Participants could count on the support of the Lodz Lighthouse Keepers and students from the MA in Urban Revitalization of the University of Lodz. Children and youth worked together with practitioners.
The initiative regenerated tenement houses backyards through participatory co-creation and implementation. The main goal of the programme was to empower children and young people from a low-income neighbourhood by actively involving them into the transformation of their living environment. The project was organised in an eight-step process where participants were trained in urban planning activities. This included assessment and diagnosis studies, involving local actors into the project, architectural designs, planning activities for the space, and several presentations of their assessments and projects and negotiations with neighbours and the municipality. Projects ended with the teams promoting their neighbourhood’s strengths to gain recognition and fight negative perceptions and feelings. Physical elements that were put into the space through these events, like the barbeque, remained in the backyards and will be there until these are renovated through the urban regeneration process. Thanks to this process, the idea of creating a ‘floating community centre’ emerged but the project was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This activity was implemented through different phases:
- accessing the living environment through interest, admiration, curiosity (noticing potentials) and recognition of its inhabitants/contributors as an important part of the city.
- interpretative diagnosis, i.e. recognition of the social worlds of the neighbourhood from the perspective of the inhabitants themselves, including the youngest ones.
- getting in touch with some part of the community: children, young people, local leaders or elderly people (getting them interested in some activity, change, but also in preserving and disseminating tradition or selected elements of local culture)
- activation and multiplication of local human/social forces of a selected group (doing something together, organisational/motivational support of their project).
- showing the results to fellow residents, working on their pride and social recognition of their own selves.
- planning social changes including architecture (urban planning) together with the municipality. Strengthening the voice of young inhabitants in negotiations.
- promoting local potentials of the neighbourhood on a wider scale (other neighbourhoods, area, district, city), working on their recognition in the wider community, so that they are not recognised as residents of "poverty enclaves", but e.g. resourceful people who stick together, are loyal, able to co-create something, ready to help.
- promotion of these potentials in the formal and informal labour market (economic recognition).
Examples taken from Lodz experience: ‘Micro-revitalization’ projects run by local communities and students of Social Pedagogy (University of Lodz) and of Urban Revitalisation (Technical University of Lodz). [more detailed description in the T-Factor Advanced Cases Portfolio] .