London Markets Matter

The Thames from the Shard by [Duncan], on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  [Duncan] 

At a very young age Wayne and his childhood sweetheart (now his wife) Gerardine visited London from their home town – Morecombe – in the North of England. They decided to empty their wardrobe and take the contents to sell on Camden Market: “It was £6 rent for the stall and we took £80 the first day. It just took off from there“. They did so well that by the end of the year they had 16 stalls at the market and were shipping second-hand clothing and footwear from all over the world. It was at this point that they realised that money could be made from fashion and by 1983, they had opened a shop in fashionable Kensington, London and founded Red or Dead which they subsequently built into a label that received global acclaim. Having sold Red or Dead, they now run Hemingway Design which specialises in affordable and social design and is built on the philosophy that “design is about improving things that matter in life”.

Walking into a meeting room is not always an exciting and stimulating experience. London’s Sustainable Urban Markets consultation workshop early in July was a rare pleasure in this respect – hosted by London and Partners at their stunning river front offices near Tower Bridge, the view was quite simply breathtaking. The sun was shining over central London; what a setting for a discussion on London’s initial proposals for their Local Action Plan. And, as if this wasn’t enough, the session kicked off with the inspiring story of Wayne Hemingway who used a series of great photos to plot his rags-to-riches journey from trader at Camden Market to globally renowned designer. Read the rest of this entry »

Where Are You Going to, this Summer?

Summer approaching, members of the URBACT Secretariat were asked by this blog’s editors for books, which they felt had a strong connection with one city or one aspect of life in cities. Here are their picks on Barcelona, Venice, New York, Dublin, Shanghai, Alexandria, Mumbai, Berlin… and a couple of imaginary or invisible cities made it on that list. Enjoy reading… and tell us about your favourite books!

Barcelona

« The first one that comes to mind is Barcelona in the novels of Carlos Ruiz Zavon, particularly ‘The Shadow of the Wind’. Evocative of Gothic Barcelona…. »

 “The air seemed poisoned with fear and hatred. People eyed one another suspiciously, and the streets smelled of a silence that knotted your stomach.” Read the rest of this entry »

Social Grocery Shop Grants Access to Organic Food and Regional Products

Fresh vegetables by Lars P., on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Lars P. 

Partners of the URBACT Sustainable Food in Local Community network recently met in Lyon, France, for a study visit and workshops. Their hosts introduced them to La Passerelle d’Eau de Robec, a social grocery helping deprived population to access to basic and sustainable products and which creates a social link between people in need and residents from the district.

“La Passerelle d’eau de Robec” is an NGO settled in the 1st district of Lyon, an old part of the city centre. In 2001, besides the usual activities such as social care for deprived population, workshop and events to strengthen social link, “la Passerelle d’eau de Robec” created a social grocery shop based on a new concept. According to a study led in the neighbourhood and the OTAWA charter For Health Promotion, the link between health and precarious living was identified as a priority. The NGO decided to act for deprived population on food diversity along with social support. The social grocery shop sells various products, from social care to organic local fresh products, not only to deprived population but also to citizens eager to contribute to this solidarity action. Read the rest of this entry »

What Does O Jogo Bonito Teach Us About Tackling Youth Unemployment?

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Kaká receiving a pass for Brazil national team during the 2010 World Cup

There’s something special about attending transnational meetings during the World Cup. It’s a stress-free experience if you’re Scottish, as we are never in the finals! So, in the evening after a recent My Generation at Work meeting I enjoyed watching the games with colleagues from the partner cities.

The meeting was held in Tampere, Finland, where we were surrounded by talented, enthusiastic young people from across Europe. It was a privilege to be there and to be part of it. And the experience confirmed something I already knew – that young people aren’t the problem.

Once the world returns to normal after 13th July when the World Cup ends, we’ll be back to the reality of city life in Europe. That means persistently high levels of youth unemployment in many cities. Even though the figures are not as bad as they appear on the surface – as Mike Campbell and others have pointed out – they are bad enough. Despite the fact that most European economies have turned a corner, the recovery is patchy, and employment growth usually lags behind the economic upturn. Read the rest of this entry »

Give space! A “Placemaking” Project in Hungary in 4 questions

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Renewal project in Eger city center

In january 2014, URBACT kick-started 6 pilot transfer network. We’ve introduced the Placemaking Fo(u)r Cities project on this blog only a few weeks ago, presenting how the network approaches Placemaking and the challenge of transfering a practice. How does it work on the receiving side of the transfer? How does the Placemaking practice translate, not only in Hungarian, but in Hungary?

1. What Are the Transferable Good Practices and the Main Goals of the “Placemaking fo(u)r Cities (P4C)” Project?

The project is part of the so called URBACT Pilot Transfer Network, which provides the framework for transferring particular good practices from one city to others. The method of “Placemaking” is both a theory, philosophy that fits into the process of integrated urban development prevailing primarily in Anglo-Saxon culture, as well as a “toolbox” containing actual activities and actions.

The point of the method is that the users of a city need not only beautiful, carefully designed – and therefore often sterile – public spaces, but also spaces (streets, squares, public buildings, etc.) that are actively used and valued by the community. This means that emotional connection between people and the urban environment has to be created in order for public spaces to becomes more sustainable, due to more responsible use by the community. Read the rest of this entry »

Rotterdam Links Creative Sector to Local Economy

Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam - Picture by Martin de Lusenet on Flickr

Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam – Picture by Martin de Lusenet on Flickr

In the past decades, urban gurus such as Richard Florida and Charles Landry enthusiastically pointed at the many benefits of the creative sector, and of having a creative class. Therefore, cities tried to attract more creative knowledge workers for a long time. Nowadays, the hype of Florida and Landry seems to have passed. The creative and cultural sector have proven to be full-grown economic sectors that play an important role in local economies. Now the question arises how these sectors can be linked to other, traditional sectors in both sustainable and innovative ways. Rotterdam is committed to establishing this connection. The URBACT project ‘Creative Spin’ inspires the city in this respect, and helps it to develop new ideas and policies.

Creative Spin in Rotterdam

Leo van Loon is co-founder and owner of the Creative Factory, a local hub for young and starting entrepreneurs. Chantal Olffers is senior advisor for cultural and creative policy, working for the City of Rotterdam. On behalf of the municipality, both take part in the URBACT project Creative Spin. Read the rest of this entry »

Italian Students and the Suburbs: Tackling Urban Issues at School

Ci Resto (I'll stay) - photo by Gualtiero on Flickr

Ci Resto (I’ll stay here) – photo by Gualtiero on Flickr

Urbanism is rarely at the core of the public opinion’s debate in Italy but the presence among the final high-school exam essays of an article written by the italian-born architect Renzo Piano on the “mending of suburbs” to be commented by the students, represents an important signal on how urban policies can be interesting if presented in the right way.

It’s not the first time that millions of Italian students face urban topics on the occasion of the most important exam of their life, described in the Italian popular culture by famous movies and songs : in 2001 the Italian equivalent of French baccalauréat included the topic of the role of the square as meeting place and physical space of the memory shared by the community, sketched by famous pages and songs such as Piazza Grande dedicated by Lucio Dalla to Piazza Maggiore in Bologna. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Create ‘Exercise-friendly’ Environments (Spoiler: Network!)

Jogger on former aiport parc  Tempelhof in Berlin. Picture by János Balázs

Jogger on former aiport parc Tempelhof in Berlin. Picture by János Balázs on Flickr.

That is not what we’d call a news: exercise is important for public health. That is why it is particularly interesting for cities to think about how they can create ‘exercise-friendly’ environments. Between 2011 and 2013, 9 Dutch cities were involved in a pilot study into the creation of exercise friendly public space, including: Almere, Amsterdam (Nieuw-West)Rotterdam, ’s-Hertogenbosch (Rosmalen), Deventer (Voorstad-Oost), Ede (Kenniscampus), Heerhugowaard (Edelstenenwijk), Zoetermeer and Bergen op Zoom (Gageldonk-West). In the Fall of 2013, the Dutch Institute for Sports and Exercise (NISB) published the outcomes of this pilot study into exercise-friendly environments, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Wellbeing and Sports (VWS).

By making physical and social improvements in neighbourhoods, the participating cities aimed to solve local problems relating to liveability, safety and health. Read the rest of this entry »

Placemaking: Kick-starting a Social Process

IMG_5859Placemaking connects communities, engenders public debate, promotes social inclusion and enhances the quality of life. The growing interest in placemaking as a social process calls for new approaches to urban design, planning and governance. URBACT’s Placemaking Four Cities (P4C) project focuses on the engagement of communities and the empowerment of citizens to take the lead in the placemaking process. An introduction to the methods used in a Practice Transfer Network between Dun Laoghaire (Ireland), Albacete (Spain), Eger (Hungary) and Pory (Finland).

Placemaking is a process, which draws on the ideas, resources and commitment of a local community to create places that they value. Once started, placemaking is on-going, with a community creating and developing the spaces where people pursue their business, recreational and social interests in a self- determined way. Read the rest of this entry »

FIFA World Cup, a Web Revue

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Picture by Midia Ninja on Flickr

Those last few weeks and days, signs popped out on European streets, announcing the  Fédération Internationale de Football Assocation (FIFA) world cup opening in Brazil tomorrow. In Europe, those are rather festive signs – mostly, adds for public viewing spaces and for food or drinks that go well with football, summer, and friendly company. But not only. For example, last week-end, during a massively popular street festival in Berlin, one could spot the words « copa pra quem? » written down on the street.

It seems like no wonder that the FIFA worldcup taking place in Brazil should make paradox inherent to professional football events particularly visible – because Brazil is one country where football remains a popular practiced sport and a country where the gap between more and less wealthy parts of the population is comparatively enormous, as two french NGOs spokesmen reminded in a blog post (in french) today. Read the rest of this entry »