G1000 is an initiative that started in Belgium in 2011. The goal of the G1000 is to bring citizens of one particular city together to discuss its future and set the agenda for change. On the 6th of June the G1000 took place in Groningen where around 1000 people gathered to talk about their dreams for Groningen. Sustainable Society was one of the ambassadors of G1000.
The day started with three discussion rounds so that the ‘Stadjers’* could establish the most important theme’s for change. These three rounds where centred around three different questions: What do you think is important for Groningen?, What is needed to achieve this? and What can you do to contribute?. After every round, the participants needed to summarise their discussion using one word. Then they need to send this word to via an app – especially created for the occasion – which in turn constructed a word cloud. Some of the most mentioned themes were; solidarity, sustainability, unity, meeting places, basic income and participation.
During one group’s discussion, they talked about the possibility of students living alongside elders in a nursing home. The student’s rent would be low and in return they would teach the elders how to use a computer or would help clean their house. This would create a sense of togetherness between students and elderly people which the group felt is somewhat missing now. The group also agreed that there needs to be more room to address each other’s behaviour e.g. when a person litters in a public space. One group member concluded that there is a need for civil society, “people need to feel part of a community”.
The oldest participant of the G1000, Mr. Stavasius (94), said that his main concern was preserving the old buildings in Groningen. He thought it’s such a shame that old buildings get torn down to replace them with new tall apartment buildings. Moreover, he never took a liking to the new parking space for bikes because it obstructed the view on the beautiful central station. In general he thought that the perspective of the elderly citizens of Groningen should be taken more into consideration, for example in relation accessibility of buildings.
The conference was not only a gathering for ideas but also for creativity. Kasper Peters, the official poet of Groningen, created and recited a poem inspired by the discussion that day. An artist working at the comics museum in Groningen, Dim Junius, created several drawings that were presented later that night during the ‘Nacht van de Kunst en Wetenschap’** and one of his drawing is also featured in this article.
In the afternoon, the participants needed to choose from one of 10 themes (see list below) constructed from the word cloud. For each theme they were asked to share their dreams for Groningen and also think about how to translate these dreams into actions.
Each team then presented one plan. After these plans were drafted, they were put on the wall in the huge hall. All the participants had to vote on the plan that they thought should be put into action. This resulted in a top 10 ideas for change in Groningen. The number one plan was to research the benefits of basic income. Another is to put a fountain on the main square in Groningen, create an app for people to meet there and make it onto a social meeting place.
All interested citizens of Groningen are more than welcome to help turn these plans into action. Go to
and join one of the 10 initiatives!
*informal name for the inhabitants of Groningen
** an event in Groningen centred around art and science
About the author
Agnes Schiphof has studied International Communication at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen. After which she went to the University of York in England to do a Master in Global and International Citizenship Education. She is interested in creating awareness about cultural diversity and sustainable living, and wants to bring people together from different backgrounds.
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