Wir trafen Howard Williamson, Professor für Jugendpolitik an der Glamorgan Universität zum Gespräch. Bei Kaffee im Congress Center erzählte er uns seine Ideen zu einer jugendfreundlicheren Stadtplaung.
Williamson ist der Meinung man sollte nicht nur Gehör für die "guten" Jugendlichen haben. Diese meint er, würden sowieso nur vor dem Computer sitzen. Aber es gibt auch jene, die Skateboarden oder Graffiti sprayen. Gerade für dies müsste es Freiräume geben. Und zwar dort, wo die Jugendlichen sie haben und brauchen wollen. Nicht abseits von allem und in einer dunklen Ecke, junge und ältere Generationen müssen in Kontakt miteinander treten können und miteinander reden. Er findet es wichtig während einer Stadtplanung einen konstanten Dialog aufrecht zu erhalten. Das kann über monatliche Meetings gehen, über online Foren und Plattformen oder einfach über soziale und kulturelle Events. Das gesamte Interview findet ihr hier:
What are your ideas when planning a new city for the young generation?
There is always an issue about how to plan a city for teenagers. You can have youth friendly built environment and you can have youth hostile built environment. There is a lot of temptation of architects who build spikes on walls so nobody could skate on them. But you could provide some parts of the city where it is friendly to skateboard and it becomes part of the scene. There is a kind of youth friendly approach to good youth and on the other hand there is an approach to designing dark spaces where people might hang out and drink alcohol. Those sorts of things.
Do you think young people need a place where they can hang out?
They always need a place where they can hang out. And they will always find a place where they can hang out . It just depends on what sort of place you might provide and where. If you do the wrong thing, they will hang out somewhere else. So you waste all your money to build some kind of shelter, at the wrong corner of the park. So the important issue is to consult young people.
Does this always work?
No it doesn't. You have to find the right kids, to tell you. If you just ask the "good" kids, who stay home all day and play computer games you won't get the right answers. And even if you get advice from young people about how you should do this, it doesn't always work. That's why planners give up consulting with them. You have to consider light for example. Kids often got places to sit under security light. Because then they got free light. But in the end: space for young people is always the critical issue. You know we always think of old people or kids, playgrounds etc., but we never provide an equal kind of facilities for teenagers.
Probably it is hard to provide those facilities?
I think it is never hard. What is hard is accepting the consequences. Like graffiti for example. Everybody hates tagging, but most people like graffiti art. Of course people provide walls for graffiti but sometimes that looks like really planned. Again it is the mechanism of the conversation. The question does it from the other side from the young people, and what skills do they have. And of course those people are also under pressure. Authorities want adults who know those kinds of kids to keep them under control.
To cut a long story short: The main issue is to strengthen the dialogue between those generations...
Absolutely. And you have to decide, if you want that sort of dialogue, how you could put it in reality. Maybe you could meet every month or find a spot. It could be sports, or art or practical projects. I think you need constant dialogue. Not just projects. Maybe it would be good to break the size of the aspern Seestadt down into manageable units of space. And then possibliy having a big meeting from time to time. To discuss questions like: do we need more streetlighting? Should we offer a greater sense of safety? I think it is important to keep that dialogue going.
What about an online plattform?
I think an online plattform would be a great idea. Even if my generation is not so accustomed to those things. It could be called "your voice" for example.
What about youth policy?
Youth policy is very tricky. Because those who will contribute to this agenda will be the already included "well behaved". It requires some skills to talk to those people who don't want to contribute automatically. To those children who don't have a good home to go back to for example. So you really have to think about building human infrastructure.