European READ IT project in the Netherlands

After the approval of the project in Germany and the first meeting of the steering group in Budapest during the EUNET annual conference, in the Netherlands we started our search for an additional partner.

Through some contacts that we (from Learn for Life) consulted we came in contact with an organization called VKD (association of small villages). This is a very active umbrella organization for village councils in the Frisian municipality of Weststellingwerf. All 24 small villages are member of the VKD. They represent the villages where it concerns municipality wide developments. The VKD and the municipality inform each other about new developments. Together they think about ways to maintain and widen the involvement of the villages in municipality wide developments.

One of the board members of VDK is actually working for Doarpswurk and through the Read It project we see an extra opportunity for cooperation between LfL, VDK and Doarpswurk. In the past Learn for Life and Doarpswurk had a common strategy for development of the rural areas called the rural academy. Because of new workers, new targets and much other work, this academy has been dormant for a couple of years. But through the READ IT project new opportunities have risen for this cooperation.

Doarpswurk (www.doarpswurk.frl) is a professional organization in the Dutch province of Fryslân. They support an stimulate initiatives that strengthen the livability in the rural area of the province. Doarpswurk always makes sure the responsibility and ownership remain in the village itself. They offer proactive, innovative and accessible support to the boards of community centers, village boards and other civil initiatives that strengthen togetherness in villages. Target points at the moment are Network of Sustainable Villages, Energyshop, new democracy and health in rural areas.

We had an initial meeting in the beginning of February with the director of Doarpswurk and the board member of the VKD who also works for Doarpswurk. We discussed about the workload, but mostly about the possibilities this project can provide for us all.

Dissemination

  • The LVKK is the Dutch national organization for small communities. They are an umbrella organization for various provincial organizations like Doarpswurk. They fight on a national level for the rural areas of the Netherlands and the people that live there. We brought the READ IT project to their knowledge and they are very interested.
  • The province of Fryslân is, according to Dutch standards, a very rural province. It is the only Dutch province that has had a separate policy for the rural area for over 30 years. They are very concerned with the livability and demographic changes there. The main aim of the policy is to maintain and strengthen the livability in the rural area. One of the main targets has always been the support for community centers when they want to build or remodel. The idea behind this is, that community centers are very important for the livability. This is an important partner in the dissemination of our manual.
  • The Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden (NHL) is an institution for higher education. They have a lectorate for new welfare. This is much broader than health issues, it is all about working with and about livability, activating citizens and helping active citizens. They can add innovative methods for activating citizens and also play part in the dissemination of the manual.

Local meeting in the Netherlands..working kick-off

First meeting of participating organisations in the Netherlands.

Learn for Life is the READ IT project partner. Also participating are the Frisian organisation of small villages (Doarpswurk) and the organisation of small villages in the Frisian municipality of Weststellingwerf (VKD),

Local working group in Germany

After the kick-off meeting and the set-up of the “International future workshop” as local citizens group, this  group started with working on content and set up a working plan and strategy for the coming months.

The group started with identifying the needs and the challenges of the rural area in Bad Marienberg and around. The aim was to collect a catalogue of challenges that need to be faced and worked on.  In addition we also concentrated on the good things that do work in  our communities and that are worth sharing with others. The last part was to create a concrete structure for the project group and how we are going to work in the upcoming future. It was a great kick-off and the results will be developed and included with the experiences from the first transnational meeting due in almost three weeks.

The project group is also going to increase networking with more local stakeholders and is going to produce a flyer for better PR of the project in the local community.

 

First working meeting with new local citizens group

After the introducing kick-off meeting the new established local citizens group “International future workshop” will meet for its first working meeting. Identifying what are the challenges and and good practices in the rural area of Bad Marienberg is the main focus as well as setting up the concrete work modus of this group.

The local citizens groups wants to kick-off by starting to work on, exchange and develop (new) ideas for active citizenship in rural areas and development of the home region. This is also the basis for the international exchange that starts with the first transnational meeting in March 2018.

The invitation and the promotion of the Strategic Partnership is promoted via the official gazette of the local community “Verbandsgemeinde Bad Marienberg” reaching out to 20.000 local citizens.

A glimpse on some local partners in France…

Etablissement Public Local d’Enseignement et de Formation Professionnelle Agricole et Horticole de Saint-Germain-en-Laye / Chambourcy

The agricultural and horticultural secondary school is located in the Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Chambourcy municipalities, (Ile-de-France Region), on the listed site “Plaine de la Jonction”, inheritance of the royal hunting in the 18th century.

The estate has been transferred from the presidential hunting to the Agriculture’s Ministry School Department in 1954.

The school consists of 5 poles of competences: the high school, the apprentice training center, the vocational training center, the horticultural farm and the landscaping workshop. The farm is specialized in horticulture: floriculture, market gardening, arboriculture and plant nursery. The school develops an educational garden (4.500 children per year). The landscaping workshop coordinates the area maintenance and manages the school projects.

The training courses on offer are: general scientific A-level, technologic education (Agronomy sciences and technologies, production, areas’ development and valuation), vocational training (agriculture, landscape design, horticulture, hippology, flowers).

GPS&O – Grand Paris Seine et Oise (urban community)

Created in 2016, the urban community GPS&O is part of the continuing process of a pioneer territory regarding inter-municipalities and urban/rural collaboration topics. It is intended to give more responsibilities at local level.

The will to constitute an urban community responds to the local elected representatives to create an overall consortium able to offer services in a uniform way to an extended territory, with a greater efficiency and lower costs.

Only inter-municipality close to Paris of more than 400.000 inhabitants, GPS&O is the most populated urban French community.

The activity in the Seine Valley goes back to the Middle-Age. Historic hunting, ploughing and grazing territory, it developed roads and “bridge-cities”, important interchange places.

The main decision-making body for the community is the community council; it takes all the important calls.

GPS&O also implements many actions with European funds, like the LEADER program (European rural development program based on a local development strategy). The “Group of Local Action (GAL) Seine” accompanies the entrepreneurs and assigns grants from the European Agricultural  Fund for Rural Development.

The Departmental Council of the Yvelines

The Departmental Council is the deliberative assembly, elected by direct universal suffrage, of a Department. Its mission is to deliberate and sort out the Yvelines affairs. This instance is in charge of the public service and its improvement.

The elected representatives meet on average once a month in plenary session. The counselors are 42; they are men and women from the ground, and close to the inhabitants.

From the social welfare to the infrastructures, the Council works to improve and strengthen the attractiveness of the territory. It’s the main partner of the communities and NGO’s.

One of the Vice-Presidents of the Council is Pauline Winocour-Lefèvre, in charge of the rural areas. She organized and is in charge of the “Rurality meetings”, a council’s initiative launched in 2014 to meet the needs of the inhabitants, to tighten the links between towns and rural areas, to give the territories keys for empowerment. The aim is to set up a voluntary and positive policy, able to break with bad habits of opposing the land and the town.

Local kick-off in Germany

In Germany “READ IT” is integrated in the campaign “Ich bin dabei”. In this framework we had a local kick-off meeting in the “Verbandsgemeinde Bad Marienberg” – the local authority of 20.000 inhabitants in the rural area of the Westerwald. Aim was to attract local people for the “READ IT” project and set up a local working group for the strategic partnership. Some excused before because of illness or other appointments but 15 local citizens attend the kick-off meeting including some local mayors. The result: People got interested and are eager to go on working in this project – a very good start for the local project group that started from scratch.

The next meeting is already planned for February to start with content and future plannings.

The next big step… video conferencing

The strategic partnership continues its work. After the kick-off and many local activities to get the basics for the work in the partnership “READ IT” held its first big interim video conference to inform about the development in the different countries and to check the latest preparations for the first transnational meeting in France in March 2018.

The results look very promising. Local citizens could be involved in the project and networks are established. The French partner was very busy with setting up the programme and agenda for the transnational meeting in Paris. Now, the partnership is step by step filled with live and after all the formal preparations we can really start with work on content, rural areas and active citizens – great.

Networking the project in Germany – “Ich bin dabei”

The “READ IT” project is going to be promoted and included in broader networks for a better and sustainable outcome. In Germany the project is now part of the official initiative “Ich bin dabei” (“I take part”) of the Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, and the Mayor of the Verbandsgemeinde Bad Marienberg, Andreas Heidrich. The initiative is going to promote and honour voluntary work and commitment of citizens in local communities. The initiative is implemented by the Verbandsgemeinde Bad Marienberg which is a local authority in the rural area around the Europahaus Marienberg, the lead partner of the project “READ IT”. The VG Bad Marienberg has roughly 20.000 inhabitants combining the city of Bad Marienberg (approx. 6000 inhabitants) and 17 villiages from only 250 inhabitants to around 2000 inhabitants.

The local website of the initiatve by the Prime Minister and the Mayor can be reached here: Initiative “Ich bin dabei” (only available in German language).

In addition to open this project to more people and more local communities in rural areas “READ IT” will be included as a project group within the initiative. Thus the outcome of the project and the results of the European exchange will be made available to all local communities (villages and city) by incorporating local citizens into the network. Concrete realizations of best practices from other countries or results developed in the project have a greater chance to be realized in rural areas.

The kick-off meeting to invite all citiztens to take part within this new initiative / project group is scheduled for January 29th – see here (click for PDF version):

Preparations in France….

Even though the first transnational project meeting in France in March 2018 is quite some time away all partners are already deeply involved in the work of the partnrship. Our French friends are mostly busy with organising the first meeting. The draft agenda was already out in November with all partners commenting on it. Now the next stepes need to be done. Continue reading

READ IT goes “social” – Facebook and Instagram

If you like reading, this web page is billiant for you. But if you also like to stay informed more quickly and in different ways you may also use the Social Media applications for this project. You can either follow the project on Facebook or if you love pics you may follow our Instagram account. Have fun! Continue reading

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