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  • TechTown

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Basingstoke). Transnational meetings in September (Limerick) and November (Cesis)
    Transnational meetings in March (Barnsley), June (Gavle), September (Dubrovnik) and November (Loop City).
    Final event in April (Brussels).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600

    CONTACT US

    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova

    CONTACT US

    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027

    CONTACT US

    City of Naples
    Urban Planning Department 
    Phone +39 081 7958932 - 34 - 17 

    CONTACT US

    The Barnsley Digital Media  County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW
    Phone +44 01226 720700 

    CONTACT US

    By exploring how small and medium sized cities can maximise the job creation potential of the digital economy, this Action Planning network examined whether there is potential for spillover from stronger city level digital economies; how clusters can work at city level and look collaboratively at what cities can do to support businesses to access the digital skills and innovations they need in order to start, grow and compete. The city partners further explored the role and viability of digital, content creation and technology clusters and how benefit may be gained from major city or national initiatives to benefit job creation and growth in small and medium sized cities. The project was 'of the digital economy' as well as 'for the digital economy' in that it used digital technologies as much as possible throughout management and delivery.

    A digital city future, adapt or die
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  • ACTive NGOs

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in Riga (LV)
    Transnational seminars in Santa Pola (ES), Dubrovnik (HR), Syracuse (IT)
    Transnational seminar in Espoo (FI)
    Final event in Brighton (UK)

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    This Transfer network learned from the good practice of the Riga NGO House, which was opened in 2013, in line with the wishes of residents and civil society actors, to support NGOs and to increase citizen awareness of local affairs and participation in municipality-related activities. Set in a refurbished school building, the NGO House offers resources for NGO capacity building, exchange of information, experience and best practices, networking and leadership training. It promotes society integration, active social inclusion and citizen's participation.

    Wings to empower citizens
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  • Building municipality- NGO cooperation

    Italy
    Siracusa

    A new ecosystem of spaces for public-civic cooperation

    Nunzio Marino
    Project Manager
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    Summary

    The city of Siracusa has created a new ‘House of Associations and Volunteers’ transferring the practice of of the city of Riga leading the ACTive NGOss Transfer Networks, and a comprehensive governance model that sees as protagonists the local NGOs and the municipality, by boosting the uses and linking three civic spaces located in strategic locations in the city.

    Solutions offered by the good practice

    Through the experience of ACTive NGOs, Siracus succeeded to organise the co-management of new social aggregators regulated by a Protocol of Understanding among the Municipality and 27 associations active in the city.

    Siracusa is a medium-sized city on the east coast of Sicily. With its rich ancient past, the city is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Its main economy is tourism but its population suffers from under investments on utilities and infrastructure due to public budget cuts on social services, and endemic unemployment especially hitting the youngest population and migrants. In order to address some of these issues, the municipality wanted to cooperate more closely with various social and economic actors, and involve NGOs in promoting social inclusion and citizen participation. However, NGOs had limited opportunities and needed better physical spaces to carry out recreational, cultural and social activities, training courses, and citizens’ services.

    In this frame, Siracusa wanted to experiment locally the Riga practice of the NGO house. Riga’s relied on substantial public funds for its large structure and dedicated staff, but this was not the case for Siracusa, which then decided to adapt the Riga example starting from the local resources. These were the three, already existing but dormant, civic spaces needing better management.

    The solution is therefore a formalisation, through a “Protocol of understanding”, of the common use by NGOs of these under-utilised civic spaces:

    1. The Citizens’ House, a social center in the periphery of Siracusa, called La Mazzarona. The Citizens’ House was first established in 2015, after the city of Syracuse decided to join the GeniUS! URBACT II Transfer Network. La Mazzarona district presented many challenges, including high levels of unemployment, social exclusion and poverty. At that time except from a school, no services were available for the neighborhood’s residents. Public participation was for the first time activated in La Mazzarona thanks to the GeniUS! project, but the project encountered a halt which have been revitalised through the project House of Associations and Volunteers resulting from the  ACTive NGOs URBACT III network.
    2. The Officina Giovani, (Youth Lab) located in the historic center of Ortigia, a space inaugurated in 2015 dedicated to aggregation and participation of the city’s youth.
    3. The Urban Center, located in the nineteenth-century city center, a space newly restored dedicated to citizens and local associations. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic the Urban Center has been temporarily converted into a Covid-19 vaccine location.

    The three civic spaces are meant for organizing seminars and workshops, laboratories, events and thematic talks to address societal issues.

    Sustainable and integrated urban approach

    The case of Siracusa shows three main aspects of sustainable integration as intended in URBACT.

    The first aspect is the vertical integration (the cooperation between all levels of government and local players’ among municipal sectors), a salient feature of this Siracusa case. The cooperation among the municipal administration and local associations, sharing ideas and objectives for the House od Associations and Volunteers is an important milestone considering that this form of cooperation was not experimented before. Through ACTive NGOs the local associations started to get to know each other, imagining new possible synergies while changing their position towards the local administration: from bodies mostly depending and benefitting from the public budget towards active subjects proposing, sharing visions and collaborating for better service provision. This reduced dependency from the public administration, the sharing of responsibilities by NGOs in the project is also a promise towards the self-sustainability of this practice.

    The second is the territorial integration: the three NGO houses centers’ locations represent the decision of creating a spatial ecosystem that could cover the whole city. 

    The third is the combination of soft and hard measures by investing in refurbishing and ameliorating existing structures, combined with the investment on socio-cultural and inclusive activities. 

    Participatory approach

    From the earliest stages of the project, participation has been essential. Looking at the experience of Lead Partner Riga, in 2019 an ad-hoc multi stakeholder URBACT Local Group (ULG) was created made up of municipality representatives and 27 associations active in the city. The ULG intensively worked with more than 15 meetings. This process of exchange led to a co-designed and co-written Protocol of Understanding to manage what is now in Sicuracusa called new Houses of Associations and Volunteers (Casa delle associazioni e dei volontari), signed by ULG members. The Protocol “defines the places, responsibilities and governance of a system made of the three Houses of Associations and Volunteers,” explained Caterina Timpanaro, an expert who supported Siracusa in the process. After signing the protocol, the associations elected their governing bodies and began to operate autonomously.

    With this the municipality is learning the new role of supervisor, dedicating exclusive structures to associations, while listening to the needs to various stakeholders incorporating them into public programs and activities.

    What difference has it made

    The ACTive NGOs Network has given the opportunity to experiment a mode of cooperation of public and private sector creating new and effective synergy between the municipality and NGOs. The creation of a Protocol of Understanding is the tangible results establishing this collaboration to which local actors will refer to beyond the lifetime of the URBACT ACTive NGOs network:

    The immediate next step for the municipality and local associations is to plan an innovative grand opening with residents, pending appropriate Covid-19-related arrangements.

    In the longer term, Siracusa’s challenge will be to establish more structured cooperation between institutions and NGOs to change the nature of local services, based on a systematic involvement of citizens and associations.

    Transferring the practice

    Transferring Riga’s good practice meant to adapt the city’s trajectory to Siracusa’s particular history, driving forces and inertia in public-civic cooperation: in contrast with Riga’s fully municipality-financed and managed NGO House, in Siracusa the municipality provided the three civic spaces and then decided to step back and collaborate with local associations to co-develop and manage their spaces. The associations in fact elected their own governing bodies and began to operate autonomously from the municipality.

    As an ACTive NGOs partner city, benefited from sharing methodologies, tools and knowledge from the other network cities. As examples Siracusa learnt the value of stakeholder “mapping” as an effective tool in the short and long term, helping improve and expand the knowledge from Santa Pola (ES) and has been inspired with new ideas for recreational activities (morning coffee, football matches, etc.) fundamental both for the ULG's commitment and for the activities with the residents  from Brighton (UK). Dubrovnik (HR) proved that public administrations can use physical resources to create strategic locations and channel various funds, which Siracusa found “very inspirational”.    

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  • Nine ways cities can become more just and inclusive

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    15/11/2022

    These local actions for a fairer society are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in your city too?

    Articles
    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    The New Leipzig Charter highlights three forms of the transformative city which can be harnessed in Europe to enhance people’s quality of life: the Just City, the Green City and the Productive City.

    URBACT’s latest publication is packed with sustainable solutions to address these three dimensions – all tried, tested and transferred between EU cities, with adaptations for each local context.

    To give a taste of the full stories in ‘Good practice transfer: Why not in my City?’, here are nine examples of local actions for Just Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ these ideas for working with communities to fight exclusion and help drive a just transition to a green economy.

    1. Boost social inclusion through music

    One way Brno (CZ) is tackling social exclusion in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and encouraging children to stay in school, is a music programme inspired by the innovative Municipal Music School and Arts Centre in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat (ES). Brno is one of six EU cities in the ONSTAGE network, which have adopted l’Hospitalet’s inclusive approach – with groups including a symphonic orchestra, big bands, pop-rock, and jazz groups. Working with teachers and parents, Brno launched its own group music activities in deprived areas, bringing people together, facilitating cultural exchanges, and even improving school results in maths and other subjects.

    2. Encourage volunteering

    Pregrada (HR) has found a way to awaken its volunteering potential and encourage more young people to get involved in helping others. Forming a diverse local group to connect relevant associations, council staff, and citizens of all ages, they introduced a new governance structure around volunteering, part of a participatory model for solving local social problems. The town, which already had many active volunteers, and close links between relevant boards and the council, based its new framework on the well-established Municipal Council of Volunteering in Athienou (CY) while also exchanging with six other EU cities in the Volunteering Cities network.

    3. Commit to inclusion and tolerance

    Hamburg’s Altona district (DE) has launched an anti-discrimination strategy, with a set of principles known as the ‘Altona Declaration’, co-developed by political leaders and residents: “We in Altona,… stand for a free and democratic society; like to encounter new people; represent diversity and engage against discrimination; encounter every person with respect and tolerance; believe in the equality of all people; recognise the chances that come with diversity and encounter every person openly and without prejudices.”

    Inspired by Amadora’s (PT) ‘Don’t feed the rumour’ initiative, through the RUMOURLESS CITIES network, Altona appointed local campaign ambassadors, and asked residents about community, democracy and equality – confirming a common desire to live in a society where people take care of each other.

    4. Celebrate local heritage through storytelling

    A movement to celebrate the built environment, promote active citizenship and fight urban isolation is growing up around a former radio station in a 1950s suburb of Pori (FI). Working with the city’s cultural department, an arts collective based on the site formed a local group and asked neighbours and radio enthusiasts to share their stories, in person and online, sparking new events, interest in local heritage, and the re-use of abandoned space in the old radio station. Pori based the initiative on good practice from Budapest’s annual ‘Weekend of Open Houses’, thanks to the Come in! network.

    5. Co-manage city assets

    The Belgian city of Ghent has a long history of policy participation, with council-appointed ‘neighbourhood managers’ supporting a variety of citizens’ initiatives. The Civic eState network helped Ghent learn from urban commons legislation in cities like Naples, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Gdansk, further boosting cooperation with residents – and bringing the city’s policy participation, real estate, and legal services to work together. Ghent applied these learnings in the re-use of the decommissioned Saint Jozef Church. Commoners, citizens, and nearby organisations formed a local group to jointly assign a local coordinator to ensure the building’s management and activities take into account the needs of its diverse neighbourhood.

    6. Empower neighbourhood partnerships

    A new initiative in the French metropole of Lille identifies local associations and their potential synergies in deprived neighbourhoods, in order to empower communities to propose and build their own joint social projects – such as linking up a retirement home with a neighbouring school. The idea is to support these projects on the road to self-sufficiency. Lille based their initiative on learnings from Lisbon’s (PT) Local Development Strategy for Priority Intervention areas, thanks to the Com.Unity.Lab network. Lisbon’s scheme tackles urban poverty and empowers communities by providing micro-grants to thousands of local projects, many of which become autonomous and create permanent jobs.

    7. Engage with citizens through play and games

    Cork (IE), is taking a ‘playful’ approach to improving the city for all, steered by a local group ‘Let’s Play Cork’ which includes the City Council, public bodies and associations across health, education, culture and sports. Applying good practice from Udine (IT) and other cities in the Playful Paradigm network, Cork’s actions so far include: pop-up play areas in the city centre, parks and libraries; play-based resources for festivals; toy-lending in libraries; and providing ‘street-play packs’ for neighbourhood events. This approach has been a catalyst for local groups and residents to start tackling societal challenges together, such as co-developing playful ideas for public spaces, including the permanent pedestrianisation of certain roads.

    8. Build municipality-NGO cooperation

    The ‘NGO House’ in Riga (LV) is a place for civil society organisations to hold events, develop sustainable cooperation with the municipality; and receive educational, technical and administrative support. The model inspired cities across the EU to boost their own synergies between NGOs, citizens and institutions – with support from the ACTive NGOs network. The Sicilian town of Siracusa, for example, has developed three new public spaces with local associations: Citizen's House on an abandoned floor of a school in a disadvantaged neighbourhood; Officine Giovani in a historic centre; and the Urban Centre, a recovered space, bringing the administration and community together in planning local policies.

    9. Welcome international talent

    Home to several multinational companies and a university, Debrecen (HU) is expanding support for professionals and students arriving from other countries to feel welcome and stay on as valuable members of the community. Debrecen is one of six cities in the Welcoming International Talent network, inspired by Groningen (NL) where a multidisciplinary team provides international residents with active support in housing, work, city living and communication. With improved stakeholder relations convincing local leaders to see social aspects of economic development, next steps include support for affordable accommodation, and encouraging local companies to recruit international talent.

    Find out more about these, and many more, sustainable city solutions – in the new URBACT publication ‘Good practice transfer: Why not in my City?’.

    Visit the Good Practice database for more inspiration.

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  • ACTive NGOs: platforms for public-civic cooperation

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    15/11/2022

    Levente Polyak looks at the pros and cons of Riga’s NGO House in Teika (LV), sharing its story from its inception to its five year anniversary.

    Articles
    Participation

    On an early afternoon in May, I was sitting in a taxi, heading to Riga’s semi-peripheral Teika neighbourhood. Trying to hail a taxi in the wrong place at the wrong time, I was late for my meeting with Selīna Vancāne, the representative of the neighbourhood association Sveika Teika. When I arrived to our meeting place: the NGO House, she was working in her office. “This place is perfect for us,” she told me. “As all our activities are concentrated in this neighbourhood, the NGO House is a great help for our organisation.”

    The corridor was quiet, but as Selīna took me around, noise emerging from behind closed door revealed many activities: a group of artisans working on clay objects, members of a youth association discussing plans, representatives of newly born NGOs learning about administrative tasks at a seminar and piano music filled just one of the building’s corridors. For a Wednesday afternoon, the building proved to be full of activities!

    An exercise in building trust

    Public civic cooperation has never been as important for European cities as it is today. Fading trust between public administrations and society, rising authoritarianism and deteriorating services all make urban life harder, especially for the most vulnerable social groups. In turn, sharing resources and responsibilities between municipalities and civil society actors has helped cities increase participation in urban development issues but also cooperation in co-producing urban space and co-creating urban services.

    Riga’s NGO House is one of the pillars of the municipality’s recent attempts to build bridges with civil society. Opening in 2013, the NGO House was the manifestation of a broader will to strengthen the city’s civil sector. In 2010, with the help of the Latvian Civic Alliance, the Municipality began organising the Citizen Forum, taking place yearly aiming to expose the needs of NGOs. The idea of the NGO House was indeed born in the first Citizen Forum: civil society organisations expressed their need for a building where they could pursue their activities. In the same year, the City Council established an Advisory Board on Social Integration Issues, and in 2013, the municipality signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with 138 NGOs.

    Riga is the natural centre of Latvia’s civil society. About half of the country’s 23,000 NGOs are based in Riga, contributing to a strong and diverse civil sector. However, the lack of available space for citizen initiatives has been an issue with many buildings standing empty due to the city’s decreasing population and demographic reorganisation. While some civil initiatives were looking into privately owned, abandoned residential and industrial complexes across the city, the municipality refurbished one of its properties, an unused school building in the city’s Teika neighbourhood.

    The NGO House was inaugurated in September 2013 by members of the Riga City Council and municipal officers. A platform of public-civic cooperation run by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, the NGO House offers space for the NGOs daily activities and events, but also helps them develop activities on site. It was designed to suit its users needs: making use of its ten different premises including a large event space for over 200 people, several offices, seminar rooms, workshops and a computer room. The House organises consultations, conferences, trainings and seminars for its users and the wider community.

    Let the stats do the talking

    The NGO House’s numbers are impressive: since 2013, over 50,000 people from over 500 organisations have visited events in the building. In 2016 only, there were almost 1700 events organised by the community of the House, including over 100 capacity building events. These numbers speak for themselves: the NGO House responded successfully to the need for a civic space articulated by citizens and has become a reference for citizen initiatives in need of support. Moreover, through its twinning and networking programmes that have created long-lasting partnerships between organisations, the NGO House also contributed to a denser, more interconnected civil sphere in Riga.

    The NGO House’s challenges

    Despite attempts by the NGO House staff to broaden the building’s audience, they have not yet managed to reach the whole spectrum of NGOs in Riga. Unlike Sveika Teika, the neighbourhood association that found its natural habitat in the building, for many organisations, the Teika area is out of the way and they do not find it particularly useful to organise their meetings there. “Others, mostly elderly residents, are ready to travel there from other parts of the city” explains Zinta Gugane, NGO House project coordinator, “but this is not an option for many active organisations.”

    The solution? “Every neighbourhood would need an NGO House,” concludes Guntars Ruskuls from the City Development Department.

    There is another limitation to the appeal of the NGO House. With spaces having to be reserved in advance, and only available for specific activities but not permanent use, the NGO House currently does not address more established NGOs that are cornerstones of the city’s civil society and have their own spaces and organise their own events. “When they’re too big, they go on, leave the structure and continue somewhere else,” acknowledges Zinta Gugane. It appears the NGO House is most useful for a specific segment of civil society.

    European initiatives

    The Riga Municipality is not alone in its quest to create closer links with civil society. The challenges Riga faces in creating new interfaces for public civic cooperation are shared by many other municipalities across Europe. For instance, the city of Santa Pola in Southeast Spain is looking to include new buildings into its network of spaces accessible for citizen activities. Dubrovnik in Croatia is in the process of building a new governance structure for its former quarantine complex, linking it to other spaces across the city. Siracusa in Sicily is about to relaunch its Citizens House and Youth Centre and link them in a network with the freshly opened Urban Center. Espoo in Finland is looking for ways to improve the capacity of NGOs working with migrants and refugees, while Brighton and Hove in the Southwest of the UK is seeking to create more straight links between municipal services and civil organisations.

    In 2017, the NGO House was selected as an URBACT Good Practice. In the coming years, within the URBACT Transfer Network ACTive NGOs, the Riga Municipality will engage with the cities of Brighton and Hove, Dubrovnik, Espoo, Santa Pola and Siracusa to share with them many elements of the good practice, the NGO House and the whole set of policies that were created by the municipality to support NGOs. Meanwhile, experiences from all cities will be shared with each other, allowing for the knowledge exchange to go beyond a uni-directional learning process.

    Conceiving the NGO House as part of a platform for public-civic cooperation, ACTive NGOs will focus on a number of dimensions that contribute to a stronger civil society.

    • Space, like in the case of the NGO House, allows NGOs to organise meetings and their regular daily work.
    • Capacity building programmes help NGOs to further develop their work, improve their profiles and potentially scale up or multiply their activities.
    • Mapping initiatives and organisations, as well as understanding their possible links will help in building cooperation among them and strengthening local civic ecosystems
    • Funding programmes targeted to encourage cooperation will help networkbuilding on the neighbourhood and city scales.
    • New governance structures will allow the shared management of spaces and resources, connecting a variety of different organisations, institutions and spaces across the cities.
    • Digital platforms will be conceptualised and used to enable better communication and decisionmaking among these entities.
    • Innovative economic models will be considered and experimented with to provide economic sustainability both for civic spaces and citizen initiatives.

    Half a decade of hindsight

    In September 2018, only a few days before the NGO House celebrated its fifth birthday, representatives of cities from across Europe have gathered in Riga. The perfect occasion for the hosts to tell the story of the institution to a few dozen municipal officers from Brighton and Hove, Dubrovnik, Espoo, Santa Pola and Siracusa!

    Besides sharing Good Practice, the event also created room for critical feedback and open new ways to improve the Good Practice itself. Public-civic cooperation is always changing and evolving, and municipalities must simultaneously guide and follow their civic partners towards real citizen empowerment.

    ***

    Visit the network's page: ACTive NGO

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  • Lyon Metropolis context and social strategy

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    15/11/2022
    The first version of the Genius process map, produced at the beginning of the project.
    Articles

    The Lyon metropolitan area is quite dynamic and attractive. With 1.3 million inhabitants, it ranks as the third French metropolitan area and its population is still increasing. However, with a poverty rate of 15.2%, more than 195.000 people live under the poverty line. The most deprived areas are located in the South East, combining social and territorial inequalities.

    The Lyon Metropolis is an institutional innovation based on the merger of the Lyon urban community and the Rhone Department. Created by law on January 2015, it is responsible for a large number of competencies: economic development, town planning, environment and quality of life, housing and social cohesion, solidarity, education, culture and sport.

    The housing strategy seeks to maintain a high level of housing construction (9.000 per year) and to implement a mixed and varied set of construction programmes (every kind of housing, everywhere on the 59 municipalities). Its objective is also to improve quality of the existing housing units and to facilitate provision and preserving housing units.

    The Lyon metropolitan area is challenged by many social and territorial issues. Thus, the Lyon Metropolis adopted its first Metropolitan Solidarity Project on November 2017. This project covers a broad range of responsibilities, such as: early childhood, child protection, disabled and elderly people, health prevention and social development. It is built around 4 strategic axes and 80 actions.

     

    Within URBInclusion, the Lyon Metropolis chose to focus on 6 actions addressing a key implementation challenge of the Metropolitan Solidarity project: how to renew social approach to better include vulnerable people among society? These actions are mainly located in two less-favored municipalities of the Lyon urban area: Saint-Fons and Vénissieux.

    1. Co-producing, with social workers and researchers, a new framework for social work, in the field of child protection.
    2. Training social workers, in the field of social housing, to use collective intervention and citizen participation methods in order to improve community life in social housing neighborhoods.
    3. School dropout prevention with social workers intervening in schools to facilitate relationships between families and teachers.
    4. Preventing energy poverty, supporting households who can not pay their energy bills to improve the energy performance of their housing.
    5. Developing social clauses in public procurement in order to better promote local employment and diversify the types of jobs that are offered.
    6. Fostering innovation for solidarity: the « Espace créateur de solidarités » / “space for solidarity making” offers a comprehensive social support to vulnerable families through a wide range of actions for the inhabitants of the area (social grocery, local community gardens, a recycling and upcycling shop, and a tool library).
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  • Innovability: can social media innovation foster development in the field of urban mobility?

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    15/11/2022
    The final report from the Genius-open project.
    Articles
    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    The idea of the meeting came out by the common need felt by the managers of the many projects working on the issue of urban mobility in Palermo to share the results reached so far and confront them with the various stakeholders in the field. As a matter of fact, Innovability has been organized by the Interactive Cities ULG in collaboration with Urbact III project City Mobilnet and Partecipattivi, also managed by the Municipality of Palermo and Muv, run by the design lab Push.

    The four of them have worked or are still working on promoting participation in the field of urban mobility through social media, gamification and open data. At the event an heterogeneous parterre of participants intervened and in particular representatives from: Trenitalia, the Italian railway company, Amat the local company for public transport, Open Data Sicilia, the local web magazine Mobilita Palermo, the Municipal Pon Metro programme, the Department of Transport of the University Kore of Enna.

    The experiment turned to be successful by showing as social media and open data can make the difference in the urban development policies if the process is accompanied by the participation and collaboration of the stakeholders involved.  As a matter of fact, Innovability allowed these ones to meet and share the difficulties they encounter in implementing their policies. The debate started up from the presentation of the results of the game event “Ugame: mobilità agrodolce” that took place on the 17th and 18th of March in the framework of  Interactive Cities and Partecipattivi and in collaboration with Push, Social Bike and Mobilita Palermo.

    During the game event the participants had been involved in a treasure hunt around the city carried on through the use of social media that allowed to record the way they moved and the transports they adopted (thanks to the use of ashtags as #interactivepalermo, #partecipattivi, #ugame). The elaboration of the so collected information produced some interesting findings that have been showed to audience during the Innovability event. For example that majority of participants’ movements have been made by walk (42,45%) and by car (30,94%) whilst the minor average time of journey has been registered by walking and by the use of car. All the speakers invited stated the importance of the use of this kind of data for the implementation of their ordinary policies, and also the need for even more information about citizens’ mobility demand. In conclusion, all the stakeholders agree on the necessity of reiterating meetings as Innovability in order to keep on sharing data and plan integrated activities.

     

    Municipality of Palermo

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  • What do you know on children and seniors? A mobility survey from Agii Anargyri & Kamatero

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    15/11/2022
    Genius-open project - a Ning User guide to setting up an online open innovation platform.
    Articles

    The survey was scientifically supported by the Transportation Systems Laboratory of the University of Piraeus and was jointly executed by the CITYMOBILNET AGANK team and the supporting external consultants. The survey questionnaire was designed according to modern European standards and particularly modified to the needs and particularities of the Municipality. CITYMOBILNET’s experience in this domain was sought after and the partner cities provided a lot of insights as well as issues to consider as well as to avoid. Its overall purpose was to capture the citizens’ trip profile in addition to behavioral aspects. The questionnaire consisted of three major categories: general household characteristics, mobility behaviors and mobility problems faced at the municipality. The team focused particularly in schools (pupils) and senior centers (senior citizens), since these are the most vulnerable groups but at the same time the main target of the Mayor’s strategic focus. Some initial insight include missing PT links, areas with problematic safety and security issues, economic aspects etc.

    Based on the analyzed results, the Municipality of Agii Anargiri-Kamatero will be able to develop sensible decisions about making urban mobility more effective, efficient and sustainable.

    See the survey in Greek here:


     

    See Portuguese translation here:

    See Romanian translation here:

    See German translation here:

     

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  • ‘Migrant crisis’: what can cities learn about new service design?

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    15/11/2022

    A message from Sicily

    There’s been a lot of recent talk about the additional pressure new migrant arrivals place on public services. There has been less discussion about how cities – and it is mainly cities – are coping with this. And less still about what we are learning and the implications for future public services.

    This was the focus of a recent Social Innovation Europe event in Siracusa Sicily. Meeting on one of Europe’s front lines gave us the chance to see what’s happening and to hear about lessons emerging from our recent experiences. We were particularly interested to examine the range of social innovations emerging to meet new service demands.

    This article shares some of these new service examples. It also considers what they tell us about the new service design dynamics they reflect. Finally, we conclude with reference to Ezio Manzini's call for a new narrative around migrants, aligned to a design-led approach to service development.

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    Digital transition

    What can be done to address negative perceptions?

    Today in Europe, the narrative around migrants is almost unceasingly negative. Fear of terrorism; Islamophobia; the ongoing Global Financial Crisis: all contribute to a climate of anxiety which shapes the debate. Too often, facts are not allowed to get in the way of this debate. Like the fact that some EU countries will be reliant on immigration to keep the economy going, due to demographic changes in Europe. EU forecasts show for example that Germany’s population will drop from 81.3 million to 70.8 million by 2060 without immigration. Poland’s population is expected to drop by almost 14% in the same period.

    Despite the facts, the fears remain. Too often those fears are based on prejudice and rumour, rather than fact. This can be an insidious problem – especially when much of the media has an anti-migrant undertone.

    One city challenging the rumour mill is Amadora in the metropolitan Lisbon area, which is the Lead Partner in the URBACT Arrival Cities network. The municipality has embarked upon an innovative way to tackle malicious anti-migrant rumours and to help make sure that its citizens know the facts. Don't Feed the Rumor is a communications campaign that initially started in one of the city’s secondary schools. Its aim was to tackle unfounded rumours in a city where 10% of the population has a Lusophone African background. Unfounded assumptions about their school performance, social customs and attitudes were barriers to effective integration.
    The pilot campaign involved recruiting and training 60 pupils of Seomara da Costa Primo secondary school as anti-rumour agents. Armed with facts and trained to challenge rumours when they arose, these students were part of an effective pilot that is now being scaled across the city.

    How can we support access to public services?

    New arrivals need access to information on public services. They often arrive with few resources, limited host language skills and different cultural perceptions. As a result, they can easily tie up large amount of front-line service time in their new host cities. Finding efficient ways to help them access information directly is therefore in everyone’s interest.

    Consequently, there is a wave of i

    nnovation related to improving access to information for migrants. Perhaps the best-known and field leader is Mobilearn, a web solution initially developed in Sweden. Established as a social enterprise by people with first-hand migration experience, it is now being rolled out in other parts of Europe. Acknowledging the widespread use of smartphones amongst refugees, Mobilearn provides a survival guide to local services in a variety of languages.

    Mobilearn has been extensively evaluated and is building an important data bank on the hours (and resources) saved to local authorities as well as the social impact created by the service. In some respects, this work is similar to that of other cities who are developing online ‘Welcome’ services for new arrivals. Dresden, which has faced challenges with anti-migrant protests, launched an app to welcome new arrivals in 2015. Here again, the basic service enables migrants to register for health and other support services.

    What do these developments tell us about emerging service demand? First of all, they underline the ubiquity and importance of smartphones. Migrants arriving with next to nothing will either arrive with one or make it one of their earliest purchases. They also reflect the shift already under way from providing face-to-face public services towards those that are online and available 24/7. This trend is only going to grow further.

    What housing solutions are emerging?

    Many of Europe’s cities face a crisis in affordable housing, one of the reasons why this has been identified as an initial priority theme within the EU Urban Agenda.

    For new arrivals, housing is clearly a top priority, but the current situation can make this difficult. In Germany, where the pressure is perhaps most acute, a recent Robert Bosch Foundation report concluded that there was a need for up to an additional 125,000 dwellings. In response, a range of initiatives have been undertaken to find solutions. These have ranged from establishing temporary accommodation, piloting shared schemes and (controversially) utilising empty former East German housing estates.

    Again, ICT is emerging as a key part of the solution. The Refugees Welcome site, inevitably labeled as ‘Airbnb for refugees’, matches accommodation seekers to potential hosts. Operating across much of Europe, as well as Canada, the service has so far matched over 600 refugees.

    Working on the same lines the UK’s Shared Lives model might offer possibilities to build upon. Aimed at supporting vulnerable people to live within communities, it matches host families to seeking individuals. Although the initial focus has been on health, the principals could be applied to support newly arrived migrants.

    How can we meet the demand for education and employment?

    A high proportion of migrants to the EU are younger people, aged under 34. In 2015 88,700 of them were unaccompanied minors. For many, their education has been disrupted. For example, of the young Syrians arriving in Europe, 25% were in education before their lives were turned upside down. Meeting the educational aspirations of these young people is another of the challenges receiving cities face.

    There is widespread evidence of the educational barriers  that face migrants coming into Europe. These include a lack of familiarity with the host language which prevents participation in the education system. Another is the frequent lack of equivalence between qualifications gained in third countries. In addition, many refugees arrive with few possessions, and often lack the evidence of qualifications even if they have them.

    In Germany, Kiron learning centres have created an innovative access framework linked to the country’s universities and aimed at refugees. Plugging into a network of higher education providers, Kiron offers online learning programmes via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as well as language support provision through established providers like Babbel. Kiron has crowdfunded around €500,000 allowing it to offer almost 500 scholarships. The response has been very positive and Kiron is expanding rapidly since its inception.

    For adults looking to fast track into employment, education may not be the priority. Acquiring and demonstrating competencies with labour market value may be a bigger issue. For those who already have skills, but who may lack paperwork or host-country experience the growing area of microcredentialism is proving to be helpful. This reflects a growing demand from employers to have a very specific understanding of the skills people have, due to trends of generic job descriptions. Linked In recommendations are a good example of this development, labelled ‘technologies of expertise’ by Beth Noveck.

    For those refugees with high skills in demand, a number of specialist services are emerging. One of these is the Refugee Doctors Programme designed by the Bridges Project in Scotland. This seeks to support qualified refugee doctors to fast track into employment within NHS Scotland. The programme is also open to dentists and pharmacists.

    What conclusions can we draw from this early intensive experience?

    It’s way too early to draw any hard and fast conclusions from European cities’ early experience of meeting migrant needs. The picture is so varied and messy that making generalized observations is a risky business. However….on the basis of some early feedback, here are some very early potential implications for our governance models.

    The migrants’ arrival is generating demand for new services

    The flow of people from the world’s most troubled corners is creating a market for services. Some of these are provided illegally, like the traffickers who charge a lifetime’s savings to take a chance crossing the Mediterranean in a flimsy dingy. Others are legal and, at times, core public services, such as the provision of housing and education for those at risk. In the middle is the growing market of hybrid services such as the smart apps which help migrants navigate the new systems and realities they encounter.

    Many of these demands reflect trends already taking place in our cities

    The emerging services mentioned in this article are mainly targeted at new arrivals. However, they reflect service needs already evident in our cities, such as:

    • The need for a counter-narrative to the growing poisonous rumours aimed at society’s most vulnerable people. (Thought leaders like Julia Unwin have written about the increasing tendency to blame the poor and vulnerable for their own situations.)
       
    • The demand for wider-access to higher education that is free and available 24/7
       
    • The challenge to provide affordable housing – and in particular the need for new supported housing models for the most disadvantaged people in our societies

    The scale of the migrant challenge has galvanized community responses…which traditional funding sources have struggled to support


    As nation states have deliberated and city administrations have wrung their hands, across Europe ordinary citizens have stepped into the breach to offer support to Europe’s new arrivals. This compassionate groundswell of public support has been one of the few chinks of light in this otherwise dark period of Europe’s history.

    Yet, often our established funding models have struggled to find ways to adequately support these grassroots movements, which are often co-ordinated by unconstituted groups of volunteers. Take for example, the case of Options FoodLab in Greece, which is supporting a wide range of food-related activities bringing refugees and locals together. Yet, due to Greece’s inhospitable climate for social enterprises, they have struggled to evolve and scale.

    Yes, times are tough and there is less money to go round. But this is the very time when we need creativity, energy and social innovation – and the modest financial resources to initially oil the wheels.

    And finally…

    At the SIE event in Siracusa, Ezio Manzini, based at the Politecnico di Milano and the University of the Arts in London, gave a stimulating keynote which touched on these questions. Adopting a design-perspective, he stressed the need to reframe the narrative around migrants, and the need for a more human-centred approach. Instead of this loaded term, he suggested ‘people on the move’. He also suggested a paradigm for service redesign based on different dimensions of that experience – work that he is currently developing and that we will follow with interest.

    At the high policy level, the EU and Member States are exploring solutions – such as the recent controversial Turkey deal. Meanwhile, on the ground, it’s in our cities that the practical solutions are being forged. That’s because most migrants head for urban areas, where their support networks lie and where they are most likely to find work.

    In the coming months there is a growing pipeline of activity and resources relating to how our cities best accommodate and support these people on the move. Although stuck in the old lexicon, this reflects the urgency of the situation and a real commitment to learn, find and share solutions. Some of the key components of this include the EU Urban Agenda’s identification of Migrant Integration as one of its initial four priority themes. Another is the Urban Innovative Actions Programme, one of whose four initial call strands was migrant integration. Alongside this, the recently closed call for the European Social Innovation Competition focused on this theme.

    In the coming months we will be reporting back on these developments. However, a clear message from the SIE event is that the challenges the “Migrant Crisis” presents are mere reflections of the fundamental ones our cities face in these turbulent times. They also act as potential catalysts for new service design and innovation, encompassing themes addressed by some of the new URBACT networks, including CHANGE!, Boostino and Interactive Cities.

    URBACT also recently published an article on refugees and migrants inclusion from the European perspective - The Urban Agenda for Europe: 'Inclusion refugees and migrants' partnership

     

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