Learning Village Dornbirn

Learning Village City of Dornbirn, November 2016


The third and final Learning Village took place in Dornbirn. 

Dornbirn is located in the middle of an economically prospering region and runs several service facilities (hospital, libraries, bath, etc.) and recently got chosen to be the city with the best living quality in Austria.

The number of inhabitants is growing rapidly and over 100 Nationalities are living in the city. The growing diversity is a challenge for the city and its administration.

Preparation Meetings

On March 2016 OFRI meet with the Mayor and the most related heads of Administration to present the idea of a “Learning Village” and find a calling question for the learning village in November. Altogether, 119 local and international people from at least five different countries participated in the Dornbirn Learning Village – Austria.

After taking a look at the recent projects and challenges within the city the group agreed to boil it down to one question: “”Wie kann angesichts großer Herausforderungen auch in Zukunft ein gutes Zusammenleben in unserer Stadt gelingen?” (In English: “Regarding big challenges, how can we best live together in our city?”)

The meeting was very important to raise awareness of the challenges the city is facing and how the Learning Village could benefit the community and the administration. And it was the starting point for the invitation process.

In September OFRI and the city of Dornbirn decided to combine the Learning Village event with an online-participation tool called Insights. Three weeks before the LV, a webpage (http://zusammenleben.dornbirn.at/dornbirn/1001) went online and people were asked to answer the Question: “How can living together succeed in our city?” The answers were clustered by the users and then integrated in the results of the learning village to provide 5 core insights around the question.

5 Insights

WORKING TOGETHER – to secure a good living of all citizens – independent of their age, origin, religion or education – we need mutual respect and dignity

CREATING SPACES - lots of citizens longing for “Spaces” where they can meet informally to work together on projects and initiatives

RELATION – CITIZENS / ADMINISTRATION / POLITICS - If we are all pulling in the same direction, we can improve our living together. It’s about finding a new path of collaboration and walk it together.

FUTUREPROOF – To keep the high quality of life in Dornbirn, we need to develop assets like modern mobility-concepts, recreational spaces, family friendliness.

CITY DEVELOPMENT - influences our living together. That means that softskills (living Neigborhoods) and hard facts (empty houses, flats) need to be considered carefully, when planning our city development.


Pre-preparation (Pre-Prep) Day for the Dornbirn Learning Village

The core team met on Tuesday 22 of November. Thanks to the learning that had taken place in Glasgow and Gothenburg, there were just a few small adaptions to the flow of the previous 2 Learning Villages. The methods and theory were exactly the same .

One significant change was the decision to hold the event from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening (and not from Friday morning to Saturday lunchtime) to allow more people to participate.


As in the other two LVs Dornbirn participants spent 75% of the time delving deeper and deeper into the topic of community cohesion and abundance.  The final ¼ was dedicated to ‘putting it into practice’


17 Projects Into Action

The participants were provided with the opportunity to put forward 17 local projects to be explored by the Learning Village community during the Pro-Action Café by identifying:

  • The purpose behind the project
  • What is missing and
  • What are the next steps
‘Genusswandern für Junggebliebene’ Making trekking tours for alderly people, who wants to stay aktiv

‘Rundwanderweg Möckle/Mäander´ Creating walking track close to the city beside local river, as an opportunity to encounter.

‘Movment´ creating awerness and joy for body movment.

´Integration´ Networking and providing help for male Refugees to get access to the centre of society.

`Integrationspaten` Building up a pool of people, that take care of someone how is new in town. Integration-buddy

‘Roma´ creating a vision for a constructive living together of Romas and the community in Dornbirn.

´Friede´ How can we support peace and were does it begin?

‘Waldfriedhof-Park´ Crating an alternative cemetery with the inviting atmosphere of a park.

´Belebung Pfarrheim Wallenmahd´How can place run by the church be used in a meaningful economical sustainable way.

‘Schaffung von Wohnraum’ Making more empty houses available for young famalies.

‘Ganzheitliche Pflege des öffentlichen Raumes’ Taking care of our public spaces in a holistic way and by integrating refugees and locals.

‘Fairvelo´ Building up a possibility to use more cargobikes (transportation bikes) by creating a space for people where they come together and support them on own housing

´Produktionsguide Dornbirn´ Making locally produced things visible for citizens

´Re – und Upcycling´ Creative re- and upcycling from stuff. (Furniture, etc.)

‘Markthalle Dornbirn´ founding a first market hall in Dornbirn with local products that is open every day.

´Flucht und Schule´ Bringing people with refugee experience together with students.

´Begegnungscafé´Creating a coffee-store were people how are new in town can connect and people find working opportunities


The Future of The Learning Village Model 

The Learning Village concluded with some closing words by OFRI and the City of Dornbirn. The Mayor announced that this Learning Village was the starting point for an ongoing participatory process in the city around the topic “How can we best live together in our city?” and that the administration is willing to help these 17 projects to move forward and realise their ideas.

At the end of the Learning Village the ‘batton’ was handed back to the Scottish team where it all started.

We would like to thank all those whose hard work and effort made the event possible and also the participants for sharing their thoughts, experiences, knowledge and dreams.