Rural NSW has a lot to offer, both in its contribution to the state’s economy, as well as the opportunities it provides for growth of industry and employment.
That’s also been the views of those who attended The Next Crop forums throughout this year, which were part of an initiative focused on ideas that could help rural revitalisation.
As an initiative of Fairfax Agriculture Media publications, The Land and Good Fruit and Vegetables, the forums were held across eight locations in NSW.
The aim of these forums has been two-fold.
Firstly, to create a platform where good ideas around how to revitalise country towns and their communities could be shared and discussed.
Secondly, to identify a way some of these ideas could be implemented.
The process to this point has been one of recognising the challenges rural communities face, while also growing an understanding of where the options are that can help us create solutions.
The concept involved a panel made up of speakers with a mix of backgrounds, including locals, out-of-town professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and people who had their own success and were willing to share.
The format was an open discussion panel, facilitated by The Land and Good Fruit and Vegetables, and was open to the audience to put forward ideas and ask questions.
From these forums, we have identified two communities with which we have formed local stakeholder groups and have locked in meetings to begin exploring where those towns can initiate positive change.
This will be the beginning of those towns’ revitalisation projects.
With the support of behavioural scientist Allan Parker, whom we discovered during the course of this project, we aim to tackle some of the small steps that can help set-up these towns to take control of their own future.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, November 24, The Land and Good Fruit and Vegetables will host an end-of-year dinner, during which we will present the forum highlights, hear from a guest speaker and look at the next steps.
A feature will be the competition, Target Your Town. Dinner attendees can enter their town, or a town of their choosing, to become the third community with which The Land and Allan Parker will collaborate to establish a revitalisation project (click here for terms and conditions).
Only those towns with representation in attendance on the night will be able to enter, and the winner will be announced at the dinner.
Also, guest speaker Clive Dixon, a former principal and Queensland regional director of education, these days living near Cairns, will share his insights into how a community can start this revitalisation discussion.
He is already working with Mr Parker on a project with schools in far north Queensland which has focused on developing sensitive conversations.
These schools are working with their communities in identifying and delivering the type of environment in which they want their children to grow up, including the type of future that will be there for them when they leave school.
Mr Dixon said this conversation begins with understanding the context of each community and the “mythologies" of the people, their beliefs and perceptions of what it’s like now.
“People would say we already do that, but I’d say we’re not doing that at all,” he said, explaining that a lot people get stuck in the past, on what the town used to be like.
He said this tendency to dwell on “the good old days” got in the way of peoples’ understanding of what the town or community could be like in the future.
“What are the qualities we want to see in our community? What will we see when our businesses are successful? What will it look like when our young people are thriving? He says this is the conversation we need to have. It’s more important to have a shared understanding of the qualities we want for our community than it is to have arbitrary targets (e.g. the number of shops).
“People can judge for themselves whether they are successful, there is better livability and young people find their future in our town.
“Have the important conversations, determine your needs and the options you have to create the qualities you want for your town.”
The dinner event will also feature surprise a entertainment act.
- Book your dinner tickets at www.rollerdigital.com/thenextcrop/product/232030/?date=20181124#/sessions