Storytelling Workshop: Exploring and sharing ways towards citizen-led energy transitions

October 23, 2019

From the 23-25 October 2019, ISOCARP Institute was in Limerick (Republic of Ireland), participating in the second Consortium Meeting of the Horizon2020 Smart City project, +CityxChange.

We are a proud partner in this project, providing our expertise in areas which range from dissemination and communication, to helping our Follower Cities reach their 2050 goals on transiting to more sustainable urban ecosystems that have zero emissions and establish a 100% renewable energy city-region.

After the first year, we took advantage of this face-to-face partner interaction to dive into key challenges which came up during the project implementation so far and develop joint outcomes which help us to move from the development phase to the deployment phase for the second year of +CityxChange.

ISOCARP Institute, represented by Tjark Gall, facilitated two workshops during the first day of the meeting, namely the Glossary workshop and the Storytelling Workshop – Exploring and sharing ways towards citizen-led energy transitions.

The Glossary workshop aimed at developing a common understanding and definitions of central project terms, discussing contested definitions, aligning different usage of terms across project and laying foundation for citizen-friendly definitions and visual descriptions.

As the second workshop, we organised a storytelling workshop with the objective to exchange knowledge and best practices internally and externally on how to involve citizen effectively. The workshop was facilitated by Limerick County and City Council and ISOCARP Institute and took place in the Fab Lab Limerick – a collaborative space to engage, produce, and co-create.

The workshop was attended by 31 project representatives, three international speakers (online) as well as local residents from the demonstration areas of Limerick. The workshop aimed at way of creating a better understanding of the experiences, challenges, failures and successes of similar projects in engaging citizens as well as fostering interactive and progressive exchanges between external participants and the +CityxChange team. As overarching problem statements, three key questions were formulated:

  1. What techniques/tools/approaches are effective to inform citizens about energy-related concepts, projects, and necessary technical/financial details?
  2. How can effective collaboration between a representative group of the society and projects/cities be achieved? Which methods work; which do not? How to reach those normally not involved?
  3. How do behavioural changes evolve? What does it take to reach a community-driven process in which citizens take the leading role and become proactive prosumers?

With this starting point, the first part of the workshop was dedicated to learning from other projects and individuals working on similar challenges. Muriël Pels, advisor for international cooperation and EU funding affairs (H2020) at Municipality Utrecht and project partner of +CityxChange’s sister project IRIS presented the approach, challenges and successes in generating support from the residents in IRIS’ demonstration area in Utrecht. Ariane Lelieveld, one of the initiators of Blijstroom in Rotterdam, presented the motivation, and ups and downs of the solely community-run project in Rotterdam. Lastly, John W. Lee, the community representative of Tallaght, a community outside of Dublin, shared his story how to collectively transform their community into a more sustainable and energy-neutral one.

Afterwards, the external speakers discussed the three questions with smaller groups, accompanied by a collaborative brainstorming on best practices, learned lessons, and promising approaches. A compilation of the results and more detailed overview will be published on our +CityxChange project website soon. If you have questions or comments, please contact us.

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