“Design Graz together”: launch of an innovative participation tool in Austria

On 4 March 2023 in Graz, Migrants Advisory Council Graz and Südwind launched a new participation tool, an important opportunity for people with a migratory background. During the interactive workshop ‘Elevate Migrant Voices’, representatives from city politics, the Migrants Advisory Council and the civil society worked together on creative proposals for new solutions to make the city even more liveable for everyone. The event showed how important it is to promote dialogue between people with a migratory background and the city administration. Only together we can work for a liveable city for all and ensure the success of democratic societies, said Lena Gruber from Südwind Steiermark.

Mayor Elke Kahr also emphasised the importance of broadening the participatory process: In our city of Graz, which is also a city that focuses on human rights, it is important to ensure that as many people living here as possible can participate in social life and political processes.

At the event, which took place as part of the Elevate Festival Graz, the new online participation platform www.Graz-Gemeinsam-Gestalten.at was presented and ideas immediately arose on how Graz can be even more “home” for everyone. During a simulated “city walk”, participants were able to explore various locations in the city of Graz and present their ideas on topics such as transport and environment, empowerment and participation or housing and social issues, directly to representatives of city politics.

People from third countries urgently need equal opportunities for political participation, said Irina Karamarković, president of the Migrant Advisory Council of the City of Graz. It is time to understand: There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. We are all “us”: We all live here and now in Graz, in Austria, in Europe and on this planet, and therefore we also have a common responsibility. We must work together to ensure that everyone can live fairly.

Robert Krotzer, Municipal Councillor for Health and Integration, welcomed the request for direct exchange between politics and the civil society: To live well in all areas of life, a dialogue at human level is necessary, and thanks to workshop organised by Südwind, a framework for this direct exchange has been created.

Especially with regard to living together and meeting, innovative ideas were presented and, more generally, it was emphasised that more spaces and places for exchange and events are needed. Also regarding the liveability of the city and the environment, more spaces instead of parking were called for and ideas were put forward to convert parking spaces, to create retractable cycle lanes and to make cycle lanes in general wider and more suitable for cargo bikes and children.

You can find the ideas on the platform: https://www.graz-gemeinsam-gestalten.at

(Credits © Valentin Bürgschwendtner)

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