Sommaire1 - Le territoire 2 - La plate-forme territoriale 3 - Le processus SPIRAL 4 - Résultats 5 - Partenariats, échanges et besoins de soutien 6 - Autres informations 7 - Contact
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1 - Le territoire
Historically, the first settlement in Ipsala existed 8000 years ago when Vikings were also living there. It was a district capital during the Ancient Greek period and, during Ottoman times, horses were bred in Ipsala. It has been a new district since 1928 following the founding of the Turkish Republic. A booklet has been published on the History of İpsala in Turkish.
Today the total population is about 30,000 with 8,000 inhabitants living in the town centre. 30% of Turkey's rice production is based in East Thrace; there are about 200,000 hectares of rice fields in İpsala. There are three dams: two smaller ones and another that is as big as the country's GAP dam. The Maritsa River runs along the border with Greece (Bulgarian River Maritsa, Greek River Eros). The dam provides water for rice production in Ipsala, while the Bulgarians are hoping to produce electricity from the Maritsa. There are continual cultural and commercial relations with Bulgaria and Greece, and Trakyakent provides support for these relationships. Mayor Mehmet Karagöz attended the Bulgarian General Meeting of Local Authorities as a representative of Trakyakent; they have Thracian colleagues in Bulgaria and Ipsala is 4 kilometres from the Greek border. The commercial relations with Greece are very important, and as a town on the countries' border Ipsala has a very important role. It is the gateway to Europe with over 1 million vehicles crossing the border every year. It is a place of transition between Anatolia and Europe. There are twin-townings with Greek towns in the Sosti Region, with Alexandroupoli and Komotini in Greece, and Istabula in Bulgaria. Plans are underway for a similar twinning project with Hungary. As part of this project, citizens lunch together at weekends creating intercultural links and when Ipsala hosts festivals, Greek and Bulgarian populations are also invited. In addition to a Multiprogramme High School, an Anatolian High School, five primary schools and one kindergarten, there is a vocational training school that is a branch of Thrace University in Ipsala. In terms of services, all the local authority branches are here as well as a national branch of the Ministry of Forestry and Waterworks.
2 - La plate-forme
Although İpsala is a small rural city, it has already an active Citizens' Assembly with 10 working groups. Three proposals of actions are planned to be realized in the framework of Responding Together project
Since 2009 the Mayor has tried to introduce some democratic infrastructure through establishing a Citizens’ Assembly (although there is no legal obligation to do so in Ipsala since its population is below the minimum number required by law to establish one). The aim of the Citizens’ Assembly was to enable every segment of society to be represented; support was given by the municipality in the form of a work venue. Its role is to find deficiencies and to inform the Municipality. The Mayor supported the innovative act and thus established the Assembly. He wanted to encourage all political parties, including the opposition, to hear and listen to the citizens' voices and to enable a complex group to come together. Meetings are held every 1, 2 or 3 months according to the agenda. The Leader of the Assembly is the Vocational Training School Director.
The Citizens' Assembly has 10 working groups: education, culture, sports, health, environment, infrastructure, tourism, international affairs, trade and consumer rights and natural disasters. There are 4 people in each group, hence total membership of the Assembly is 40.
3 - Le processus SPIRAL
The Assembly is currently carrying out research and presenting proposals to the Municipality. Research has been conducted on numerous issues such as the falling population due to youth emigration; education levels of the town’s population; unemployment in the area; the urban living environment; and civil awareness. Solutions suggested have included creating accommodation for young people and students; creating a tourism campsite at the entrance of the village; renovating the historic bridge, Kemal Köprüsü; resolving problems of industrial pollution in Ergene, though this is on a national scale and over 14 years in debate. Furthermore, one of the biggest problems relates that prior efforts to improve public spaces by the Assembly are often undermined by vandalism and destruction by the local population – leading to suggestions for civil behaviour awareness-raising, or training for young persons and children. Proposals have been made but there is often no budget to implement them. In other instances, such as the bridge, a contract for its renovation was drawn up after the approval of the Earthquakes and Historic Buildings Council. The Thrace Development Agency is funding the renovation.
In terms of actions carried out: 1. To raise awareness about environmental issues the Assembly has organised the planting of a forest. The local authority provided the seeds following an Assembly group recommendation, then the entire Coordination group collaborated together to carry out the action. 2. There was a second project on pollution and litter. The Assembly, general public and children all worked together to collect litter on the streets and promote a "tidy town". 3. Concerning the rights of women, on 21st June a conference was held at the Local Authority Seminar Room. All women were invited with the aims to raise awareness about Women’s Rights. The day also involved a Midsummer Women’s festival.
Participation in Responding Together project (SPIRAL 1st cycle)
The Coordination Group has held 3 meetings over the last four weeks since the Project training on 6th March and has decided on three concrete proposals for actions ,which have since been presented in the Responding Together meeting with the Citizens’ Assembly Coordination Group (12 people present) on April 8th:
1. Women with no work experience receive training in sewing and embroidery in public training centres (there is a folk centre where this can be done). The women will work together to design income-generating ideas or product development to help reduce costs of decorations, etc. and to provide these products on a wider scale for parties, ceremonies and more. There were also suggestions that this training could be combined with food production knowledge, thus raising awareness about agricultural diversification and self-sufficiency. In addition, there were proposals for IT skills development in order to be able to blog and communicate on a wider scale. 2. Increase alternative agricultural products to diversify earnings: Honey production, perma-culture, greenhouse agriculture… projects planned for garden owners or those with access to gardens with an aim to hold a farmers' market, to increase health and nutrition, thus raising awareness on the importance of a balanced diet. The idea of using CSA system (agreement between producers and consumers) has been discussed. 3. Training in schools to increase family involvement in youth development… training to be delivered for families, including domestic training, family and psychological training for families.
4 - Résultats
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5 - Partenariats, échanges et besoins de soutien
6 - Autres informations
7 - Contact
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