Lessons learned under Lockdown in the Region of Trøndelag
The Region of Trøndelag, along with the rest of Norway, entered into a state of lockdown on the 12th of March 2020 and has had major restrictions on movement and the ability to meet people in person since then. This has had a major impact on the TeRRItoria transformative experiment in Trøndelag, specifically on the co-creation phase which was due to take place over the spring. This forms part of the “reflexive strand” of the project, which tries to make R&I ecosystems more inclusive and citizen centric.
The idea of the transformative experiment in Trøndelag is to look at how a process of “reterritorialisation” can be enabled; that is to say, to focus on how rural areas can become more appealing places for young people to move to and stay in, thus reversing the trend of rural depopulation. To facilitate public engagement in their experiment, the reflexive strand of the project foresees that all territorial partners organise meetings with local stakeholders in the territories where they plan to execute their projects. In the case of Trøndelag, this primarily means two rural areas which have been selected; Røros and Namdalen. As regions located quite far from the regional centre Trondheim, where a prestigious university and many attractive jobs are located, they form ideal subjects for learning about the factors that influence people’s choices of where to live.
In the interests of developing a bond of trust with the local stakeholders in the chosen communities, the TeRRItoria partners in Trøndelag found it important to travel out to them to meet them in person and be shown the communities from a local perspective. They managed to have meetings with economic development practitioners in Røros before lockdown measures went into place but any such plans with Namdalen have had to be put on hold. The partners are currently making alternative plans on how to carry out these co-creation activities remotely.
Another side of the public engagement aspect of the territorial experiment is looking into what factors motivate young people’s choices of where to live, especially students. Trondheim being a student city, the partners had planned to hold group meetings with larger groups of students. This is now clearly in breach of social distancing requirements. However, a number of one-to-one online interviews on this topic have already been conducted with students to collect this information and this work-around has proven to be a constructive solution. The partners additionally expect that increased digital competence brought about by the lockdown forcing people to learn about videoconferencing will contribute to improving interactions with the two rural regions in question.
|Article written by Owen Brown – EURADA.|
Owen works in EURADA primarily on Communication, Dissemination, and Exploitation tasks for Horizon 2020 projects, including TeRRItoria.