On Tuesday 30th November 2021 (St Andrew’s Day), a celebration event was held in Oban’s newly refurbished Rockfield Centre dedicated to the closing of the ViSENet Project.
The project began in 2018 and was established through co-operation with partners in Finland (University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute), Estonia (Estonian University of Life Sciences) and Romania (Bucharest University of Economic Studies). The main aim of the project was to develop tools, resources, guidance, and networking in order to bring together examples of good practice in relation to rural social enterprise. Unfortunately, the UK’s withdrawal from Europe means that the Erasmus program will no longer be open to Scottish organisations or students.
The main aim of the celebration event was to look back at all the work that the project has inspired since its inception. With a focus on ‘Bringing Communities Together’, the celebration was blended, with in-person attendees in Oban and colleagues in other locations across Scotland and abroad joining the event virtually.
Held between 1pm and 3pm, those joining the celebration in Oban were treated to a wide array of foods from Finland, Estonia, Romania and Scotland. The event also featured a stunning showcase of ocean-themed art made from recycled beach waste. The art was created by families on the Isle of Tiree while isolating at home as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The session was hosted remotely over zoom by Project Coordinator, Katja Rinne-Koski from the University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute in Finland. Katja looked back at some of the group’s achievements and opened up the floor for discussion on what the project meant to those involved. There was also an opportunity for representatives of Finland, Estonia, Romania and Scotland to show some examples of rural music from their respective countries.
When the session drew to a close there was a bittersweet atmosphere as the group said their goodbyes. Despite closing this chapter on the ViSENet Project, there was hopeful talk about the prospect of working on future projects as a group and pulling together more valuable research.