How to connect social initiatives and share urban experiences? The toolbox that was created as part of the "Action Plan for Cities" is supposed to be a helpful solution.
Earlier this year we talked about who the "Action Plan for Cities" should serve - What is the Action Plan for Cities? We talk to Aleksandra Jadach-Sepioło.
The next project after the "Action Plan for Cities," the interviewee said, was to be a toolbox - an online encyclopedia for residents, which contains a knowledge base about urban spaces and urban management processes. The toolbox would include articles on everything from housing, security, transportation, health and the environment.
Toolbox is a database of articles aimed at local government officials and activists
© Institute for Urban and Regional Development
Aleksandra Kowalska - coordinator of the toolbox - talks about why the toolbox was created, who it can serve, and how networking urban initiatives will help build better and healthy cities
Wiktor Bochenek: Why was the toolbox created?
Aleksandra Kowalska (IRMiR): "Toolbox for local communities" is an initiative that is part of the program "Action Plan for Cities. Model Locality" (PDM for short) accompanying the 11th edition of the World Urban Forum (WUF11), which took place June 26-30, 2022 in Katowice, Poland. Until now, there has been a lack of a platform that would gather in one place urban projects in which interested individuals, institutions or organizations can get involved - hence the idea to create a toolbox.
The toolbox is, on the one hand, an online knowledge base of initiatives and tools related to public participation, and on the other hand, a platform for the exchange of experiences between residents, city authorities, various types of organizations or city activists. Thus, the purpose of the toolbox is to disseminate good practices involving local actions and to support participatory activities.
Wiktor: Who can use it and who is it aimed at?
Alexandra: The audience of our project is wide. This is because the Toolbox is aimed at both local governments and residents of Polish cities, as well as NGOs, foundations, associations, participation practitioners or urban activists. Our knowledge base can be used by anyone - the site allows you to browse through the entries, and thanks to active links in the content of the entries you can easily go to other, additional sources and expand your knowledge on the selected topic. In addition, each individual entry, as well as the entire toolbox, can be downloaded in PDF format, in a form similar to a textbook. The platform also provides the possibility to create an account, which allows to use additional functions - logged-in users can add new passwords to the database, comment on existing entries and participate in discussions on the discussion forum.
Wiktor: How is it supposed to help networking of institutions and people?
Alexandra: Networking of all people or organizations interested in active participation in the life of cities is possible thanks to the aforementioned discussion forum and the option to comment on other users' entries. The structure of the articles allows efficient internal navigation in the convention of Wikipedia, so you can easily be redirected to the content you are interested in. Making contacts is also helped by providing in your profile the website address of the institution/organization with which we are affiliated, as well as a phone number or email address. This will allow people interested in our project to contact us directly.
Wiktor: Is the database of ideas and tools growing?
Alexandra: Currently, the database of articles contains almost four hundred entries and is still growing. The entries describe both locally undertaken urban actions and global projects or methods of managing public participation. We hope that this growing trend will continue and that soon every urban initiative will have its own password in the toolbox.
sample article with information about a particular solution
© Institute for Urban and Regional Development
Wiktor: What are the future plans for the toolbox?
Alexandra: We still want to promote our project to people and entities related to cities, so that the number of entries in the toolbox keeps growing. We want the toolbox to be a well-known and recognizable platform in the urban environment and to realistically support local governments in strengthening public participation. Our long-term goal is to include a wide range of local communities in the dialogue on urban development, to help plan participatory processes and ensure their sustainability and continuitycontinuity, obtain information about the needs and expectations of space users, and encourage discussion of current urban problems and the development of joint solutions.
Victor: Thank you for the interview.