It all started in 1997 when a group of young people in my village – located in remote inland Andalucia with fewer than 1000 inhabitants – rebelled against the lack of opportunities which pushed all their peers to move to the city. No one was forcing us to leave the village but we had to if we aspired to career prospects and fulfilling life. We decided to create a charity, a third sector association, to advocate for a change of paradigm and to bring about enhanced quality-of-life standards in the countryside in partnership with public authorities.
We were born with the mission to boost the countryside and its communities. There is a stark territory imbalance in Spain. Currently, 85% of Spaniards live in cities and the projections are that this will rise to 90% in the next few years. There are currently 8,130 villages/small towns with under 10,000 people and they are scattered across the country. Alongside this reality, you have the big concentrations of population in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia.
If a village disappears, all its local traditions and heritage die with it. It also has an impact on the environment, natural ecosystems, and life cycles. As the forests are abandoned there is an increased risk of wildfires and of forest mass loss disrupting their key function as carbon sinks. Needless to say all this will negatively affect life in urban areas. When I explain climate change to my mum she is at a loss to understand why people would want to live in cramped flats in overpopulated, polluted, and expensive cities. We work to raise awareness and slow down the ongoing mass urbanisation of the world. We know it is a utopia but this meaningful mission keeps us alive and motivated.
In this vein, we are very proud of our program “Regenera Rural” (Regenerate the rural areas) designed to create local employment opportunities for long-term unemployed groups. We focus on bridging well-defined local skills gaps in order to deliver viable business models and ensure new livelihood opportunities for locals.