A little something different for our news update today-it’s not often that a representatives from Public Participation Networks are asked to spread the word about PPNs abroad, but Cork City PPN was delighted to be asked by Cork Institute of Technology to participate in the ecoRIS3 project Information Exchange in Latvia.

The theme of this workshop was ‘Civil society in search of emancipation through tools and platforms”. PPN Coordinator Martha Halbert represented the network and spoke to assembled partners and stakeholders from Lithuania, Latvia, Portugal, France, Spain and Finland about the drivers behind PPNs in Ireland, the kind of structures which support our networks and some of the challenges the networks have faced, both nationally and in Cork specifically.

Having arrived to Riga (below) the group were brought to Valmiera for our first workshop, where each of the project partners presented two good-practice examples from each of their regions. This included Martha’s presentation on the PPN, as well as in input from Darragh O’Suilleabháin, EU Project Manager at Cork County Council.

The old town in Riga


As well as project sessions, our Latvian hosts had planned a number of excellent study visits, many of which had great potential for transferability to the Cork setting.

These included a visit to

  • Skola 6, a co-working space in Cesis, specifically targeted at start up creative businesses/SME’s. This building had been a school since 1789   but once it was no longer serving this function, the local municipality decided to allow start-ups to use the space, in return for a very modest fee, to grow their enterprises. Could this model be usefully replicated in Cork? There is a real need for reasonably priced spaced for artists and creative entrepreneurs to locate their studios and desk spaces.
  • Science centre ZINOO where guests were entertained with interesting scientific exhibits and the classic experiment in science – how to protect an egg during free-fall motion.
  • Institute for Environmental Solutions which  left a great impression because of the array of exciting and diverse projects  in the fields of bio-economy, space, land, heritage, water and many others. Many parallels with the  Environmental Research Institute on the Lee Road.

Some of the studio space used by start up clothing companies at Skola 6

A sample of the creative entrepreneurs who use the space at Skola 6

It was great to get the chance to speak about our network and critically assess the model with counterparts from across Europe. PPNs are now written up as a case study here on the project website.

The Cork Delegation, Dr John Hobbs, Edurne Romano, Martha Halbert and Darragh O’Suilleabhain during the visit to Cesis on the 25th of April, 2018.

Thanks to Dr John Hobbs, Senior Lecturer at Department of Management and Marketing of Cork Institute of Technology, for getting in touch and inviting the PPN to get involved in this, and many thanks to our hosts at Vidzeme Planning Region.