While Odemira is the municipality with the largest territory in Portugal, its interior has one of the lowest population densities in Europe. Over the last two generations it has lost more than 70% of its inhabitants due to major shifts in agriculture and lack of alternative opportunities. This results in an ageing population, dispersed over a vast area, affected by isolation and social exclusion (one of the world's lowest birth rates, and a dramatic suicide rate three times the national level). Its shrinking population leads to neglect of the land, the decay of infrastructure, and the loss of traditions, knowledge, and culture.
Our partner is CLARA, a recently established center for the rural future. They purchased an old brick factory where the center will be located. Their sustainable development strategy is based on three crucial components:
- The integration of the local community of the interior of Odemira, embracing their skills, perspectives, and traditions
- The valorisation of indigenous resources; as a way to improve the local economy
- The attraction of new visitors and of the creative community and with their support, stimulate and activate new opportunities and spaces of dialogue and thought
We partnered with CLARA to investigate the future scenarios of such a center for the rural future. Our main aim is to develop functions and activities alongside business models that will help the center to revitalise the economic and social fabric of the area. We are looking for participants including, but not limited to, the following areas:
This program is a non-profit endeavour. We receive a lot of volunteer work, get support from our sponsors, and grants. Nevertheless, your contribution is essential to make it work. We kindly ask that you pay as much as you can within the following ranges.
Step 1 — Registration
This is you saying that you are interested in participating. We will ask you for some basic personal data and nudge you to complete your application.
Step 2 — Motivation letter and project portfolio
In your motivation letter, please tell us why you would like to attend Holis, what you expect from it, your relevant experiences, what you find interesting about the topic of this year’s summer school, and how can you contribute to the summer school and your team. Your motivation letter should be around 500 words. In your project portfolio, you should present projects that you were part of that are relevant to the summer school. Your project portfolio should be a one-page document.
Step 3 — Shortlisting
We will evaluate your application based on your motivation letter and project portfolio. We are looking for participants who excel in their chosen profession, are eager to learn, open for interdisciplinary collaboration, and have a sense of social and environmental justice. We will evaluate applications on the last day of each month meaning that if you submit your application earlier, you will get your results earlier.
Step 4 — Video interview
We will have a 30 minute interview with every shortlisted applicant to understand each one better and to answer any questions.
Step 5 — Final selection
We will make the final selection of participants one week after the application deadline at the latest. After you pay your participation fee, we will start the preparatory work online.
The first Holis focused on the future scenarios of an old felt factory in Hungary, which at the time was suffering from a 90% loss of income due to the rise in popularity of synthetic felts. As a result of the solutions that Holis participants helped to identify and implement, the felt factory now has new owners, new products, and other thriving business activities. Since then we’ve been working on the challenges of ageing and retirement in Ajka and Herend (HU), new functions for the Rákóczi-Bánffy castle in Gilău (RO), and the challenges of alienation, small-scale farming, public spaces, and well being in Sobole (PL).
In 2018 we explored what are the challenges of rural Poland and what can we do about them.
We partnered up with Spomlek, a local cheese factory and asked ourselves: how a local business can serve the community around it?