The Rural Commons Festival is a practice and a celebration that aims to explore the open concept of rural commons by sharing competences and connecting experiences in different fields (e.g. landscape and natural resources management, food production, critical and design thinking, rural heritage, culture and art). The Festival directs the attention on rural areas of Italy and Europe, which have a long tradition of collective management of natural and built resources and of cooperative models of economy, but which are also showing emerging collective practices of care for the communities, their livelihoods practices and habitats. Commons can be defined as collective responses and practices to shared needs and desires expressed by a community through self organization and shared “rules”. This concept might refer to different fields such as local economy, landscape, habitat, spatial, social, cultural and natural resources. Due to the historical relevance of the commons as a way for the community to self organize and their great future potential as a framework for the regenerative livelihood of societies,livelihood practices and habitats of rural areas, there is the need to link and create synergies among the different academic fields and the non-academic and practitioner world, to enable a concerted recognition of the power of the commons for the present and the future of rural regions.
With its transdisciplinary perspective, the Rural Commons Festival aims at becoming a moment of encounter, exchange, and joy especially in this time of forced distance due to the pandemic. The idea is to reconnect old and new practices, to learn by doing, to explore new methods and tools of a collective care of different rural areas. In its first edition “Da ovest a est” in May and June 2021, after an intense process of co-design among 35 associations, enterprises, academic institutions and administrations that started in September 2020, the Rural Commons Festival has been a journey from the Western to the Eastern mountain valleys of Trentino in Italy, integrating different activities such as an itinerant symposium, explorative walks, events, talks, construction workshops, and revitalizing abandoned or unused places, which returned to be cultural, artistic and meeting points in the occasion of the Festival. The idea was to present innovative experiences, studies and research on spatial transformation, communities and (caring) economies, social innovation, and invisible practices that are already proposing alternative visions for the future of these rural contexts.