Community based initiatives
A Conceptual Model of Community-Based Initiatives and Rural Development: Two Case Studies of Engagement and Empowerment in Iceland and Guatemala
Resident participation is often seen as a factor for strengthening a sense of community, or a meaningfully belonging to a larger network of relationships. The process of community-based initiatives involves developing community empowerment and engagement. The goal of this paper is to build a conceptual model of the process of community-based initiatives and how they both engage and empower rural communities in sustainable community development. The study explores two cases, REKO-Norðurland in Iceland, which aim is to connect small food producers and consumers and Hug it forward in Guatemala, which aim is to build bottle schools and enhance community environmental awareness. Through case study analysis, and qualitative interviews, content analysis of webpages and other social media, photos, and documents, we will begin to unfold the process of community-based initiatives in these two countries and describe how organizations have used community engagement and empowerment as a strategy for sustainable development. Although in its early phase, the research data gives indications on how, through the process of community-based initiatives, organizations can have a significant impact on quality of life (QOL) by creating a space for individuals to become more actively engaged in their community through social interaction, which then leads to building community capacity, which then leads to sustainable development.
Neolocalism, Revitalization, and Rural Tourism Development in Húnaþing vestra
Small rural communities in Iceland have seen a fast-changing economy and have had to come up with different ways to become resilient to these changes. This chapter takes an ethnographic approach to the study of neolocalism to describe how the community of Húnaþing vestra saw the potential to nurture a sense of place using their natural and cultural assets to enhance the local economy and community livelihoods. Two case studies are used spanning over 20 years (2000-2019) based on an accumulation of first-hand experiences and research between the authors who live in Húnaþing vestra. The cases are the Grettir the Strong Project (GSP), and the Icelandic Seal Center (ISC). These cases describe how community initiative projects have played an active role in fostering the local identity and distinctiveness of a community, and its use as a strategy for crafting authentic tourism experiences. Although no longer a functioning project, the GSP, has had a significant impact on the local identity of Iceland’s Northwest region, while the ISC continues to work with sustainable and responsible tourism development at the grassroots level. Both the GSP and ISC were developed as a means for economic development by focusing on local knowledge, cultural heritage and traditions, and community assets. There is a need to investigate neolocalism in rural tourism development, as it may give insights on how a community may feel empowered by telling their story of their connections to their place and how it may influence revitalization efforts and community resiliency.