Franz Nahrada on the revival of networked rural hubs in Europe

An update on Franz Nahrada’s Global Village activities:

This is a record of two conversations taking place over email, and which give a good idea of what is going on around rural revitalisation in Europe.

1. Conversation with Alexander Rield of Civinis

Recently, a mail exchange was started by Alexander Riedl of Civinis, a networker strongly linked to the Brussels hub.

Alexander notified Franz Nahrada of Global Villages Vienna of the fact that the Hub paradigm is another strong inspiration to bring cooperative ICT facilities to rural areas. He pointed to recent developments in Greece and elsewhere and offered to bring together hub pioneers all over Europe.

Franz answered, that he just sees synergies with other recent developments: “We want places that support living and working in rural areas, not only for the local population, but also for tourists. I support strongly to consider the local community building functions of this. Serious Tourism is a sound business proposition, and my friend Georg Gasteiger together with partners invented and developed the concept of “Holiwork”. We toyed around with the idea of a “chain” of similar places built around individual concepts to support outreach to the right customers. We think that one strong motive of Business Tourism also is to create links to local businesses, so we see it as intertwined with local services to local people.”

He continues: “Furthermore, I see rural hubs as a birthplace of a new concept of rural living. The European Commission has rightfully understood that the monofunctional agricultural definition of rural areas has been part of the great rural decay. So we have the chance – but also necessity – to reinvent the village as a “place of many trades”, embedded in silence and beauty.”

“It is a pretty slow development that we are seing here, but the revival of rural hubs is gradually taking place. I am working on a conference “The Village Principle” with Christine Ax that we want to hold in Neuberg. Its built around the exciting new possibilities of technology not only to have us communicate, but also to revitalize crafts and local service quality in every aspect of life. We think most people would prefer villages or small towns to cities if there was a similar level of services available. We think we know how we can instigate such a development.”

“If we could set examples, these examples would be relevant to rural life not only in Europe, but also in other countries, expecially in Africa. Maybe the best way to mitigate the migration problem and build healthy development would be to showcase the potential of local development based on sustainable local economies. – something which I have discussed with Klaus Stoll who is embedded in a great network of community centers in both Americas.”

“We cannot really foresee the results of this revival, but we can envision that global networks of cooperation emerge that are as powerful as large corporations in research and development – simply by mass and divison of labour. The finest example of this vision is the rural hub of my friend Marcin Jakubowski in Missouri: and

“We are also considering building a channel to increase our knowledge about the achievements of others.Now is the time to make it happen and use all the knowledge and connections that we have accumulated in so many years to support the idea of rural hubs.”

Examples in Austria:

Georg Gasteiger is building a rural Hub in his beautiful farmhouse in Tyrol: mabe the worlds most pictorious rural hub:

The KB 5 in Kirchbach – a great rural hub with a special success story – and Franz Nahradas group GIVE has an office there at his friends Franz Steinwenders company:

Diethold Schaar and Klaus Rebernig (netz_werk_neuberg) are working on the Neuberg monastery to become a big and efficient rural hub: Neuberg Monastery

=== some more traditional developments in England that use the same name:

Warwickshire Rural Hub:
Staffordshire Rural Hub:
Worcestershire Rural Hub

2. Conversation with Lieven Callewaert of

Lieven stresses the importance of place:

“The strong belief I hold, being a organisational and leadership facilitator for the last 15 years, is that it is time now to bring all of our values ‘to place’. Ground them into practice, building ‘meaning in place’ and ‘places of meaning’. And whether this is in cities or rural, I think both hold another potential. As long as we can bring our practice into reality, giving a new meaning to community, the integration of learning, living and working, we are feeding the world with the food it needs these days.”

In his reply, Franz refers to the Arboricoli Village in Damanhur, which he described here.

Franz refers to the new trend of serious tourism, which aims to attract new populations to once abandoned villages. (it’sworth reading, a village where people are living in and with the trees)

I discussed with Klaus Rebernig from Netz&Werk Neuberg when we were invited to the village of Neupoella how things could proceed. In Neupoella, a group of Architects and the village administration do a project together to create an “implant” settlement for “creative industry” workers whatever that means (not going to argue about that British concept here). Young people who are supposed to move from city to the village, because they can live and work better in many respects, given they work in electronic networks. One of these is the fact that they have likeminded and supporting neighbours, specialized in similar things and open to exchange and collaboration. So a small village could hold a number of “the right people for me”. Klaus runs the monastery of Pernegg, a great place, health and fasting retreat center with healing silence. We suddenly had the idea of giving a new meaning to that monastery and hold “Village-Vision” meetings, matching a lot of people who seek for places, to do it in a way they find the right place and the right people. That could be an example of “serious tourism” and help us cross the barrier between che citiest people and the new opportunities.

European rural areas are a resource available in abundance, so there is much concern for a downward spiral, the same happens elsewhere. Community and regional goverments are desperately investing in programs to attract people, but they havent got it right. Its not the cheap housing alone or the fresh air that can attract people, but their own capacities for self-organisation.”

Franz concludes:

Formulating the contribution of each Global Village to a globe of villages is therefore another great idea. Damanhur might be the place where the whole world looks at in relation to our ability to communicate and coexist and above all resonate with plants – a very healing endavour. Its not about ideologies, its about patterns. Christopher Alexander has given us the roadmap for the next five centuries, to patternlanguage everything and share, recombine and learn.

Building model sites and living labs is the third idea that we can pursue with the second idea in mind. Alexander Riedl invited me to Brussels where there is a widespread notion that rural areas need broadband – but the main reason for this, the immense productivity that we can generate by full cooperation AND intellectual specialisation, was not even mentioned at this conference. There is a great opportunity now with the global crisis to ask for a resilience program throughout Europe.”

Please do join the Global Villages list if you want to be part of this conversation!!

1 Comment Franz Nahrada on the revival of networked rural hubs in Europe

  1. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    From Jeff Buderer, via email:

    For me the key point I try to emphasize is this idea of developing nodes
    of convergence – that is how can we come together in centers and or
    ecovillages that can help us to better synergize. This does not have to
    be a life long or long term commitment but rather a focus on how we can
    pool our resources on making the urban systems more compact and
    sustainable and community friendly/human scale (thus reducing the impact
    on rural regions in terms of cities relying on huge amounts of resources
    from rural areas to sustain themselves).

    On the other side of the coin is how to make the rural areas more
    citified and self-reliant in terms of cultural development, knowledge
    about sustainability and also the production of manufactured and value
    added items.

    The idea of fusing agriculture, energy, habitat management and healing
    together is vital I believe for making the P2P and Appropedia work as
    well as similar efforts like Post Carbon in the sense of facilitating an
    effective and well financed model to build a global network of
    centers/ecovillages that would focus on the above.

    This is my perspective on what the idea of Unity Center that Joy has
    been promoting over the years via OVF is all about:

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.