NOW Community Meeting in Vienna 2019
The interaction between mayors and experts, which began with the first NOW Conference in 2016, continued with this year’s NOW Community Meeting in Vienna. From 30 June to 2 July over 60 participants gathered, including mayors and municipal experts from 10 different countries within the NOW Mayors’ Network, as well as researchers and NGO representatives from NOW Working Groups. Over the three days they learned about successful community projects and discussed topics pivotal to social cohesion in cities and communities.
Communicating successful initiatives at a municipal level
Nicholas You from the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation presented award-winning urban projects noted for their innovation in areas such as the environment, the economy and women’s rights. They respond to the challenges of urbanisation, globalisation and climate change in extraordinary ways. In Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, the enormous problem of plastic waste is solved in a highly original way: empty plastic bottles can be used as a bus ticket. This way, the rubbish ends up at a collection point and not on the street like before. The Turkish city of Mezitli has created local fruit and vegetable markets where the sellers are exclusively women. This has given women the opportunity to earn their own money for the first time in their lives, and to open their own bank account. In La Paz, Bolivia, young people dressed as zebra direct the traffic. This led to a decrease in the number of victims in the city with the highest number of traffic fatalities in South America. Drivers decelerate when they see the animal costumes; and young people who were previously unemployed and living on the streets get a new job.
Dirk Maier, deputy project manager at the Youth-Education-Employment coordination office, presented several projects showcasing how the city of Vienna is helping young people as they leave school and start their first job. The options a range from information centres, vocational training, courses, corporate and inter-corporate trainings through to specialist courses that increase the applicant’s chances in the labour market.
While on a trip to the Viennese district of Hernals, the mayors visited the community project ‘Mitten in Hernals’ / ‘In the heart of Hernals’. The organisation’s founder, Martin Winkler, presented the exciting initiative, which features over 300 events throughout the year. Winkler personally knocked on many doors in the neighbourhood in order to bring together people with different social backgrounds (religion, origin, age). A previous highlight was a samba procession through the district, which started in the neighbouring five nursery schools, with over 1,000 dancers taking part.
Working on shared solutions for cities and communities
Together with experts from the international NOW Working Groups the members of the
NOW Mayors’ Network decided to intensify their international collaboration in the coming years and work together in a more focused way on implementing their project ideas. The projects in plan include assessing the standard of children’s rights in cities and communities; a forum on the exploitation of children and young people; the dissemination of successful educational strategies in divers and multilingual classrooms; the development of materials and trainings to support people who have undergone traumatic experiences; and measures for gender-sensitive sexual education.