CRISCO is a European project funded by the European Union (Network of Towns, Europe for Citizens Programme 2014-2020 – Project #588195).
CRISCO in an acronym for “Crossroad of the Regions – fostering involvement of all citizens in local life to Improve Social COhesion”.
The project lasted 2 years (1st September 2017 – 31st August 2019) and gathered 10 partners from all over Europe:
- Municipality of Etterbeek, Brussels Region, Belgium (Project Coordinator)
- ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy, Strasbourg, France
- Municipality of Bassano del Grappa, Bassano del Grappa, Italy
- VIFIN (Videnscenter for Integration), Vejle, Denmark
- Municipality of Deft, The Netherlands
- Municipality of Jonava, Lithuania
- Municipality of Novo mesto, Slovenia
- Municipality of Rezekne, Latvia
- Municipality of Vlora, Albania
- Municipality of Tartu, Estonia
The aim of the project CRISCO is to improve social cohesion and mutual understanding among the population of (medium sized) cosmopolitan cities.
Most participants in the network are towns with a diversified population tending to form separate socio-demographic groups, not enough involved in local life, sometimes at the expense of social cohesion.
Reasons for this weak local integration are diverse and we identified 4 on which the project focused (“project themes”):
- Cultural and social barriers
- Prejudices and precarious individual situations
- Communication (language) barriers
- Lack of (public) places for inclusion activities
With a view to foster social cohesion and mutual understanding, our target public was not a specific category of population (“community-based approach”) but the local population as a whole in a town (district or suburb) with a diversified demographic profile, including the natives, expats, newly arrived migrants, precarious and vulnerable categories (“land-based approach”).
During the project, the 10 CRISCO partners have each:
- Set up a well-balanced Local Panel of Stakeholders (LPS), composed of citizens or citizens’ organizations, non-profit and civil society organizations, as well as experts, officials and local authorities, to experiment and review their local integration initiatives, in order to:
- Share their local experience and exchange good practices with the rest of the network, particularly at the 4 CRISCO thematic transnational meetings, with a view to:
- Gain experience and share the main common findings and recommendations with a larger audience.
The Local Panels of Stakeholders (LPS) were created from scratch or built on the existing local networks of stakeholders for each partner. All partners ensured that their LPS remained motivated, active, large enough and well balanced.
Local activities were of two main types:
- Reflexion: debates, workshops, in-field visits, review of existing local initiatives (including interviews or questionnaires), invitation of external experts, etc.
- Action: launch, activate, enrich or adapt (new or existing) local integration initiatives
In total, the local processes in the 10 CRISCO cities have generated around 70 events (conferences, debates, workshops, social get-together, etc.), gathering more than 1700 people (direct + indirect participants).
Based on the local reflexion and actions undertaken during the last months, the CRISCO partners prepared their contribution to the 4 successive CRISCO transnational meetings (reports, PowerPoints presentations, video clips, testimonies…).
Each partner sent a delegation to attend and take actively part in each of the 4 CRISCO transnational meetings. These delegations were composed of motivated local representatives, preferably members of the Local Panel of Stakeholders, including local NGOs and simple citizens.
The CRISCO transnational events were as follows:
- Bassano del Grappa (Italy), March 2018, theme « Cultural and social barriers to integration»
- Strasbourg (France), Sept. 2018, theme « Prejudices and precarious individual situations»
- Vejle (Denmark), Jan. 2019, theme « Communication (language) barriers to integration»
- Etterbeek (Belgium), June 2019, theme « Lack of (public) places for inclusion activities»
The transnational events comprised activities such as:
- Public event(s) / plenary session(s) with presentations open to the larger local community
- Cross-fertilizing activities, such as workshops, using participatory methods
- In-field visits to showcase local integration initiatives of the host partner
- For the CRISCO members only: one Steering Committee and working sessions
In total, the 4 CRISCO transnational events have gathered 177 international participants and more than 200 local participants (direct + indirect).
After the transnational events, each partner took advantage of the good practices and lessons learned to further experiment, enrich or adapt (new or existing) local integration initiatives.
Beside the transnational events, CRISCO partners took also part in CRISCO bilateral meetings. On different occasions, representatives of a partner visited the local process of another partner. Bilateral missions were an important part of the project, because they were more customized and very inspiring beside the four main transnational events.
In total, the CRISCO bilateral missions (which are formally part of the local processes) have gathered 23 international participants and almost 50 local participants (direct + indirect).
CRISCO website: http://www.criscoeurope.eu