Freo's View

YOUTH- IT’S THEIR CITY TOO!

Posted in fremantle by freoview on January 14, 2012

I normally don’t post articles written by others, but this one by Colin Nichol is worth sharing with you I believe as it raises important points how to involve the young in planning the future of Fremantle. It is their future, so they should be part of the decision making process and it should not be left to the older generations only!:

Consultation has been a key feature of Fremantle Council’s recent exploration of citizens’ views on its plans for the future city, specifically under what has come to be abbreviated to Amendment 49.

A wide cross-section of the community participated, but one age-group has been overlooked. There is a movement in Britain that calls on the very young to have their say as well, called My City Too. It brings into the discussion on the city’s planning, youngsters aged twelve to nineteen.

This initiative is an off-shoot of Open City, formerly Open House, an architecture association showcasing London’s architecture which has expanded into research, training, advice and to campaigns that impact the whole city.

It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that, “champions the value of well-designed places and spaces in making a liveable and vibrant city and the roles everyone plays in it,” including teens and pre-teens, largely overlooked until now.

Open City activities extend to advocacy, education, activities and events, aiming to be, “at the centre of creating better places and a better city.” They describe themselves as championing excellence in design quality, advocating for an inclusive and informed approach to the development of their city.

They involve a great variety of stakeholders across London, bringing together those who plan, design and build the city with those who live, work and play in it. They design programmes to encourage dialogue, debate and learning about how architecture and public space affect lives.

So, where do children fit into this – and a campaign for votes at fourteen? Research shows that many young people feel that they have little or no influence in decisions about their city. It is their interesting insight, that young people must be fully involved in place making and policy-making if they are going to value, respect and take ownership of the spaces and places around them.

Since the launch of the My City Too campaign in 2007, over 3000 young Londoners aged 12 – 19, have come together to develop a set of unique methods that can be used to involve young people in the design and creation of London’s urban environment. They seek to influence policy, create positive changes and raise awareness to the point of bringing young people’s ideas and research to a level where they can effect change.

The aim is to promote young people in a public and professional environment and to show themselves in a different light, hoping to improve perceptions of young people by demonstrating the value of young people’s input. Methods include developing a manifesto, debating with Mayoral candidates, engaging with professionals and lobbying and working with local decision makers.

Part of the campaign is for young people to have the right to vote in neighbourhood referenda on planning from the age of 14. They want to ensure neighbourhood forums are inclusive, not exclusive, asking Local Authorities and neighbourhood forums to sign up to a charter of principals that will help them to ensure equal access and participation for all groups living and working locally.

“Young people have an impact on the city and the city has an impact on them. By including them in the process our neighbourhood designs will be stronger, more dynamic and innovative and ultimately create more liveable communities.

Young people have a great deal of useful local knowledge and experience which should be used to make better places for everyone.” Has Fremantle’s consultation period really finished then?

Colin Nichol

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