As part of our focus on connectivity and visibility, LGV is launching a blog series to build awareness and visibility for local innovation and entrepreneurship that present compelling models for replication and scale.
Why a blog series?
As an international development practitioner I’ve spent the last 15 years working and living in a multitude of developing contexts across Latin America, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa. Despite the fact that I was usually hired to solve a problem (poverty alleviation, educational access, livelihood development, women’s empowerment...you name it) - what I often found was that the community already had the solution - it just wasn’t visible. The real problem was that the entrepreneurs and organizations doing the most innovative work, were doing it in isolation, often not even aware of the significance of their approach or they lacked the resources and partnerships to deliver at scale. This lack of visibility and connectivity was often the key barrier to achieving broader, systemic impact.
In my first six months back in Western New York working on the Letchworth Gateway Villages initiative - I see the same dynamic at play. Working across different communities I’ve been humbled and inspired by the many ways in which entrepreneurs, leaders and community groups are finding solutions to the challenges we face in our own rural context. Yet these approaches remain largely invisible and disconnected.
Likewise, while the challenges we face in our part of Western New York are multifaceted and complex - they’re certainly not unique. Depopulation, job loss, poor infrastructure, lack of access to global markets, the Internet, financial and human capital are challenges faced by rural communities around the world.
My intention with this blog series is to create a platform for the exchange of ideas, collaboration and creativity that lends visibility to innovative approaches from our own communities and beyond. Featured case studies will attempt to breakdown the elements of each approach to identify aspects that can be replicated and share lessons learned. Through sharing these stories and perspectives my hope is that we can better leverage our communities’ resources, inspire new ideas and mobilize a critical mass of doers, thinkers and investors ready to redefine what a sustainable and thriving future looks like for our part of rural America.
Are you a writer or photographer passionate about our region? Do you like helping people tell their unique stories to inspire change? Become a contributor to our blog series Rural Development Solutions and help us scale innovative approaches to local development challenges.