First CircularCityChallenge Award Ceremony: Celebrating the Youth Perspective of Trofaiach

In the heart of Trofaiach, Austria, a spirited award ceremony recently honored the innovative spirit of the local youth. The event, held in the city’s main hall, shone a spotlight on 24 visionary pupils from the polytechnical high school. These young minds had embarked on a journey through the CircularCityChallenge workshop, crafting sustainable solutions for their community.

The students’ visions

The 24 pupils of the polytechnical highschool developed their very own circular visions in the course of a CircularCityChallenge workshop earlier the same year, where the partners from SYNYO led the pupils through the process of solving circularity issues through the innovative CircularCityChallenge approach. The workshop offered the young participants a platform to formulate their visions for a city that meets their needs and wishes. This project encouraged them to critically evaluate their surroundings and identify opportunities for improvement. They explored the city’s resources and looked for ways to use them sustainably and were then challenged to devise solutions to these issues and to map out all individuals who could be involved in the project, benefit from it, and contribute to making it a reality. The students rose to the occasion, identifying key areas such as mobility and youth culture where their voices had previously been unheard. Three teams focused on enhancing public transport by advocating for the revival of the local train station. Another three groups saw the potential for a local disco, envisioning a space for socialization and celebration among peers. The adventurous spirits proposed a thrilling downhill bike route, adding a new dimension to local leisure activities. A forward-thinking team sought to bridge the gap between the youth and local law enforcement, fostering mutual understanding and reducing police presence. In line with the CircularCityChallenge method, stakeholder mappings were at the heart of the workshop

The students were guided through identifying key players in the local system of the challenge they want to address. They got to understand who they could ask for help, who to activate and who benefits from their initiative. The team from SYNYO helped them to consider the different stakeholders involved to ensure a holistic approach to urban development. The outcome of the workshop, were eight stakeholder maps including the actions necessary to activate the local resources to realise their initiative. These maps charted the ecosystem of each challenge, highlighting allies, beneficiaries, and potential collaborators. The team “Zojeta” was chosen as the winners for their contribution “Trofaiach Tunes: Uniting Beats, Hearts and Community”, as it most sustainably leveraged the community’s resources: an existing building, the community itself, and their assets, thus making the project about building with the community for the community.


The Award Event

The poster exhibition, showcased the work of the eight student teams. The students and their teachers were present as well as the mayor Mario Abl, local project partner Erich Biberich and local media attended. In his speech, the mayor expressed his sincere gratitude and respect for the youth’s ideas: “It makes me proud to see how committed and creative our students are in working on solutions that not only address local needs, but also contribute to the sustainable development of our city. The networking function, which brings in a community aspect, is also impressive.” He emphasised that he will stay in touch and keep their visions in mind, trying to integrate them as well as possible into local planning endeavours. Reflecting the community spirit of the winning team, the three students generously shared the cash prize of 600€ (provided generously by the sponsor Klima- und Energiefonds) with all classmates, dedicating it to a collective celebration at a local restaurant.

The cooperation with the municipality Trofaiach did not end with the award ceremony. Schools in Trofaiach ought to benefit from this experience in the future in order to further promote awareness of the circular economy and sustainable development. For this purpose, the methods developed within the CircularCityChallenge project will be tailored to fit the specific needs of teachers and students in Austrian schools. A workshop with local teachers of the Trofaiach region is foreseen to train the teachers in adopting the CCC toolkits into their teaching praxis, enhancing circularity education and ensuring that the students are well prepared for the green transition. Overall, the cooperation with Trofaiach, its administration, teachers and particularly its pupils brought the invaluable perspectives of the youth from a countryside town to the foreground. It demonstrated that every locality has an incredible wealth of resources that are often overlooked, but when organized sustainably, can give rise to something new that benefits everyone.


Press coverage:

MeinBezirk (Pauscher, 27.06.2024)

Oberösterreichische Rundschau (Nr.14, 17./18.7.2024):