Rural Sweden is a national non-profit organization whose membership consists of thousands of local development groups. Members are community groups and village councils as well as some local heritage associations and even sports clubs who are dedicated to local development.
What unites these groups is that they work for local development in their village or district, even if their activities may vary. They work with everything from organizing Midsummer celebrations and taking over schools and shops, to promoting their village as an attractive place to live and work in. Our 24 regional departments provide support and guidance to groups in their respective locations. The departments coordinate and initiate common issues and maintain contact with government agencies and organizations at the regional level.
At the national level, an administrative office under the leadership of the organization’s board maintains contact, coordination and communication with groups throughout the country. The board consists of 13 members from across Sweden. We strive for a gender equal leadership and therefore have two chairpersons, one woman and one man. An important component of the work by the administrative office and the board is to act as a collective voice for the rural movement in Sweden. Thousands of local development groups are unable to meet with the Minister for Rural Affairs but our board can do so and convey the voice of the rural movement. We also have about forty large member organizations that share our values and support our work. Rural Sweden was founded in September 1989, at the end of a large campaign by the same name. This meant a strong mobilization of rural Sweden and after the campaign ended, local groups wanted to continue to work together to develop their villages and communities. That was the start of a long journey towards a country in balance. A journey that is still underway.
Our goal is simple. We want to have balance between the countryside and city. We will achieve this balance when rural areas are treated fairly, i.e. they are given development opportunities equivalent to those provided to urban areas. This is not about extraordinary things but rather those things that should be natural for inhabitants all over Sweden. Everyone needs daily life to function with nearby grocery stores, where police come when called, and with accessible internet and travelable roads. The solutions are not necessarily going to be the same for rural areas as for urban areas. Instead, solutions should be adapted to the conditions and needs in a given place. Rural areas have to develop on their own terms. Now we are touching on an important point, and that is how rural areas are viewed. Today, there is a widely-held urban norm that views cities and towns as where modern life is lived, and where creativity and innovative thinking flourish, with the people in rural areas and villages portrayed as the opposite, i.e. as backward-looking and static. We want to contribute to ending this myth and to fostering a more multifaceted and equitable portrayal of our rural areas. We hope that this work can lead to a better distribution of resources between the countryside and city and to a greater understanding of the important contribution rural areas make to all of Sweden’s development. When there is balance between the countryside and city, then we will have achieved our vision where all of Sweden flourishes.
We are members of the European Rural Community Alliance (ERCA).
Find ERCA here: http://www.ruralcommunities.eu
We are also members of PREPARE – Partnership for rural Europe.
Find PREPARE here: http://www.preparenetwork.org/
Together with 40 other local community organizations in Europe we arrange the European Rural Parliament every second year. Read more here: http://europeanruralparliament.com/
We are interested in participating in projects within our priority issues that contribute to reaching the goal of vibrant communities in rural areas. If your organization is looking for a project partner concerning our priority issues, do not hesitate to contact us.