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jeudi
oct.052006

E-Urban Mission: 1. Skills [EN]

E-Urban: Who we are, what we do, what we want ...

We are the local project managers, charged with the transformation of urban areas.
Most of the time, we have to play on different chessboards at once:

In order to make investments in schools work, we have to make sure, for instance, that streets and public spaces are designed to allow for children playing safely among each other, so that they will obtain the necessary language skills in a natural way. Even if we have a good and emancipation-oriented project to manage, we can never be sure, that schools, architects, local authorities, public transport etq., will work together on this. If they don't, many efforts will have been in vain. 

Skills
To make such things happen, certain skills are indispensable. Those invaluable skills are discussed here, in  Mission-Methods-People (left sidebar) under: "Urban Professionals" > Skills. [Not yet complete, input welcome].
Another statement about skills: We do not merely play on different tables on the same level, but we have to play at the same time on chessboards on higher and on lower levels. The essential participation by our clients in the neighbourhood, demands skills in dealing with different kinds of groups and individuals. The communication with our commissioners demands administrative and political skills. At this moment, we often have to spend (too) much time and energy on reports that are sometimes nothing more than translations from the daily practice of our work, that, with time, becomes more and more different from the image the commissioning authorities have of want to show about it.

Huib souriant 6715As an advisor to the Communauté Urbaine de Lille, a multimillion strong conurbation in the North of France, with thirty local area-based regeneration projects in seven of the more than sixty cities, I visited once a colleague, project manager in a deprived area of Roubaix-Tourcoing. His office was a former classroom, and he was seated at his desk between two very high walls of cupboards, filled with hundreds of files. I asked him, if he was still able to see the real world from that place. He replied very seriously that he was practically not. 60% of his time, he said, he was busy with producing the papers wanted by the different administrations who oversaw his project, and which were in fact mere "translations" into their priorities and their wordings of their role in the project. Those papers went into the cupboard in front of him. 30% of the remaining time, he dealt with the papers behind him, which were the real-world documents of his project.

This type of skill is wonderful, but not what makes for a good project. Another skill is needed, i.e. to engage commissioners and partners in the real world of the project. Some new conditions and standards should make that possible.
They are discussed in our paper: "Empowerment of U.P.'s", where UP stands for "Urban Practitioner", under "Urban Professionals" in the right sidebar.

(Next part of this draft introduction to the e-urban Mission Statement is: E-Urban Mission 2.Tools

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