Whenever I describe my somewhat ambitious vision for The Rural Project, it is either met with confusion on why offices in the countryside are that extraordinary, or their imagination is captured by the content and conversation the spaces start around reimagining rural life.
In design and architecture firms there tends to be a commercial arm and a ‘R&D lab’ where the juicy design challenges happen. That is what I want to mimic on The Rural Project: the workspace and events as revenue generating to fund the centre for reimagining. And that does capture my imagination and soul. I see this in other peoples faces, that this is perceiving a widening gap that needs to be filled - connecting up our rural population to conversations happening in the metropolis.
It is always fun to see what comes back and I wish I had been documenting more of these conversations over the past few years, as rich as they are with the characters and ideas I have encountered. Yesterday at an International Women’s Day lunch, I met two women who offered this use and need for the project.
A woman’s husband had written a play “St Just” about the town in Cornwall where a few young white men fail to grasp life as society essentially turns its back on them, or worse does not even notice them. The play never got shown as to prove the point of the play further, the metropolitan elite didn’t get it or perhaps, like it. It shone a light on their own ignorance and unwilling to change a system that benefited them so well.
Another geographer had written a PhD on changing our ‘worlds’. Following the approach the economists and academics had to rolling out neoliberal ideology through second hand xxx , they swept through schools and universities forming the views of the young, in media forming the views of the masses and eventually to policy. She looks at how this formed a new world, and thus - and something I have been thinking of a lot - how could we reimagine the one we are in. What is the new ideology we need? The green economy is not stacking up, and as the neoliberal comes crashing down around us in glory, we have no other at the table. She is working across disciplines to bring minds together to start this off. Despite being an ecologist, she actually wants this to be an arts-led initiative for they can illustrate the models and design the outcomes of these sessions.
“Ideology: a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.”
I digress - the exciting point being this workshop needs to be held in spaces that are reimagining how we function and live in community. And in community, not in red brick university towers.
We can also cover the co-working in tree houses (another friends dream), parties and bat mitzvahs, and build our vast greenhouses for food growing, which similarly are too about reimagining how we could use space and work.