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October 27, 2010

Children to redesign Dunfermline

Children’s voices are rarely if ever heard in the planning and design process of a new building let alone a whole city – which is strange given the strong opinions they have and their relatively uncluttered thought processes.  EcoCity is a unique project that seeks to draw on this rich resource and present the unique insights of young people in terms of how they see their present and future environments.  Dunfermline is next up for the makeover

EcoCity – sustainable building for kids    

A group of Dunfermline primary school children will rebuild their city in November.  The EcoCity project allows them to create, over a 5-day period, a large scale, 3-D model reflecting the Dunfermline they want to grow up in; an environmentally friendly space where the needs of all citizens – physical, emotional, creative, spiritual and intellectual – are taken into account.  The ‘build’ will take place in The Glen Pavilion, Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline, and the process will encourage children to respond to worries and concerns about their city with creative solutions. 

A Tool for Planners
Funded by Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and Royal Dunfermline, and as part of ’Celebrating Fife 2010’ the EcoCity process provides a useful support tool for planners and others responsible for supporting the development of inclusive, sustainable and engaged communities. 

Preliminary workshops in six local schools highlighting the key themes of children’s human rights, energy sustainability and urban planning lead the children, their families, classmates and the local community through information-gathering processes, culminating in the final ‘build week’.  Seven children from each school will then become the core model-building team for the week-long project.  While creating streets, play areas, transport and energy systems, the children will consider the qualities they need from adults in their lives, what they think needs to happen in relation to bullying or how to create play areas within communities which allow children an essential level of freedom while keeping them safe.

The EcoCity Process
The Edinburgh-based charity, Children’s Parliament, together with TASC Agency and GAIA Planning, prepares and oversees the EcoCity process, but there is a heavy reliance on the commitment of a supportive and dedicated team of local adults, particularly during ‘build week‘, when town planners, those with responsibility for green spaces and educationalists together with water engineers, transport managers and police officers are on hand to give advice and assistance to the children as they deconstruct and rebuild their city.

A presentation of their new vision will be given by the children on Friday 26 November to which they will invite parents and grandparents, local and national politicians and representatives of architecture, urban planning and design, education.  Stakeholders from the statutory, voluntary and private sectors will then have the opportunity to use the EcoCity model and all the elements leading to its creation, to inform their planning and decision-making processes through a ‘Stakeholder Seminar’ in early December.

After EcoCity, the colourful and imaginative model presents the opportunity to effectively and genuinely involve a motivated group of young people to grow up alongside the developments in their communities.  This is a powerful, dynamic and unique way of engaging young people.  In a previous project, children were involved by the local authority over several years in single issue groups focusing on transport and planning. 

To find out more about EcoCity Dunfermline, please contact Cathy McCulloch, Co-Director of Children’s Parliament.  Find out about Children’s Parliament’s other projects and consultations by visiting our website.

The Children’s Parliament welcomes enquiries from public, private and voluntary sector agencies interested in exploring the benefits that an EcoCity can bring to their community.  Previous EcoCities have included Craigmillar (in association with Friends of Craigmillar, Wimpey Homes and City of Edinburgh Council); Halifax (with Yorkshire Forward and the local council) and Belfast (with the Royal Town Planning Institute and Belfast City Council).

View a previous Children’s Parliament EcoCity Project on our YouTube Channel:

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Recognised as a Scottish Charity SC026247