It has been very exciting to visit Belfast at the invtiation by Queen’s University and discuss with local professionals and students about methods of community engagement in heritage reuse.

Heritage is key in Belfast: having overcome the tragic times of the Troubles through a long peace process, Belfast is now a city that mournes the memory of its victims on both sides but also looks ahead with new urban developments, like the Titanic neighbourhood. Furthermore, the recently appointed First Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, from Sinn Fein and the new cabinet give hope in going beyond Brexit, towards a  future of possibilities in Ireland.

Our colleague Daniela Patti shared Eutropian’s experience developed within the Horizon2020 project Open Heritage, looking into community-led governance and financial models for adaptive reuse.

She also joined a very insightful debate with local professionals on deliberative democracy methodologies for urban development. As we will be soon launching our deliberative democracy toolkit as part of the EUARENAS project, we hope to soon develop together a new workshop in Belfast!

Let’s not forget that it is often the most fragile people who struggle the most in having their voices heard. Deliberative processes can be the opportunity to strengthen our democracies.

Also fascinating to have a site visit in Ramelton in Republic of Ireland, fostering cross border knwowledge exchange as promoted by the Communities Department of Northern Ireland.

Finally, a big thank you to our host Neil Galway from the School of the Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University in Belfast who has created such interesting and informal moments to share learnings and experiences.

Photos by Daniela Patti, Eunan Quinn, Neil Galway, Yuan Long. 

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