Best Of URBACT Blog 2013

Eddy Adams

By Eddy Adams, on January 21st, 2014

> Read Eddy Adams's articles

The URBACT Blog is a space for several contributors to share experiences on and insights in the diversity of issues they encounter in and around their activities in URBACT. Here is a selection of articles which we particularly enjoyed reading in 2013: Change and social Innovation, Shrinking Cities, Soft Mobility, Urban Struggles, Stakeholder’s involvement. There was for sure a lot to reflect upon.

Best Practice, Social Innovation and Change

These are of course major concerns at URBACT.

So when Eddy Adams read that ‘public managers and their employees are unwilling to take up ideas that others have already used, they prefer to have their own’, he decided to explore in a blog post some exceptions to that rule and interesting ways to promote exchange of good practice and generally build capacity for social innovation.
For Camilla Van Deurs of Gehl Architects, we can ‘examplify change rather than lobby for it’. This blog post ‘Cities for People‘ extracts the core concepts of the talk she delivered during URBACT Summer University 2013 on changing the focus from physical structure to the people’s experience of a city.

Shrinking Cities

‘While the urban population is growing extremely fast in the world, some cities are shrinking dramatically, especially in Europe. It poses a series of problems in terms of liveability, sustainability and rehabilitation.’ – the topic of shrinking cities was addressed twice in a month on this blog, in the contexts of Poland as well as Romania, where Bucharest, despite being the administrative capital and the country’s economic centre, is facing the problem.

‘Detroit is the ultimate shrinking city but unlike many city regions in Europe (where both city and region are shrinking), the core of Detroit has been shrinking as the metropolitan area of Greater Detroit grows’ –  for Peter Ramsden, ‘in the absence of boundaries reform, the only hope is to declare Detroit a social innovation zone and allow new rules to apply at federal, state and city level’.

Soft Mobility

‘The ‘Bike-to-work’-principle is simple but effective. It’s a two month competition during which colleagues form a team ( of two colleagues) and use bicycles as often as possible on their way to work.’ After the city of Weiz, all Austria was encouraged to bike to work last year. What about you?

Struggles upon Urban Spaces

Summer protests in Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro germinated on urban soils: Peter Ramsden gave us insights on ongoing urban transformations in both cities, especially in Rio, were Olympic games and the FIFA World Cup will soon be held, and become less and less popular in the population, which contests the priority of such events over their right to the city.
In Budapest, the parliament voted on a law containing restrictions on the homeless living in the street. The representative of the Hungarian National Dissemination Point took a walk in the city to see how this policy would make the homeless people invisible. They had a conversation with the social workers of Shelter Foundation and the homeless activists of The City is Everyone’s about the homeless’ everyday life and perspectives.

Involving Stakeholders

Addressing and involving various stakeholders is central to the URBACT method. In 2013, an URBACT pilot project offered over 30 elected representatives from different European cities the opportunity to take part in a training staged over three sessions of a couple of days each in Brussels, where they benefited from the expertise of guest speakers on energy transition, sustainability and integrated development, as well from the experience in each of their cities. Excitement was palpable at the first session!
The joint congress of two large associations of planners, the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning in Dublin last June provided Ivan Tosics with the occasion to reflect on the role of professional planners within a network of diverse stakeholders, from contradictions between what planners are taught and what they are mandated to do to the role they can undertake in reducing inequalities, via common topics of disagreement between them and other stakeholders.

And more!

Mike Campbell, Alison Partridge and Jenny Koutsomarkou exchanged about Mike’s reflections on the European Employement Forum. It is a very good example on the depth and level of embedment of topics URBACT engages with.

Happily enough, we have 2014 for many other engaging debates. Happy New Year!


Leave a Reply