#39 Varberg: "We Succeed or We Learn"

Episode 45 July 12, 2023 00:33:21
#39 Varberg: "We Succeed or We Learn"
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#39 Varberg: "We Succeed or We Learn"

Jul 12 2023 | 00:33:21


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In our third episode recorded live at the Urban Future Conference 2023, we sat down with Jenny Rydén, Project Manager of Sustainability for the Municipality of Varberg, Sweden.

With her, we talked about a significant urban development project that the municipality has undertaken over the past five years: moving the harbour and developing a seaside city district.


Overview of the episode:

01:52 - Teaser: If Varberg were an animal, which animal would it be?

02:49 - What is Jenny's background?

04:46 - Where is located the municipality of Varberg? What is it known for?

06:46 - What is this major urban development project Jenny is working on?

08:24 - What are the challenges and successes encountered on this project?

10:34 - How does sustainability play a role in the project?

12:25 - How can municipalities that are undertaking similar projects focus on creating sustainable places?

17:20 - What kind of partnerships are needed for projects like this to succeed?

20:55 - The challenges of lengthy administrative processes

25:00 - Pieces of advice for cities wanting to undertake similar projects

29:20 - Inspire Us: our guest shares an inspiring story

31:30 - Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:06 Welcome to Smart in the City, the BABLE Podcast where we bring together top actors in the smart city arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and I hope you'll enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to accelerate the change for a better urban life. Smart in the City is brought to you by BABLE Smart Cities. We enable processes from research and strategy development to co-creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE platform at bable-smartcities.eu. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:46 Welcome to another episode of Smart in the City. I am at the Urban Future Conference in Stuttgart, Germany and enjoying engaging with lots of urban stakeholders around the most pressing topics and challenges today. So we're very grateful to be a media partner, um, for the second year in the row, uh, also, so, um, and this allows me to bring to you the next wonderful speaker today. Um, and without further their ado, I will introduce her. Please welcome Jenny Rydén. Um, she's the project manager sustainability for the municipality of Varberg in Sweden. Welcome, Jenny. Thank you. Hopefully it's nice to be here. Yeah, nice to have you. Hopefully I got the, the names all correct. You don't have to pronounce your, your municipality for everyone the proper Swedish way, please. Jenny Rydén Okay. It's the municipality of Varberg now. Tamlyn Shimizu Yeah, I, and apologies if I say it, continue to say it wrong, but now everyone knows how to properly say it. Yeah. Um, so I, I want to, um, always get a little warmed up, um, since it's already warm in here. I'm, I'm, I think I'm gonna say in all the urban future episodes. Cool. Down. Um, so, uh, our warmup question, our cool down question for today, um, is if your city were an animal, which animal would it be? Oh, <laugh>. Jenny Rydén 00:02:06 Well, uh, probably, let's see, some kind of a bird. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Guess we we're a windy city. Yeah. We like the wind, uh, and, uh, and the ocean. So probably like a seagull or something. Oh, yeah. A seagull. Yeah. Not that cool though. <laugh>. Tamlyn Shimizu I think birds are cool. You know, flying around it is, seems like a pretty cool life, living on the ocean, you know, flying around in the wind, so, yeah, exactly. <laugh>. Yeah. Good, good answer. It's always really curious, uh, and interesting to, to hear everybody's, uh, explanations for why they picked the animal. Yeah. <laugh>. Imagine that. Good. Um, so I would love to, uh, introduce you a little bit better to, to our listeners. Um, who are you, what's your background? How did you end up in your position today? Jenny Rydén 00:03:09 Oh, that's a good question. Um, my background, I, um, I grew up in Wawei, uh, and moved there as quickly as I could. Moved from there, I should say <laugh>, moved away, uh, to Stockholm to study at the Royal, uh, Institute of Technology. Uh, so I'm a, I have a master in engineering, uh, within, uh, product development. Oh, actually, so I had a goal, uh, and from like, when I was eight probably, and that was to work with the designing and developing new cars at Volvo. Yeah. In Gothenburg. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. So that was my goal until, uh, like my third year at, uh, the, um, at school in Stockholm. And that's when I started to, to interest, uh, my interest in sustainability grow. And, uh, I had a guest lecture who lectured about the 10 golden rules of EcoSign. So that's when probably my, my focus and my goal shifted to work with more of the sustainability. And that's what I've been doing since, uh, both in Stockholm where I lived for like 12 years. Uh, but after, uh, those years I longed to get home, back home. So I moved home, started working for the municipality of Arrb, and now I get to, to, um, be a part of the change in the city. That's wonderful. Yeah. I'm back in your hometown mm-hmm. <affirmative> and driving different, uh, projects. And I'm really excited to talk about the main project you've been working on. I'm, but first maybe people don't know where, uh, V is. No, no. <laugh> probably not. Can you, can you tell them <laugh>? Yeah, I can. Well, VBE is, uh, we could say, uh, middle size, uh, municipality on the west coast of Sweden. So we're just south of Gothenburg. Um, and we're quite known in Sweden to be the best winds surfing spot. Mm. And, uh, vibe is also known for the, um, for being Sweden's Health Resorts, uh, with a spa culture that goes like 200 years back in time. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:05:24 Very nice. Very nice. I, I hope to visit sometime. I, I think I told you in our first call that I, I, I think I went by in the train. Yeah. But didn't stop. So <laugh>, I'm sorry. It's a shame. I know. Next time I actually tried windsurfing also. Um, do you windsurf? Jenny Rydén No, <laugh>. Well, it's, uh, it's not a good answer to get when you're, when you're from Vibe. Uh, but no, actually I haven't tried. I've tried, uh, uh, tried standup paddling. Tamlyn Shimizu Oh yeah. I love it. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Jenny Rydén that's usually, uh, what I do on these cold mornings when the wind hasn't started yet, or in the evenings at Sunset. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:06:19 Nice. Oh, lovely. Oh, that sounds so nice. I love, uh, Sweden. Well, in the summer <laugh>. Yeah. So you like the winter too, <laugh>? Jenny Rydén Well, I like the changes. I think I appreciate the summer warm, but I can't say I'm a big fan of their dark, uh, months where there sunsets about two o'clock in the afternoon. Tamlyn Shimizu Yeah. That's rough. It's a, it's bit rough. Yeah. It's bit challenging. Yeah. Yeah. <laugh> good. Um, so yeah, I would love to dig into the, the work that you're doing. It's super interesting. I understand for the last five years you've been working on a, a big cubit, uh, urban development project. Um, that's right. Can you tell me about it? Jenny Rydén Yeah. Uh, it's, um, it's a project. It, it actually started in like, it's 19, nine years ago in 2014. So it's a big, uh, urban development project. We're building a new city district in like the middle of the city where it's been, um, the areas is, uh, still is, uh, industrial Harbor today, some part of it. Jenny Rydén 00:07:31 So we're moving the harbor and we're building a city district new one, uh, at that place. So it's really fun. It's really a big project. Uh, the, the, if we got back in time, the last time that the municipality of Arbe had a big large scale project, like this was during the seventies probably. So, uh, it's fun to, to work on this one. And we have a lot of, I mean, challenges. We have a lot of things that our politicians had decided that we need to work with, that we also need, wants to work, wanted to work with. But, but, uh, and it's challenging, uh, and it's fun. And I'm never enjoyed my work more. Tamlyn Shimizu That's good to hear. <laugh>. Um, can you speak a little bit more to maybe the biggest challenges, um, and also some successes as well? Like what has that whole process been like? Jenny Rydén 00:08:34 Yeah, I think, um, the whole project started off with a big, like citizen dialogue, uh, process. Uh, we call it the white paper dialogue. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that they, uh, they were on the squares, they were in school, they met the local businesses. They, they had a lot of different, uh, um, workshops and started to, to talk about the citizens, talk about the changes with the citizens and their fears, uh, and also their hopes for this new city district. And the result of that, uh, we, we, uh, included in a document that now is like a guiding, uh, document for the whole project. So that's really good. And that sets the tone for everything we do. And it says that we need to be in the forefront of sustainability. We need to work and actively, actively participate with the citizens. Uh, we also need to create spaces for those who is not living in the city district, but maybe in other parts of the city. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:09:51 Uh, so they can enjoy these, uh, new spaces as well. Hmm. Yeah. Very interesting. And so that would be a success or a challenge in your mind, <laugh>? Jenny Rydén Well, the white paper, the white paper dialogue was a success. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, and the, the result can be a challenge. Yeah. Because, uh, it's, it's, um, it's challenging working both with participatory processes and sustainability. And when you are working in a municipality where you have politicians that has to decide on everything we do, uh, it can conflict be, um, some sort of conflicts there, <laugh>. Tamlyn Shimizu Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I hear that. I hear that story a lot, obviously. Yeah. From, from many cities, of course, this, this challenge. So, um, when you're talking about sustainability, how does that play a role in this project? Jenny Rydén 00:11:01 Yeah, well, the sustainability aspect, well, we have like, uh, um, a manual for how we're gonna work with the sustainability, uh, areas. And that sets, it gave us roles for us as a municipality and for the developers that are gonna, um, build there. And, um, so that's a really good, we have had that manual for, like, I, me calculate in my head, uh, seven years now. So it was an early document mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and it's been with us for a long time, so that's a really good thing. But with working with sustainability, it's such a large aspect of things to do and now areas. So there's a lot of things. It is like, uh, handling the climate change for once and also, uh, well, planning and building that not, will not like affect the climate as much. And then we need to, we need more women need more greenery, women need more public spaces. We may need more, um, like housing that's affordable and all these things. So we try to try to divide these things and we try to work with different teams on different, uh, areas, but yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:12:24 Yeah, it's a big undertaking, trying to incorporate it into every, every aspect of the project. Right. Yeah. Do you have any advice, I guess, on how you can, cuz it obviously also, sustainability is such a broad word and it means so many different things Yeah. For different people. And what do you focus on? Like how do you, how do you take this massive thing and say, okay, this is the focus, this is what we have to do in this and this and this. Yeah. Do, do you have any advice there? Jenny Rydén Well, it's hard because as I said, we had this, uh, first dialogue and then we got, uh, our guidelines and the governing documents. And that says that we're, we have to be in the forefront of sustainability and, um, planning. And we were like, okay, how do we do it? When do we know that we reached that goal? We can't just sit in our office and says, okay, well that's good enough. But, so we, um, we work with something called Cita Lab. It's a method at Swedish, um, that, uh, yeah. And, and let's say a corporation in Sweden has developed mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, they, uh, did a test of brim communities in Sweden, but we have a lot of different rules and regulations regarding, regarding building permits and old stuff. So it didn't work. So they, uh, did a Swedish version version, um, and they call it S lab. And that's, uh, that one is divided into like how we work with the processes during the project, but also like focus areas. And, uh, so that's been a really good help for us to just, to have that method and processes and get these focus areas. And we could see like, okay, we have that down, we have that down and that down. So we need now to focus on maybe, uh, let's see, mobility. That's a big, big, big challenge for us. Yeah. In in what ways? Well, as I said, we're, uh, quite small middle, middle size or small city, but we have this, the city of Wabe, but the municipality is bigger, so we had a lot of rural areas around, and they, or the inhabitants, citizens of vibrate, uh, they have a lot of cars. They, uh, we don't have that, um, that good of a bus system, uh, for them to, to get into the city. So therefore there's a lot of cars. And we also have free parking, uh, so they can park on streets and in, uh, like parking houses or for free. Wow. Uh, yeah. And if we try to, to somehow change it up a bit, trying to restrict it more than it, uh, people get angry. <laugh>, people get angry, they get worried, they get upset. Yeah. And that's a big challenge. And now we have this new city district, we're building it approximately like five 50 meters from the new train, train station, the new bus station for the whole, like with the, from the train, you can go either south to Malmo or, or Copenhagen or up Gothenburg and South. Say, we don't want any cars in this city district. We want it to be a, a car free area, car free area. But we are not really allowed to the, the, um, some other governing documents that the municipality has, says that we has to, to, we have to like create, uh, parking spaces for a lot across. Oh, wow. And that not just for residents or like, not just for residents, for visitors, for the, uh, the businesses, for the everything. Uh, so, and that's a space that we wanted to create something, although maybe that could have a, uh, a bigger value for more people. And, and also there's no thing as free parking because the municipality pays for it. Yeah. It, it comes with a taxes. So, so to say we have free parking is not really right either. Yeah. It's just the perspective of it. Tamlyn Shimizu Right. Yeah, absolutely. Um, I want to dig in a little bit. I imagine a big project like this has many, many partners mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, what kind of partnerships have, have you all formed? And um, yeah. Can you give me some examples? Jenny Rydén Yeah. As a, uh, for once we, we, we try to work not in these silos that the municipality often is organized in. Yeah. But we've created a team, we are hiring in these other people from different, uh, departments, um, almost like consultants. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, uh, so, uh, we buy them like from each other, <laugh>. Um, so we created that, this team, and it's really nice. But we also try to work with, um, other companies, local companies, um, uh, developers. Uh, we work with, uh, companies from Gothenburg that, that work, uh, with innovation, uh, because let's face every as is, uh, middle-sized municipality, we don't have all these, uh, resources and maybe, uh, persons working with a specific, um, let's say, uh, uh, yeah. Like we, we don't have, uh, innovation department mm-hmm. <affirmative> for ones. Uh, so we need to, to get that, uh, knowledge from somewhere else. Tamlyn Shimizu Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And with the partnerships that you formed, which ones have been I guess the, the most impactful ones? Probably, uh, right now with the developers? Jenny Rydén 00:19:30 Yeah. Because as I said, we, when we, when we look back, we did a large scale project like this during the seventies and then haven't, so we, we were <laugh> not unsure, but we didn't feel like we had the, the, um, experience enough. So we had, um, a contest where the, the developers, uh, uh, yeah. Contested and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and their, their price or what you say if they want mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they were the ones that will be able to build housing in the, um, in the area, the new city district. And with it, uh, quite early in the, in the detail planning process, just because we wanted their knowledge. Because if we don't have the knowledge they do, they build all across Sweden, different projects all the time. And so involving them early, and then we ha we have had lot of the workshops, uh, both on sustainability and the, the manual that we needed to, to like revitalize mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and, uh, step up a notch. Um, but also in like thematic groups, uh, with building logistics and how to manage resources more sustainable. And mobility was one <laugh>. Uh, so that's been really good. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:20:44 Good. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Very important to involve partners early on, I think is a, is always a key learning too. And, um, what do you think has, when is the project actually set to, uh, finish <laugh>? Jenny Rydén Oh, that's the hardest one to answer. Well, let's say we, we had the, the cita district is divided into like five different stages. So we are working on the first phase, uh, the first, uh, area. And we had a detail planned that was approved by our politicians, but then got a appeal. Oh, no. Yes, I know. And, uh, so at the moment we are in waiting for the verdict, and we've been waiting for two years. So two years. Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu I, I only thought it was that slow in Germany to get these things <laugh>. Jenny Rydén They're slow in Sweden as well. Well, and, and the thing with, uh, well, we involve these developers, it's, is it four years ago now? So there, they're ready, they want to get started and we are just waiting, well, we have no idea when the verdict will come, what it will say if we need to start the detailed planning process over again, or if we are allowed to stop building. So, and that's the first of four different housing, uh, uh, let's say, not scales, but areas that we're gonna build. And we are creating like, oh, 2,500 new housings, and in the first is 500. Wow. Yeah. So let's say during the 2000 and forties somewhere, maybe <laugh>, is that good, Nelson? Yes. Yes. Uh, alright. It, it must be so hard actually to work on a project where you don't know, like the, the timeline, like at all. Yeah. It changes the whole time. Yeah. We can have a presentation one day and next day when we go to work, it's gone. It's completely different. Gone. Yeah.So, and still also, when we have these, okay, we have the first, uh, area now, and then we're building two more at, at the seaside. But with the, uh, rising level of the seas, that's quite a big challenge as well, because at this point where we're at the first area now, okay, we're gonna, uh, rise their, their land with approximately like one meter, but when we come to the next area, it will probably need to be higher mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we're gonna build like, uh, a district with the different, like levels high. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah. Are you, um, doing anything to, I don't know, mitigate the sea, the sea level rising and everything? No, not, not, not within the project. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, we're working at the municipality level with how to, to, to manage these things. But I mean, we're, we're at the front, so yeah, it's, um, we have like peers that go outside. We have a, a harbor, but, so yeah, we probably could just, uh, build those two peers so they connect and then, but that will only help this district. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it won't, it wouldn't help the, the others. No. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu Lots of things to, to figure out and piece together while waiting, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. Waiting for a long time. Okay. So yeah. That's, that's really hard. But, um, what do you think, um, what would you, when doing a project like this, what would be the biggest piece of advice that you might give to others doing similar projects? Jenny Rydén Ooh, it's a hard one. Yeah. It's a hard one because there are so many things you have to, to consider. I'll give you, I'll give you a couple questions of advice then, you know, you don't have to just stick to one, not just one. Well, collaborations is one. Yeah. Yeah. And, um, um, also don't be afraid of testing new things. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, we have a good, uh, uh, leader in our municipality, and he, uh, usually says that, uh, we, uh, uh, succeed or we learn. Yeah. So, and that, I mean, if we don't test and if we don't, uh, do it, we won't get to these goals we have of a more sustainable municipality city word. Uh, so testing. Testing, yeah. I have the courage as well to do it. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And for that to work, you also need to feel like safe in the environment you work in. Yeah. Because I think that's a challenge for many rights. Like some people are very lucky in their municipalities, and then it's kind of a luck of the draw in some cases where, um, if you feel, and it's incredible what you can see municipalities do when the, the people, the politicians are on the same page as the other people to work in, in municipality. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:26:47 Good. Uh, so I wanted to give you the chance for an open floor. I always give an open floor in case you didn't get the chance to talk about something that you're really passionate about, that you really want everyone to know about. Would you like to take the open floor? Jenny Rydén Yeah, I do. Let me just, uh, <laugh> think about, think about what our, our use it for. Well, I think we're here today to, to be on stage to talk about participatory processes and how we work with these things and with different focus groups and, uh, and how it can be a real challenge. But the main thing that, that I, and I, I touched on it a bit in the beginning, but the main thing for us has been that when we do have these processes, the results of them, we have to do something with these. And it could be, it can go into, uh, governing documents, and that's what we done with the, with three of our large scale, uh, dialogues. But it can also be smaller scale. But, and then you need to, like, if you're gonna have a dialogue or participation process, you need to, to know that you, if the result shows it, you have to change how you thought before. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, maybe you had some plans, maybe you had some designing and stuff, but you, you need to, to be able to go back on those. And, uh, and that's a key learning for us as well. Yeah. So take or take the, take the results and actually use them and Yeah. Cha be willing to scrap everything if the results say something else. Exactly. Mm. We had, we designed a, a viewing point on top of our housing, uh, for parking, and we had a design, and then we started to work with, uh, a class in school. Um, and it ended up with us, uh, throwing away our design and going completely on theirs. Oh, cool. So, and that was really fun. Yeah. And you should have seen the look on the kids' faces when we had, like, we opened up the viewing point. It was so, so rewarding. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:29:26 Oh, that's a great story. And it actually kind of leads into our final segment of the show: Inspire us just a little bit with a story, a quote, or anything that has inspired you recently. I think your last story was already a little bit inspiring, <laugh>, but I wonder if you can find something else, um, to inspire us, uh, with a story, a quote, anything that has inspired you recently? Jenny Rydén Well, if we take it really recently, like a couple of hours ago, we were at the opening act here at the Urban Future Conference, and we were listening to, uh, Fabian, uh, firstly we watched her movie and Oh yeah, I got tears in my eyes, uh, uh, a movie, uh, about, uh, uh, women in leadership pro uh, leadership, uh, roles, and then her speech afterwards. And I was like, I want to be her. I want to be with her. I want to be adopted. Yeah, she's great. She's great. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I, and I feel like that gave me so much energy and so much like, okay, we're gonna do it. Just work. Yeah. Work, work, yeah. Those, yeah. And also support each other because we, we, maybe we need it women to women, uh, but the support system, it, it's really important. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Tamlyn Shimizu Absolutely. Yeah. She, she really inspired me last year too. I met her. Jenny Rydén Did you? Tamlyn Shimizu And I spoke with her for a while. Yeah. I'll introduce you later. Yes, of course. Jenny Rydén If we see her, I'll totally do it. I'll ask her to adopt me. Tamlyn Shimizu Yes, I will do it. She will do it too. She's, she's a great one. So, um, yeah, I spoke with her yesterday too at the v i p reception, so did you know Yes, she's great. Yeah. So yeah, she's great. Um, so, um, then our final question is the question that we ask every single guest, and it is to you, what is a smart city? Jenny Rydén 00:31:40 Um, oh, a smart city is a city that includes and involves, uh, different stakeholders, uh, to, to be a part of the change or development, but it's also, uh, a city that has, um, memory the people might forget, but the city needs to remember their history. Tamlyn Shimizu I love that. I've never gotten that answer before. This is why I love asking this question. I've done, you know, 40 plus episodes and I'm, no one's ever said memory, so I love it. Ah, yeah. Very good. Thank you so much. Jenny Rydén Oh, thank you <laugh>. Tamlyn Shimizu So, um, yes, if you missed Urban Future Conference this year, make sure to check it out next year in Rotterdam to all the listeners. And I want to thank you Jenny, so much, uh, for such a great look into your work, uh, into what you've been doing for the past five years and, and all your inspiration also. And yeah, just thank you so much for joining me. Jenny Rydén Thank you for having me. Tamlyn Shimizu Absolutely. Anytime. And to all of our listeners, don't forget, you can always create a free account on Babel Smart cities.eu. You can find out more about smart city projects, implementations, use cases cetera. So thank you very much. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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