I want you to remember a time when you were on holidays in a rural area and came across a local shop selling traditional hand-made products. Have you ever asked how it was made? Who made it and why it was made in this way? And what its impact on the community was? These are some questions that spurred interest in my research topic: revalorization and innovation of local resources in rural communities. As most rural traditional products are rooted in local culture, identity and values of the place of production, a potential strategy to foster place-shaping practices can be the revalorization and innovation of local resources while maintaining traditions and values.
As part of my research within SUSPLACE, I started to conduct field visits at the beginning of May. The context of the fieldwork unfolds in a rural village of about 230 inhabitants called Várzea de Calde, in the Viseu Municipality in the interior centre region of Portugal. It is a village characterized by an ageing population and emigration trends, as is most of the interior of the region, but also by a strong tradition related to linen. This is shown through the local museum “Casa de Lavoura / Oficina do Linho de Várzea de Calde” which has a permanent exhibition on traditional linen production, a cooperative of traditional producers (Cooperativa do Linho de Várzea de Calde) and a singing group (Grupo Etnográfico de Trajes e Cantares do Linho de Várzea) which perform songs related to linen.