The City, in cooperation with the residents, has launched a pilot project aimed at engaging the community to submit ideas for micro-city innovations. The project assumes and promotes the participation of residents in the implementation of solutions in areas affecting the quality of life in the city: modern and friendly urban space for residents and greenery in the City. The submitted ideas were to be a response to global challenges and the scalability of the implemented ideas.
The project aimed to conduct a pilot project focused on residents in building the City space based on innovative solutions available to every citizen. This concerned in particular the implementation of the following tasks:
1) a theme garden—a bumblebee defined as a place of observation, meetings, and ecological education of the inhabitants of Rzeszow;
2) community garden—designed by children in Minecraft. The garden design developed by the children has been transferred to the current implementation, where the children invite their grandparents, parents, neighbors to plant and grow a vegetable garden together;
3) booths for swifts and hedgehog houses—implementation of the initiative reported by residents regarding increasing the emphasis on restoring the natural environment with the indication of new booths for swifts and hedgehogs in the City. The implemented idea is the result of activities aimed at improving the quality of life and involvement of residents in the functioning of the City.
4) ecological mural—anti-smog, the first ecological mural involving primary school children and residents was made. The challenge taken has a high potential regarding concept transfer as well as scaling its implementation, as a good practice that should be implemented on the line with residents and the Local Government.
The tasks are undertaken in the project “Rzeszow to Us” have an impact on the change of the environment, thus showing the space of the city focused on the resident and his needs through the implementation of eco-innovative solutions that affect the reconstruction of the natural ecosystem. The implementation of the assumptions made it possible to develop a “map” of good practices that can be touched, see the tangible effects of cooperation and involvement of residents in a long-term project, which turned out to be the city as open to residents' ideas, involving little financial, human and material resources to implement the ideas.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
The main goal of the project was to involve citizens and their participation in the implementation of ideas submitted in the competition “Rzeszow is Us”. Particular importance was attached to the quality of involvement of the city's citizens
The second assumed goal was to select projects with the greatest possible scalability/transfer of concepts to other areas or realities.
The third element was the preparation of recommendations for subsequent recruitment, and thus the transfer of good practices based on the main goal developed in Rzeszow for the Partner Cities in the country and abroad
The element of the durability of the presented project tasks was achieved by developing the concept of a competition open to residents to submit ideas in micro-innovations that affect the quality of life in the city. Then, pilot ideas were selected, which were fine-tuned with the residents and then intended for implementation. The assumption of the project at every stage was to involve residents in their implementation as well as conducting educational activities. The result of the project was the implementation of ideas submitted by residents, which were practical, needed, had an impact on the quality of life in the city, and involved a wide range of residents. The tasks that were carried out under the project were decided by representatives of non-governmental organizations, science, The Local Government, and city activists. The project is an element of the action in which Rzeszow invited residents to jointly implement the tasks:
1) thematic garden — a triple farm
2) community garden — designed by children in Minecraft
3) booths for swifts and hedgehog houses
4) ecological mural — anti-smog
The assumption of the project was the implementation of permanent tasks with further development and scaling opportunities in Rzeszow and beyond, as well as the opportunity to see and find out how to build the City space with the participation of residents of all ages and social groups
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
The implemented project, based on the assumed objectives, fits into the city space and has a significant impact on the reconstruction of the urban nature area. Visually, it attracts attention with its modernity, biodiversity of planting, and aesthetics of workmanship.
Tasks carried out in the form of thematic and social gardens are the pride of Rzeszow because they are located in the most frequented places in the form of recreation and sports. Their advantage is durability and the possibility of expanding them with additional planting elements or scaling the gardens into other areas of the City.
The ecological mural is also an important promotional element of the City. The subject, how the grassroots initiative was implemented, where the inhabitants were involved, gives a new image to lovers of artistic messages that are the pride of the City. The mural itself also has an essential ecological message and thus indicates the essence of the topic related to the fight against smog, it also presents the City's open attitude to the civilization problems that we are currently struggling with.
Another essential element of the project are booths for swifts and houses for hedgehogs, and here it should be considered that the city becomes friendly to wild animals, allows them to settle in the urban space, and thus fights for the area of nature by eliminating the spraying against mosquitoes. The booths for swifts and hedgehog houses fit perfectly into the element of the City are consistent with the information message as well as the slogan “Rzeszow, the capital of innovation”, which emphasizes the wide spectrum of urban, social, and technological innovations.
The experience that the City has gained as part of the project is presented among Partner Cities from Poland and abroad as a good practice that must take place in every space of an open City focused on social and economic development.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
The key goal of the project was to encourage and engage residents to submit ideas as part of the competition, where the residents together with the City refined their ideas and thus could participate in them as the authors of the project. For example, a mural is a concept that was developed as part of a school competition by a student of the 6th grade of a primary school from Rzeszow. The children's idea was produced and the artists from Rzeszow placed it on the main wall of the school. The involvement of children and the selection of the project for implementation was an invitation to the youngest residents to co-create the so-called Cities for children, where children create space with adults and their voice is important. Rzeszow's approach to giving the city area to children and the possibility of creating common spaces presents equal opportunities to participate in the development of everyone interested in its development.
The tasks undertaken in the project had an impact on the intergenerational integration in each area of the project. Thanks to the cooperation and exchange of experiences, tasks were completed, which create the possibility of implementation not only in urban spaces but also in nursing homes, retirement homes, kindergartens, schools, or rural areas.
Each of the tasks had a budget so that the performed tasks had a real possibility of scaling and implementation. The city invited residents to implement it. The involvement of residents exceeded expectations and thus is an important confirmation of its purposefulness and accessibility for recipients.
As part of the project, an instruction was developed and prepared along with the necessary documentation for the implementation of the “Rzeszow is Us” project, and the name of the project itself allows its recipients to identify with the City and participate in its initiatives, and, importantly, to submit ideas for the city themselves friendly to residents.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary
Durability, aesthetics, experience, intergenerational integration are the components of the entire project and, above all, the tasks carried out, thanks to which today in the City of Rzeszow we can meet the first thematic garden of bumblebees (Trzmielowisko) or a social fruit and vegetable garden designed in Minecraft in Poland.
Listening to the voice of the inhabitants and their needs, the city has created a project tailored to urban innovation, which involves them in putting together an idea, refining the concept, and implementing it. The experience gained by the City is an important element that builds the motivation of residents and makes residents feel a greater need to get involved thanks to the tangible effects that are visible in the project. The aim and assumption of the project have been achieved, and their final effect is the presentation of good practices of cooperation with residents by enabling the public, regardless of age, to participate in the project and co-create it.
An important issue that should be emphasized is that the tasks were carried out thanks to the involvement of residents in their implementation, as well as conducting educational activities as part of individual tasks. As part of the discussion about the city, the inhabitants of Rzeszow were included in an important topic, which was an attempt to answer the question: what solutions to take to replace chemical decontamination with the natural protection of plants and animals in the city, which are endangered by the progress of civilization in cities.
Listening to the voices of the inhabitants, the city opted for a solution that favors not only the views of the society but also considering the good of the natural ecosystem, as part of the recruitment of ideas for micro-innovations, Urban Lab Rzeszow adopted a pilot deployment of 400 booths for swifts and 100 houses for hedgehogs that came to Rzeszow at the turn of autumn 2020.
As a result of the project, we can define, first, the implementation of the indicated tasks, submitted from the bottom up in the form of ideas from residents (city recipients) to better solve social problems, as well as encourage public and private entities, including civil society, to contribute to improving the quality of life in the city.
And the most important element of the project that should be indicated as an effect are the tasks that can now be admired and copied as a good practice of involving residents in improving the quality of life in the city:
1) Trzmielowisko (a theme garden— the bumblebees) – a thematic garden as a place of observation, meetings, and ecological education of the inhabitants of Rzeszow.
2) Community Garden—designed by children in Minecraft.
3) Swift huts and hedgehog huts.
4) Ecological mural—anti-smog.
Another important effect is the open dialogue with the residents. As part of the discussion about the city, the inhabitants were included in important topics, such as an attempt to answer the questions: what solutions should be taken to replace chemical descaling with the natural protection of plants and animals in the city, which are endangered by the progress of civilization? Climate buffer or green urban infrastructure? How much power should you give up to the inhabitants?
Listening to the voice of the inhabitants, the city opted for a solution favorable not only to the views of society but also considering the good of the natural ecosystem, adopted the above tasks as part of the recruitment of ideas for micro-innovations.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.
When creating the project model, at the very beginning, the main recipient of the set goal was indicated, which was involved from the very beginning of the idea submission, development of the idea concept, project implementation, and its evaluation. The acceptance of the recipient at the very beginning allowed the City to involve the society on a local scale in its implementation, and in the promotion of activities on an international scale, as the competition for ideas for micro-innovations was open to all supporters of the development of the City space. We received ideas for the city, among others from Rzeszow, Krakow, Lublin, Gdansk, the Netherlands, which shows that the action taken in this type of project is important for the City and its recipients.
The implemented project met the assumptions made by encouraging citizens to actively participate in the life of the city and submitting ideas for micro innovations that have an impact on improving the quality of life in the city.
At the project implementation stage, two paths were defined: the seed one involved incubating an idea through the idea process until it was transferred to a prototype implementation. The key component of this path was the submitted idea for solving the problem, motivating residents, as well as building a responsible civic attitude for the urban space.
At the very beginning of the project, it was important to optimize work on the implementation of micro-innovations (a given task), which is why the most realistic ideas were selected for implementation. To make it easier for everyone to submit ideas, stationary and online consultations (zoom) were conducted, thus enabling support in describing a potential solution proposed by residents. The next stage is the implementation of the idea (project path). In part of this task, the residents actively participated in plantings, practical workshops, and after the implementation is completed, they will act as the project's supervisor and co-creator
The challenges undertaken as part of the project in terms of the relationship between the assumptions of individual tasks had a significant impact on the selected area of the environment and at the same time undertake educational activities corresponding to the subject in the face of global challenges that affect the City. When talking about global challenges faced by cities, it is necessary to indicate climate challenges, which are also directly influenced by the progress of civilization. This is where the problems of increasing smog will appear, as well as the growing rate of civilization diseases among children and adolescents.
The undertaken tasks were carried out on the initiative of the residents, and special attention should be paid to the ecological mural made with the use of “anti-smog” air-purifying paints. As well as the initiated, first gardens: community (fruit and vegetable) and thematic garden—the bumblebees. The created buffers of additional greenery in the city are also areas that can regulate the air temperature and store and purify rainwater.
Elements of gardens created as part of the project in cooperation with the residents can be integrated into any existing urban landscape, for example as part of road infrastructure, not only in the park. In addition, the emergence of the grassroots initiative for swift booths and hedgehog houses is a tangible effect of efforts to improve the quality of life and restore nature. The implemented action has a high potential for implementation in other regions in the face of the protection of wild animals in the city, influences education, and identifies the city as a place to live for the whole family.
It should also be emphasized that the implemented project is a space for residents who also engage in dialogue with representatives of various environments on ecological initiatives, which at some point, based on the example of the implemented project, become “good practice” important to follow and promote.
The innovative dimension of the indicated tasks as part of the implemented project “Rzeszow is Us” has become a driving force for the implementation of the assumed goals of building an attractive, innovative space and, above all, was directed at people and their surroundings, considering their needs. In the indicated tasks of the project, the assumptions were met, among others inclusion of society in the co-creation of urban space and thus the development of experience in the form of good practices.
The effect of the actions taken was the involvement of the city's citizens to scale the tested ideas of transferring the concept not only to the urban space in the form of networking but above all to transfer the idea to other cities in the country and abroad.
The tasks carried out, i.e., a thematic garden—the bumblebees farm, a social fruit and vegetable garden designed by children in Minecraft, are the first activities of this type on a Polish scale, and the tasks performed in the form of an ecological mural using special paints that affect air purification are an element of eco-innovation having a direct impact on nature and its surroundings.
The voice of the residents is very important for the City, therefore, at the stage of developing the concept, the prevailing issue was not only the need to co-create a joint project with the residents, but most of all taking actions to support sustainable development by reducing the negative impact on the environment.
The presented tasks in the area of creating a place for swifts and hedgehogs in the city space are part of the scope of secondary innovations that directly affect nature itself. By involving residents in discussions in the search for a solution related to the improvement of life in the city.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.
The implemented project has a high potential regarding concept transfer as well as scaling its implementation, as a good practice that should be implemented on the line of residents—local government. The creation of the thematic garden—the bumblebee, was the beginning of the changes introduced in the space, which became a place for pollinators and enriched the city with plantings and flower meadows.
The pilot implementation of the first thematic garden in Poland—the bumblebee plant, had an impact on the city, showing the space focused on the resident and his needs by implementing, among other things, biodiversity influencing the restoration of the natural ecosystem. An important element of the implementation of the first community garden (fruit and vegetable garden) into the urban tissue of Rzeszow was the involvement of residents in its implementation.
This is the first nationwide initiative where children designed a space for residents in Minecraft and architects transferred the children's vision in 100% to a real project, the implementation of which shows the potential for transferring the idea to other regions, as well as the concept of combining Minecraft fun with education up to the final implementation of ideas in the city.
Thus, we can sum up that the project developed with the youngest residents makes Rzeszow a city for children and their families.
Another important issue was to involve the society in the implementation of tasks aimed at the renewal of urban areas, which should become friendly to the entire urban environment. The implemented project shows the involvement of residents in the functioning of the city, mobilizes them to continue active participation not only in discussions but above all in projects, thanks to which they identify with the city. As a result, participation in municipal projects increases, which is beneficial for the entire socio-economic area of Rzeszow.