Coming from different continents, countries and backgrounds but passionate about making cities a better place for all Alexandra, Carlo and I met two years ago cursing the IHS – UMD10 Master Program. During the Action Planning workshop in December 2013, we spent one week working in the Zoho/Agniesebuurt area at the north side of Rotterdam assessing the challenges, highlighting the opportunities and coming up with proposals of simple feasible interventions. During that week we identified an issue in the area related to the lack of community feeling, especially a lack of integration and communication between local decision makers, residents and the creative industry operating in the area.
Based on this issue we developed the “Ik Ben Zoho” project (“I am Zoho”) aiming to connect the people of the neighborhood through a Facebook group, face-to-face contact in public spaces and a magazine. After the assignment for the Master finished, we decided to take one step further and make the project real. During that time we started meeting and knowing local people, participating in various events organized in the neighborhood and in May 2014 we were able to publish and spread the first issue of the magazine.
Since then, in December 2014 we developed the second issue and between February to April 2015 as part of our work for the Urban Strategic Planning specialization we evolved to the “Ik Ben Mijn Buurt” (“I am my neighbourhood”) projects in several areas in Rotterdam, creating collaborating links and aiming to connect the people in the neighborhood, the creatives, the local decision makers and the city’s university.
Once we spread around the world again, we were no longer students but empowered urban professionals believing that in order to reveal satisfactory and inclusive perspectives for the development of public spaces, there are more complex requirements. Multi-level assessments, long-term involvement, in-depth understanding of the community and the particular urban system are vital for a real impact to be triggered.
Now, we created a website called “I am my city” where we want to share our work, based on our understanding of public spaces as the skeleton, nerves, arteries of the city. As the nodes where city flows move through, the key spots where urban metabolism evolves and can be observed. For us, the citizens, users and community around public space are at the forefront of its development. Their role must be supported by organizations, public bodies, experts, students, private initiatives. This is the reason why communication (personal, digital and visual) is the basis of “I am my city” and a catalyst for stimulating the use of public space according to the needs, ideas and dream of all involved stakeholders.
I am my city is a voluntary platform for process facilitation, focusing on urban public space. If you want to check our work please visit https://iammycity.wordpress.com/