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How to plant new inhabitants to the countryside?

The blog is written by Häme University of Applied Science (HAMK) student group: Jaana Ellonen, Elina Järvinen, Matti Kuusi, Suvi Perkkiö, Sini Sangi & Merja Leikkainen.

How people choose their place of residence? What keeps them in there? How to find a new glow to the fading places?  It needs more than a few houses to make a vital rural community. Community is a bigger group of different kind of people, who make different things for their livelihood. During the life cycle of the human being the priorities changes as the time goes on. There is a need to pay attention to these differences when considering vitality of some rural areas. What are the requirements for a good life?  Resources and budgets are often limited. That’s why it’s so important to target where the money and power is spend. When trying to find solutions to make community more vital, there is a need to stay focused to the time ongoing. There is no reason to invest to the past, it’s better to predict future development and possibilities. 

Necessity for improvement for vitality of rural communities and relocation to the countryside is nationwide. Villages can’t solve the problem by themselves. To achieve these aims there is a need for cooperation and activity between the authorities and inhabitants as well as political decisions and rural development projects. 

What special is in rural communities and how to strengthen them? How the countryside beats the big cities? Landscape and nature are significant values of living in countryside, also when considering to moving out from the city. Branding a landscape and cultural environment offers opportunity to rural community or area to stand out in the competition of visibility. Around the ecotourism there is often many entrepreneurs and stakeholders that can attract new customers. Raw material that can be collected from the nature and the experiences around it are unique. Environmental movement is emphasized in the society, and it can bring new possibilities to raise the interest of rural areas. 

Truth is, that the working part of the inhabitant’s determinate the vitality of the rural areas. If there’s no work nearby, the prerequisite of living won’t actualize. In the other hand, if there’s no basic services nearby, the vitality and attraction of the rural area won´t realise neither. If there’s no work, the solvency and purchasing power of inhabitants decreases and that effects to the basic services. Consequence is, that people move closer to the cities where the accessibility is better. Even though, the rural areas need young working families, the services for elderly inhabitants are also a necessary. Where the younger inhabitants are interested in different hobbies and exercise possibilities, elderly inhabitants might need a health services and comfortable residence that a vital community can give. After all, a prosperous community services people in all ages.  

Covid-19 has shown that telecommuting is increasing in nationwide and interest for working from holiday residents in rural areas has increased. When investing in internet connections and enabling telecommuting it can affect to the permanence of the working habitant or relocate new inhabitants to the rural areas. With better internet access and telecommuting it’s possible to lead a company from the rural area. It’s also a good time for municipalities to make decisions, that can affect to the interest of companies to establish or expand to the area. Covid-19 support for business development might also affect to the reason to start new enterprises. 

The condition of the infrastructure has an impact on the living and the accessibility.  Traffic routes should be safe also for pedestrians and bicycles. Poor infrastructure can also affect on the public transport. 

With political decision-making can be affected to the attraction of the rural areas. Nationwide political decisions and support for the heating methods, infrastructure, project funding, business subsidies, public transport and vitality of rural areas or social welfare and healthcare reform has an impact for viability. Decisions of local government can affect on the interest for rural areas with financial assistance, land use planning, profitable sale of plots, free experiment of living in the area, social media collaboration or changing the holiday residents for a permanent housing. 

With rural development projects there is a change to increase viability and attraction of the rural areas in many ways. When estimating the efficiency of these projects it should be considered how it responds to the challenge and effects on the biggest group of the people in the rural area. Do these projects offer employment opportunities or improve basic services? Projects and fundings are important to the development of the rural areas and collaboration between the villages and regions can also lead to the success. The best specialists of the rural areas are the active and interested group of inhabitants and entrepreneurs who are living in the area.  

In the villages of rural area there is still a strong communal spirit. At its best it is as a neighbourly spirit when people are working together to provide the better future for their area.” We together” as a team spirit is something that attach the people to the place. Communal spirit creates the feeling of security. Communal spirit and safetiness are values, that should be emphasized as an advantage of living in the countryside.

Sources of inspiration of the blog: MASU-project, HYMY I & HYMY II-projects, Maallemuuttotalkoot, Kylään maisemaan-project, Lopen Järventaustan kylän valokuituverkon rakentaminen-project and HIME-project

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