Countering polarization helps to empower the city and its residents to prosper. Segregation and a ‘we versus them’ mentality will then give way to an open dialogue in which difficult issues can be discussed. This is the idea behind the WEsociety programme.
Concerns and ideas
The programme was developed in response to the Paris attacks in 2015. Mayor Aboutaleb and four aldermen met with citizens in four so-called WE meetings to discuss their concerns and ideas about the community of Rotterdam. This has led to a series of meetings and events under the heading WEsociety, aiming to promote social cohesion in the city.
New and existing networks
WEsociety uses these dialogue sessions and a Charter for Compassion to encourage and support new networks in the city and to strengthen existing alliances. Active citizens, social entrepreneurs and NGOs put their collective backs into initiatives to strengthen the city’s cohesion.
For and by the people of Rotterdam
The list of WEsociety activities includes dialogue tables in schools, forum theatre, exchanges between church ministers and imams, Antillean mothers telling their life stories, and Socratic dialogues. The initiatives are developed for and by citizens and entrepreneurs.
On the basis of a coherent gamut of initiatives and methods, WEsociety supports the development of active networks that are sensitive to tensions between population groups. This will enhance the city’s ability to build connected communities as well as help to prepare the community for incidents and crises.