New Urban Topologies – Ternopil
– Strengthening of domestic civil society networks and shaping models for communication between civil society and authorities.
New Urban Topologies (NUT) is a dialogue project that in principle inspires a democratic and participatory process about urban planning. During the fall 2013 New Urban Topologies visited Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. The 19th to 21st of Novmeber 2014 New Urban Topologies visits Ternopil for a follow-up on the discussion in Kharkiv 2013.
Three issues topped the agenda at the New Urban Topologies program in Ternopil; after Kharkiv the second “NUT city” in Ukraine. The priority themes were Capacity building for civil society organizations in the art, architecture and urbanism sector, Strengthening of domestic civil society networks and Shaping models for communication between civil society and authorities. In addition, participants investigated the contents, identity and values of the city of Ternopil. The NUT program took place November 19-21 2014 in cooperation with the local organization Changing Ternopil and its founder Oleg Mushyi. Partners from NUT Kharkiv were present along with NGO activists from Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. These presented “best practice” examples of local projects to an audience consisting of activists, students and municipal officials. Changing Ternopil’s internet advertisement of the NUT workshop noted 2 500 hits which shows the attraction that urban issues hold for the young in Ukraine.
Ternopil is seen a city of knowledge and education. It has universities with more than 40 000 students, several publishing houses and book stores. There is a large theatre and several museums. Yet, many of the older generation stick to a concept of Ternopil as an industrial city although most of the once great factories have closed or have little production. This creates a divide in visions for the city, especially since politicians and senior officials are mostly of the older generation. The workshop participants put forward a lot of suggestions on how to improve their city. They wanted Ternopil to grow from the inside rather than by construction of satellite towns, by taking advantage of the large, now unused industrial areas. Ternopil has a great physical advantage in being built around an attractive lake; arrangements should be developed to make the lake a public space during all seasons. There was a need felt for an independent urban center for communication between the citizens and the municipal leaders. Many argued that much could be gained by creating synergies between writers, publishers, libraries, book stores and the art scene in the city.
The workshop participants agreed that capacity building for and improved networking between civil society organizations as well as ideas on models to promote transparent communication and consultation between CSOs and authorities should be implemented all over Ukraine. In order to follow-up on the “Ternopil wish list” the next NUT in Ukraine, to take place in Poltava in late September 2015, will focus on these issues, not forgetting the fight against corruption.