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Giving citizens a voice through co-creation

Co-creation with citizens is a fundamental approach to developing more effective, legitimate and sustainable solutions. Empowering residents to decide and create helps to achieve results that are much more tailored to them, improving the well-being and happiness of all participants. Co-creation fosters active and meaningful citizen participation in decision-making, strengthens democracy and contributes to developing more cohesive and resilient communities.

This has been one of the objectives of the drOp project, an international project which, through a use case, has been validated in Ermua, in the Santa Ana neighbourhood. Thanks to this project, the residents of the Santa Ana neighbourhood, together with experts from Mondragon University (MU), Tecnalia and Ermua, have had the opportunity to identify the needs of their neighbourhood and collaborate on a joint solution, beneficial to all.

For that purpose, a Mapathon session was held with the neighbours, where improvement suggestions and incidents were identified along the neighbourhood streets. For it a digital platform was created where each user could register their suggestions or incidents, adding the location and the photo at the exact moment.

To start the session, the neighbours separated into groups of 3-4 people, led by experts from MU, Tecnalia and Ermua. Each group walked through the streets of the neighbourhood taking different routes and checking all the corners. This session was a guarantee for the residents that all voices would be heard, and everyone had the opportunity to share all their concerns and opinions.

Once the session concluded, all questions raised were compiled and categorized into various groups or topics. The drOp team communicated these issues and needs to the municipality of Ermua. This resulted in the Municipality of Ermua committing to address several improvements that were not anticipated by the drOp project. The municipality has already implemented a series of interventions in the Santa Ana neighbourhood based on residents’ proposals.

One of the points addressed by the drOp project is the necessity for pedestrianization of a small neighbourhood square and its adaptation for uses more aligned with the community’s needs. To this end, a co-creation session took place on June 19 in a neighbourhood square. This location was frequently mentioned by residents during the Mapathon, where they highlighted that the area was underused and expressed a desire to repurpose it.

During the session, participants were divided into teams to redesign the square. Each team presented their proposed redesign, and collectively, they decided on the final solution for the space. The asks of residents were focused on creating a cosier and greener space where people can socialize and relax by introducing play and rest areas.

The next step will be to implement the changes desired by the residents through tactical urbanism. Tactical urbanism involves using temporary, low-cost changes to the built environment to test and refine long-term urban planning ideas. Over the following months, the effectiveness of the new space will be monitored and evaluated.

Until then, keep following our neighbourhood regeneration journey!🏘️

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