At the beginning of November, the final workshop in the German case study Zeitz took place within the framework of the ACORE project. For this workshop, the Leibniz Institute for
Regional Geography in Leipzig (IfL), in cooperation with the Office for Economic Development of the City of Zeitz and the Old City Library Association (IG Alte Stadtbibliothek), invited actors from administration and municipal politics, industry and civil society. The aim of the workshop was not only to provide input from research, but also to initiate exchange and networking between local actors.
After a round of introductions, the IfL team gave an input presentation on their current state of research, in which they elaborated on the role that narratives and spatial concepts play for concrete measures and activities in urban development. Among other things, these can serve to formulate strategies for local development, legitimise new development paths and appeal to the population on an emotional level. In doing so, they have an identity-building effect. However, different narratives can also coexist simultaneously and are intertwined, e.g. those about the loss of past functions or about the dawn of a new future. The meaning attributed to certain events may well be subject to change, partly due to the influence of political strategies and narratives at higher levels. These findings were illustrated with several narrative strands observed in Zeitz.
The subsequent discussion was based on the following key questions: How can Zeitz be attractive and a place worth living in in the future? What might a shared vision for Zeitz look like? At what point can structural change be described as successful? What are the criteria for success? What are the requirements? What can involvement look like on an individual level?
During the workshop, the willingness of the local actors to shape the process of structural change was expressed. Especially at the level of project development, the desire for more participation and transparency was expressed. It was noted that many topics and formats do not reach the population at all. This led to the demand for improved communication and mediation between the institutions and with the outside world. Overall, the potential that the city has with its civil society actors was emphasised and the important role that networking can and should assume.