REGENERA in The Hague (Netherlands)
I was invited to the The Hague workshop (1-3 December) of the REGENERA Network under the URBACT programme, in order to facilitate the transmission of experiences, knowledge and failures to the other participants in this workshop from Europe. The Hague is a Dutch city of 450.000 inhabitants and it is known for its practical and efficient approach to problems arising from immigration and interethnic tensions. Problems of poverty and exclusion are concentrated in a limited number of neighbourhoods, such as the ‘Schilderswijk’, that are historically housing the poor and newly arrived. The City Council, under Christian Democrat Wim Deetman as the state-appointed burgomaster (Mayor), is open to creative and unorthodox initiatives to promote emancipatorial processes.
Like every greater Dutch city, The Hague struggles to make meet strict national law with the constraints of daily care. Mr. Surendra and his team of workers from different city services, try to put into practice an integrated approach to local clusters of problems.
Today, and for two other days, researchers, practicians and political people from the other cities that are in the REGENERA network, study the work that is in progress in this Dutch city.
We are here with representatives from Greater Lyon (the leading city of this network, France), from Milan, Turin and Pescara (Italy), St-Etienne (France), Prague (Czechia), Budapest (Hungary), Warsaw (Poland), San Adria de Besos and Santa Coloma de Gramenet (both from Cataluña, Spain), Birmingham, Glasgow and Belfast from the UK.
The experts responsible for a final report of this network are Rémy Nouveau and Alexander Wagner from Greater Lyon and Claude Jacquier, Stéphane Bienvenue, Hans Schlappaa and Elena Maggi, thematic experts. And, on this occasion, your blogger.
Today, we listened to policy explanations by our Dutch hosts. Oral reports were provided by foreign workgroup members on the subjects treated by inter-network URBACT conferences like the one that took place in October in Palermo (immigration), the URBACT annual meeting in Liverpool (14-15 November) and the Birmingham meeting a week later on city problems.
Tonight, we had a social evening in a Chinese-Indian restaurant, managed by people from the former Dutch colony of Surinam (Latin America). Food and dance provided a distracted ambiance, where otherwise very serious men and women from all parts of this old Continent went out of their heads and socialised in a way that provides hope for the future of this awkward collection of national entities.
(As I forgot to take my special cable, photos of these events will be published tomorrow;-).