The first ever Scottish Rural Parliament takes place in Oban next week, bringing 400 delegates to the town.
Organisers say this is an incredible opportunity for rural Scotland to tackle some of the challenges it faces.
Chairman John Hutchison said: “Underlying what should be an exciting and fun three days is a serious purpose. We need to examine the issues facing rural communities as distinct to those facing urban communities, not because they are more important, but because they are often different.
“Together we can share ideas, inspire each other and identify solutions. We can share these with the very people who make decisions as well as taking back our actions and ideas to our communities. The event is backed by Scottish Government and a number of policy officials, MSPs and MPs will be in attendance, alongside 300 people from rural communities.”
The event, backed by sponsor Caledonian MacBrayne, has keynote speakers including Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Mr Richard Lochhead MSP, Dr Carol Craig from the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing, and Councillor David O’Neill speaking in his role as chairman of the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy.
The visits programme includes trips to the islands of Mull and Lismore, the Scottish Association of Marine Science, outdoors community group Stramash, and the community-owned Atlantis Leisure Centre.
Alongside the visits there is an exciting range of fringe events taking place, all proposed and led by people attending and covering topics as diverse as land reform with Lesley Riddoch, improving governance, forestry, health care and young people.
Mr Hutchison added: “We are very much looking forward to coming to Oban and north Argyll. We have had great support from a laision group which is in place in Oban. They have been really helpful.
“We will be able to bring together the people who live in rural areas with decision making bodies to create better policies and solutions for rural areas.”
Marri Malloy, chairwoman of Oban Community Council, said: “I think this will be very interesting. Hopefully we can come up with some worthwhile policies.”
The event will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at venues including the Corran Halls, Atlantis Leisure Centre and Argyllshire Gathering Halls.