Gerard van Keken

Presentation Title
the rural idyll: myth or reality


Drs. Gerard van Keken currently serves as an independent consultant/project-and eventmanager (‚ÄòMerkwaardige Identiteit‚Äô/‚ÄôRemarkable Identity‚Äô), teacher in the Netherlands and Nanjing (China) and works on his PhD at Erasmus University Rotterdam. After travelling Europe, the Middle & Far East, Australia and North America extensively for some years in his younger days, Gerard has been involved in many research- and consultancy projects for organisations, entrepreneurs and governing authorities. His research interests are coastal tourism, culinary tourism, tourism event management, creative industries, (brand) identity and image and photography. His Ph.D is on (brand) identity, image, destination management, place making and collaborative strategy. Gerard is the founder of the Taste of Ze?™land, culinary and cultural events on regional products, the encounters of hosts and guests, design contests on fashion and jewellery to bridge folkloristic culture and fashion with the contemporary world.

Notes on presentation:

1) Globalisation v. localisation

  • Places are influenced both both globally and locally
  • People dress and eat the same in example cities (Paris, New York, Shanghai)
  • Placelessness is growing
  • Perceptions about “rural” include periphery, slowness, tradition, nature, lack of problems like crime, poverty and homelessness
  • Initially, it would seem countryside is not changing
  • Do not forget people’s lives are conducted in localised places
  • Sense of place is therefore vital – Placebranding and Placemaking can enhance it

2) Placebranding

  • Is difficult eg Calais brands itself as paradise but has refugee problem
  • More than just a new logo – a long process
  • Placebranding = Representation of identity combining internal and external image
  • It requires a shared vision, understanding of perceived image and identity, design of place brand essence and implementation through good communication

3) Placemaking

  • Place not an issue in globalisation
  • Placemaking is about how people create a sense of place for themselves
  • Important for local economic development and developing competitive edge in market place
  • Various elements of identitiy can be used to enhance it eg events, heroes, food, architecture, culture, traditions

4) Strategies for Placebranding and Placemaking

  • Good identity gives a sense of pride to locals, provides memorable experience to tourists
  • Huge inspiration can be taken from local elements
  • Examples include food festivals and birth of slow food in Turin, garlic festival in Gilroy (US), cheese festival and Cittislow in Bra (Italy), stockfish festival in Bergen and artichoke festival in Benecario (Spain)

5) Future

  • Population is shrinking
  • Financial crisis means budgets are shrinking
  • Space is therefore needed for entrepreneurs, creativity, civic culture, quality of life and for sense of place
  • Is Rural Idyll Myth or Reality? Can be experienced as both by residents and tourists
  • Ideas should come from community itself, not be forced upon it, but help can be provided from outside
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Interreg IVb Vital Rural Area European Regional Development Fund Image Map