What is a Rural Innovation Campus anyways?

"You have the ability to create narrative, to create mythology through these buildings."

- Jane Thompson

At CFI, we define innovation as "an act of social progress through uncertainty." That is, addressing a problem by observing the constraints and working creatively around them to find a solution - one that benefits not only an individual, but also the community and environment. 

After a year dedicated to building a clear vision and direction, CFI has taken the first steps in making that vision a reality. We met, listened, shared and together mapped out the future of the Rural Innovation Campus - Canada, to be located at Whaelghinbran Farm.

In a world facing overwhelming challenges, innovation is key to finding lasting solutions. Being innovative is of particular importance in the rural context, where resources are often limited and people are required to develop a broad range of skills if they want to respond to the problems specific to the area. Having a space dedicated to the unique needs of rural communities will offer people an opportunity to create solutions that fit the rural context. At the Rural Innovation Campus - Canada, we will provide the space for like-minded individuals from different fields to connect and share, and mentors to help guide the process of innovation, combining traditional knowledge with new ways of thinking. This campus will also serve as a retreat, giving participants the space and time to work on new ideas, and the chance to see how people can live in harmony with nature.

Led by CFI's mentors Craig Applegath and Jane Thompson, we started off the day of planning by describing our own vision for the future of the Rural Innovation Campus. While everyone's personal vision was slightly different, there was a clear common theme in the importance of sharing: across disciplines, activities, age, culture and ability.

We then moved on to find consensus and highlight priorities in the architechtural process of building the RIC. The following points were chosen from a longer list as the most significant priorities to keep in mind as we move forward with building the campus.

  • Buildings are integral to their environmental context.
  • Net positive environmental impact (energy, water, carbon, habitat, ecosystem service).
  • Local building materials - where possible, materials should be sourced from our own site.
  • Facility designed to be transferable for use by others.
  • Appropriate connectedness between the different program parts.

This list of priorities indicates a consistent commitment to the mission of CFI: connecting people to the land they rely on, and being a model for how people can work in cohesion with nature. The Rural Innovation Campus in Canada will combine the new with the old, the traditional with the novel, human-made ideas with natural landscapes and habitats. We hope it will inspire and motivate this and future generations to think positively about how to approach humanity's place in the world.

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