Since 1987, Glynwood’s Countryside Exchange program has taken community stewardship directly into the field—often with dramatic results.
Through the Countryside Exchange, teams of professionals—experts in community planning, conservation, and economic development from several countries—help participating communities gain new perspectives on environmental and agricultural issues of pressing concern, generating new ideas, energy, and capacity to address them.
Through the Countryside Exchange, we became aware that for most communities saving farmland and farming was the overriding issue of concern. To provide greater depth in the service provided to communities, Glynwood created the Keep Farming program, which drew heavily on the Countryside Exchange program’s philosophy and approach.
The Exchange is now used selectively in situations that require an approach encompassing a broader range of issues and where it is uniquely suited to have a strong and lasting impact.
The Countryside Exchange program.
The typical Exchange proceeds as follows:
- A full year before the visit, Glynwood staff members begin selecting communities and team members.
- Each selected community creates a local organizing committee—representing a diverse cross-section of interests—which works with Glynwood staff to identify issues and plan the Exchange week.
- During the Exchange week, team members visit the community, joining with local leaders to examine the economic, social, and environmental issues the community has identified.
- At the end of the Exchange week, the team presents its observations and recommendations at a community meeting.
- From then on, the local committee spearheads the implementation of team recommendations to fulfill the community’s, objectives.
- Glynwood staff members remain in contact to track progress and provide technical support.
The focus—and pace—of implementation efforts vary by community. Independent evaluations have found that Countryside Exchange has catalyzed community change, motivated planning for the future, successfully developed local leadership, and sparked communities to shape their own futures.
Nearly 1,000 professionals have served more than 100 communities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and the Netherlands on Exchange Teams. Thousands of local leaders have participated during the exchange and with the implementation that follows. We invite you to read their stories.
Contact us with questions about the Exchange.