Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Participation strategies for sceptics: Impetus to urban development from “Shaking Hans“ to shaking hands

Essen, 2013 October, 21st – The pun says it all. The aim is to shake and wake up the permanent sceptic, the morose nagger who turns away from new impetus whilst his neighbours are already tending community vegetable patches together between the rows of houses, and spreading their successes via digital media. They plant vegetables, breed tomatoes, and conquer new free space through joint projects. They build bridges between residents, institutions and joint living spaces. The reach out, and invite each other – including “Hans“ – to join in.

In the continuity of the Forum of Avignon Ruhr

Shaking Hans“ project is intended to motivate others to get involved and have a say in urban development projects – using culture as a tool. The project idea was developed by a workshop team of ten gathered around the internationally acclaimed urban researcher Charles Landry at this year’s Forum d’Avignon Ruhr in Essen.

An interactive fabric of project from 21st to 23th  October

During three days, 25 creative professionals from the Ruhr region will be advancing this project idea in depth together with visionary lateral thinkers from Sweden, England, Spain and France – including experienced practitioners, such as Cedar Lewisohn, a street artist from London, Robert Bolin, artist-in-residence and visiting scientist at the Interactive Institute in Gothenburg, or residents of the neighbourhood such as Annette Allkemper of the multiple generation house GeKu-Haus. 

The aim is to form the project in such a way that it can become a model for other cities and provides more impetus to developments in the Creative.Quarter City-Nord.

“The question now is specifically how a cultural project can help to prevent sceptical citizens from closing themselves off from development and instead to become actively involved“, explains Bernd Fesel of the european centre for creative economy (ecce) from Dortmund. “We do not want develop this project development in a closed shop of experts but open it up to citizens and interested people from the start. Like in the digital world – the user is a co-creator – can’t this apply to a neighbourhood, too?“

 The Atelierhaus Schützenbahn is a good example for development based on cultural impetus and civic participation. The six-storey high building was empty for ten years before artists moved in in 2011. The entire Creative.Quarter is a spatial starting point for the workshop that simultaneously is testing ground for the debate on civic participation in culture. “The reason is, says Alfons Wafner of the Culture Bureau (Kulturbüro) of the City of Essen, that developments has been taking place in the Creative-Quarter since 2010, facilitated through cultural projects. We ask: how were the citizens involved? What can we learn from this example? “

Cooperation with the project „Waende Südost“, and an excursion to the civic participation project 2012 for the creative design of noise barriers along the motorway, will round off the international work meeting.

A key stage of the Catalyse project

The workshop “Shaking Hans“ – Civic Participation in Urban Development – is conducted by three partners: the Forum d’Avignon, Paris, Bilbao Metropoli-30, Bilbao, and ecce, Dortmund, with EU-funding for the CATALYSE project. The so-called "Research and Action Workshops" are carried out by each partner in France, Spain, and Germany following the Forum d‘Avignon 2013-2014. The Essen workshop is managed by ecce.