Let’s Project our cities!
Erasmus+ youth meeting with policy makers “Project Your City” (acronym PYC) took place in Lithuania (Kaunas city) from February 22 to March 1, 2017. Project’s mission was to create new ideas for making city spaces more open-minded, and share those with the relevant decision makers. You can have a look at some of the project’s best moments here:
Inspiration for the Project
Globally, more and more people live in urban areas. The question we are facing is: whether modern cities are ready for increasing diversity and what they should do to become more friendly to youth and other sensible groups. Unfortunately urban planners and policy makers tend to implement changes without consultations with local communities even though youth are very creative and have brilliant ideas. We believe, that a connection between policy makers and youth needs to be strengthened and thus hosted project “project Your City” (PYC) in Lithuania.
Check out the our project video:
Before the youth meeting with policy makers, Association „Active Youth“, together with 5 partner organisations from Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Cyprus carried out a research on youth involvement and willingness to get involved to urban planning decisions.
The goal of the research was two-fold:
- To identify the needs of youngsters with regards to urban planning;
- Select the most motivated participants for the dialogue and provide them with task-related support.
Some of the key findings:
- Most of the participants of the survey have never been consulted / has never heard of anyone being consulted by policy makers regarding urban / community planning;
- Youngsters mostly would like open youth centres and infrastructure for biking in their areas of living.
Report on the research also included recommendations for youngsters, policy makers, the meeting of “Project Your City” and future research.
Over 200 young people were inquired across the project countries and most of them were Lithuanian (73%) and female (71%).
Objectives of the Project
By providing youth with new skills/tools on how to effectively use their ideas to bring about changes we have contributed to supporting youth involvement when taking planning decisions. The following objectives were tried to be achieved: (1) to identify the modern city challenges and to learn about good practices in tackling these; (2) create new ideas for making city spaces more open-minded, and share those with the relevant decision makers; (3) to promote active citizenship between young people and encourage them to be more engaged in decision making; (4) to push for a change in policy, wherein youth would have to be consulted when planning public spaces; (5) to promote the project’s idea to wider audiences. The project also aimed to help the participants grow professionally, keep them active, involve them in multi-cultural discussions, develop a number of skills and competences and create new partnerships across Europe.
42 young people coming from 6 different countries (Sweden, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, France and Lithuania) gathered to discuss about youth involvement is urban development and searched for answers on how to effectively and successfully present youth ideas to policy makers. Most of the participants had previous knowledge and experience in volunteering and working with government institutions; thus, information sharing among them was easily facilitated. The participants were part of governmental institutions, volunteers in student organisations, studying sustainable development. Thus, the knowledge gained throughout the project might help in their future initiatives
[blockquote cite=”Italian participants team”]For some of us it was the first Erasmus+ project, for others not, but we all agree that it was a magical experience.[/blockquote]
In order to achieve the objectives mentioned above, a range of NFE methods developed by all the partner organisations were employed. The main activities identified the benefits of youth participation in decision making, created the means of spreading information about the idea to the public. Involvement, creativity and initiative of all the participants were encouraged throughout the activities, which included: 1) interactive workshops on using everyday materials to create a model of their idea; 2) presentations of best examples in the participating countries; 3) discussions in non-formal environment (World Cafe); 4) analyses of relevant video materials; 5) quizzes, 6) specialized group exercises, 7) creating ideas to revive specific Kaunas areas; 8) meeting policy makers to present given ideas. All of this ensured that the project would induce a positive effect on the participants, organisations and make an impact at the regional, national and international levels.
Some of the key activities’ descriptions may be found below.
During the project, participants in international teams had a chance to create their own part of the city. Full creativity was allowed to make a building, a park or whatever their imagination could think of. Afterwards their creations were combined to make a perfect city, which has everything everyone needs. We believe that toys, such as building blocks, is interesting and unique way to present the idea to the public.
Creating ideas for renovating Kaunas
Kaunas has a couple of unpopular areas, which could be turned into tourist attractions, hubs for IT and entrepreneurs and much more. We divided participants into six groups with an area at hand, which they had to think of an idea to make it great again. Fluxus ministery became a hub for IT and entrepreneurs, Birštono st. underground passageway became Kaunas culture center and former Jewish hospital became non formal education center. These are just a couple of ideas that participants came up with.
Here are the presentations of ideas they have created:
- Daugirdas’ amphitheate;
- Former Jewish hospital;
- Underground pathway;
- “Steigiamojo seimo” square;
- Fluxus ministry;
- Owl Hill.
Meeting with policy makers
Participants had the opportunity to visit Kaunas municipality, where they got a chance to present the best examples of urban development in their countries. Panel discussion was held afterwards, where participants could speak out their concerns and suggestions for Kaunas city. At the end, participants got a chance to present their ideas for renovating specific Kaunas areas, which were evaluated and nominated by the policy makers.
3D model out of cardboard
After getting to know Kaunas and learning about the ways to of visualizing and sharing their ideas through social media, participants used cardboard and other everyday materials to create a part of the Kaunas city they thought could use some make-up. We believe, that giving people freedom to experiment with given spaces can liven up the city and introduce something unique and beautiful.
The participants also had a chance to hear from participating countries’ policy makers about their experience and know-how when approaching government with ground-breaking idea. They also had to come up with evaluation system for urban areas, make open discussion on youth participation in urban development and key problems during “World Café” activity and more. Every evening participants had a chance to introduce their culture, history and traditional cuisine, as well as the best social art projects in their countries. They not only showed videos and photos, but also made dances, songs, games and quizzes to get every participant of the project involved.
The organizers describe the project as a success in all senses. Both the informal learning process, as well as the sharing of participant experiences among each other worked really well. Knowledge assessments done by every participant on the first and the last day of the exchange have shown an increase of almost 50% on average in the knowledge of urban planning.
The participants of the project were also amazed by Lithuania. The city culture as well as the beauty of countryside views left a lasting impression on them. The community and the architecture shows great potential for future tourist and local attractions, such as chill zones, activity parks, IT and entrepreneurs hubs and much more.
The policy makers, attending the meeting with the participants, described their ideas as innovative and appealing. After the evaluation of the ideas some of them were commented as realistic and possible to carry out in the near future. This shows, that there is a great interest in youth empowerment in policy making and we, as a society, need to push forward youth engagement in the urban development.
All in all, the project induced a positive effect on the participants, organisations and made an impact at the regional, national and international levels. Youth engagement in the policy making of urban development has great potential and can make great impact on the society and the region. By increasing scale and the scope of such initiatives, youth could get the right visibility and more of them will be interested in participating in policy making.
We have the confidence that the project participants and the ideas they’ve created will promote an interest of young people in policy making, and promote further similar projects in all of the European Union.
Poster of the project:
Project’s schedule, activities & material:
- Schedule of the project.
- Info pack of the project with all the information for project participants.
- Country workshop , that participants had to make interactive presentations for.
- Speed dating questions.
- Summary of the research that was presented to the participants at the beginning of the project.
- Current knowledge assessment, which was done in the beginning of the project and the summary of their answers.
- Brainstorming session for urban problem solving.
- World Cafe Activity – list of topics.
- List of videos, that were shown during movie afternoon.
- How to improve n-hoods workshop, where participants had to come up with ideas for improving cities.
- Workshop on how to evaluate cities.
- Interest groups into which participants were divided for developing renovation ideas.
- Areas, for which participants had to come up with renovation ideas, description.
- Template to help participants in creating their renovation ideas.
- Evaluation sheet used by policy makers to judge participants ideas.
- Participants idea for renovating Daugirdas’ amphitheater;
- Participants idea for renovating former Jewish hospital;
- Participants idea for renovating underground pathway;
- Participants idea for renovating “Steigiamojo seimo” square;
- Participants idea for renovating Fluxus ministry;
- Participants idea for renovating Owl Hill.
- Best examples of urban development from other countries.
- 3D model creation workshop.
Participants – Project Your City!
Information About the Project on the Web / Media:
- Article about the project on our page.
- Aweseome project’s participants photos.
- Photos from participants visit to Kaunas municipality.
- Article #1 from Cyprus about our project.
- Cyprus organisation about our project.
- Spanish organisation about our project.
- Article about the project in French media “Sud Ouest”
- Article about visit to Kaunas municipality (EN) (LT).
- Full research on youth and urban planning.
- Article about research on youth and urban planning (EN) (LT)
The list is constantly being updated.