Building bridges, finding new connections
Building bridges through storytelling, digital innovation and volunteering to help city and rural dwellers co-decide their future.
Project name: New Boundaries, New Connections
For residents in Valmiera, their new municipality meant bringing urban and rural communities together and this presented an obvious challenge: How could they come together equally to decide what they wanted for their region?
By using branch libraries across the municipality, challenge teams concentrated on developing different ideas that gave the communities more opportunity to explore their shared public spaces.
Challenge teams each worked on prototypes. One team restored a local historic house and gardens to boost local pride, while another team created an interactive game using video stories about local people promoting local history.
Some other challenge teams reversed the power dynamics of event creation, by empowering those who are often seen as the ‘beneficiaries’ of a charitable event – in this case a community with special needs.
Another prototype headed up by the Valmiera Zonta Club brought to light an important, local artist through a series of events. This encouraged the local community to volunteer and discuss community participation.
Volunteering is seen to benefit the community in general and it is not widely practised in Latvia. The solution-building process gave the library staff a lot of knowledge, courage and experience of European exchange that strengthened the team and their library service – a perspective they are planning to build on.
“Libraries are becoming more open to people’s initiatives and thus more responsive to their needs. They are no longer a ready-made space where people come to; they are a place to get involved, to co-participate. The challenge helped us to look a bit further ahead, to make our dream library.”
Valmiera Library, Latvia