Cultural heritage and diversity: STEPS project
The diversity of modern societies can lead to misunderstandings and conflict based on cultural differences. Cultural divides are often enhanced by the local or national media through the creation of stereotypes and rumors about certain communities in a city.
Cultural activities, on the other hand, can provide an open environment for meeting others and discussing complex issues around cultural difference and conflict. In this perspective, cultural heritage can have an important role for community cohesion and cross-community conflict resolution in a creative and reflective environment.
Furthermore urban heritage is the expression of a city’s identity. Different to national identities, urban identities can be inclusive to everyone living in a city, across national borders or citizenships. An intercultural approach to its heritage sector allows a city to actively open up the urban identity to all communities, increasing trust, mutual recognition and eventually community cohesion through an identity inclusive to all.
STEPS is a EU-CoE Joint pilot project which aims at building and strengthening community cohesion, promoting trust, dialogue and mutual understanding across diverse societies, through the participatory heritage-based action plans.
Building on the experience and achievements of the CoE and the cities of the ICC Network in the field of cultural heritage, as well as culturally diverse societies, STEPS will develop and test a methodological framework for the use of heritage at the local level. This methodological framework will be validated through an evidence-based research process which will propose indicators to measure impact of participatory approaches to cultural heritage as a resource for community development and cohesion.
The project will involve three main steps:
- Heritage-Mapping and need assessment in relation to community cohesion
- Network mobilisation, training and heritage-based strategic planning
- Developing of perception change indicators and monitoring of results through an initial and final survey
How will STEPS work?
STEPS is not a regeneration project, it will rather focus on providing expertise and guidance for the participatory process to mobilise diverse heritage as a resource for community cohesion in a specific area of the city where an action – either related to urban regeneration or to community development, is already planned.
PARTICIPATORY HERITAGE MAPPING
The methodology of Participatory Asset Mapping will be adapted for use in relation to diverse cultural heritage. Participatory Asset Mapping is a process where community members collectively create visual inventories of their own community’s assets on a map. The key to Asset Mapping is survey the human and physical assets of a given place.
The focus on heritage will result in a map of those heritage assets that make up the pluralist identity of the community. Assets could include built, as well as intangible heritage features (traditions, practices, knowledge and expressions of human creativity), anything that people who live and work in the territories feel it is significant to them, in line with the Faro principles.
This process will facilitate an understanding of what these features mean to individuals and how they impact each other. The group will gain insight into the specific value granted to community assets by different community members.
The participatory mapping will be done through social investigation, a broad term that encompasses many different methods of gathering community knowledge through a community-engaged approach. With Social Investigation, community members will collect and map information on an individual basis, which will be later combined. This method differs from traditional information gathering methods in that it focuses on gathering information directly from people and communities, instead of about people and communities (from secondary sources). Widely recognised and used methods of social investigation include interviews, surveys, and community walks.
STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN
After the heritage mapping exercise, strategy building workshops involving focus groups will be organised, using Asset-based Community Development (ABCD). ABCD is a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. The workshops will assess the community cohesion challenges of the city in terms of mutual perceptions, trust, and conflict, as well as the resources, skills, and experience available in a community, in addition to the heritage assets, to address these challenges. The workshops will seek to reach agreement on a core strategy and action plan based on the mapped heritage resources to answer the community cohesion challenges. The actual construction of a prototype or the start of the implementation of the actual project before the end of STEPS, in order to maintain motivation and trigger a sense of achievement for the community, is required.
A final publication will be elaborated as a reference for implementing projects with a focus on cultural heritage as a strategic asset for social cohesion. The policy brief will encompass the outcomes and lesson learnt during the implementation of the projects. It will be circulated to members of the Network and to all stakeholders involved.
What are the responsibilities of the participating cities?
Once the two territories have been selected a local team involving schools, universities, NGOs, heritage institutions, etc, will be created. They will be in charge of appointing heritage mappers, reaching out to the broad community and supporting the development of a heritage-based strategy and action plan, as well as participating in the development of evaluation questions and indicators to measure the project results.
In particular, the territories will be in charge of:
- LOCAL NETWORK COORDINATION - development and animation of the local team, as well as its activities, organization of meetings, management of crowd-funding initiatives.
- MAPPING AND RESEARCH – data collection on public perception, heritage mapping equipment and activities, organization of focus groups.
- IMPLEMENTATION OF THE HERITAGE-BASED ACTION PLAN – carrying out the action plan and implement the chosen project.
- COMMUNICATION AND DISSEMINATION – design and purchase of visibility, communication strategy, organization of the crowd funding/kickoff meeting.
December 2016-February 2017
- Selection of the cities/neighbourhood participating
- Set up of the project team (involving NGOs, Schools, Universities, Cultural Institutions, …)
- Training of the local mappers
- Development of indicators to measure change in community’s attitudes and perceptions
- Baseline survey
April 2017- April 2018
- Participatory heritage-mapping with the coordination of an expert
- Map of perceived challenges in terms of mutual perceptions, cohesion, trust, perceived risks and threats
- Preparation of the website and the multimedia map resulted from the participatory process
- Strategy building Workshops
- Preparation of the action plan and elaboration of the indicators
- Presentation of the action plan to the community
- Implementation of the action plans
- Monitoring of implementation and feedback to the community
- Follow-up surveys
- Organise local evaluation workshops with the project groups
May 2018 - December 2018
- Collect evidence from all partners and prepare draft policy brief (to be discussed during final conference)
- Conference with all ICC Cities for inter-city knowledge sharing
- Final evaluation report and recommendations
- Final policy brief and the knowledge sharing movies