Gdynia: The Learning City at Home. Municipal Units in Contact with Gdynia’s Citizens
Although COVID-19 subjected the polish city of Gdynia to lockdown, the city has found a way to connect with its 24,000+ inhabitants. At a time when people could not go to museums, sports centres, cultural facilities, or neighbourhood centres, Gdynia encouraged them to go online instead to access the various services.
For this initiative, the city brought together various municipal institutions, covering a wide range of thematic areas, e.g., culture, education, science, art, and social issues, as well as NGOs and experts. All municipal units involved use the potentials of their staff and cooperate with local and regional experts from different sectors to curate live streamed or recorded content, which was then disseminated on their website and social media. The content ranges from cultural events, recommendation of free e-books and audiobooks, and meeting with experts to training courses, interaction meetings, workout instructions, and legal support.
In designing this online offer, the city collected and analysed the residents’ opinions through its website, social media, and phone calls – particularly with seniors. Based on their feedback, the city adapted the content or schedule. This led to, for instance, the launch of online psychological lectures for parents and the reading of fairy tales for small children by local artists and politicians.
All necessary finances came from the municipal budget, but oftentimes the content providers worked on a voluntary basis. The most visible result of the project is the popularisation of alternative channels for reaching and supporting residents. Previously used primarily for information campaigns, the Web has become an equal platform for the city to present a diverse package of services. It has been perceived as new life-long learning tools and methods, and the offer has turned out a psychological relief for teachers, parents, children, youths, and seniors. In the longer run, the initiative may help build trust and closeness between the residents and the institutions / NGOs.
The initiative is of special relevance to SDGs 3 (health and wellbeing), 4 (quality education) and 11 (sustainable cities and communities).