The Association of Small Villages Limburg (VKKL) is involved in securing the quality of life in small villages. The VKKL brings parties together as a knowledge broker, represents village interests towards the province, develops expertise among its members and feeds its members with new knowledge and insights through the organization of a rural parliament and the Limburg Labs. The VKKL tries to understand the dynamics and possible need for support of this new ‘civilian power’ in Limburg and asked the Science Shop to conduct research to find the answers.
Limburg society is in transformation. The VKKL notices an increase in civil initiative to ensure the quality of life in villages. These civil initiatives form networks and partnerships with no clearly defined organizational structure.
The research conducted by two master students and a group of Academic Consultancy Training students from Wageningen UR found lots of different civic initiatives in Limburg, initiatives that often operate in larger networks, they saw many connections between government and citizens’ initiatives, they found that initiative itself can originate top down and bottom-up and in case of the latter network parties may have a prominent role. It also became clear that the VKKL is not always recognized as a potential partner in the bottom-up and cooperating government initiatives.
In a creative session together with the VKKL we jointly elaborated ideas on how to connect as an organisation to the transforming Limburg society. These generated ideas are to be included in the policy plan 2017-2021. They focus on a VKKL organization that is distinctive and recognizable. They are about an organisation that is locally visible and that facilitates and promotes cross-border learning and collaboration. Last but not least widening the group of supporters is one of the key points and easy access to (local) knowledge and information via (social) media is elaborated.