Foster the City

For life in the city to be of good quality, it is important that residents care about where and how they live. This is precisely what Foster the City aims to do: to improve the perception of public space, mobilise citizens to take up its transformation and upkeep, and encourage cooperation among citizens, the city’s admin- istration and experts. The principal tool of the programme is an open call, the aim of which is gathering meaningful suggestions from citi- zens as to how to enhance public spaces around Pilsen and help implement those of the greatest benefit. With the help of Pilsen’s residents and volunteers from around the world as well as lo- cal non-profit organisations, there has been the successful implementation of, for example, the renovation of the Forgotten Garden in Lochotín, the transformation of the U Ježíška Mound and the construction and installation of deckchairs and a dance floor in the park ring. The interna- tional work camp focused on the renovation of the former Municipal River Baths turned out to be one of the major events of 2014. Some other suggestions have already been implemented by the city itself. A grant programme supporting the selected ideas will, in the course of 2014, enable the realisation of works enhancing the area around the railway stop by the ice hockey arena and the neighbourhood cleaning of the springs in Roudná. For several months now, a special Closet offering leisure equipment has been travelling around Pilsen. In this and the next year, we can also look forward to a map of little sacral treasures and works of art from the era of socialism, outdoor games in the natural setting of the České údolí valley and lawns studded with early blooming bulbs in the spring of 2015. Further great suggestions will subsequently be appraised within the new open call for Foster the City 2014/2015. Even those suggestions which have not been selected for implementation have not been forgotten. They are transferred into the hands of the city’s administration, which may use them as inspira- tion or may make use of them in other projects of Pilsen 2015. An important facet of Foster the City is also educating citizens on the subject of public space and architecture; every year, there are dozens of lectures, seminars and guided tours taking place as part of this initiative.

Foster the City: Creative Democratic School

Even children should learn to perceive public space as a part of their lives, realise their responsibility for it and, at the same time, learn to master democratic decision-making processes. These seemingly simple foundations form the basis of the joint programme of the Centre for Community Organising West Bohemia and Pilsen 2015 called the Creative Democratic School: Foster the City. Its point is simple. School teams pick a site of public space which in their opinion is worth transforming and propose a possible solution, including a budget. During the process, they are helped by the project organisers, architects and other specialists. The schoolchildren visit authorities and communicate with land owners. They try to win the backing of local citizens living around the selected area to support their activities. There is no project development without compromising and democratic decision-making. The project has been running since 2012, and over the two years it has received applications from nineteen teams from twelve Pilsen schools. The first year generated two projects which are already headed towards implementation. Representatives of Masaryk Elementary School continue their support for the Dominican Order, helping with the work in the Convent Garden on Jiráskovo náměstí (Jirásek Square) which is planned to be open to the public. The proposal of the team of the 21st Elementary School concerning the re-development of their school-front area has been elaborated on thanks to an experimental competition involving the collaboration of teams of architects with the school’s pupils. A part of the proposed adjustments is expected to be implemented as early as in the academic year 2014/2015. From the second year of the programme, applicants who intend to carry on in their projects include students of the Church Grammar School Pilsen, who proposed a transformation of the underpass at the Main Railway Station and the promotion of busking in Pilsen, and students of the Secondary School of Information Technology and Financial Services (SŠINFIS) with their plan of renovating a wall enclosing their school premises.