Civic forges : weaving neighbourhoods

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    Abstract

    Our society is faced with a number of major challenges. Critical matters like financial tension, pollution, and safety and health issues prove to be difficult to solve with just one simple answer. In many cases these major challenges cannot be unravelled by traditional means and solutions, but require a radical approach to move towards a more sustainable and balanced society. To reach a new equilibrium we need to confront today’s challenges by exploring new ways of thinking and working. By doing so, it is necessary to develop new frameworks, methods, and tools in order to come up with new systematic designs, which create opportunities to transform our society. The Civic Forges: Weaving Neighbourhoods project investigates new methods in order to move towards societal transformation. The project aims to realise "platforms" in Eindhoven (the Netherlands), Umea° (Sweden) and eventually other European cities that dynamically engage citizens in creating self- empowered and sustainable communities. Because true sustainability and wellbeing cannot be created on an individual level only, it requires behavioural change on a societal level too, where the collective is more important than the individual. If we want different people to work together on local solutions for local issues that stem from greater global issues, we believe it is necessary to involve citizens, and trust and empower them through their skills in shaping the future of their own city. Since the city of Eindhoven shares this dream of self- empowerment and sustainability, they co-funded this two-year project. The golden diamond of local governance, businesses, universities and especially citizens, is the basis of a community and the essential foundation from which society is able to transform. In this Civic Forges project we explored and developed communal gatherings and platforms that precisely engage these stakeholders. By using the different partners of the golden diamond as catalysers of innovation, the project strives to create self- empowered and sustainable communities, which are essential to create opportunities to face our modern-day challenges. In this booklet we show traces of our search. We explored, mainly in the context of Eindhoven, the Netherlands and partly in Umea°, Sweden, what the partners of the golden diamond need, with an emphasis on the citizens of Eindhoven. We explored this in a variety of workshops, by developing methods and tools to enhance this process, and through designing systems, products and services that empower neighbourhoods and people, thus moving towards a more sustainable and balanced society. The first chapter ‘Transforming Society’ provides the backbone of this book. It outlines the reasons behind the Civic Forges project and defines the theoretical background of the project. The second chapter ‘Supporting engagement through skills’ shows and explains frameworks, methods and tools developed to stimulate self- empowered and sustainable communities, more specifically Design in Skills (DiS) and Engagement Catalysers (EC). The following two chapters focus on the more tangible aspects of the project. Chapter 3 discusses the workshops Hephaestus and the Senses and Vaartbroek, which were done to connect the various stakeholders of the previously mentioned golden diamond, whereas Chapter 4 ‘Design platforms towards self-empowered communities’ covers specific designs that were made during the Civic Forges project, while using, among others, the Experiential Design Landscapes method. The final chapter, appropriately dubbed ‘Connecting the dots’, offers a useful summary of this publication. Here, the reader will find a recap of the project and a conclusive report about the findings and insights in relation to the initial goal of the project. Moreover, the last chapter describes the plans, dreams and upcoming projects that will evolve from the outcomes found in Civic Forges. We hope you enjoy reading this booklet, be inspired by it, and help shaping the future of Eindhoven and other communities in order to move towards a sustainable and balanced society. Let’s meet and create together.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationEindhoven
    PublisherTechnische Universiteit Eindhoven
    Number of pages84
    ISBN (Print)978-90-386-3659-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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