4iS- Plataforma para a inovação Social
Next Stop! project will transform abandoned train stations - of an historical degraded railway line in Portugal - into cultural hubs to host a Community Listening Lab to trigger reflection and dialogue on territorial change and governance. The goal is to develop listening and dialogue skills among citizens and engage local communities and artists in a co-design process of sound and urban installations based on local heritage and landscape.
Aveiro Region, Portugal
A post-industrial and rural polarized region along a centennairy degraded railway line, where local communities with a low civic participation culture are distant from decision makers and have low access to culture. In addition, these villages don’t have suitable, safe and comfortable public space where gathering, dialogue, cultural practices and participation can be fostered, especially now in post pandemic times. This has resulted in a gradual loss of local cultural identity, civic and cultural numbness, and a sense of abandonment and mistrust towards public institutions. Thus, these neglected communities fueled by discontent, resentment and frustration can easily gradually accept populist and sectarian discourses that end up promoting euroscepticism, xenophobia, hate and violence.
An active participation of citizens is essential for building better places, communities and municipalities. Effective and inclusive governance processes need informed and committed citizens with strong listening, dialogue and collaboration skills. Our idea aims to tackle the lack of collaboration among local organizations and develop cultural practices that can stimulate collectiveness among citizens, develop their listening and dialogue skills and create new public spaces that will stimulate community gathering and activism and improve quality of life. Reinforcing and empowering local critical mass and understand the needs and expectations of communities towards urban and social development is the first stage to ensure successful and long lasting participation and governance processes.
Local communities which are mostly low qualified working class will benefit from our idea. However, we intend to work specifically with the few local cultural organizations and artists (cultural critical mass), which have low resources, are highly dependent from public funding and don’t collaborate with each other; youth (in particular, NEET), who tend to migrate due to lack of opportunities and stimulus; and the elderly, who are the holders of local memory and life experience but face isolation and loss of quality of life. We aim to shorten the generation gap and foster sense of belonging, solidarity and interest in culture by sitting altogether to listen and discuss about their roots, needs and expectations as a community and start working together to achieve those.
We want to explore new tools combining urban planning, arts and community participation to make local governance fun, meaningful and empowering based on local identity elements such as a train line, memories and daily life stories. Our roadmap to achieve it is:
1) develop cultural and emotional mapping actions with local organizations to activate citizens and do a urban and social diagnosis;
2) set up a Community Listening Lab to reflect and discuss on urban change, local development and well being and develop listening and dialogue skills;
3) set up an urban co-design process to regenerate abandoned train stations into cultural hubs and new public space;
4) co-develop an inclusive cultural and civic program based on collaborative approaches and European translocal exchange network.
In terms of outcomes we aim for a collaborative co-design process, between local authorities, citizens, local artists and organizations, to co-create sound & urban installations that enables the potential of listening and dialogue on the public space. We intend to raise awareness for the issues regarding the present status of the Vouga train line (disinvestment and derelict) and its potential as a public sustainable transport of the region.
The project will be successful if we are able to adequately develop and execute urban installations and establish local cultural hubs along with an inclusive governance process, where local actors will feel stimulated, capacitated and connected to talk, listen, reflect and work together on local urban issues according to their needs and expectations.
We believe that deprived and isolated communities across Europe need to be nurtured and empowered for a matter of territorial cohesion and social justice. By linking new cultural and social models of participation to their needs and expectations we give them a voice and the chance to act and create. Developing collaborative practices that enables discussion and action on collective issues is the base for a more open, aware, tolerant and united community. This kind of empowerment extended to civil organizations reinforces their ability to co-design and enable such social processes, allowing the dissemination of similar actions from neighborhood to neighborhood, village to village, feeding a living stream into communities, expanding the notion of Europe as an open and shared space for all.
It’s the region we live, work, hate and love unconditionally! Our motivation is the same in every project we develop: our strong belief that cultural and social local development are paramount for territorial cohesion. In this particular case, what drives us is the endangered heritage and memory around the Vouga railway and its communities and the notion of huge potential to be a better place to live and visit. Our mission is to learn with and help its local communities to become capacitated and proactive for the improvement of their cultural and living space while fostering closeness between citizens and institutions.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Travel costs 4 200 €
Accommodation & meals costs 13 500 €
Materials & Equipment costs 22 200 €
Personnel Costs 18 100 €
Communication & Documentation costs 12 000 €