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voxpop videos

Transfo Open Monumentendag

The Transfo heritage site is subject to a growing number of initiatives and dynamics, which obviously is a good thing. One of the latest announcements is the development of an indoor climbing hall at Transfo, a public-private investment of about 2 million euros. These types of investments create a snowball effect, in the sense that they fuel and accelerate the enthusiasm to be part of the Transfo story.

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voxpop videos

Dodoni – Voxpox’s

Dodoni is a cultural and touristic centre in the Epirus Region of with many assets among which the ancient theatre of Dodoni, one of the biggest in Greece.

Within the URBACT implementation network INT-HERIT working on heritage strategies in small and medium-sized European cities, the municipality of Dodoni aims at balancing the display of cultural resources and at promoting and upgrading cultural tourism in a sustainable way.

In the first video, we can listen to the experience of Maria Mizithra, Dodoni ULG member and CEO at the Co-operative Bank of Epirus, talking about the Project INT-HERIT in the partner city of Dodoni (Greece). She argues that the municipality is positively affected by the cooperation.

INT-HERIT Voxpop – Maria Mizithra

In the second video we can listen to the experience of Vassilios Hiras, the Vice-mayor of Dodoni. He talks about the program on the cultural heritage management.

INT-HERIT Voxpox – Vassilios Hiras
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voxpop videos

Armagh City Townscape Heritage

In this video, we can listen to the experiences of Ralf Alwani (the Tutor of the QUB Street Studio), Conor Reid (in the final year of a Master of Architecture QUB), John Shepard (the Secretary of Armagh County Club), Peter Mcneill (the Director of Armagh City Townscape Heritage), Peter Gildea (the Principal of Mount St Catherine’s PS, Armagh) and Susan Hannam (the teacher at the Armstrong PS & Member of Armagh County Club).

They are explaining the educational activities they do in order to educate about the heritage of the city of Armagh (Northern Ireland).

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voxpop videos

Cahors, The Château-du-Roi Street

The Château-du-Roi Street is the laboratory for the urban development public project: “Cahors, the Heart of the Agglomeration Strategy”.

Here are tested all the policies implemented in this framework, before being used in other City neighbourhoods or in the smaller towns of the Grand Cahors Agglomeration.

The 72 on Château-du-Roi Street is a very old building in a medieval neighbourhood. Till now, it was divided into eight very small apartments, many of them vacant, very uncomfortable, unsanitary, and even dangerous.

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Articles

ARMAGH GAOL. The challenge of reusing old prisons

“New twists in old sites, fresh ingredients in a historical melting pot”
Tourism Development and Marketing Strategy and Action Plan till 2022

George Festival Pictures

This is an article produced after the celebration of a transnational meeting hosted by the city of Armagh in the framework of activities developed in the INT-HERIT Project. Public & private partnership, pilgrims, prisoners, paths…are some PPP words, situated at the core of a living lab in which participants at the meeting were invited to interact with local stakeholders. All of that surrounded by the atmosphere of the Georgian Festival, an annual event that celebrates the foundational sense of place, with the ubiquitous Archbishop Robinson as a witness.

Armagh, an microcosm of Ireland

At his arrival the visitor can feel a bit disoriented with the generous presence of monuments and sites – two Cathedrals, Palace, Library, Observatory, Court House, Gaol …- Besides, they are in some way diluted between roads that section this small city in many fragments. A city which contains much of the history of Northern Ireland.

The first thing that a traveller could aspire to find would be an unequivocal sign about his position and probably a pedestrian path to walk while enjoying a large number of prominent buildings, not only monuments, but also houses built in the Georgian era. An old map and a relevant guide – The buildings of Armagh. Ulster Architectural Heritage Society- can help visitors to satisfactory find their way in the city.

The urban challenge faced by the city of Armagh, recently grouped in a new administrative format –  Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council – is precisely maintaining the historical fabric built in the center, preserving and rescuing its identity and character, truly original. The city is trying to recover the compact character of the urban area, sewing the fragmented parts after the construction of various roads in the 1960s. Together with the private buildings whose conservation and recovery is being undertaken through a Master Plan, a specific space is attracting the attention of the city’s political and technical leaders. This is the old prison, closed since the year 1986, owned by the city and the object of a proposal for rehabilitation with a double use as a hotel and a residential area. This is the topic that focused the recent work visit from the partners of the INT-HERIT project.

In a deep sense, in Armagh one finds the weight of a centre of power, acting as developer of churches, houses, civil and social sites, prisons, all of them considered as drivers of the city and all structuring the territorial economy as it was in times past. That investment period moved the city to a central position, and even today the story and the history, the beauty of the place, the artistic and philosophical meaning, continue showing this capacity to  appeal the new generations. However, how can these sites be preserved, renovated and used? How can they negotiate and with whom the recovery of the lost centrality?

Armagh Gaol

Armagh Jain inside

The Gaol which is Grade B+ listed, was largely designed by two of Ireland’s most renowned architects, Francis Cooley and William Murray. The construction of the prison began in the 1780’s and it was the primary women’s prison in Northern Ireland until its closure. 
Armagh Gaol consisted of three prisons – one for women, one for debtors and one for felons. Executions were common, taking place in the Gaol square, but were later moved behind the prison walls. In the latter half of the 20th century, the Gaol accommodated high-profile political prisoners. It closed in 1986 and now the impressive site is on the Built Heritage at Risk list.

process aimed to ensure the safeguarding and the reuse of the prison was started around ten years ago. A cross-sector partnership was created and was very active from 2009 to 2011 when Armagh city  also collaborated with The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.  They held a community consultation event to present different ideas to key stakeholders and the local community. The attendees provided several suggestions that were incorporated into the plans. At the end of the process the partnership had completed a conservation management plan, an action plan for the project and started to work on a business plan to create a Heritage Centre at the site, according to the information provided by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust website.

Armagh Gaol

The redevelopment of the site by the private actor involved, the Osborne Group, proposed a mixed use development that would bring economic benefits to Armagh and the wider Borough – employment, training and increased visitor numbers and spending. Osborne Group has a proven track record in heritage regeneration schemes, including the rehabilitation of the Castle and the old Gaol in Oxford, this one transformed later into a luxury Hotel.

The developer’s proposal contains the following key features: 4 star hotel with  80 rooms; Spa and treatment rooms, restaurant, conference and banqueting with facilities for 250 people; Heritage Centre and attraction space; 22 residential apartments and 10,000 square feet retail space.
The estimated total cost of the project is circa £ 25m and the estimated private sector funding circa £ 11m, it being therefore necessary to explore and secure public investment options close to 14 million pounds.

Oxford Complex

Challenges in the implementation process

Such a complex project contains in itself elements that hinder its implementation and sometimes may even prevent it if there are not the necessary plans that help to address these difficulties in such large projects that require cooperation between actors, important investments and a long time for their execution. Among the risks found in the renovation project of the site, we can mention in a first approach:

  • The difficulties of ensuring a public, social and private partnership structure that shares common objectives, in equal conditions when carrying out negotiations and subsequent agreements.
  • The absence of technical teams in small municipalities with the necessary multidisciplinary skills and specially trained in the art of negotiation
  • The financial inability of small cities to address the financing of projects of this magnitude
  • The ever-present conflict between the priorities of preservation and the use of heritage sites
  • The difficulties of integrating the solutions with other needs, plans and related services: traffic, parking, social and private housing…
  • The adjustment to the times marked for the implementation
  • The lack of flexibility in the renewal plans of the sites subject to a single and exclusive intervention
  • The very dynamics of abandonment and almost ruin in which abandoned buildings fall
  • The complex constellation of existing risks
  • The irruption of many external and collateral effects with unforeseeable impacts such as the economic crisis, the administrative reorganisation that has affected the municipalities, Brexit, etc…

Meanwhile, the poor state of the site can be certified, and what is more serious, it can lead to the loss of centrality of the topic and the exhaustion of the actors who are interested in providing solutions.

At first glance it seems necessary to bring to the scene an emergency plan that includes a readjustment of the possible solutions in which flexible and alternative plans and phased measures can be considered. A proposal of actions in successive and interdependent phases developed under public leadership but where local actors – entrepreneurs and community – are committed parts in this re-launching of the old plans. A new updated scenario based on the external situations that have been experienced in recent years but that, even in a scenario of uncertainty, do not prevent being attractive to investors and committed to the Northern Irish public sector and therefore British.

Abandoned prisons, risks and opportunities in new political and social contexts

The project of renovation and redevelopment of the Armagh prison is not unique in a context where the closing of prisons that automatically demand their conservation and reuse is frequent.

Many of them share common challenges linked to the heritage element of buildings, their large dimensions and high investment costs, the need to involve mixed interests and uses or the general connection with the urban ecosystem and other cultural and social resources of the city, without however having a connection with the historical past and the identity of the site.

The way in which these challenges are being addressed shows how, in some cases, social, community and entrepreneurial development proposals are at the forefront of redefining plans and consequent uses, while in others privatization and exclusive transformation into luxury hotels comes to represent another model about how cities face politically the opportunity to reuse common heritage assets. This is a debate that is very present in contemporary urban development.

This type of antagonistic options is reflected again in a case that is being news in the media during these days, in relation to the reuse of an old prison, in the city of Jaén (Spain). The case presents some interesting conclusions to link with the readjustment that the proposal around Armagh prison seems to require. Indeed, in the city of Jaén, after its closure in 1991, the prison building will at least partially host the headquarters of a Museum dedicated to Iberian art. It is an old aspiration of some social groups and institutions of the city. The process has lasted for twenty years and has required the successive intervention of a different team of architects, based on an investment of 27 million euros exclusively public, with a partial opening -500 square meters for a temporary exhibition compared with the 11,152 square meters built – and without a clear management plan at least known to accommodate other possible uses and actors. This vision and its subsequent implementation seem to be in conflict with the privatization proposal that dominates the renovating scenario in Armagh. One case and another do not avoid the questions about sustainability and equity in the sharing of efforts and benefits in one or other proposal, the degree of commitment to the preservation of the real estate, the presence of a clear and public economic management plan or the public and social uses that awaits the site. Looking at both initiatives, we asked ourselves about the opportunity to discover a middle path as an open solution to the desired implementation of a defined strategy and management plan.

We are definitely facing a challenge to which the INT-HERIT network wants to offer its small contribution, in particular by bringing new ideas and suggestions that may gradually and sustainable help to bring answers to the different needs associated with the implementation of the renovation plans of these sites, once places of forced isolation that can now let light pass freely through its bars and windows.

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Looking over the fence

Architectural heritage comes in all shapes and sizes! Ancient Greek theatres, roman sites, medieval castles, modernist street spaces and 19th century industrial sites: the INT-HERIT network represents a good cross-section of what architectural heritage has to offer. Regardless of the variety of architectural heritage they have to manage, all network partners do face the same challenges: how can small and medium sized cities use their heritage sites as a lever for socio-economic development?

The benefits of looking over the fence

Because of the intensive interaction within the INT-HERIT network, project partner Leiedal became aware of the benefits of looking over the fence: the exchange between partners enables Leiedal to gain practical experience in implementing a new governance model for Transfo, a historical and listed power plant in the municipality of Zwevegem.

There is, however, still a need to exchange experiences with (public) authorities managing heritage sites, similar to the Transfo site. Coalmines, ironworks and other power plants relate to Transfo in terms of scale, spatial structures, age and challenges. A structural exchange of ideas and experiences between the managing authorities of similar heritage sites will contribute to a better and more integrated result. It will lower the risk of making suboptimal decisions and will speed up the development process because we can avoid reinventing the proverbial wheel.

Setting up an informal network to facilitate exchange

With the support of the INT-HERIT project, Leiedal organizes inspiration visits to sites that are similar to Transfo. Participants are the stakeholders of the Transfo project. Ultimate goal is to set up an informal network that facilitates regular exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices. Leiedal has identified a small number of similar sites which are at the same development level as Transfo, or which are one or more steps ahead. These sites are at a maximum distance of 150 km of Zwevegem, in order to avoid a lot of travel. The sites are Arenberg Creative Mine (France) and Le Pass, B-mine and C-mine (Belgium), all former coal mines.

First impressions

The first visits, to Arenberg Creative Mine and Le Pass, were very enriching for the Transfo stakeholders. Being former coal mines, both sites share the same history. However, the development path of each site has been very different, since their respective closures (Le Pass in 1960, Arenberg in 1989).

It is striking that each site has a niche-based approach. Arenberg Creative Mine for instance focuses on audiovisual services. The site houses film studios, a movie theatre, post-production and editing rooms, business spaces for audiovisual service providers and a center of excellence in image and digital media. Le Pass focuses on education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Nevertheless, the three sites do also share similar offerings because of their spatial characteristics: the buildings for example are perfectly suited for MICE-activities (meetings, incentives, congresses and events).

All functions, activities and facilities contribute to a unique ecosystem. This ecosystem should be well balanced and multifaceted. When there is too much emphasis on one single function or activity, the ecosystem becomes unbalanced. A niche-based approach carries the risk of pushing away other functions.

Typical for sites like Arenberg, Le Pass and Transfo is that they are fairly isolated. Not that these sites always lie in the middle of nowhere, but they are generally secluded enclaves within the surrounding area. This means that most visitors come with a purpose, and are not just passers-by. The challenge here is to get people across the threshold, so to speak. The liveliness of these places is therefore strongly correlated with (the quality of) the functions that they offer. Both Le Pass and Arenberg have introduced different layers of functions, generating different flows of visitors. Key is to have a basic layer generating a basic level of liveliness, like business units (Arenberg, Le Pass, Transfo), housing (Transfo) or educational facilities (Arenberg). Other functions result in welcome peaks in the number of visitors: a museum (Arenberg), exhibitions (Le Pass) or adventurous sports (Transfo), for instance, bring life in the weekends and during holidays. A restaurant (Arenberg, Le Pass), a bar, event locations and sporting facilities (Transfo, Le Pass, Arenberg) bring life around midday, in the evening and in the weekend. Seasonal festivals, a summer bar or occasional public events bring bigger crowds on specific moments.

It is, however, essential to have also the local community embracing the site. Some basic interventions can help to intertwine the daily life of the local community with the heritage site. Simple things like a good bicycle path or walking trail through the site (Le Pass, Transfo), a park to walk the dog or a small playground (Le Pass, Transfo) help to break the gated character of these sites.

The visits learn that it remains very difficult to have a self-supporting development of these large heritage sites. All sites demonstrate the need of public funding, in terms of investment as well as in terms of operations. Public-private partnerships reduce the financial pressure, but remain insufficient to have a break-even result. The public authorities managing these large heritage sites have to deal with the tension between financial and social interests. Should public authorities aspire a break-even result, considering the benefits to society? The better question to be asked is “What value do we get for our money?”.

Sites like Arenberg and Le Pass also show the importance of the story behind the place. Arenberg, for instance, was home to the shooting of the movie “Germinal”, a 1993 French epic film based on the novel by Émile Zola about a coalminers’ strike in northern France in the 1860s. The former film sets tell the story of Arenberg and its importance for the communities around the site. In Le Pass, you would find an exhibition about the history and the significance of the site. Key is to incorporate this history in the new story for the site.

The visits learns that conservation through development takes time. We are talking about 20 years or more. Moreover, the work is never finished: there is no ‘final result’. It is, however, important to gain momentum. These are moments of acceleration in the redevelopment process, which you should grasp to get the most out of them. Like a surfer catching the good wave.

Leiedal is planning the next visits, being C-mine and B-mine, both coal mines in the east of Belgium and demonstrating the range of possibilities and opportunities large industrial heritage sites can offer.

Article by Stijn Vannieuwenborg 

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Articles

SIGULDA THRILLS

Sigulda is for the Autumn. This is what accredited solvency experts such as The Guardian, Thelegraph or National Geographic say when recommending holiday destinations. Also now, and thanks to their participation in the Transnational Seminar held in the last days of September in this Latvian city within the framework of the INT-HERIT Project, a few dozen people can support this claim.

It is easy to get to Sigulda from Riga, separated by 50 kms and communicated permanently by train. Moreover, the Latvian capital enjoys excellent connections with the main European capitals.

Fresh off the train, the traveler discovers the placid and pristine image that Sigulda transmits in these first days of Autumn. Culture waits in the first corner, in an art gallery – Siguldas Tornis Makblas – that ascends towards the sky. Clean air, smooth and orderly urbanism, green parks everywhere immediately invite you to walk the city. On the way, one discovers numerous young mothers strolling with their babies while some grandmothers offer flowers in their makeshift stalls. Slowly the first restaurants and hotels appear, announcing the attractive and coquettish offer of the city. Signs do not disappoint the visitor, the cultural and historical tone of the place continues in the form of beautiful houses, churches, water channels in a calm picture that leads to an immense forest outlined on the horizon. It is the scenario of the Gauja National Park, one of if gates being the city of Sigulda that attracts every year around 100,000 visitors.

The urban planning of Sigulda, as presented at the INT-HERIT meeting by Girts Runis, pays special attention to the policy of public spaces and how these are shaped by their relationship with the population. The different layers of urban functions, together with the different layers of history, model this soft natural character that distinguishes the urbanism of Sigulda.

The epicenter of the tourism strategy that the city is implementing in recent years revolves around the Sigulda Castle Complex, a couple of castles with numerous annex buildings, which occupies an extensive plot at the heart of this garden city. A world of fortresses that is completed with others very close, Turaida and Krimulda standing out among them, of undoubted interest.

Nature, forests, clean air allow to articulate an irresistible offer of leisure, adventure, culture, sports and health activities. It is no wonder that Sigulda’s proposal to the visitor is explained in terms of surprise, fascination and emotions. In this way, a city traditionally exporting timber, has become a city that emits tons of happiness into the atmosphere.

THE SIGULDA CASTLE COMPLEX. A CULTURE AND CREATIVITY MARRIAGE

Two of the presentations (III) explain the details of the strategy that has led the city to invest some twenty million euros – often with the support of ERDF funds – in the adaptation of this cultural complex. The creative economy, craft workshops, history, nature and cultural tourism are the ingredients with which this emotional cocktail is made.

The historical interpretation that the city manages extends from the Devonian period when the primeval forest began to develop to the recent Soviet period. A vast physical, spatial and human panorama where to delve into traces and perceptions, as well as decide which elements and values, are the object of conservation, protection and value.

Sigulda Castle complex, and its surroundings, has been the scene of successive wars with Poles, Russians, Swedes … and in practice has remained for most of its history closed to the daily life of the neighbours. In the most recent history the site belonged to rich families, associations of writers and finally in our days it has become a public space open to the enjoyment of citizens and visitors, as well as an object of attraction for entrepreneurs.

Along with the restoration of two castles, already in its final phase, several buildings have been renovated to house different workshops – jewelery, leather, recycled paper, ceramics … -, stands selling souvenirs or coffee , co-working spaces or residences for the temporary accommodation of artists have been opened . The participants in this INT-HERIT seminar had the opportunity to experience their craft skills in the different workshops, just as visitors who arrive at this complex can do.

Exhibitions and outdoor installations complement a cultural offer in which the International Design Summer School “Man & Design” (MAD) stands out, an interdisciplinary meeting space that brings together a creative community formed by designers, artists, craftsmen and scientists. These days the result of the work carried out in the last edition, under the name of BIOMIMICRY, could be seen. It was focused on the fertile exchange of ideas between nature, scientists and designers, materialized on this occasion around different processes related to food.

A trip to the interior of the Gauja National Park allows you to enter at any time beautiful natural enclaves where the sound of water and the colors of autumn surround old castles, caves or open-air museums. A place to get lost …

CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE CULTURAL MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

As usual during the transnational seminars of the INT-HERIT Project, a series of local issues related to heritage management are subject to the critical eye of the participants in the meeting. Three issues have been reviewed during the session held in Sigulda, around many other challenges facing the municipality:

1) The old military Bunker:

  • How to use the bunker (166 m2) along the Sigulda Castle complex strategy?
  • What would be the story telling of this military object? Should there be one?
  • How does it correspond to the historic bobsleigh route or nature conservation agency that are located nearby?

2) People’s Park

  • To golf or not to golf?
  • How to attract investments and keep the green area not increasing city’s expenditures?
  • Would this investment fit with Sigulda Castle complex strategy?

3) The Festival

  • What would be the target audience of the Festival?
  • Which would be the best timing for the Festival?
  • How does the Festival correspond to Sigulda Castle complex strategy?

A report with the comments provided by the participants during this critical review session will soon be published. A video will also be released shortly with images and content related to the celebration of this transnational meeting. Meanwhile, Sigulda will continue, in the framework of INT-HERIT, producing interesting results in the form of resources linked to the implementation of its cultural strategy around the castle complex. And so the autumn continues and the thrill remains ready to be experienced, in Sigulda.

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The Echo of DO-DO-NA

The region of Molossia limited to the west with the Ionian Sea, to the south with Acarnania and Aetolia, to the southeast with Thessaly, to the east with Macedonia, to the northeast with Paeonia and to the north with the vast country of Illyria. Molossia was a mountainous country dominated by the Pindo range and the Acroceraunios mountains. Dodona, its capital, was located approximately in the center of this territory and it was famous for its oracle. Around the city of Dodona lived the Molossian factions of the Antitanes and other Epirote tribes about 2,500 years ago.

Everything in Greece starts with a myth. This is what the Greeks themselves confirm and this is how this journey and its story begin. The destiny, a sacred place, Dodona, whose sound resonates in time, in the form of music, philosophy, theater, prophecy …

We do not know how many pilgrims travelled to the Sanctuary of Dodona in the crucial years when the region of Epirus lived its most renowned days. Perhaps from a temporary perspective its participation in history is seen as a Pyrrhic victory, but the evidence is that more than twenty centuries later its name still evokes distinction and character.

The old Dodona was transformed into Dodoni and is now an archaeological site that attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year. Only the foundations of the public and the religious buildings remain. However, the impressive size of the old Greek theater, built to host 17,000 people, stands erect, which shows the cultural, political and of course religious importance that the site must have had. The enclave has not lost an ounce of its majestic beauty and arrogant wrapping, a breathtaking valley surrounded by mountains, forests, villages and winding paths, witnesses to the old vestiges from the past, as different sources testify.

It is interesting to see how the evocation of Do-do-na impacts on other products and services that are presented as the contemporary identity of Epirus, under the rubric of the brand ‘Dodoni’. Nevertheless, the town itself points to a series of problems that include the depopulation of the area and the lack of infrastructures or services. It is hard to understand how the municipality is not included in the management and promotion of the archaeological site, which is in the hands of the Greek national government and the region of Epirus. Good opportunities to improve the positioning of the territory, such as the excellent exhibition dedicated in 2016 to the Oracle of Dodona in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, obviated this reality and frustrated a more than worthy cooperation between the public actors involved. Something similar happens when you visit the archaeological site and there is no tourist information regarding the tourist services located in the surrounding area.

UNESCO itself has recognised (see document “Best practices in World Heritage: People and Communities”, 2015) the need to ensure participation of the local administrations in the management of heritage sites in order to make sure there is a direct benefit for their local communities.

It is obvious that the idea of ”local participation” should be critically analyzed taking into consideration that economic rights are deemed to be part of human rights, meaning that local communities directly related to the heritage sites should always be at the center of the decision making process and not simply a formal presence in the decision-making bodies.

A municipal management strategy

What strategy can Dodoni follow for the management of the local heritage in this context? Their participation in the INT-HERIT project is an opportunity to further the promotion of cultural resources linked to local economic development, an objective that is not easy considering their limited experience in the implementation of this type of plans. However, it is the desire to overcome this starting point that justifies the articulation of a Local Group around INT-HERIT and engages a large delegation of the European project partners to participate in a Transnational meeting that has taken place from the 6th to the 9th of November 2018.

The agenda of the meeting included the essential visit to the site of Dodona, along with other villages within the same municipality such as Kopani, where the Cultural Association organised a party in which music, gastronomy and the distillation of tsipouro encouraged a truly festive evening under the leadership of Kostas Pappás, vice president of the Local Cultural Association, and Fotiní Georgiádi as a master of ceremonies. Fotiní is a native of Kopani and divides her life between this small mountain town and the urban vanguard represented by the North American city of Seatle. A trip by bus led the group to another two valuable and interesting resources from the territory, the Popular Museum of Perdika being one of them, where the President of the Local Cultural Association, Kostas Ziakas, guided us in a visit to a set of outdoors located cottages that recreate the life of the rural community and to the main building where we could see a truly attractive and well-cared for ethnographic collection. The second visit, in Sklivani, was also conducted by the President of the Local Association, in this case Kostas Maggioros, who guided the visitors to the religious treasures (texts, icons, lamps, clothing …) kept in the Ecclesiastical Museum.

Illustrated by the presentations made by the different guests to the event – Vassiliki Brachou, Paraskevi Yiouni, Polina Sygkouna and Maria Mizithra – , the participants formed a critical analysis that they tried to share with the hosts through a process where the aforementioned problems and challenges were addressed together with the possible alternatives that might contribute to modify the described trend. Three proposals were presented by the municipality’s team to trigger this prospective analysis.

  1. The creation of a municipal strategy brand aimed at promoting Dodoni as a tourist destination.
  2. The continuity and enrichment of the programme for the Cultural Festival organised the last two years by the municipality in the archaeological site and the activation of a volunteering programme associated with it.
  3. The reinterpretation of activities (economic, cultural, etc.) which can take place in the surrounding area of the archaeological site, in particular in the protected zone, in accordance with state-level legislation.

A specific report will be produced with a summary of the suggestions and the discussion generated around these three issues, but according to the conversations held, we can advance that the institutional cooperation, the participation of the social and private actors, the territorial approach and the echo of the enclave itself and its history, should be at the centre of the vision and contents of any strategy to be implemented.

The Echo of the future

It is said that in Africa the death of an old man is a library on fire. I could remember this phrase surrounded by some books in the old school of Dodoni, now reconverted into a multi-purpose centre for cultural activities where the transnational seminar that inspires these reflections took place. Although I was happy to see the public buildings transformed and in use, instead of rubble and ruin, I could not help feeling that with the closure of each school in so many rural areas of Europe, the death of these rural villages is announced. Only the lazy cats and the birds that flitted through the trees were witnesses to the sound of the church bells on that autumnal morning in Dodoni.

But that bucolic image is not the only one that will help to mark the future of Dodoni. Together with the beauty of this image, the picture of determined entrepreneurs is fixed in this story, like Katerina, who manages the cozy Mirtali Art Hotel in the village of Manteio, accessible on foot from the Dodoni archaeological site, where the authenticity of the local culture together with a deep and respectful vision towards the environment and life itself can be felt. Or like Vassilis, trained as a teacher but forced into unemployment and now turned into an oregano producer and councillor for culture in the municipality. Also all those anonymous people that make up the cluster of cultural associations that preserve heritage and keep it alive and rich, such as the magnificent landscape where one day culture, religion, politics and economy merged to create this enclave whose resonance reaches our days.

But as we said, in Dodoni, in Greece, the echo is more than a sound phenomenon that can be recognized around a classical theater or a well-adapted natural environment. Here the ‘Echo‘ is again myth, and once again the myth comes to our aid, to reflect past wisdom in order to build the future, to arrange the pieces around which to articulate a territorial strategy, the recreated odyssey of these heirs to Molossia.

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Revisited Sites

On the occasion of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, Europa Nostra and its President Maestro Plácido Domingo invited all citizens in Europe and beyond to contribute to the #Ode2Joy Challenge. The best entries in the Ode2Joy Challenge will be included in a special video of the project which will be shown on 22 June during the European Heritage Awards Ceremony at the Berlin Congress Centre.

From the INT-HERIT Project, we would like to follow up this excellent idea, encouraging creative local people from our cities to produce any kind of artistic expressions immersed in their favorite heritage sites, record them on video and share them with us, ready to be released and shared trough our social media.

It could be a way to encourage the reinterpretation of our sites, promoting visits to them through multiple visions, as many as visitors or users may the cultural sites of our cities have. A participatory and co-creative approach to make the storytelling of our sites, as a first step for a more participatory management.

We started it in Baena, sharing a video recorded in the Municipal Historical Museum. A group of young people of the city have come together to collect a unique, poetic and vital moment, around a song and the images captured from the site, the artist, the echoes of a contemporary voice that speaks to the ancient cold of the earth in winter, next to the monumental Roman sculptures that also come from old stone…

The artists responsible for this video that we present here, are:

Composer, violin, voice and piano: Ángela Varo Moreno
Lyrics: Laurenn Berthélem Malpica
Film: Luis Muñoz CubilloProducer: Alfredo García PicazoEnglish
Translation: Carmen Rodríguez García

The Municipal Historical Museum of Baena is located at the heart of the city, in a building, the House of Tercia, catalogued by its historical and monumental character and contains in its three floors important collections connected with different stages of local history, highlighting the numerous findings from the archaeological site of Torreparedones.

Link of interest: Europa Nostra 

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The URBACT Local Groups meaning during implementation stage

Implementation Networks (IN) are a new initiative within the URBACT Program, joining European cities involved in the implementation phase of their local urban plans. The particular features existing in this step predetermine the conditions around all dimensions included in their performance. One important topic in this process is how an efficient participatory approach should be promoted, according the URBACT method recommendation.

The URBACT Program has delivered a set of guidelines to facilitate the achievement of challenges in which the cities are facing. One of these is named “Maintaining involvement of local stakeholders and organizing decision-making for implementation”. Some headlines can be extracted from this document. The first one is related to the distinction between two specific objectives, aimed at reaching an effective involvement of local stakeholders and to organize a suitable decision-making procedure during the implementation.

Taking into account that a stakeholder is a broad term, a more detailed distinction should be developed, separating actors according to their different interests or roles (political /project officers, community, citizens, ONGs, business representatives…). A clear separation between stakeholders and delivery partners is consequentially recommended.

Governance for delivery is the second aim to be achieved, creating an adequate structure, addressing aspects such as direction, tracking progress, managing risks, corrective actions, management, and communication…, in the frame of a Results Framework context.

Reviewing the ULGs performance in the INT-HERIT network

Aware of the importance of the participatory approach in the URBACT Program, the INT-HERIT network of cities has promoted an analysis session about how the launching and implementing of those is going. We would like to share some reflections expressed during this session.

On the one hand it is interesting to highlight the different role and characteristics that local groups can play in the different types of existing networks within the framework of the URBACT Program. So while in the Action Planning Network a creative and exploratory role could be underlined in order to create realistic and balanced plans, in the Transfer Network an expansive but flexible and innovative character would be the most useful for an active group in the transfer proposal that best suits each city, while the role of the local group in the Implementation Network would be closer to a movement of attentive concentration aimed at focusing attention on the task of monitoring and control of effective implementation of the plans.

The reflection shared by the partners of INT-HERIT emphasizes among the capacities to promote in the bosom of these local groups involved in implementation networks, the skills in the use of technical tools, skills of analysis and decision making, effective management of adjustments in relation to the initially planned actions …

The recommended profiles in terms of the size and composition of the groups suggest small core groups from different sectors, while the presence of those responsible for the conservation and restoration of heritage is highlighted along with those responsible for economic and social revitalization and entrepreneurs.

Partners found out that in an implementation Network setting up and running the ULG requires a different approach regarding the APN’s. There are multiple recommendations during this first year of networking. Here are some of them:

Implementation Network ULG’s vs Action Plan Network ULG’s

Setting Up:
– put the focus on how it is implemented more than on what is done regarding the management of plans
– short but influential group focused in implementation not strategy
– more decision makers than planners in the group
– flexibility to change the group according to implementation
requirements
– bring investors and other kind of funding organisations to the discussion in a yearly stage of the project
Running:
– give room to unexpected contributions; invite beyond the
”usual suspects”
– focus in concrete problems; invite specific stakeholders for a meeting to discuss a specific topic of the implementation phase
– conduct frequent meetings of a technical nature with small groups,
extending the size of the group at specific times
– use engagement techniques to keep the meetings productive
– organise guided tours with LG to the area under discussion at Int-Herit
– task forces to manage a big group – useful to speed up some decisions
– plan visits to other good examples together with your LG
Capture Knowledge:
– develop a continuous feedback activity capturing the contributions of
the participants; put in practice a local stakeholders feed-back system
– Communicating decisions to your LG is not the same of engaging the LG in building decisions
– Use the ULG to think the city on a permanent basis not only during
project duration
– experiment with an adequate governance model for the implementation phase, connecting the role of the local group with decision-making by the competent bodies of the municipality

The still experimental steps of this type of groups that are acting in this network of nine small European cities explain the irregular number of meetings held over a year, varying between two and ten, depending on the nature and function of the same, although if it shows a more constant number of participants, around fifteen.

INT-HERIT hopes to be, together with the other active implementation networks within the framework of the URBACT Program, a useful field for testing the adaptation of a participatory proposal in this specific moment of urban sustainable strategies, which is implementation.

This article has been co-written by
Antonio Zafra; Lead partner coordinator and
Pedro Soutinho; Lead Expert Int-Herit Network.