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Integrated Action in Rotterdam!

02 September 2016

The annual URBACT Summer University took place this year in the heart of Rotterdam for three days in glorious August sunshine! Over 400 participants from networks across Europe gathered together at the Erasmus University in anticipation of learning how to develop and improve our ULG action plans and also to take advantage of networking opportunities.

The Problem Tree

What did we do for three days?
Each morning we gathered together in the auditorium for our morning plenary to start the day with short inspiring talks from urban policy experts and to hear the agenda for the day. For those participants with the drive and enthusiasm, dancing, singing and bike rides were also thrown in as optional energizers and fun activities.

On Day 1 we received a motivational speech from the Mayor of the fictional city of ‘Avalon’ - a city going through change, which needed our help in creating local action plans to address the various challenges it faced. The main aim of the Summer University was to work together and present an action plan on Day 3 to various panels made up of members of ‘Avalon City Council’ – using various skills and tools learnt during the three days.

Everyone was assigned to 1 of 7 labs focusing on different themes that could help to improve Avalon. The SmartImpact team worked on ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’. The labs gave us an opportunity to discuss what we needed to consider when developing our ULGs. For example, various tools we could use to define problems, how to map stakeholders, assessing resources, providing evidence, identifying assets and planning actions. Each lab was then split into smaller groups, in order to focus on just one of the challenges Avalon faced and to practice tools and methods, using the case study and statistics provided.

At the heart of regeneration
The Labs got the opportunity to have off site visits to places such as the Fenix Food Factory in Veerlan and Stipo in the Zoho neighbourhood to see great examples of how to regenerate urban areas by working with local residents, users of the area, local business and visitors – helping to bring life back into the streets and attract visitors.

It's good to talk
Participants attended a ‘Country Corner’ – a chance to network with national peers, exchange ideas regarding activities at a national level, capacity building needs and to feedback recommendations to the URBACT Programme – stimulating optimism. Connections within labs and groups were made that will hopefully continue long after the event.

What did we take away?
Overall the learning tools such as the ‘Problem Tree’ (highlighted in image above) and ‘Opera’ were systematic ways of thinking with a creative process for solving problems. Tools that will be valuable in the development of the SmartImpact ULG.

An interesting, educational and enjoyable three days. Until next time….