Economic growth can make entire regions more prosperous, or it can widen the gap between haves and have-nots, growing only inequity and disadvantage.
For rural regions, population growth is often presented as a solution to regional problems – even, as a synonym for regional development. Yet this is not necessarily the case.
When we talk about economic growth, we may not be talking about the same thing. Nor is economic growth the only kind of growth that matters for rural regions.
Growth is out there, it is powerful, and it influences how almost everyone thinks about regional development in rural regions – whether they realise it or not.
It’s time to gather up some practical takeaways you can use when working in and with rural communities.
Poverty persists when the space for change is taken away.
Community members will, inevitably, have different ideas about what positive change looks like: a new industry, or a new school; a road to bring the city closer, or a morning tea to bring the community together.
Grassroots development proponents argue that change needs to grow organically from roots in local ground. This means action “with” or directly “by” rural communities.
Development is a big shiny, powerful idea. It’s also a conveniently vague idea, so it can work for you whether you are interested in feeding starving children or building high-rise buildings.
How much space do rural people have to create the futures they want?