The city of Maribor (SLO) has started on a mission to become one of the best places to live, work and visit in Europe, and carbon-neural by 2030. So far, this is thanks to a core team of passionate individuals. Our work must now expand into a wider community movement for radical change that benefits everyone.
We will experiment with ways to create a new civic sense of Maribor’s future, turn this into a collective mission, and a model for accelerating these radical changes.
Maribor (pop circa 95.000) has an aging population and a generally low-added-value economy, leading to ongoing regression of the region. A previously important industrial centre, Maribor has not managed to reinvent itself since Slovenian independence. This perpetuates an absence of vision and mission for the future. Then, without clear opportunities, young people are leaving.
In recent years Maribor has achieved some recognition in Europe for efforts focussed on circular economy. But these efforts remain fragmented and do not yet resonate with most citizens.
Alongside the lack of clear direction, collaboration comes hard in this small city. There are organisations and people making great efforts for the city’s future. Yet they fall into silos and fail to work together effectively.
In this project we aim to empower:
1. Changemakers in the community who have ideas, energy and passion for making Maribor a much better place – but are currently frustrated and feel unable to make the difference that they could.
2. Young people in Maribor - the generation with the greatest stake in the future city, and who are least empowered by the current institutional structures. There are about 30.000 school and university students in Maribor.
3. Citizens who don’t typically get heard, who might be cynical about the city, or who aren’t used to being given space and permission to imagine how they would really like their place to be.
We will create neutral spaces so that these target groups can collaborate on developing ‘mission Maribor’ and better ways of creating change together.
We know from experience that really engaging Maribor citizens to create different and creative perspectives is a challenge. Our goal with this project will be to experiment with ways to create a new civic sense of Maribor’s future, and to turn this into a collective mission and plan to deliver on it.
Our goal will be to meet people in their places and activate a series of conversations about how they would like to see the future of Maribor. We recognise the need to help people to be imaginative first, so we will activate spaces with creative design and provocations that are close to where citizens live, shop and play.
Targeting young people and local changemakers - we will also convene more structured events, some specifically in schools and the university.
While digital discussions have become fashionable, and essential this last year, our goal will be to create small, safe spaces for in-person conversations. We believe this is what is now needed to imagine and create ideas.
Through these conversations, we aim to build the beginnings of a community movement and empower citizens to start to co-design:
1. A new mission for Maribor that resonates across the community
2. A ‘Mission Platform’ model for how we will organise and manage the work needed to make the mission happen.
We will constantly reflect on what we are learning and how to improve.
Citizens from across the Maribor Community will have come together in conversations to co-design a new mission for Maribor; together with ideas for better ways of organising to accelerate the work needed to make the mission happen. In exploring these questions, we will learn a lot about how to effectively make space for these difficult conversations with the Maribor Community. These learnings will be used to design an expanded “Moj Maribor 2030” campaign and engagement programme.
An important expected result will be development of the forward modes of operation of the engaged individuals and organizations. In addition, we aim for newly established social networks between individuals. These will be a good basis for future creative participation of citizens in the city’s development.
The citizens of Maribor today do not have enough opportunity and support to play an active and imaginative role in creating plans for the city’s future. At the same time, many are frustrated by this lack of influence, combined with current institutions not meeting their expectations for leadership and shaping the city’s future. This project will start to bridge that gap.
Through the learnings and examples from this project, we will build the case and model for sustaining this important work over time – so the future of Maribor is made by the citizens of the city, rather than being done to the citizens of Maribor.
The project will also enable citizens to utilise expertise and knowledge that already exists among individuals in the local community, which is often overlooked.
Tim Taylor leads Korimako, a social enterprise at the core of the Thriving Communties initiative. He has been working with Maribor since 2018.
Dr. Tanja Simonič Korošak is an independent landscape architect – with a strong interest in nature-based community development.
Klemen Risto Bizjak is a senior advisor at the City of Maribor, and advocate of transformational change in Maribor. He is experienced working with young changemakers and entrepreneurs.
Jože Kos Grabar has been working professionally as a spatial planner in Maribor since 1987. He is a leader/member of three socially-engaged Maribor NGOs, and a writer.
We plan to engage a dedicated Community Co-creator and Campaign Designer to advance the main work of this project, as we need more capacity in our team for this.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Contract personnel (Community Co-creator and Campaign Designer) – EUR 35,000 (Budget option 2)
Staff – EUR 5,000 (Budget option 2)
Publication, printing, media and event costs – EUR 25,000 (Budget option 2)
Based on what we have shared about the context in Maribor, how does it compare to where you are working. What tools and approaches would you suggest could help motivate the citizens of Maribor to engage in our questions of what the city’s mission should be, and what needs to work differently?