Rybnik sets a national example for civic improvement initiatives by adopting a participatory approach to the revitalisation of degraded areas.
REVITALISING NEGLECTED NEIGHBOURHOODS
Rybnik is a post-industrial city with several socially, economically, and environmentally degraded neighbourhoods that require comprehensive revitalisation. In order to involve the public in shaping the future of the most neglected districts, the local government initiated an effort to involve dialogue with local residents in all activities related to education, housing, and the transformation of public spaces.
RESIDENTS PROPOSE PROJECTS
Between 2018 and 2021, a team led by Deputy Mayor Piotr Masłowski implemented new standards for social participation and public engagement in carrying out revitalisation projects. City representatives organised contests for small-scale initiatives, allowing residents to implement activities of their own design in their communities. Groups of residents who proposed small civic projects (less than 1,000 EUR) became agents of change for the whole city, and were empowered by the fact that the winners were selected by their fellow citizens. Nearly 200 initiatives were implemented in five degraded areas, which included projects such as handicraft workshops and a new playground for children.
A NEW APPROACH TO PARTICIPATION
Thanks to the use of participatory methods, the process of developing common spaces at the city level was fully revised, leading to updates in landscape architecture and urban design projects for the development of residential areas. The participatory methods used in Rybnik have been recognised as innovative on a national scale, with the city among 20 others in Poland selected for the Model Urban Revitalisation project. Since then, the developed solutions have contributed to the popularisation of a new approach to revitalisation in the city, an approach which also represents a best practice for other Polish cities. Overall, 1,050 residents have engaged in dialogue with the local government as a result of this initiative.