By 2028, the neighbourhoods of Bospolder and Tussenwijken (BoTu) will become the first resilient neighbourhoods in Rotterdam. That is the ambition of the Resilient BoTu 2028 programme. Veldacademie is monitoring the development of community resilience in these neighbourhoods. One of the ways we do this is by mapping the networks in BoTu. We want our research not only to measure the resilience of the neighbourhoods, but also to stimulate and deepen the formation of networks.
The resilience of a neighbourhood
How crisis-resistant are our city districts? When unforeseen and disruptive events occur - think of the corona crisis, a flood or an energy outage - we hope that our neighbourhoods can adequately adapt to new circumstances. That is why, within the Resilient BoTu 2028 programme, residents, officials, entrepreneurs and housing corporations are working together to strengthen the resilience of the Bospolder-Tussendijken neighbourhood. To increase resilience in the district, the programme experiments with physical and social interventions.
Resilient BoTu works on community building according to the principles of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). This means that you stimulate people to form powerful communities with each other - and that these communities, in turn, connect with other communities or (formal and informal) organisations. Networking is therefore the core of the programme.
Veldacademie supports the programme by documenting and evaluating the development of resilience in the area. How resilient is the district? Where is development taking place and where is extra attention needed? Our research is action-oriented, which means that we also try to actively contribute to the resilience of the district.
What is resilience? There is no absolute yardstick for measuring social resilience. Therefore, we look at BoTu's resilience from different angles and compare BoTu with other neighbourhoods.
- We measure the social development of residents (looking at factors such as feelings of safety, well-being, skills, etc.).
- We map out the social structure of the neighbourhood: which networks and initiatives exist in the neighbourhood and how are they developing?
- A third important part of the research is governance, and that is about the question: who makes the move in the neighbourhood? Is it the government, or can residents take decisions themselves?
Ultimately, we not only want to know how residents are doing, but also whether they are organised and can take action together - and how the Resilient Botu 2028 programme contributes to this.
Social development (Social Index+)
Social development is measured with the Index+, an extension of the Social Index. This is the quantitative part of the monitor and provides insight into how the neighbourhood and its residents are developing compared to the Rotterdam average and three selected focus neighbourhoods in Rotterdam-South: Hillesluis, Afrikaanderwijk and Feijenoord.
First results: perceived quality of life in BoTu has declined sharply
The years 2020 and 2021 were characterised by the corona crisis, which had a great impact in BoTu. On the social index, we saw an upward trend in recent years. This line did not continue in the last measurement. The neighbourhood still lags behind the Rotterdam average and the positive margin in comparison to the other neighbourhoods has largely disappeared. The decline appears to be mainly due to a strong decrease in subjective indicators. The corona crisis may have played a role in this. It is noteworthy that residents of Bospolder-Tussendijken rate their quality of life as significantly worse.
We take stock of the district's social networks by mapping initiatives and documenting stories. From there we explore which networks are active in the neighbourhood and which parties work together on the local task. We collaborate with the Stichting Wijkcollectie (Neighbourhood Collection Foundation) and organise story walks and story cafes in the neighbourhood. With these cafés and walks we stimulate networking in the neighbourhood. They are also good opportunities to collect data on who is active in the neighbourhood and in what way.
First results: more coalition forming in the district
Despite the challenges of the corona crisis in recent years, more initiatives are added to the neighbourhood than discontinued. What is also noticeable is that initiatives are looking for connections with each other and are forming coalitions in order to be stronger, for example, in the event of a tender. Last year, for example, the Welzijnscoalitie (welfare coalition) was formed, and the Energienetwerk XL is another example of coalition building.
Finally, we document how the governance structure in BoTu is being shaped by the Resilient BoTu 2028 programme. Who decides how the programme is implemented? Are there responsive government agencies and institutions as intended? Are the implementing organisations linked to the networks of local initiatives?
First results: the neighbourhood will take many more steps
The first phase of our research showed that the government (officials) still took many decisions before the neighbourhood did. Residents were allowed to give advice, but had no mandate. Though the intention is to let the neighbourhood implement the programme itself. As a result, the management model was redesigned, so that the district gets much more influence on the management. The starting point is that formal organisations are no longer leading, but facilitating. The district has been given a mandate and a budget to help implement policy. Project leaders from the neighbourhood have been appointed to spend eight hours a week implementing the project. An assessment committee from the district helps decide how the money is spent.
Students map out networks and initiatives
The data collection for the monitor is done in collaboration with our educational partners. Over the past three years, students of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences have made an inventory of all the initiatives and networks in the neighbourhood. In this way, we are mapping out which of these contribute to developments in the neighbourhood. Other students are researching the working and evolution of resilience of citizens' initiatives or how resilient governance in BoTu.
The monitor in a new look
Since 2022, we no longer present the monitor as a report, but as an online website. On the website, all research results can be reviewed by anyone. A map has been created on which the networks and initiatives are marked. The website is primarily intended as an accountability tool for management, but it also has a secondary purpose: those involved in the neighbourhood can find out what other initiatives there are, which may further stimulate networking.
Read more about the Resilient BoTu2028 programme and the results of our research at: https://www.veldacademie.nl/veerkracht-monitor-botu
Graphic: Corona Chronicles, Studio NadiaNena