Home after an intense City festival… Full of new energy!

The first ever URBACT City Festival in Riga is over! These have been three « professionally, emotionally and physically intense » days as one of the participants reported during the final session, called reflexively «Urban Futures »… Diapositive5The first element that stroke me when arriving was the layout and the colours of the whole festival: big purple balloons, in front of the quite austere and traditional conference centre, former “House of Political Education” dating from 1982. We received a bracelet like for any self-respecting festival, a name card with our personalized programme, some stickers with our names and email addresses which we could use to make contacts, and also a bag to help us go through the whole event and which contained: a conference pack with a (still empty) notebook or “journal”, a pen, post its, useful documents; a water bottle; and a poncho (which we actually did not need to use). To sum up, everything was set up so that we would be ready for two and half days of “undivided attention”, as could have said Maurizio Travaglini from Idea Factor. The tone of the event was given with the eclectic confetti, for a “non-conference” outside of the traditional boundaries of endless speeches in closed and airless rooms.


This festival was the occasion for our Workstream to present the conclusions of its work on Social innovation in cities. For this, we organized a new version of the Living exhibition: we ping ponged between our two case studies, presented some additional cases, and also presented some new cases, reported on the spot by our interactive participants! We were also lucky to have our experts on the ground, Anne de Feijter from the City of Amersfoort and Madgalena Skiba from the City of Gdansk (accompanied by Piotr Wolkowinski), to make our cases real and concrete, give them a “human face” and to let the stories being told by those who made them. You can watchedthe way it worked through the following video prepared by URBACT.

We benefitted strongly from the festival: we learnt and exchanged, we observed and improved, we co-constructed and got empowered. In short, we did as all the participants at the festival. As such, we improved from the first workshop to the second one to give our participants the possibility to sit (on the portable carton chairs that we available everywhere in the festival)…

Riga. The Festival took place in Riga and everything was made to make us LOVE the city. We had a GREAT team of volunteers: always smiling, quick and efficient, proactive and seeking to help for everything, as well as to discover their city… Without them, we would have been lost!

Diapositive3We also had the chance to visit the city in an unusual way: the “WoodWalk Recovery of Wooden Districts in European Cities” for example for a great way of discovering wooden houses scattered in a residential area of the city, outside the traditional touristic hotspots.

We also sampled food throughout the whole festival, as well as through an excursion to the market…

Diapositive2The festival was extremely rich and provided a platform for strong empowerment through the variety of participants (civil servants at local administrations, elected representatives, national and EU representatives, NGOs, researchers and academics, consultants…. and all citizens!), the speakers, the multiplicity of activities. We were not representing a city, but for sure “collected, connected and co-created”.

What less could we expect from the URBACT team?

Diapositive4Marcelline Bonneau

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This website displays the URBACT CAPITALISATION PROCESS (EU project) work on "Social innovation in cities". The information and views set out in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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