The people of the district Lanxmeer in Culemborg (The Netherlands) maintain the public space together with the local authorities and the drinking water company. After 5 years of cooperation they look back on the lessons learned. Their unique collaboration stimulated social cohesion, commitment and involvement to the public space and increased (bio)diversity.
A movie by Olga Russel
Sponsored by Rabobank West-Betuwe and Buurtpanel of the City of Culemborg
Terra Bella coordinates the maintenance of the public space on behalf of the residents of the green, sustainable neighbourhood Lanxmeer in Culemborg. Terra Bella is a foundation that is part of the residents association, BEL. Since September 2004, the city of Culemborg and Terra Bella formally work together. Each year, we write a management plan that makes clear who maintains what at which moment. On the basis of standard fares Terra Bella receives a part of the budget from the local government.
Beautiful and green neighborhood
The asset of this way of coordinating our neighborhood is that we can manage the public space in a more customized way: without heavy machines, at the right time and with participation and involvement of the residents. The more the residents do themselves, the more budget is left over to invest in extra quality of our public space. This creates an attractive and natural environment, which meets more to the needs of the residents. The participation also contributes to the connection and responsibility of the residents for the public space around them. Rubbish is quickly cleared and working together / collaborating brings joy and makes good neighbours.
Learning by doing
The local government of Culemborg remains responsible for the public space and therefore performs together with Terra Bella an audit on the quality of the public space twice a year. The outcome of these audits and the acquired experience determine whether the management plan for the following year will be adjusted or not.
Drinking water and apple juice
Besides the public space the residents also manage a part of the domain of the drinking water company Vitens, that is located in the heart of the neighbourhood. Also with them we annually plan what needs to be done and how we divide the work. In return of this management by residents, like pruning an old apple orchard, we get the usufruct. Annually we process the apples into a few thousand liters of apple juice that can be bought in the city farm Caetshage.
Research and publicity
Maintenance of the public space by residents in close cooperation with the local government is innovative and a trending topic. Terra Bella and sustainable neighbourhood of Lanxmeer are therefore regularly in the news. We receive many guests from all over the world for field trips in the eco-village. We are also often part of research for environmental or social science/studies. Many reports, articles and movies have been published over the years.
Want to know more?
If you want to learn more about our work and results, watch the movie on this page or send us an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In June 2010 an article about the way we participate with the local government in maintaining our public space appeared in the Journal of Architecture and Building Science.