Strategic Design, Regenerative Economy, and Resilient Rural Communities. The Creative Nature Hub
Authors: Ângela Ferreira, Ana Margarida Ferreira
Abstract: OECD (2021) emphasizes rural places' critical role in driving sustainable, inclusive growth. It also reinforces the need to strengthen place-based and place-led opportunities and resilience to go against global challenges and ongoing societal transformations, such as digitalization, climate change, ageing, migration, and population decline. This reality presents signiﬁcant challenges but also opportunities. According to some authors, rural communities have a critical role in tackling issues such as sustainable food supply chain development. The unique potential of rural areas to address these challenges and drive sustainable growth and people's well-being and happiness is also recognized.On the other hand, boosting community-based innovations and organizations is crucial to unlocking local opportunities, attracting investment, delivering improved essential products and services, and boosting growth and inclusive, sustainable development towards regenerative economies. In this line of thought and within the framework of the European Project Creation (Ferreira et al., 2020), this paper presents the main outputs of a research work that envisioned a new and sustainable creative hub business model. The regenerative economy understanding and the social innovation and sustainability background in Portugal's forest and rural setting are underlined. The design of the Creative Nature Hub's (CNH) business model, a cultural and creative non-proﬁt association, was supported by the analysis of three case studies of European organizations in the cultural and creative industries acting in rich cultural and human environments with similar sustainable goals. These hubs focus on social innovation, exploring collaborative processes, social learning, networking, and partnerships as strategic drivers for sustainable development. Applied research practices and people and nature-centric approaches allow new social interactions, respecting old cultural practices and ecosystems' dynamic balances. Technology democratization and literacy facilitated generational knowledge transfer and value co-creation in the contemporary digital paradigm. In line with the stress by (British Council, 2015), creative hubs have numerous advantages for those who participate in their functioning and the community. These hubs provide short- and long-term support in the form of products and services, facilitating communication within the community, creating a network and a wider audience, promoting the emergence of talent and creative thinking, or nurturing inclusive development. As the output of the design-driven research activity, a modular and evolutive CNH business model emerged. It allows the transformation and adaptation of the organization over time, highlighting circular design, green technologies, and sustainability to respect natural environment patterns of change and promote territory restoration while nurturing community well-being.
Keywords: Design for transformation, Community, based Innovation, Collaborative Learning, Rural Communities Resilience, Social Innovation, Sustainability
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