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Urban Ideas Bakery in Pecs

Background

Between 3-5 March 2010 the Creative Cities Urban Ideas Bakery event arrived at its second stage in Pécs, Hungary.

Local and international professionals gathered to seek short-, middle- and long-term sustainable and achievable solution to challenges.

The diagnostic event took place in January 2010, when 16 local experts met to address the main challenges of the city of Pécs. Local bakers came from various professions and the private, public and civil sectors, forming an experienced and open-minded group. They succeeded in identifying two main problem areas, which were analysed during the March workshop. The two main themes were Community Connections and Community Spaces.

Objectives

Following the initial diagnostic event in January, a small group of young professionals conducted research in which they stated the main directions of the problem, which were to be addressed at the International Bakery event in March. To make the international participants’ work easier, they projected the two themes onto the main (shopping) street of Pécs, Király Street. They observed from different points of view the abandonment of the street, the declining number of shops and the empty properties.

They group also consulted users of the street – shop owners, those who live in the area and people walking around. Based on feedback from the people, they concluded that the European Capital of Culture developments serve the needs of only a small number of citizens, and that there is an imbalance between the number of community spaces and commercial areas. Their view was that this phenomenon is mostly seen in the historical city centre of Pécs, and that local people feel that market-oriented commercial developments are much more supported by the city, which makes the situation more imbalanced.

The other main theme was Community Connections. Participants researched the lack of connection within civil society and with the city management. Discussions were formed around representative democracy, the Pécs City Council’s role in forming and managing civil society, the representation of society’s needs, involving civil organisations in decision making, supporting and managing civil forums.

These were the main points discussed during the Urban Ideas Bakery in Pécs in March, when 16 international participants arrived from Latvia, the UK, Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Czech Republic. The bakers had a wide range of professional expertise, e.g. city planning, community cohesion, architecture, design, culture, youth and volunteering.

They and the local participants received enourmous help from Ed Cox, Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research North, and former advisor to the State Secretary for Local Government. See his summary here.

From this 3-day workshop three solutions emerged, consisting of short, medium and long term plans. They were as follows:


· Short-term/immediate plan: during the last day of the workshop, a small group made a questionnaire and a poster which was exhibited on Király Street. Group members asked people walking by why they like the city and particularly that street, and what they would change.

· Medium-term plan:
1.    organising a summer craft school to support and encourage networking between ordinary people.
2.    developing a map of Király Street based on different functions and giving a multidimensional aspect

· Long-term plan: developing an overarching, complex strategy to make Király Street an inclusive and developing “role model” part of the city.

Update since the event:
Immediately after the event, the participants were very enthusiastic and optimistic, thanks to the rich programme and the very colourful group of participants. Most of the local bakers got in touch with international participants via different channels (e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.) and some very promising working relationships were started.

The “map group” made contact with two other local organisations working on the same idea, but with different target audiences. They will be able to strengthen each other’s projects and cooperate and fine-tune communication.

The participants working on the long-term solution are now planning a follow-up event for the Bakery in late May involving all the local key partners and decision makers they met during the Urban Ideas Bakery. There is also a plan to make turn events into a series of discussions (e.g. once a month) involving different decision makers each month. They say that the real outcome of the event was not the three solutions, but the value of the relationships they made with the help of the workshop – both locally and internationally.