Two Latvian URBACT project cities met to share good practices and to get inspired
Edited on12 March 2020
At the very beginning of March within the project ACTive NGOs representatives of the Riga NGO House together with ULG members went on an experience exchange visit to the city of Aluksne (Latvia). Aluksne is a city which, similarly to Riga, is currently implementing the URBACT project Re-growCity. Similarly to Riga the NGO house has been established in Aluksne with the support of the municipality - the Aluksne Municipality Community Center.
At the beginning of the exchange activity, Aivars Fomins, Deputy Chairman of the Aluksne Municipality, highlighted the achievements of Aluksne in recent years and emphasized the importance of projects and the contribution of vibrant NGOs supporting the development of the municipality.
Further on, Aluksne Municipality Project Manager shared experience how Aluksne residents are dealing with the Re-growCity project. The aim of the project is to develop a pop-up or short-term business ideas, by learning from the good practice of the City of Alten in Germany, how to revive the local economy. A pop-up venture might be a shop, restaurant, gallery or rental space that is open for a short time or season. Pop-up movement can restore abandoned places of the city, giving them a special attention, which attracts inhabitants there. The idea behind the pop-up is not to invest a lot in renovation, marketing activities, and design. The first pop-up salon was opened in Aluksne in November 2019, and now there are two successful businesses providing tailoring and beauty services. In 2020 the city is planning to engage NGOs in order to organize charity fairs and events and to encourage and support new pop-up entrepreneurs.
Representatives of Riga Municipality presented the idea of the ACTive NGOs project and the main activities that have already been implemented within the project. The ULG coordinator from Riga shared the learning from international seminars, which helped Riga to start working on the development of a model of a new NGO House branch. The Improvement Plan of the Riga NGO House has been shared, highlighting the achievements and activities already implemented, such as introduction of on-line forms for application for the premises, networking activities, lift installed, thus making NGO House more accessible.
The experience exchange visit was followed by a presentation about the Riga NGO House, by introducing its activities and the opportunities offered to NGOs: educational, informative, free space for the activities, events to enhance cooperation and networking between organizations. The participants also got an insight into the range, number and fields of NGOs working in the Riga NGO House, as well as the events that take place in the house – both organized by the Riga NGO House staff and by the organizations themselves.
Afterwards, Dzintra Zvejniece, Head of the Aluksne Municipality Community Center, was given the floor to talk about Center’s activities. Aluksne Municipality Community Center is a building that was donated 8 years ago by Aluksne Municipality to the NGO “Aluksne NGO Support Center” to provide the opportunity for municipal associations, foundations, religious organizations, trade unions, informal groups and active citizens to gather, learn and participate in public life. The Center has 7 permanent organizations. More than 40 NGOs and various community groups gather for activities at the Center.
The participants were also introduced to the work of the NGO Aluksne NGO Support Center. It was founded founded in 1998 and it is one of the three oldest NGO support centers in the regions of Latvia. The main areas of activity of the NGO are as following: information, education, volunteering and organization of activities in Aluksne Municipality Community Center.
There are 197 associations, foundations or religious organizations registered in Aluksne Municipality. The participants were introduced to the most exciting events and activities, organized by the most active NGOs of the municipality and city, such as "Blind date with a book", "Donor Circle" and other activities.
The experience exchange visit inspired the participant and clearly demonstrated the importance and strength of energetic citizens, active NGOs, dedicated municipal representatives who are willing and able to collaborate, thus resulting in common ideas and events ensuring better cities to live in!
Thanks to all Aluksne people for their responsiveness and warm welcome, and especially to Kristine Lace, Dzintra Zvejniece and Aivars Fomins!
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