Approaches to Rural Sustainability and Regeneration:
Dreams, Processes and Decision-Making





The rural is in a state of constant regeneration. Since the development of the urban, the rural has been a place of both harmony and negativism. It switches from radical, alternative (anti-industrialist) space where we can renegotiate a relationship with ‘nature’, to uncultured backwater, representing little more than material resource. Such perspectives are formed in relation to time (history) and space (place) and need to be considered when reaching an understanding of, as well as approaches to, rural regeneration.

At the heart of regeneration (conscious, planned or otherwise), cultural, social and historical elements form a crucial part of conceiving how to work with communities. Approaches to vision, resources, trust and social/cultural practices are embedded within such elements. Professor of Geography Michael Woods notes that, in rural Wales, the impact of globalism is ‘not really noticeable’ and that, instead, 'globalization is a more everyday, banal process of change, an almost insidious development, stealthily transforming place bit by bit.’ (2010, The Next Rural Economies) Cultural critic Lucy Lippard comments, in her book The Lure of the Local (1997), that artists (or cultural producers) are in a perfect position to chart such gradual transformation by exposing political, social and historical dimensions. Following on from this, we can consider the work of planners, who are trying to measure community conditions prior to a regeneration programme, in order to assess the needs and potential impact. In this cultural and legislative context, we must ask how a place can be appropriately regenerated? Who is regenerating, and for whom?

Behind the scenes

Reuben Knutson, who conceived and organised this conference, is a final year doctoral research student at Aberystwyth University, supported by a Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship, which benefits from European Social Funds.

With invaluable support from the Centre for Regeneration Excellence in Wales (CREW) supports effective development of integrated approaches to regeneration practice with research, knowledge and training.

Thanks also to The Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE), at Trinity St David University, which places sustainability at the core of its educational practice, and won the Guardian Universty Awards, 2013.

And to fforest for providing such a unique and special venue, whose site represents a diverse approach to regeneration.