Rural Development From the Ground Up

Winter has hit in Natone, and it’s time to start a new series of posts. In these early nights by the fire, there is a clear boundary between warmth and cold; a physicality in the air that is not present in centrally heated places. Ideas feel fragile, while logs have substance. Practical things matter.

So this series explores the hands-on, down-to-earth aspects of rural development. What is rural development, and how do we do it?

Rural development has a long tradition of attention to practical action. We focus on real rural places and hands-on communities, on practical problems and practical strategies for change.

Yet the idea of practice is still theory. The idea of action is not, actually, action.

The gap between theory and practice remains wide. In rural development work, it often isn’t clear what we actually do, or who does it. We propose to work ‘on the ground’ and ‘at the grassroots’, but where is the ground, exactly? Whose grass is it?

We advocate for people-centred development and bottom-up social change, but do not specify which people, or what change.

Groundedness, grassroots change … these are warm and powerful ideas. They sound practical yet are not solid; they flicker and shift, like the fire dancing against the glass. To be hands-on, to make something happen, someone must reach down and pick up a log.

In this series of posts, I’m aiming to haul logs. Come along, it’s a bit of work… but good to be in motion. It’s feeling warmer already.

Published by The Bush Prof

Professor Robyn Eversole is a practical regional development academic based in rural Tasmania.

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