Michael Dower

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Our wonderful friend, mentor and supporter, Michael Dower, sadly passed away on Monday November 7, 2022, just a week before his 89th birthday. In his lifetime, Michael was a force in European rural development. He was instrumental in developing the European Rural Parliament partnership and process, including co-ordinating and writing the foundational document ‘All Europe shall Live’, based on a survey of all of our European Partners, from which he developed the first ERP Manifesto at the 2nd ERP Gathering in Austria in 2015. These have remained our baseline documents.

In addition to the ERP, Michael’s work in rural development was extensive. He co-founded and served as coordinator of PREPARE - Pre-accession Partnership for Rural Europe, supporting the launch of many national and regional rural movements and rural parliaments in Central and Eastern Europe. He founded and served as President of ECOVAST – the European Council for the Village and Small Town. He co-founded and animated the European Agricultural Convention (EAC), now ARC2020. He was a very active member of Forum Synergies and many other European civic initiatives. He was co-creating the CURE - Convention for Urban and Rural Europe.

Prior to his post-retirement activism in European rural civil society, Michael managed the Peak District National Park in England; was Director General of the Countryside Commission for England and Wales; and was Professor of European Rural Development at the University of Gloucestershire. He edited and promoted the European Landscape Convention for the Council of Europe.

Michael was passionate about rural areas, their people, landscapes, land use and ecology. In the later years of his life, he worked tirelessly to advocate on the climate change emergency, and led local woodland management projects, working with school children, where he lived in Dorset, England.

Michael was, and is, an inspiration to us all. He urged us to be bold and brave and urgent in our work. His legacy lies within us and our continuing, collective work to support and develop rural Europe – our wonderful home.

Thank you Michael!

As part of the ROAD project ERP sent out a call for “Inspiring stories of rural communities taking action on climate change and sustainability”

The winner of this Environmental challenge was “Los Portales Community”, Spain

Founded in Andalucía in 1984 Los Portales is an intentional community that practices innovative ways of life in different areas including organic agriculture, deep psychology, empowering governance systems, natural medicines, art, clean energies, an economy based on sharing. For the last 30 years we have been practising organic and biodynamic agriculture. We work to improve biodiversity, the quality of the soil and return all nutrients that we take out, using crop rotations and synergies, no dig beds, mulching, green manure, closed nutrient loops (making our own compost and biofertilisers; ash from our fires on the land).

As part of the ROAD project ERP sent out a call for Selijas Salas “Stories of your countryside”

The winner of this challenge was our partner in Latvia
with River Cleaning story by NGO “Boats of Selonia”

Collaborative river cleanup days in the countryside of Latvia –
a success story about daring, support from fellow men,
voluntary work and desire to break down stereotypes
A year ago I and my family moved from the capital city to the countryside, to my birthplace. The idea that had been in our minds for a long time finally became a decision. We have always been lovers of active recreation so decision to work in this direction seemed natural. We saw a great chance in the river that flows through my native town, and as one of our favorite pastimes is boating, developing boating culture was a logical step towards our aim.
Whenever time permitted, we spend it boating by Dienvidsusēja but soon we understood that the river had to be cleaned up from fallen trees in order to be ready to welcome other boating enthusiasts. Said and done. Following the current events of Aknīste Municipality we applied for the initiative project for citizens with our river cleanup idea.