Newsletter N° 21 - April 2012

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Can cities learn to perceive cultural diversity not as a threat but as an opportunity? How can they make diversity work to their advantage? Can the city become the focus of collective identity bridging ethnic and religious identities? In the context of the Intercultural Cities programme several pilot cities will review their policies through the "intercultural lens" and develop intercultural strategies in order to meet the challenges of a world in motion.

A library to Foster Intercultural Learning in Amsterdam


The OBA (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam) is Amsterdam's main public library situated on the Oosterdokseiland, branded an ‘island of knowledge’. The building, opened on 7 July 2007, was designed by noted Dutch architect Jo Coenen. Its modern and striking look perfectly fits into a bold area renovation project carried out by a multinational team of architects. The project aims at creating 200,000 metres of modern architecture on the island, mixing cultural (the library and a conservatory), business (a conference hall and an Asian trade centre) and residential elements, ranging from 24 to 47 metres high.


The OBA library positions itself as an "open house to all who hunger knowledge and recreation" and a provider of the right to information enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is part of the library's purpose to make this right a reality and thus contribute to a democratic and humane society. (more...) - Photo: Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam

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Committing to diversity: Neuchâtel’s citizenship charter

With 170 000 inhabitants spanning some 140 nationalities, the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel lies in north-western Switzerland in the Jura mountains. Neuchâtel is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland and, like Geneva, Vaud, Fribourg and Jura, is French-speaking. Neuchâtel canton is a member of the "Intercultural Cities" network. Ever since the pilot phase of the programme in 2008, the city has proved remarkably adept and innovative when it comes to intercultural integration policies. This success is due, inter alia, to the pioneering role played by Neuchâtel canton in Swiss policy for integrating foreign nationals.


Not only, for example, was Neuchâtel the first Swiss canton to appoint a cantonal commissioner for foreign nationals, in 1990, but in 1996 it also passed the first cantonal law on the integration of foreigners. Neuchâtel grants foreign nationals more civil rights than any other canton in Switzerland. (more...)


Youth photography for interculturalism: launch in Patras


Intercultural cities focuses on shaping local policies and governance for diversity. This implies not only working with politicians, officials and professionals but also with the community as a whole. Engaging young people in the intercultural endeavour can be a challenge. A group of Intercultural Cities are using photography as a way of encouraging youth expression and participation.


The "Youth photography for interculturalism" project was initiated by the London Borough of Lewisham. It will enable young people to reveal how they imagine the intercultural spirit of their cities. Following launches in Tilburg (NL) and Berlin-Neukolln (DE), the project was kick-started in Patras on 27th March.


The Patras Vice-Mayor for "Volunteerism, Gender Equality, NGOs, Integration of Immigrants & Services for the Citizens" and the Office of Volunteerism, in collaboration with Patras Municipal Enterprise for Planning & Development - ADEP SA" are in charge of the project. The Vice-Mayor Mrs Maria Andrikopoulou-Rouvali says "Patras is really a very alive city – young people are many, they are very active, they wish to contribute and to co-create with their own innovative spirit which should be respected and recognised". (more...)


A handbook on Tolerance and Cultural Diversity in Europe


Complete, comprehensive and responsive are certainly the best adjectives to describe the "Handbook on Tolerance and Cultural Diversity in Europe". It was recently published by the European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre For Advanced Studies, Florence and prepared under the auspices of the Accept Pluralism research project "Tolerance, Pluralism and Social Cohesion: Responding to the Challenges of the 21st Century in Europe". This is a priority for the European Commission which funded the project, as well as the jointly managed Council of Europe/ European Commission Intercultural Cities program. (more...)

Debate on "Intercultural City: Building an inclusive Identity"

Summary of the Video: As part of its co-operation with the Intercultural Cities programme, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe held a round table in Strasbourg (France) on 21 March 2012 on the theme of "Intercultural City: Building an inclusive local identity".

Joint the "Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion" campaign

The Intercultural cities supports the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) world campaign"Do ONE Thing for Diversity and Inclusion" to be launched on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity 21 May. Based on the successful model of Earth Day that encourages people to make a difference to preserve the planet, the "Do One Thing" campaign invites people from around the world to do concrete things to support cultural diversity: visiting the section of a museum dedicated to another culture; reading a book about another religion; inviting a family of immigrants living in the neighbourhood to share a meal, etc. The aim is to build a world commitment of people committed to supporting and to improving understanding among people and cultures. A dedicated Facebook page has been created as the main vehicle of the campaign.

ICC: Facebook and Twitter

The ICC programme is proud to note that its Facebook "friends" have increased to 184 and its Twitter followers have increased to 284. They are kept informed regularly on ICC progress. Please remember to check out the Facebook page and Twitter.

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