Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Connected Communities – Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

by Peter Burke // July 3, 2023  

Rural Housing: Building new homes in the countryside is often met with resistance.

Most objections are to the disappointing results of traditional housing developers, who often fail to create connected communities. The typical urbanisation of rural land often overlooks what the community, nature, and the local economy genuinely need.

This blog proposes a new, regenerative, and progressive approach to rural community building.

This approach aims to foster connected communities by creating affordable homes (including for local people) and reviving rural communities through community engagement, land stewardship, sustainable farming, and technology.

The vision?

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Transforming rural communities to create better places to live for everyone who wants to contribute their time, skills, or money to the rural economy. So forget about the big house in the countryside; let’s talk about a new type of rural economy.

Building Connected Communities: A New Type of Rural Economy

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

A regenerative approach to a new rural economy would prioritise the health and well-being of the local ecosystem, community, and economy. Such a project would involve creating a system prioritising regenerating and restoring natural resources while providing a sustainable and resilient economy that benefits residents and businesses. Here are some critical elements of a regenerative approach to a new rural economy:

1. Sustainable agriculture and land management:

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Regenerate the health of the soil, increase biodiversity, and reduce the use of harmful chemicals. This would involve supporting local farmers or creating a path for new ones in transitioning to regenerative practices, promoting local food systems, and encouraging land management practices prioritising ecosystem health.

2. Renewable energy:

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Prioritise using renewable energy and connecting this approach to a community-wide initiative to develop new local grids that benefit everyone.

3. Sustainable Tourism in Connected Communities: Beyond Airbnb

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Supporting the local economy while preserving the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Such as eco-tourism and agritourism, and creating policies that support the development of sustainable tourism infrastructure. It wouldn’t be an Airbnb-type approach only.

4. Fostering Community-Based Economic Development in Connected Communities:

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

This would involve policies that support local entrepreneurship, providing access to resources and training to help small businesses, and promoting regional economic development that prioritises the health and well-being of the community—promoting a neighbourhood organising approach that brings everyone together.

5. Ecosystem restoration:

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

This would involve working with charities or organisations investing in projects that restore wetlands, forests, and other vital ecosystems, promoting conservation efforts, and creating policies that support the restoration and protection of natural resources.

Intentional Connected Communities: A New Approach

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

As our society continues to grapple with the impacts of climate change and the need for sustainable living practices, more and more people are looking for ways to create regenerative & connected communities that prioritise the health of the environment and the well-being of its residents.

A vital component of this approach is a regenerative housing strategy that supports sustainable, market, affordable, and community-oriented living options and ways to connect them.

One promising solution is cohousing, a community-based model that integrates social and ecological sustainability into the design and development of housing, usually called an intentional community.

In an intentional community, residents share common spaces, resources, and responsibilities while maintaining private living spaces. Cohousing communities foster community and social connection while prioritising ecological sustainability and affordability.

1. Community-oriented design:

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Cohousing communities promote social interaction and community engagement. Cohousing often involves creating shared spaces for cooking, dining, and recreation and designing the community to encourage pedestrian traffic and reduce car dependence.

2. Ecological sustainability:

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Cohousing communities are designed to prioritise ecological sustainability, often incorporating green building practices, energy-efficient technologies, and sustainable land-use practices. As a result, it is helping to reduce the community’s carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable way of life.

3. Affordability:

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

Cohousing communities can include more affordable homes than traditional housing options, often through shared resources and community-owned spaces. For those living there, it makes cohousing a more accessible choice for people with lower incomes or those looking for a more affordable way of living because you get more for your money for the same price as a market-valued home.

Is this a place you’d like to live, work and play?

Connected Communities - Rethinking Our Approach to Rural Economies & Living

This connected communities approach has many elements to it, they don’t all have to be present – but its our intention to bring as many in to our work, so that we can provide a holistic community development approach to housing and rural economies. We don’t do it alone, its coproduced with a number of professionals, but most importantly with current and future residents all having their say and being able to shape the projects we do.

Ready to join the movement? Start by taking our 1-minute self-assessment here!

Take the Better Places to Live 1 Minute Quiz!

Help to spread the word about Cohousing, Better Places to Live and creating A Fairer Society.

Follow, like and share our mission across social media.

Co-Founder A Fairer Society | + posts

Co Founder of A Fairer Society. Peter has a vision of living in a fairer society, where there's plenty to go around, where everyone has a voice in the issues that affect them, and where humans thrive togther.

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