As part of FoTRRIS, we’ve explored the possibilities for local economic development at the Wekerle district of Budapest, Hungary.
Wekerle Local Economic Development Strategy
Through this 3-months long process, our aim has been to create a common vision for a local economic development strategy by bringing together the civil, business, and public sector. More specifically, we’ve had to engage local economic agents, experts, NGOs, contractors, and district leaders.
The program was based on a “multi-sectoral”, “multi-actor” dialogue. With Transition Wekerle representative Tracey Wheatley, we’ve strove to form the best possible mix of local actors, thinking beyond the sectors themselves, ensuring the diversity of social backgrounds.
In addition to local expertise, we’ve invited 9 experts of diverse professional backgrounds (ranging from community development through social business to urban planning) as members of a so-called competence cell to assist the participatory-deliberative process.
What happened on the workshops?
On January 14, the first workshop explored the current characteristics of local actors, economy and resources, the dynamic between the niche innovations and the dominant regime. So, we’ve set up a definition of local economic development, and reflected upon the barriers to, and leverages for, niche and regime actors.
In the second workshop on February 18, we’ve asked the participants to explore and share their visions of the future of the local economy. Participating experts have identified key areas for further debate, such as community-based transport, community spaces, local services, stewardship for townscape, and so on.
The final workshop on March 18 started with a “fairy tale” of Wekerle told by a professional story-teller, to engage people emotionally in the project. Then we’ve jointly reflected on the process so far. Finally, we’ve started to discuss action planning to complete the project concept.
Additionally, the workshops were complemented by a series of extra programs, such as a tour of unused local spaces, a mapping event with the help of a local graffiti artist, and two short courses in social business and crowd-funding.
Feedback and next steps
Moreover, before starting the process, we’ve asked professional journalists to record the events in a role somewhat alike participant observation, and create an independent, critical short film.
This film is currently in development, and will be shown during an evaluation and outreach workshop this June. We’ll post it here as soon as it’s finished.