Expert Mapping Cultivating Communities Genk-ZuidPosted: June 6, 2012
As a starting point for the Manifesta project in Genk-Zuid we organised a workshop with experts from an industrial, technological, environmental and social background. The purpose of the workshop was to map a sustainable scenario on how industry and residents can coexist in Genk-Zuid. We developed a toolkit, based on the MAP-it kit of Social Spaces, to perform this mapping. It consists out of a set of wooden signs that represent structures from the area. All workshop participants could add graphic information to the signs using chalk, and use strings of rope to link different elements. Combining these different elements created the map.
At the beginning of the workshop participants chose three key-values that they wanted to pursue in the elaboration of the map: liveability, participation and economy. These three values represent a living environment with a focus on a healthy ecology as well as a healthy economy. Creating such a healthy living environment would require participation from different actors involved namely: the city of Genk, the industry, the residential community, the Flemish government and research facilities.
The next step was assigning roles to these different actors. The Flemish government was assigned the role of advisor that could provide guidelines, informed by research facilities, about emission standards. The City of Genk was assigned the role of the facilitator that would turn the guidelines into practise.One of several actions that the City of Genk is going to undertake is installing a green buffer. The buffer will be built in a specific area of Genk-Zuid where only a road is separating the industrial area and the residential zone. This would mainly act as a visual and sound buffer between the industry and the residential area. The industry has a double role: on the one hand it is an employer that provides an income for al lot of people in the area. On the other hand, it is the main source of pollution in this area, which causes health problems to the residents. As the facilitator the city would encourage industry to invest in clean technologies to minimize the air pollution. The residential community was assigned the role of inhabitant that could prevent exposure to polluted air. Health measurements could include washing your hands regularly. An extra actor, a communication centre, was added to the map. The actions of the communication centre could be: informing residents about prevention measurements or informing industry about new technologies.
In the final stage of the workshop we critically reflected upon the map that we set out for Genk-Zuid. All workshop participants agreed that creating a healthy living environment for Genk-Zuid could only become possible if experts from the local area, including the community of residents, contribute to the sustainable scenario. So far the role of the residents is rather limited. But engaging the local residents in a constructive dialogue regarding the air pollution still poses a challenge. The City does a lot of efforts by organising info sessions, sending newsletters and publishing the findings of their research online. But feedback from the residents regarding this subject doesn’t seem to flow back to the city. A possible explanation for this problem could be found in the fact that a lot of media coverage regarding this subject creates an abundance of information. This could have a stigmatising effect on the subject.
So the main challenge for the project is to engage and enable the residential community to participate in developing a sustainable scenario for their local environment. To try to achieve this we are developing a mobile laboratory that we will use to go to the different neighbourhoods. In the lab we will display a series of artefacts like for instance maps of the area, drawings of filtering plants, a model of the green buffer. We will use these artefacts to engage the residents in a creative conversation regarding their local environment. We will also further develop the wooden sign toolkit to enable the residents to add elements to the scenario. Through this process we hope to reveal peoples’ personal vision on how living and industry can coexist. The first residential workshop will take place on the 21st of June from 13:00 till 16:00 in Wijkcentrum Sledderlo. If you would like to participate in this workshop please contact us on this e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.