Spijkenisse is the typical product of the welfare state. The years 1960s and 1970s saw the creation of many amenities, youth and community centres, those emblematic places of the New Town where one could develop his own talent. Everybody was encouraged to be part of the city life by organizing their own activities (this concerned the youngsters of that time, for instance), says Michelle Provoost, INTI Executive Director.
As part of a cycle, the contemporary town has to reinvent its dialogue with the community again. The Lab has addressed what are the things that most alienate the people from the government, and one of the things on top of the list was “if you make a lot of promises and then you don’t deliver” it will create disappointment, lack of trust and distance.
When the government makes a promise than expectations should be met emphasizes Michelle Provoost and the result of discontent can turn people into strangers and alienated, from the government in the first place, but also from democracy as a model.
The wistful wishes from the youth parliament were very clear and call for a reflection within the government itself: how will the city start to deliver on what has been brought up? The City can have big plans, but it is important to bring the community with you and start from the small real and sound steps which can produce changes.
What has emerged clearly during the two days, is the relevance of creating better connections between this generation of inhabitants and the city government of Spijkenisse and create more opportunities for everybody: the youngsters, the old pioneers arrived in the early years, the new arrivals, the expats and the varied diversity which makes the city again a laboratory of inclusion.
Femke Kaulingfreks, analyzing the debate with the youngsters, explains that what has become very clear is that there is not ‘one thing’ that ‘the youth’ wants. There are multiple views and ideas. She liked the fact that the youngsters want to develop themselves further and have a critical look on the present condition.
In order to feel safe and at home you need to feel connected. It is in our nature to want to be a part of something, says Carine van der Horst, project manager for the project ‘Thuis in de Wijk’. It is important to invest and make efforts to become part of a certain group. That is where reciprocity seems to be key. The citizen is both consumer as producer of the city and its future.
Concluding this inspiring two-day event in Spijkenisse, keywords for further thinking are focused on talent development, investment in training the skills of young people, keep engaging the whole spectrum of people, including minorities and a mix of different groups. Do not only offer solutions but make the citizens involved to come up with their own projects, creating the conditions for empowerment.
Motivation seems to be the most important key to success. But how do you motivate people? is the question from Magnus Rydevik, Vallingby City-district in the City of Stockholm.
In general, the delegations see the municipality of Nissewaard as do-ers, people who act and therefore produce innovation. ‘When you are looking for citizens’ participation, do not make promises you cannot keep and make sure you can achieve short and mid-term results. And do not forget the youth, they hold the future’, was the closing remark of Marc Weerts, City manager & town clerk, Municipality of Nissewaard.