The Market Day in Fuglekvarteret (a neighbourhood within Bispebjerg) is an annual one-day market in June hosted by the master plan for community regeneration called Residents’ Project PULSE. The day offers market stands (free of charge), food stands and music by local musicians. The main goal is for the residents on Residents’ Project PULSE’s eight social housing estates to interact with each other and build up a social network, which is thought to strengthen the local community, creating social cohesion and spaces of encounter in the neighbourhood (Beboerprojekt PULS, 2011). This is in line with the municipal policy ‘Metropolis for People’ which focuses on creating spaces of encounter in the city based on the idea that meeting different individuals in the city strengthens the tolerance and understanding of one another (Andersen et al., 2014: 13-14). Another goal is to create a platform where local institutions and associations can meet the local residents and to give the local residents opportunity to gain knowledge about initiatives and activities on offer in their neighbourhood. Finally, it is a goal to create positive stories about the on-goings in Bispebjerg, as a contrast to the crime that is often highlighted. The strategy is to create a space for people to meet in an informal way and to create this space on the basis of the local areas specific characteristics and energy. Meeting your neighbour is thought to make residents feel safer in their local area and more socially committed to the community.
The market day originated in 2012 when qualitative interviews with the residents were conducted by Residents’ Project PULSE. These showed that for a range of reasons many of the residents felt insecure living in their neighbourhood. It was suggested that better opportunities for the residents to get to know each other was a way to minimise the insecurity. This was the base for a common activity. The market day is organised as a mainly volunteer-based activity. There is one paid coordinator from Residents’ Project PULSE, and about 20 residents volunteering to arrange the market. Recruiting the volunteers is done by word of mouth. Facebook and bulletins have proved to be insufficient, as many residents do not use the internet or read the notes. Every year more volunteers have joined the planning committee. The volunteers’ job is to take care of all the practical tasks, whereas the coordinator is responsible for keeping track of the planning. This year’s budget is € 9,375 which is mostly spent on musical acts and a stage. The market is funded by Residents’ Project PULSE and is thus a public-private arrangement. Initially it was envisioned that the market should make a profit, and this way expand year by year, but this has not been possible. The target audience is primarily the 2,000 residents living on Residents’ Project PULSE’s social housing estates along with local actors and businesses, thus making the project both people- and place-based at a neighbourhood level. The annual market day is the main activity, but a great deal of planning and practical work precedes this. The local actors and businesses are important to the market, as part of the activities is to inform the residents of what the area has to offer.
Perception and use of the concept of diversity
The term diversity is not used in this project, and unlike other initiatives the interviewed coordinator did not seem to regard the term as something positive, but more like a stigma: When asked about how or if the term was used, she answered: “Would you like to have that label?” However, the coordinator recognises that diversity is a premise for the market, when working within a diverse area. Their goal is to get most of the neighbourhood to participate. Thus far, there is an overweight of volunteers with a Danish background and in previous years of visitors to and activities in the market as well. However, in 2014 it has been possible to include ethnic minority residents in the market day, both as audience and as participants with stands. It thus seems as though the market day is becoming a more diverse event, mirroring the local neighbourhood, and is moving from a more assimilationist approach towards an integrationist or intercultural approach (Syrett & Sepulveda, 2012). The goal is for the market to mirror the local residents. As the market is still a new initiative, it is an ongoing process to secure this and to develop and invite a broad range of initiatives as part of the market day. While hyper-diversity is not acknowledged, different kinds of diversity constitute a continuously growing focus for the organisers of the market day.
Main factors influencing success or failure
An important external success factor according to the coordinator is that the market is viewed as successful and obtains a good reputation in the neighbourhood. This will secure the resident participation which is the very foundation of the market’s success. The internal success factors are related to the volunteers. It is imperative to have dedicated volunteers, as they do all the work. Furthermore, as the market is still new to the area, outreach work depends to a great extent on the volunteers’ social networks in the area. The volunteers can function as ambassadors for the market.
Four external failure factors can be identified. Firstly, getting local residents to participate in the market can be a challenge. According to the coordinator, the volunteers in some cases have to convince and bribe people to participate (with beers and sandwiches), which makes the outreach work strenuous. Secondly, it can be difficult to navigate in the numerous activities and projects in the local area (and the city in general): If the market day falls on the same day as other popular initiatives, it may end up competing with these for participants. A third factor is the resources of the arrangement: Because the market is financed by the master plan for community regeneration, the continued existence of the market is fragile when the master plan ends. Making the market profitable or learning how to fundraise is thus important. And finally the weather plays a big part, as it is an outdoor market. Two internal failure factors can be identified. One is that volunteers are a fragile group where a lot of defection and substitutions can take place. Second, the Danish background of the volunteers can limit the potential for broadening the audience of the market day if the chosen activities and programme items only cater to a specific audience similar to the organisers. In previous years, the market seemed to resonate mostly with the Danish population. While this has partly changed in 2014, it is a continued task to secure the involvement of a diverse group of residents.
The Market Day in Fuglekvarteret is an event which has as its purpose to bolster the community, as well as to make residents feel safer in their local area. Attracting a more diverse group of participants is an area of focus, and it is hoped that the market will become a permanent activity, grounded in the social housing area called Vestergårdsvej. Currently, the struggles of the initiative show how hard it can be to set up something new and small-scale based primarily on volunteers. However, if the Market Day becomes well established, an innovative potential lies exactly in its small scale and the lack of a big administrative body. Small and inexpensive arrangements can add other dimensions to the combined efforts of the arrangements in the area in reaching out to the residents in the area, strengthening the social cohesion of the community and creating spaces of encounter.