Village Renaissance Project
Suwon City, Korea

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The City of Suwon implements urban development and operates its administration depending on geological characteristics of 4 districts and 42 dongs. However, imbalance among regions due to the concentration of development in specific regions led to the widening gap in the quality of life among some residents. Citizens regarded the gap as part of discrimination and started to distrust the administration of the local government. In cities, regions are divided into jurisdictions and living spaces and only some particular areas are benefitted from development. People in neglected regions feel that they are underprivileged in taking advantage of public services. The gap in the quality of life is widening as they are unable to enjoy decent jobs, and cultural welfare services. Urban development plan led by administration bring about concentration in industry, education, jobs and housing as well as population. This results in widening income gap among residents and exclusions and discrimination against immigrant workers take in place in some regions. In Suwon, Songjuk-dong was faced with the lowest health index because a staggering urban development caused most of residents to move out of the community and only low income elderly people stayed in the town. In the case of Pyung-dong where an army airport was located, severe noise led many people to leave the neighborhood and only people who couldn't afford a house stayed in the area. Due to the restriction of development in Haenggung-dong where Hwasung fortress is placed, poor infrastructures resulted in dark environment where the elderly and immigrant workers were most of the residents. Although a sense of community is still remained in some areas in Suwon, many of communities were losing it due to the change in social culture. Communities or neighborhoods are not merely a place divided as administrative units but emotional alliances that determine people’s way of life. Given this, the destruction of communities is a serious issue of time. In the case of Paldal-gu, the area was faced with the restriction of urban development as the Hwasung fortress is located in the region. Residents felt they were left behind compared to other regions in getting public services such as housing, transportation, welfare and administration. They felt discriminated and neglected and the distrust in administration was growing. The community in which most residents were the elderly and low income families started to lose vitality. Also, with a growing number of crimes by immigrant workers living in the area, fear against them increased.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
With the reflection on development-oriented policies, Suwon found the conclusion that restoring relationship among people was the most urgent issue. Mayor Yeom started out his term in June, 2010 with the goal of developing communities based on community engagement, and set the policy initiative “Suwon Village Renaissance”, which is community development projects. Fully supported by administration, residents played the central role in the restoration of community to tackle problems facing communities and to raise the quality of life for residents particularly for the vulnerable.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The beauty of Village Renaissance Project is that the initiative was embarked on as an administration-led project but gradually became a citizen-initiated project which enabled residents to actively participate in leading the change in their communities. By holding many rounds of meetings, all residents were encouraged to engage in the administration of Suwon with the goal of changing the urban environment on their own. There was no limitation in engaging in the project except that the subject to be participated must be residents. Difference in sex, generation and class were overcame and understood through various activities in the course of Village Renaissance Project. In particular, women, youth, the elderly, and the disabled who had few chance to take part in communities were prioritized as participants of the project. Government officials met many residents, experts and civil groups in order to lay the foundation of resident-oriented Village Renaissance Project. To effectively and efficiently execute the project, drawing people’s interests and exploring resources in communities were of importance. For establishing the framework of Village Renaissance Project, Suwon zeroed in on finding resources in communities, running public participation projects, building operation manual, and establishing a system where residents voluntary participated in. To launch and stabilize the administrative system of the initiative, core strategies were formulated including accumulating best practices by region, expanding the project, establishing process and system and building communities. The strategies were to demonstrate sustainable and predictable administration system to its residents. In addition, the application process of its public participation projects was changed to “Pre-publication and selection system” - notify the project and select performers a year ago so that residents have enough time to prepare for their community projects and get training and consulting supported by Suwon City. Since the launch of Village Renaissance in 2011, about 730 projects have been implemented and new projects tailored to communities are executed every year at city level. The initiative has seen positive results such as enhanced living condition of communities, facilitated interaction with neighbors, raised awareness of participation in administration and explored and nurtured community leaders.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Community Planning Group financed by the local government engaged in every part of the project ranging from conducting research on resources in communities to planning future vision. The administrative sector took a charge in documentation and on-site supports so that issues occurred in sites would be addressed and reflected in the next phase. In many cases, the administration sector takes the leadership and focuses on managing, guiding and monitoring for residents. However, in Village Renaissance Projects, residents played the leading role, which is an exemplary case of public-private governance. Stronger civil rights leading greater autonomy were shown in the implementation of the initiative through resident’s power and their active participation. Although Village Renaissance Project was community development projects to address various issues facing communities, a sustainable community model was essential for residents particularly the poor and vulnerable to stand on their own feet. Suwon put efforts to organize social economy to circulate capital in communities and revitalize the local economy. The initiative of Village Renaissance is not mere a one-time event but a sustainable project by upgrading village communities to economic communities including cooperatives, social enterprises and community businesses.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Suwon enacted Making Good Community Ordinance in December, 2011 to run Village Renaissance Project. As an administrative organization, Community Development Promotion Group was established and the Committee of Making Good Community was built to be responsible for policy proposal and project evaluation. Public participation projects of community development was managed by Village Renaissance Center and Administrative Consultative Group consisting of managers from 20 divisions of the City of Suwon examined related laws and feasibility of projects. Consultative Group for Community Development was in charge of resolving conflicts by coordinating opinions among project implementers. The supportive system of Village Renaissance Project was established thanks to these systematic organism. Village Renaissance Project was implemented by Village Renaissance Implementer. A total of 14,605 residents participated in 730 public participation projects of Village Renaissance for 6 years. Of them, 1,605 residents engaged in basic courses such as Delivered Education and 1,217 people took part in advanced or special curriculum including Village School for Teenagers. This explains both quantity and quality were considered in the public participation projects. Ji-dong Mural Community and Changryong Community Art Center and Dabok Safe Community Building Project are the examples of transforming once crime-stricken communities into safe places. Ji-dong was an old downtown where warn-out houses were concentrated with poor infrastructures due to the restriction of development and re-development. The quality of life for the residents mostly consisting of the elderly, low-income and immigrant workers were very poor. To make the place one of the safest communities, Suwon has carried out Village Renaissance Project with Gyeonggi Province. Colorful murals which was part of Village Renaissance Project gave the gloomy neighbourhood warm atmosphere, which led to rapid drop in crime rates in the community. Ingye-dong ran its project of turning an old empty house causing slum-nization and crimes into women-friendly “Daoul Community”. The space has been established as a center for women particularly immigrant women to get employment support, learn Korean culture, and share talent and information. Jowon1-dong “Daechudongyi Culture Community” started out building a small library where youth and residents can enjoy and developed into organizing a cooperative “Madonna Porklet Restaurant”. Most importantly, the restaurant played a pivotal role not only in providing jobs to women in need and immigrant women but also in understanding Korean culture and interacting each other. The profit from the cooperative goes to the vulnerable through programs such as sharing food and caring elderly people living alone. This is a successful example of community development projects which can be sustained in a long term.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Suwon supports residents to participate in community development projects in easy and fast manners. Before applying to public participation projects of community development, residents get together to set the plan, determine and assess community development projects and then form implementation groups to carry out the project. If residents ask for more information or expertise during the course, Suwon City provides necessary support after counseling. By type, the initiative is divided into three categories – design community programs(programs to foster the culture of sharing and caring), establish facilities and create spaces. Community program has five (5) steps. First, setting up a group with your neighbours. Second, getting to know about your community such as legacy, resources and culture. Third, exploring ideas. Fourth, planning. Lastly, acting on it. In terms of establishing facilities and creating space, public facilities were built to improve living conditions of communities. The facility “Alternative Space NOON” is part of cultural art community projects that transformed an old empty house into a cultural art space. Alternative Space NOON was benchmarked globally as an exemplary case that provides opportunities for residents to interact each other and to enjoy art. Suwon City and Village Renaissance Center perform annual monitoring and mutual assessment programs for the residents who participated in community development projects. Monitoring process consists of three (3) steps. First, listening to complaints from the residents and suggesting a clear direction before implementing projects. Second, understanding the implementation status of projects and listening when complains arose during running projects. Third, examining the feasibility of projects and providing information of project expense settlement. The range and the number of the public participation projects of Village Renaissance is increasingly growing annually (54 projects in 2011, 131 projects in 2012, 139 projects 2013, 132 projects in 2014, 148 projects in 2015, 130 projects in 2016). It is inspiring that Village Renaissance project is growing in its quantity and the capacity of residents is getting stronger every year. In running community development projects, people with different talent in various sectors are essential. Suwon City’s community development project is called “People Development Project” as the experiences and expertise of residents explored in the course of implementing the initiative played a pivotal role. In community development projects, research on community is a foremost step to find human resources as well as to investigate the environment of communities. In Korea, many women are struggling with career interruption due to marriage and child-rearing. In the course of implementing community development projects, many women with potential and talent were discovered. They had excellent knowledge and experiences in the areas of music, landscape, language, and accounting. The Village Renaissance Project provided a great opportunity for female residents to realize their potential and to restore self-esteem as well as to build strong alliance. In implementing the initiative, strong links were forged among people from non-governmental organizations, educational organizations and artists. On average, 1 project consists of 10-15 people to be carried out with related experts, professors engaged. Monitoring, oversight and assessment process were included in carrying out the project. “Community Development Manual” contains all information related was produced to share with other cities. Village Renaissance Project is financed by the local government (90-95%) and fund raised from residents (5-10%). Starting out from about 388 million won in 2011, the budget increased to over 5.3 billion won in 2016, showing Suwon City’s strong willpower toward the initiative. Over 530 million won is allocated for 2017 projects (83 cases). Budgets from communities accounting for over 5% came from community fund, voluntary work and profits of Residents Autonomy Committee.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Suwon Village Renaissance Project was one of Mayor Yeom’s core public pledges made when he took office in 2011. The philosophy of the pledge lies in citizen participation, residents’ autonomy, strengthened citizen capacity, governance, and communities as a backbone of realizing upward participatory democracy. In order to pre-examine the objectivity and feasibility of the project, a variety of meetings were held community development research group meetings(12) organized by administration, experts and civil groups, discussion meetings(4), kick-off meetings(2) for civil groups and a community development forum). After all these discussions and meetings, Suwon Village Renaissance Project started out with three visions: the restoration of people-centered communities, the practice of governance participated and cooperated by citizens, and the establishment of future creative city. A Community Development Promotion Group oversees the plan and policy of Village Renaissance Project. In addition, the Group operates and manages Committee of Making Good Community and Consultative Group for Community Development established in 42dongs in Suwon. An Administrative Consultative Group is an expert group organized by public officials, who examines related laws, project expenses, and potentials to connect the project with other programs. Village Renaissance Implementer is organized by 730 groups or 10,000 residents. They discover what their community really needs and connect the issue with community development projects to solve the problem. A Community Planning Group was a temporary organization established in 2013 and 2015 to establish community development plans by administrative unit. The beauty of Village Renaissance Project is that people who participated in public participation projects of Village Renaissance voluntarily formed resident network. Thanks to the close relationship, residents fully support each other without administrative intervention. Supporters Group and Daedonggye (a group consisting of residents’ leaders) and a Network of Implementers (a group of residents to share specific ideas) are active networks built by residents.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Korea is already experiencing population cliff due to a rapid aging. To deal with this issue, Suwon is pursuing making women-friendly communities. Most importantly, many beneficial projects for women who take care of children are being carried out as community development projects and as municipal policies. It’s fair to say Village Renaissance Project benefits women the most, particularly the women whose career was disrupted due to child bearing and child rearing. Women’s participation in community development projects resulted in engaging in social activities, offering unprecedented opportunities for revitalizing their life. Suwon City developed and offered tailored programs for all ages so that all residents including children and youth can involve in the initiative. In implementing Village Renaissance Project, various programs and applicable cases are constantly being explored. During studying communities in the early stage of the project, the elderly living alone, stray youth and underprivileged children who were poorly serviced in education and care were discovered. Village Renaissance Project played an essential role in connecting the neglected residents to local welfare centers so that the vulnerable receives appropriate welfare services. In Korea, welfare services are based on selective welfare system. Suwon City encourages neglected residents who do not benefit from welfare services to receive proper support by providing welfare service information. “Sharing Food with the Elderly Living Alone”, “Geumbit Choir(consisting of the elderly)”, and “Shared Child Care” are programs aiming to include the socially vulnerable in communities, which is the very philosophy of Village Renaissance Project. The main actor and driving force of Village Renaissance Project is citizens, which is one of its successive results. To strengthen capacity of citizens, Suwon City devised and ran educational programs tailored to each district. As part of educational programs, manuals were devised to help residents to take care of administrative process on their own. Trained and educated residents for running the project became leaders and provided direct support to other communities. Some residents even got a job in related fields thanks to the administrative knowledge and experiences built through the project. Environment and energy have been one of Suwon City’s major agendas from the early stage of the initiative. Surprisingly, many residents applied to public participation projects focusing on environment and ecosystem. “EcoMobility Suwon 2013” was a global event in which people experienced coal-free future for a whole month in Haenggung-dong. The festival was run with integration into community development projects.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Since the launch of the autonomous local government system in Korea in 1995, the central government has carried out various public participation projects that pursued balanced development for all communities. As a local government, Suwon was the first city that introduced and implemented community development projects as one of main policies. As a sole frontrunner, Suwon had difficulties in establishing a basic framework for the initiative. Suwon collected all capacity of administration to lay the foundation by enacting a related ordinance, establishing Community Development Promotion Group(an administration group), Committee of Making Good Community(an expert group), Village Renaissance Center(a linking group between administration and residents) and by implementing public participation projects. In addition, Suwon made all-out efforts to gather and benchmark community development cases that were carried out at home and abroad. The information collected through research and benchmarking was fully shared with public officials and residents of Suwon. In order to encourage more residents to involve in the initiative, the leader of Community Development Promotion Group directly visited all districts(39-dongs) of Suwon and gave lectures on Community Development Project. With determined efforts from administration, Suwon successfully set the framework of community development projects in a relatively short period of time. Following the lead of Suwon, many local governments started to try community development projects. Local Government Consultative Group of Community Development was organized led by Suwon in order to ask the central government to enact related laws and system to facilitate community development project based on community engagement. As a result, The Framework Act on Local Communities were proposed by Sun-mi Jin, a Member of the National Assembly on 24th February, 2017.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
In Village Renaissance Project, women accounted for 80% of all participants as they did not involve in income generating activities due to child bearing and child rearing. But most importantly, women residents had high interest in caring and sharing activities of the project. In the course of implementing the initiative, many women had great opportunities to realize their potential. Suwon is implementing women friendly policies such as “Safe Return Home Service for Women” and “House Care Service for Woman”. To prevent ever more sophisticated crimes, various community development projects related with women friendly policies were undertaken. Most importantly, Safe Village is a safety community that implements safety network, activities, installs CCTVs in areas with potential for crimes, and establishes an environment that preempts crimes. In 2014, the demonstration project titled Create a Safe Village was awarded Grand Prize for the first time among local governments in Korea. -Woman-dong is a community where permanent rental apartments were first built in Suwon. Most of neighbors are the elderly living alone and receive welfare services. To support the local economy and find a way to make the residents enjoy rewarding life, Local Currency was created. Residents talent and used products can be exchanged with the Local Currency, which create virtuous cycle in the local economy. Many university students actively engaged in the community development projects but the participation rate of youth in middle and high schools was relatively low. To encourage greater participation, Suwon High School established “Student Journalist Group” which issues Community Newspaper. While studying their communities and writing articles about Suwon Stream, students found the hidden side of their neighborhoods and realized how beautiful their communities were. In the course of implementing the initiative, public officials in the administrative sector were able to set specific plans for supporting the socially vulnerable on sites. What’s special about the community development projects was government officials had opportunities to meet residents in person and provide support to meet their needs. If there is something the initiative cannot address, the issue will be sent to related agencies to be solved. Village Renaissance Project is an exemplary case that allows citizens to have an easy access to administrative system so that they find their communities’ setbacks and address them own their own. In the past, most residents did not consider administrative support was one of civil rights they were entitled to. Open discussion on community development projects with administration provided residents opportunities to set a new relationship with the public sector and to grow their trust in the initiative. Government officials found answers on sites and directly reflect them to administrative policies. The rapid response drew full support from residents. Most importantly, as residents built knowledge and became sub-experts in community development projects, they voluntarily promoted the initiative and even got a job in related sectors including social enterprises. Village Renaissance Project offered a great chance for many residents to enter into society.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Public participation projects of community development are selected by public application and assessment process. Every year, Suwon puts on a notice on its website to recruit communities that would participate in the public participation projects. Recruited communities divided into two categories (for community programs/for facilities and space) are given first and second assessments. On the first assessment, the category of community programs are classified by their characteristics such as education, festival, and environment and so on. The assessment is undertaken by experts (30%) and citizens(70%) including all leaders of communities applied to the public participation projects. As for projects for facilities and space, an expert group visits the site of communities in person to select the participating communities. For the second assessment, the Committee of Making Good Community conducts a final assessment. Communities necessarily involves in the assessment process to prevent any corruption or interests that might be involved in the process. In addition, selected communities are given education for accounting, and settlement of expenses are strictly conducted to make sure transparency of the project. Suwon has constantly held related forums and conference since the beginning of the initiative and conducted joint survey to discover residents’ complaints in implementing the project. With these efforts, Suwon Village Renaissance Project have been continuously improved and developed. In the execution of community development projects, residents came to have high interest in budgeting and they wanted to monitor and check whether the local government spend taxes appropriately. Suwon City pursues transparency about budgeting for the project by sharing related information in “Residents Hearings” and “Pre-Briefing Meeting”. Suwon City shares objective assessment results with citizens to enhance transparency and public influences of the initiative. Suwon City won various awards recognizing its transparency including “Awards of Good Municipal Policies Preventing Corruptions”, “Productive Administration and Innovative Public Service in Gyunggi-do”, “Contest for Good Manifesto of Mayors in Addressing Youth Problems” and so on.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
As Songjuk-dong was a worn-out community with many floating population, women and girls were vulnerable to crimes. Due to a number of schools, children safety was the most required. Accordingly, with the vision of building Songjuk-dong Safe Village, residents of Songjuk-dong participated in a community development project “Beautiful way to School” after having education and building capacity. To build a safe community, sidewalks and roads were separated and CPTED(Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) was applied to the streets. The community reaped the fruits of the project. Sonjuk-dong is no longer a dangerous neighborhood and became the safest town where women and girls are walking on the streets freely at night. Lightening Bug Silver Laundry Room is one of Village Renaissance Projects operated by leaders of Yeonmu-dong since 2012. Under the project, implementers visit houses of elderly living alone on every Wednesday to collect laundries. After drying and ironing them, they were delivered to the elderly. The project is an exemplary case that residents pulled up their sleeves to take care of the neglected. Many community development projects of Village Renaissance are linking to local welfare service centers and producing synergic effects to raise the quality of life for the vulnerable.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Suwon City, Korea
Institution Type:   Local Government  
Contact Person:   Yu-hui Kim
Title:   Officer  
Telephone/ Fax:   82-31-228-3398/3721
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   (Ingye-dong)241 Hyowon-ro, Paldal-gu
Postal Code:   16490
City:   Suwon
State/Province:   Gyeonggi Province

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