On the Trail of Good Ideas with Ayse Özbabacan: Toronto to Stuttgart

October 25th, 2012

Good Ideas about successful integration are traveling from city to city. This month meet Ayse Özbabacan, Policy Officer European City network for Local Integration Policies (CLIP), Department for Integration Policy, City of Stuttgart.

Ayse Özbabacan: The Cities of Migration Good Idea that really caught my eye was the “The Building Citizenship Program” from Toronto.

Why? The city of Stuttgart is an international and multicultural city. Thanks to the high percentage of Stuttgarters with migrant background (40%), the city has maintained its population size in the past decade. Early in 2001 Stuttgart developed a holistic integration policy concept called  the “Pact for Integration” to further promote participation opportunities for its migrant population. In this regard, the intercultural opening of the city administration is one of the key fields of activity to reflect the high share of the migrant citizens within the city and hence adapt its services to the needs and challenges of this population group. A successful initiative is our naturalization campaign “PASS Auf, lass Dich einbürgern!” (Go for Naturalization!) started in 2009 to inform the 90.000 non-citizens eligible for naturalization about the naturalization process and motivate them to apply for the German citizenship.

Every year, the city organizes a naturalization ceremony in the Stuttgart Town Hall to celebrate this achievement [bringing] together with the mayor, members of the municipal council, the naturalized persons and their families. This ceremony is highly appreciated by the new citizens as a sign of recognition by the city.

However citizenship is more than just a naturalization certificate of belonging, it is about appreciating and valuing this crucial step towards a “new identity” and a more inclusive approach. This also requires the involvement of the established society to interact and congratulate the new citizens for [taking] this important step. How to do that?

To make the naturalization ceremony more inclusive the city will organize future ceremonies according to “The Building Citizenship Program” from Toronto. This is a good practice which is more reflective of the community and involves established as well as new citizens.

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