A Playful Platform for Deliberation and Strategy
|Research & design||Kate Wilkes|
|Goal||Empower the local community of Longford to form a new strategy for rural regeneration. Audience & Stakeholders: Longford community, Longford County Council|
|Duration||Major Research Project (1 Semester)|
Exploring new strategies to rewrite the rural boom-bust pattern in Longford, Ireland
Longford town was once booming community. Today, ‘For Lease’ signs in shop windows and high unemployment rates proliferate. This boom-bust pattern is a common narrative for rural communities. Local economies must be strengthened in order to break this cycle. By leveraging local talent and ambition through alternative economic models and greater agency, resiliency can be nurtured in such communities. With an influx of recent immigrants, blocks filled with of vacant buildings, and a local economy and community in need of support, Longford County Council sought the help of Space Engagers and IADT Masters students. Kate facilitated sessions with community groups, engaged with County Council members, and met with locals to hear about their experiences and perspectives for Longford’s future. Kate was eager to find platforms for locals’ interests and ambitions as a catalyst for cohesion, economic opportunity, and security for future.
She combined first-hand interviews and workshops with secondary research to find case studies of alternative economic models that could lend themselves to Longford and similar rural contexts. Though varied, all the models provided an economic possibility that could be locally-driven: harnessing the talents and ambitions of local residents to empower the community’s future. This research transformed into an interactive game: participants would be equipped with different but equal currencies, enabling their characters to contribute in unique and unexpected ways. As a group they explore the various options, introducing participants to a suite of alternative economic models and possibilities. The result was dialogue and deliberation about potential strategies to support Longford and similar communities in achieving a future that is socially, economically, and environmentally secure.
Research identified and presented a solution as to how existing resettlement programs could diversify current strategies to support newcomer entrepreneurs and the next generation to becoming strong and successful small businesses entrepreneurs in closely-knit communities.