CONTEXT. The URBAN Iniciative The Spanish Ministry of Economy decided to get involved in the Regional Operational Programs 2007-2013 in order to reinforce local interventions to face the problems of deprived neighbourhoods. The Urban Initiative acts on the framework of the Policy of Cohesion of European Union, which stresses the contributions of cities to the balanced and harmonious development of regions in the European Union and underlines “ the role of culture and civic involvement as keys to success in the construction of sustainable local communities”. 70% of th e Urban Initiative is supported by the European Regional Development Fund. Their policy states (and I quote): “ The ERFD shall contribute toward the financing of the development of endogenous potential by measures which support local and regional development”.
PROJECT “ URBAN Murcia. Espíritu Santo” is an initiative for the economic and social revitalitation of a deprived neighbourhood in Espinardo, located in the periphery of Murcia (Region of Murcia, Spain). The objective of Urban Initiative is the adoption of innovative strategies for the economic and social regeneration of deprived urban areas, by means of an integrated approach.
The Beneficiaries The people living in the designated area, the latest official figures are 3.827 residents . However, the real number would be greater given the relevance of the “itinerant” population. This area has the highest rate of gypsy residents (an interesting historical contradiction) in the metropolis (25-30%) the total neighbourghood population). The Objetive Is adoption of culture and participation as key factors to boost urban development and articulate the other policies. The integrated approach to urban regeneration involves consideration of the physical, social and economic dimensions interacting at the same time.
First, this means improving physical space . by providing cultural facilities, social and educational quality that will allow citizens to identify with their community and be attractive to the rest of the city. Secondly it also implies improving the social and cultural environment . To eliminate situations of exclusion promoting cultural diversity, developing the creative potential of people and creating bonds between citizens to improve relationships and social cohesion. Finally it involves improving the economic environment . The objective is economic revitalization of the area with the development of cultural and creative industries as a strategic resources and driving forces for urban regeneration
<ul><li>Why Culture The project adopted culture as a key in developing this area because culture is a core factor in building sustainable urban communities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It acts a catalyst for the emergence of talent and helps to improve self esteem. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It strengthens the feeling of belonging to a community and enhances creative communities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It contributes to economic development and stimulates innovation in other economic sectors. </li></ul></ul>
Why Participation Participation plays a central role in the formulation and implementation of the project as a means for citizens to become active agents in the process of transforming their neighbourhood. Participative methodologies can legitimize or improve a project and provide opportunities to strengthen the values that articulate citizens and communities. Participation encourages citizens to empower themselves as agents in transforming the community.
The vehicle of participation is: Social Participation Forum A Participation, Opinion and Consultation Body based on cooperation between residents, citizen entities and the municipal administration. Citizens can participate individually, in groups, associations, etc. and have continuing access to the process
How participate? Citizens can take part in meetings, collective encounters and working groups all with a work method based on horizontal dialogue at every decision-making level. The WG: URBAN LABS Is a reflective process on how to share collective space and how to improve community living together. The proposal of the topic “Urban lab” is part of the participation defined as the ability and right of citizens to analyze, critically reflect on and transform their life environment. We wanted to explore the capacity to affect and to be affected by the space. Urban interventions should involve citizens in the process of design in order to create new bonds, new connections and provide vital energy to new urban spaces.
MAPPING WHAT CAN’T BE SEEN The activity “Paths of Knowledge · Cammino della Conoscenza” Is the f irst activity of URBAN LABS set up to analyse the actual space in order to draw up a map of perceptions. The aims is to be a means to reflect on the way in which the residents live in the daily space and the perceptions out there on the different elements that comprise the physical environment. The purpose of the activity is for the residents to participate with their thoughts and proposals in improving the habitability conditions of the neighbourhood in order to convert it into an attractive space. The “Paths of Knowledge” action was carried out over the months of June and July 2010 and was characterised by a participatory methodology.
It consisted of walks through the neighbourhood using different itineraries on different days and at different times. They were groups of people, with cameras and field worksheets so they could gather the positive, neutral and negative aspects of the neighbourhood. They were also noting down the feelings and emotions these spaces represent so as to design a “map of perceptions” and add the emotional impressions to the physical elements. This is not just about physical space, but emphasizes real people living in real situations. So that we can super-impose the physical map on an authentic life map.
METHOD · Action phases The initial phase was the constitution of the working group and Presentation of the action: the work method was explained, the guidelines for organising the working groups were established and the documentation was shown. 1st PHASE: Walks through the Neighbourhood. A total of 4 itineraries, distributed among various groups and at different times (day and night), were used. At the same time, an illustration workshop was held for small children so they could artistically express any types of perceptions or impressions they had about their neighbourhood. 2nd PHASE: METAPLAN . This involved brainstorming for territorial research based on individual ideas. The group contributions reaches were all based on two crucial moments: creativity and awareness deepening. 3rd PHASE: PRESENTATION OF RESULTS. In order to share the results of the process with all participants and the rest of the residents, an exhibition was held consisting of 9 explanatory panels on the entire process the results and a visual.
NETWORKING “ Paths of Knowledge” is an activity that has been designed and developed jointly between the City of Murcia and Formez, Italian Centre for Studies and Research , as part of the training project “50 Young People for Europe” They provided the project with the cooperation of three architects - Luigi Longobardo, Gabriella Rendina and Roberta Garbin. Their tasks were to design and to implemen the action and they were involved in the entire process with the residents.
<ul><li>A multi-diciplinary team </li></ul><ul><li>Life is in continous flux in terms of conflicts, interferences and transformations. </li></ul><ul><li>To analyce the fluidity of neighbourhood like you have to look at it from differents perspectives, hence we form a multi-disciplinary team. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Architects and a FORMEZ volontier (psycologist) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff of the project (Murcia city Council) : social affairs, participation, culture. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mediators and facilitators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extern observers (evaluators) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordinator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Children living in the area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Youth living in the area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adults living in the area and outside of the area </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>RESULTS ACHIEVED </li></ul><ul><li>Participation in the activity was a success, and throughout the project, area residents kept joining the activity and the final exhibition was attended by 150 people. </li></ul><ul><li>The following are the most relevant data on the action: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Also 67% of the participants were women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The child and youth population participated most actively in the action as they represent two-thirds of the total number of participants. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>85% of the participants were residents of the neighbourhood; the rest belong to associations or groups who are involved with it. </li></ul></ul>
OVERALL ASSESSMENT BY THE PARTICIPANTS The participants positively rated the activity in their questionnaires. Four out of every five surveyed stated that the activity carried out was useful to them because it made them think about their neighbourhood. They also stated that the activity met and even increased their initial expectations and increased their level of interest in their neighbourhood. Moreover, they stated their interest in participating in future actions.
CONCLUSIONS The experience has made them aware that improving the neighbourhood attractiveness will improve their quality of life. They want to improve the space that others see negatively, as they do themselves, and it matters to them. The worst areas are in that state precisely, because they are where people actually engage in community interaction. So, they are aware that improving the environment makes for more attractive image to the outside and this well make them feel prouder of themselves and their own way of life. The final conclusion is: Awareness, both by citizens as the administration that neighbourhood can only be transformed through a strategy of sustainable cooperation.
Thank you very much Rosa Martínez URBAN Espíritu Santo Coordinator Concejalía de Programas Europeos Ayuntamiento de Murcia (España) http://espiritusanto.proeuropeos-murcia.net