SRDI’s Rural Innovation Network bridges the isolation and leadership support gaps of rural communities by providing opportunities for peer to peer learning, skills building, and authentic relationship building.
Projected outcomes include:
- New spaces---virtual and in-person, regional and content-specific, where issues that affect rural communities can be addressed by sharing what has been learned in rural communities as well as new tools and innovative practices in partnership
- Increased knowledge and skills of rural leaders working on asset-based economic development efforts
- Strengthened number and capacity of rural community organizations that are asset-based, self-determined, sustainable and connected to their peers to address the needs of rural communities
- A diverse network of rural leaders and community members who have the ability to communicate and work in partnership across the lines of difference (race, class, gender, sexuality, age, region, educational background, etc.)
This will be accomplished primarily through:
- A Community of Practice – in person trainings, cultural gatherings, and partnership opportunities for Southern rural leaders to learn, support, brainstorm, and network together.
- RuralInnovationNetwork.com – a webpage for rural community economic development and asset building that is simple to use and full of functionality for rural leaders. RuralInnovationNetwork.com has individual profiles for leaders and organizations, forum spaces for feedback and virtual meetings, and issue-based groups for regional support.
- The online and in-person opportunities are both valued as a means “technology” used to connect people together for learning and networking
- The online community should be adaptable and easy to access
- Face to face learning exchanges will be creative, relevant and grounded in issue that are of value to rural leaders
- Members of the RIN Community of Practice are the experts who can speak, teach and facilitate about the assets, needs and issues impacting rural Southern communities
- Both the online network and in-person learning exchanges should be sensitive to the dynamic issues of “ruralness” and be inclusive and grounded in the diversity of the region
- The RIN begins with SRDI and its many rural partners as its center “hub” but will evolve to have many hubs
- The RIN Community of Practice is a space for all who seek a more equitable and just rural south and will not tolerate the oppression of any of its members based on difference (race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, region, education, etc.)
What is the Rural Innovation Network’s Community of Practice?
The purpose of the RIN’s Community of Practice is to create and facilitate spaces for peer learning exchanges, networking and authentic relationship-building can occur among rural leaders, community members and rural organizations dedicated to the equitable economic growth and sustainability of their community and/or region. The necessity for these spaces is directly linked to offsetting the isolation and lack of access to learning and networking opportunities that many rural community leaders experience in their daily lives.
Therefore, SRDI will:
- Provide intentional spaces for peer learning and exchange (regional and content-specific)
- Provide access to relevant innovators and innovations dedicated to supporting rural communities (including funders)
- Facilitate rural constituent training opportunities that address the learning needs and priorities of rural communities (increasing skills, knowledge and abilities)
- Increase partnerships across SRDI program strategies
- Facilitate retreats that focus on leadership learning, respite, reflective practice and support
While much of the focus of the Community of Practice will be driven by the needs and desires of SRDI’s core rural community partners, there is a set of guiding principals that will guide the development of the model.
Projected outcomes from this part of the Rural Innovation Network include:
- A diverse cadre of rural leaders with the knowledge and skills to better serve their rural communities in the American South
- A diverse network of rural leaders with a social change perspective who have authentic relationships that transcend the lines of the difference
- A collectively determined sense of the priorities, assets, and opportunities for the rural South
- A powerful collective rural voice for creating change regionally and nationally through strong communication and decision-making channels
- SRDI’s work will be transformed to be more intentional, relevant, and innovative to accelerate the assets, skills and needs or our rural partners.
What is RuralInnovationNetwork.com?
SRDI’s online component for networking, collaboration, and achieving regional success, RuralInnovationNetwork.com, allows rural leaders in the South to:
- Create private space for their staff and/or board
- Set up forum groups for issues important to their organizations or coalitions
- Send out event information to their key partners or a broader regional list
- Consult with peers outside their immediate areas for advice on the issues you they are facing