Urban Living Lab Panevėžys: Findings of the Co-Research Phase

“Urban Living Lab: Panevėžys” is an exciting initiative empowering young people in Panevėžys, the fifth-largest city in northern Lithuania. This vibrant city, known for its industrial heritage and lively cultural scene, is now the backdrop for our trust-based youth empowerment platform. Developed in collaboration with “Critical+Xwhy agency,” the Panevėžys municipality, and the Union of Panevėžys Youth Organizations “Apskritasis stalas,” our project aims to make a real difference in the lives of local youth.

Our journey began with a co-research phase, where we engaged with the community on multiple fronts. Our goals were clear: firstly, inform local youth about the incredible opportunities our program offers; secondly, establish a strong local ULL network comprising municipality representatives and young individuals; and thirdly, delve deeper into the youth’s perspective on Panevėžys city. We wanted to understand the opportunities it presents for young people and identify areas where it falls short. Additionally, we sought to pinpoint public spaces, especially green areas, with the potential to captivate the youth. We also aimed to grasp the municipality’s viewpoint on youth affairs and explore ways to involve them more actively in city planning.

Throughout spring to autumn, we organized various co-research activities, including meetings with municipality representatives and local youth organizations, workshops with Panevėžys municipality employees, community mapping sessions, trust lectures, and panel discussions. These activities allowed us to uncover key challenges:

  • Limited Youth Involvement: While Panevėžys boasts proactive youth organizations, their participation in urban planning remains low.
  • Communication Gap: The main hurdle between the municipality and youth is the lack of effective communication channels.
  • Underutilized Initiatives: Although Panevėžys City Municipality has youth-oriented programs, their potential remains untapped.

The youth expressed keen interest in actively participating in city planning. However, they emphasized the urgent need for better communication channels, more high-quality outdoor spaces and a greater variety of youth-oriented activities. They also pointed out neglected city spaces that could be revitalized with some attention and care.

The insights gleaned from these activities provided a solid foundation for the future of “Urban Living Lab: Panevėžys.” Armed with this knowledge, we are excited to move forward, bridging gaps, and creating a city where young people’s voices are not only heard but also contribute to the city becoming actually greener and more youth-friendly.