Our Future Towns: Engaging Rural Enterprises’ will contribute to the understanding and improvement of rural enterprises by enabling a deeper and richer evaluation of entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviours around community led place-making and transport planning in the context of inclusive wellbeing and environmental restoration.
At a glance
Key areas that we will investigate include entrepreneurial attitudes towards political differences, environmental issues including climate change and net zero / circular supply chains; social challenges around health and isolation; the impact of technology on work and communities; and the state of the economy including issues like inequality and skills.
This understanding will be used to develop new ways of engaging with rural entrepreneurs so that they might place a greater value on the social, environmental and economic costs of their current working practices and increase their desire to formulate entrepreneurial responses that help to strengthen and speed up the transition to more community oriented and climate restorative approaches to business development.
The project supports NICRE’s work on engaged and resilient rural communities and aims to provide a bridge between future practice and ground up community transformation, helping communities (including rural enterprises) understand each other, imagine the future, challenge preconceptions, and make small and valued changes that connect into and build the physical foundations and mental changes needed for larger systemic impact.
Our Future Towns arose in response to climate and technological change, the way we live our lives and imagine our towns and communities, and the evident power of visual and creative tools to help people understand and act differently.
Through this work we proposed a creative approach that helps communities to develop a shared vision for the places that they live. While we have engaged with “parents, creatives and healthcare professionals, local businesses and the recently retired, artists, crafters”, this project enables us to focus on the needs and aspirations of entrepreneurs and rural enterprises.
This proposal aims to help the Haltwhistle Partnership, as well as other organisations within the Tyne Valley, better understand entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviours around community led place-making and transport planning in the context of inclusive wellbeing and environmental restoration.
This understanding will be used to develop new ways of engaging with rural entrepreneurs so they might place a greater value on the social, environmental and economic costs of current working practices and increase their ability to formulate entrepreneurial responses that strengthen and speed the transition to more community oriented and climate restorative approaches to business development.
We will work with our partners to identify and reach out to a cross section of small, medium and larger rural enterprise owners in the Tyne valley.
We will use the Our Future Towns tools (listening, learning, imagining, changing) to engage with these entrepreneurs as community members and business owners in order to understand their underlying philosophies towards their communities and how they make use of social, physical and transport resources within their organisation.
We will use online group activities to share community ‘knowledge’ and ‘change’ cards around placemaking and wellbeing in order to understand individual and group attitudes towards the challenges we face and identify how these activities change mindsets and perceptions.
We will run a follow-on activity that allows groups to imagine the future of their community and their enterprises - asking individuals to identify changes that they can make to support greater community wellbeing as well as improved business effectiveness and environmental performance, particularly around place-based and transport issues.
We will use the findings from these activities to identify the opportunities and barriers that entrepreneurs see and feel around place-making and transport futures and develop a bespoke framework that builds on the Our Future Towns approach so that rural enterprises can better engage with the larger systemic challenges in which they operate.
We will visualise the opportunities and challenges through future mobility and place-making maps and visualisations that show how enterprises and towns like Haltwhistle might change in response.
The work will be published as a journal article, presented at a relevant conference and we will deliver a short non-technical briefing note to accompany the final report.