when it comes to reconnecting with nature and the rural territory.
The Open School helped participants in clarifying the project’s objective, reassured them that they are in fact part of something bigger and that this hidden movement is actually political. Village Hosts finally found a community where to feel ‘normal’ - a community that is building a new normal. To quote one of the practitioners:
”Village Hosts question the mainstream, creating the new mainstream”.
The European training opened a window of fresh (collective) air for Village Hosts. At the end of the school in Grottole, they were ready to come back to their lands. Many now felt more open to engage with the wisdom already present in their community and wanted to map out the shared knowledge in the village.
The design methods inspired them to create small prototypes in order to test their project ideas. By doing so, the pilots would serve them to learn from the reactions of their relevant stakeholders. In some ways, meeting each other and building connections really helped them in regaining energy; they left Grottole motivated and confident to share their project ideas with the rest of the world.
Read More about the project here > https://www.villagehosts.eu/
Partners of the project: Casa Netural Materahub University School of Design and Engineering of Barcelona KobietyLodz Radosapartneriba John Thackara CDOP Centar za odgovorno preduzetništvo | Centre for Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship
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