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Norway
Sweden
Finland
Denmark
Netherlands
Scotland
England
Ireland
Sharing Spaces
May 29th-30th 2015
Glasgow
The focus of the IN TRANSIT Glasgow event was Sharing Spaces and the question in what way public spaces can tackle social inequality and lead to less social polarisation. Scotland ranks bottom at child well-being rankings, there are no "wild" spaces for kids as everything is planned and "safe"; research has also shown that people in deprived areas have 9x less access to green space.

The local partner initiative, North Kelvin Meadow Campaign, is a community group set up in October 2008 to campaign for the green space in Glasgow's Maryhill/North Kelvinside area to be kept as a multi-use community green space for the people of Maryhill and others in the West End. The initiative around the land sees it currently under threat – the council wants to sell the land for high-end housing. The initiative regards the space as vitally important to the community and claims that through sharing open public spaces, social inequality can be reduced. Through taking over the unused plot of land, the initiators of North Kelvin Meadow succeeded in changing people's perception of public space and turned the overgrown land into an outdoor community centre. Today there is a coexistence of many different people who enjoy the freedom to shape the Meadow according to their needs and wishes. People see it as their back garden and the surrounding 14 schools come to the Meadow in order to enjoy this freedom and space. The Meadow is totally volunteer-run. Recently, the initiators have handed in their own planning application and asked for 50 years of tenure for the lot in order to actively shape the future of the North Kelvin Meadow.

During the Glasgow IN TRANSIT workshop the initiatives presented to each other on their projects and shared in what way their immediate surroundings shape their work and approach.

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Access to Space
September 17th-18th 2015
Dublin
The focus of the IN TRANSIT Dublin event was Access to Space. The issue of vacant space in Dublin is a highly politicised area of research, especially in light of the current housing and homelessness crisis.

One local partner iniative is OurFarm, Dublin's largest inner city food-growing farm, situated on a disused site on grounds of the Irish National College of Art & Design. The initiators Fabian Strunden and Rian Coulter have sought to realise the extensive potential of free space in the inner city for educational, environmental and social use. With an emphasis on sustainable farming and community building, the project now uses the production and provision of organic food as a resource for learning and inclusion.

Through field research by the other local partner initiative, Connect the Dots, it has been observed that there are a number of groups and organisations within Dublin interested in vacant space and how it can be utilised. Yet they have noticed that such stakeholders – ranging from artists, arts initiatives, collectives, squatters, charities for homelessness, researchers, students, council members, architects, city planners, and developers are working within silos across the city, disconnected. Connect the Dots aims to explore, pilot, and test a series of creative/experimental interventions to help those interested in activating vacant space to learn about each other and from each other – to connect, pool knowledge, share resources, and collaborate.

The IN TRANSIT Dublin event was designed as an Connect the Dots event, inviting the IN TRANSIT partners from Northwest Europe to join the conversation on how to access space.

Prior to the public Connect the Dots event, the participating IN TRANSIT initiatives had the opportunity to get engaged in an intensive internal exchange where they shared their best practices and key challenges, how they had gained access to their space, how they made their ideas happen and what impact they had so far.

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Social Infrastructure
October 8th-9th 2015
Malmö
The focus of the IN TRANSIT Malmö/Röstånga event was Social Infrastructure.

For the Swedish IN TRANSIT program we brought together initatives from cities, suburbs, as well as rural areas that work in neglected areas on developing solutions for local needs. Participation and local engagement are key components to their engagement. Through their work they build, directly or indirectly, new social infrastructure.

The two days in the region of Skåne were organised as a workshop and site-visit in collaboration with the engaged locals of "Röstånga", who since 2009 started to turn around the negative development in their community. Together the villagers have bought and developed a museum, a restaurant, a micro-brewery, a community bus and housing. The organisational setup keeps the profit in the community, creating employment, sustainable development and contributing to the local, circular economy.

Together with the invited IN TRANSIT initiatives, we compared prerequisites of the initiatives' engagement, discussed challenges as well as opportunities they face.

During a story-telling workshop the discussion focused on the following main aspects:
  • Success
  • Social Infrastructure
  • Challenges / Risks
  • Applicability
  • Leadership
The second day featured a public workshop at the Centre for Public Entrepreneurship in Malmö where the participants engaged in group work around the themes of:
  • Organising
  • Financing
  • Communicating
  • Measuring Social Impact


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Learning City
October 29th-30th 2015
Rotterdam
The theme for the Rotterdam IN TRANSIT event was The Learning City and it took place in collaboration with the yearly Rotterdam "Stadmakerscongres", a one day conference organised by the Architecture Institute Rotterdam (AIR) that brings together a large number of Rotterdam's urban initiatives.

Prior to the conference, the IN TRANSIT initiatives were engaged in a series of workshops under the banner of "The Learning City": together, they looked at how upcoming actors can impact and eventually change their city, exploring the intersection between bottom-up initiatives and city planning.

Questions that were discussed in the workshop were:
  • How to continue a project, how to make it sustainable?
  • How can we learn from each other?
  • How are the projects run economically?
  • What is the value of our work?


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Alternative Living
November 19th-20th 2015
Helsinki
The IN TRANSIT Helsinki event focused on Alternative Living and Housing. About 20% of the Finnish population live in the metropolitan area of Helsinki due to migration into the cities and lower job possibilities on the countryside. Thus, the city suffers from housing shortage that has resulted in an on-going process of high rents and house prices as well as increasing living expenses.

There are a rising number of civic initiatives in Helsinki who try to counteract these processes, such as the two local partner initiatives Ytheismaa and Oranssi Ry. Yhteismaa (Common Ground) is a non-profit organisation, specialised in new participatory city culture, co-creation and social movements. All the projects share the aim of a more fun, free, sustainable, responsible and social urban life. These include an international flea market day, setting up a table for a thousand people to eat in the middle of a street, art exhibitions at home, international conferences, a social media platform and many others.

Oranssi ry ("Orange group") is an organisation created to renovate and repair old houses as reasonably priced rental apartments for young people. The key concept is participation of residents in planning, renovation and practical maintenance. The aim is to encourage and support young people to find their independence by providing low-cost housing and create steady, lively and socially united housing communities.

During the IN TRANSIT workshop we looked at in what way the initiatives provided an alternative to the status quo, i.e. what they did differently than usual actors but also questioning in what way their approach would be applicable elsewhere and what factors were key to their success. The second day of the group study visit featured a public discussion at Laituri, Helsinki City Planning Department's public information and exhibition space. Titled “How can and do citizens participate in the building of their city?” the discussion touched upon the means and limits of participation. Participants were Anni Sinnemäki (City of Helsinki, Deputy Mayor of Real Estate and City Planning), Linda Wiksten (City of Helsinki, Meri-Rastila redevelopment project), Maija Fast (Kannelmäki movement), Laura Kontiala (Kallio-liike), Christian Sannemann (Artova neighbourhood movement), Maria Nordlund (Dodo, environmental organisation) and the participating IN TRANSIT initiatives from Northwestern Europe.

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Civic Ecosystems
November 26th-27th 2015
London
The IN TRANSIT London event focused on designing and testing new ways to grow the civic economy. Civic Systems Lab, the local IN TRANSIT initiative, organised a workshop that built on the exchange and conversations that have already happened whilst focusing on the theme of Building Civic Ecosystems.

Key workshop themes were:
  • What are the shared characteristics of productive and successful citizen / professional collaborations?
  • What in our current systems either blocks or supports innovative place-making initiatives - and how can we draw on our collective knowledge to design a new system that is fit for purpose?
The workshop-day way followed by a day of field trips through East London that took us from a local community development agency (Hackney Cooperative Developments), to youth empowering projects (Hackney Pirates), a sustainable organic bakery (E5 Bakehouse) and a mobile garden city (R-Urban/Mobile Garden City) on the edge of the Olympic Park.

The IN TRANSIT London event was run by the London-based IN TRANSIT initiative Civic Systems Lab. Civic Systems Lab is a laboratory that designs and test methods, strategies and systems to grow the civic economy at regional, city and local level. This economy, which is built on the ideas and models of innovative citizen-led initiatives, is creating new systems in areas ranging from energy to food, and housing to play. It’s changing the appearance and economies of places across the UK and around the world. Civic Systems Lab is working in partnership with local councils, housing associations and other institutions to re-organise our local systems to create equality of opportunity for all people.

The Liverpool-based IN TRANSIT initiative Homebaked was the second local initiative. The Homebaked Bakery Co-operative was incorporated in June 2012 by a group of local residents passionate about the possibilities of re-opening an old bakery in community ownership, and creating a successful enterprise with social as well as financial value. Homebaked aims to support the local Liverpool community to “take matters into their own hands” regarding the future of their neighbourhood. They also founded the Homebaked Community Land Trust, a membership organisation that allows local people to collectively buy, develop and manage land and buildings.

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Centre / Periphery
February 24th-27th 2016
Oslo / Kirkenes
The IN TRANSIT event in Oslo and Kirkenes will focus on exploring the theme of “Centre / Periphery”.

Oslo is developing even faster than other thriving Scandinavian and Nordic cities. The population growth has exceeded 2% in recent years and the number of residents is expected to rise from 624.000 in 2013 to 832.000 in the 2040s, according to Statistisk sentralbyrå (Statistics Norway). The increased requirements for new living quarters as well as office spaces and industrial real estate are obvious. In the last years, decrepit port- and industrial areas, once the city’s main source of income, have been converted into commercial buildings, loft-living residences and shopping malls, gemmed with spectacular landmark architecture for cultural use. Open urban spaces and undetermined areas are already today scare and disappeared almost completely in the inner city districts. The enforced urban transformation challenges alternative place-making and bottom-up planning initiatives.

Kirkenes, on the other side, sits at the very periphery in the far northeastern part of Norway, 12km from the Russian border and about 400km from the Arctic circle. Pikene på Broen, the local IN TRANSIT partner, is an organisation established in 1996 by art curators and producers. Through their projects, they want to create meeting places and bridging across borders and genres. Their motto is to bring the world to the Barents and the Barents out into the world. Through their art projects they challenge our understanding of geopolitics, center and periphery.

The IN TRANSIT group study visit will start in Oslo and continue to Kirkenes, to enbale the participants to experience the meaning of centre and periphery in person.

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The Willing City
March 14th-15th 2016
Copenhagen
The IN TRANSIT Copenhagen event will focus on the theme of “The Willing City”. Rather than discussing the barriers and challenges that come with engaging with city governments and local authorities, the two-day event will seek to explore the possibilities and opportunities that new cross-links between traditional administration and new actors could entail.

There is an emerging movement towards citizen-led action in Copenhagen. Creative communities gather through activities like pop-up events, new use of empty buildings and urban gardens. The movement has affected the way people inhabit their cities and has shown a potential for more people to have influence on how cities are developed.

These initiatives highlight that urban development as a centrally organised expert activity is complemented, infiltrated or even partly replaced by participatory models. Digital media have also increased the demand for transparency and participation. A generation that has grown up with social media and Digital Commons models will demand a greater role in city planning, for shared scripting of development. What kind of political and legal frameworks will support participation and self-driven initiatives? What new interfaces with institutions and public administration do such initiatives need? What could the city administrations learn from civil initiatives?

The IN TRANSIT Copenhagen event will coincide with the Copenhagen Architecture Festival (www.copenhagenarchitecturefestival.com) and the exhibition opening of WELTSTADT – who creates the city?. The project Weltstadt – Who creates the city? was a joint initiative of the Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. Curators of this project were Matthias Böttger, Angelika Fitz and Tim Rieniets (until 2013). goethe.de/weltstadt

We recognise a great potential for collaboration and knowledge exchange between the Copenhagen Architecture Festival, the project WELTSTADT as well as IN TRANSIT and will therefore jointly organise a conference which will be held on the second day of the IN TRANSIT group study trip.

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