One of the most stimulating opportunities of being part of CORAL is to have the opportunity to join a recent, and yet well-established network of inspiring people working around creative hubs in Europe. Being at the Bautopia Conference in Porto was of great value for us, as researchers, to connect with so many practitioners and learn about their projects, spaces and future perspectives.
Our first approach with the ECHN network in Brussels (for the first Bautopia event), gave us the chance to get familiar with such an environment. Whilst in Porto we had the opportunity to get directly involved with the sessions. On the second day we presented the CORAL project to the members, and also took part in a discussion panel titled ‘Glocalization in Culture and Creativity’ where we tried to share our insights into the challenges of rural and peripheral areas, and gave some examples from our recent CORAL school in Syros, Greece.
The conference also gave us the opportunity to meet and network with many inspiring and interesting initiatives that are currently taking place in Europe. For instance, the case of the ‘Genalguacil Pueblo Museo‘ in rural Malaga offered a very interesting case about the role of creative spaces in addressing rural challenges.
The final day we had an excursion to the municipality of Viana do Castelo, located approximately an hour outside of Porto. There we had the chance to learn from the experiences of the city councilor, Ricardo Rego, the founder of Dinamo10, Joana Carvalho, and the Creative Habitat network of collaborative workspaces from the North Region in Portugal and the neighbouring region of Galicia, Spain.
These initiatives are in line with our research topics and offered us a chance to ground in practice the theories we have been engaging with over the last months. Moreover, they depict rural and peripheral hubs as not only places of economic activity, but also as being actively engaged in their local social fabrics. Hopefully, we will have the chance in the future to further explore and collaborate with them.