Do you remember the feeling of throwing a pebble and let it jump across the surface of a quiet water? One, two, three, four, yeahh! That´s how we found out how making ripples can be fun.
In Septemeber 2017 a group of 20 Europeans came together to find out how to make ripples in a quiet village near Madrid, Spain. If you have a clear liquid surface and a stone, the implication might be clear but how to make ripples in a community? The RURAL CODES program took us on an intense learning journey to find out and don´t miss the fun!
Once a vibrant village, Collado Mediano used to attract even Madrid’s youth to come and gather on the weekends. Over the years, however it had turned into, what the locals call a „pueblo dormitorio“, a sleeping village. There were a lot of beautiful places and vibrant nature for tracking and biking, but the local economy and social life had shifted to the nearby, more urban areas.
„In order to create community, we need to ba community ourselves“, said Marta, one of the facilitators before inviting us to find our group ritual. During the week we discovered community in various creative ways like group dances, active exploration and sharings. But most of all we learned through our mutual engagement within the local community. Growing together as a core group and including the community as much as possible into the process was a simultaneous process. Like this we practiced, in the small, what we wanted to aplly on a larger scale. We used to call this principle „as in the game, so in life“.
A playful athmosphere helped us to explore the community with an inviting smile, making it easy to get into conversation with people of all demographic backgrounds. Most people were extremely open and greatful to be asked about their talents and dreams. So we quickly saw ways to improve community life in the village.
After just three days the number of dreams we gathered reached 147. Sharing all our encounters we could create a map of dreams. We began to realize the underlying topics behind each dream and what seemed like different ideas were actually often adressing the same problem.
If we imagined we were all standing at a lake throwing pebbles, our goal was to help them find the ones that float best. We wanted to create as many ripples as possible, according to the resources available.
A second pattern that showed up, was this of diverse „tribes“ within the village. There were the established villagers but also the freshly drawn, there were the Spanish natives but also a large Moroccan community.
Here we found out how good it was that we, as a mixed group came there with fresh eyes so that we were able to adress everybody without prejudice. By learning how useful our own various talents merge together beautifully to co-create, we could invite the locals to do the same. So we organized a talent show, where everyone was invited to show what they have got to share with the village. It was beautiful, to see inhabitants of all ethnities and age groups performing.
This athmosphere continued throughout the whole process. From taking decisions with a mixed jury of all ages and cultures, to young and old working together or Morroccan families preparing delicious lunch for the workers, everyone was asked to participate. Some sterotypes were truely fading throughout this week.
What would you do here, if you had the talents, resources and manpower to realize it? The RURAL CODES Training was an invitation for 6000 inhabitants to forget about the things that usual hold us back. We tried to create an athmosphere where dreams lead our actions and give room for possibilities. Just as an enterpreneur is driven by the wish to bring something into this world, we tried to give people back their responsibility to take things into their own hands.
Some of them came to the scene like Joseph Campbells „Hero´s Journey“. We saw people that were true heros for their village, taking on responsibilities in various fields, because no one else had done it.
By taking on creative roles, the villagers and also the trainees could explore themeselves in new fields of work. Wheather seeing a 10 year old swinging her shovel with a smile on his face, an architect collecting materials, a mother preparing food for the workers, or neighbors giving access to electricity: Entrepreneurship happened in many ways.
A sleeping village was waking up again. After one week the community could see concrete examples of what happens when community, diversity and entrepreneurship are blowing through the air. We will stay excited to see who keeps throwing pebbles.
Holger Reuter, Participant from Germany (Ideen Hoch Drei) of the Rural CODES program.