Rijeka, Croatia (2003-2004)

A group of students conduct Placemaking observations.

Funding: The Urban Institute

In 2003, PPS was invited to Rijeka, Croatia under the auspices of the Urban Institute to help launch a new initiative called [MU:V], “Mali Uce Velike” (“Kids teach grown-ups”). Since the civil war, there had been a noticeable apathy among young people, who also have difficulties finding work and have few recreational outlets. Youth are at the forefront of this pilot initiative to create public spaces, working with local government and other sectors (NGOs, the private sector and citizens). Through a public competition, youth groups (both informal and formal) were able to develop their own ideas about how to revitalize public spaces (e.g. streets, parks, school playgrounds, vacant lots and spaces, or old factory buildings etc). [MU:V] was also part of a long-term effort to reposition this seaside city to be a more attractive place to work and live, using new investments in public spaces to mark a departure from its declining industrial past.

PPS conducted a two-day training workshop for young adult mentors who worked alongside 10 teams of young people (almost 40 in all) who had answered the city’s competition announcements. The teams were trained in the principles of Placemaking as well as: Project proposal writing; Media and PR; Fundraising; Public exposure; Local government’s activities; Community councils; and evaluation of public spaces.

After reviewing the final proposals, a committee selected two winning groups who will receive support to implement their ideas:

  • NGO Klub mladih Hrvatske (Croatian youth club), who will create a new indoor space for socializing and creative workshops for young people (including cartoon illustration, graffiti, jewelry, set design and acting). The group received rent-free use of the space from the city and will be open for the public.
  • O? Brajda will redesign a public park adjacent to an elementary school, with support from neighboring residents who have long complained about the park?s poor condition. The group will receive playground equipment, plants, benches, and other materials from the city and are expected to raise the remaining funds through events they organize.

Students discuss their findings during a Placemaking workshop.

The successful project was repeated in 2004 under continuing sponsorship of the City of Rijeka, the Urban Institute and USAID. PPS is currently discussing with the Urban Institute the opportunity to expand the Placemaking approach to other communities in Croatia.

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