Visualising welcoming spaces across Europe through our digital photo book

In a two-day photo workshop in Altenburg (Germany), Bedum (The Netherlands), Camini (Italy), Łomża (Poland) and Talayuela (Spain), together with the locals – both newcomers and long-term residents, we delved into the following questions and explored how locals see their village or town.

What makes the place where you live welcoming and how would you capture this in an image?

Shrinking regions are often considered not only peripheral as opposed to the larger urban centres, but also in decline as a result of young people moving away, ageing population, and a decrease in public services such as public transport, local grocery shops or schools. At the same time, these villages and towns turned out favourable locations for the reception of newcomers – due to their peripheral location and available space or the welcoming initiatives enabling newcomers to participate in these communities. A closer look into these places shows that people are getting to know each other, exchange experiences and stories, and together build new communities.  

People have their own ways of looking at the village or town where they live in. Through the photo workshop, we learned that locals are proud of the places they live – “Everyone should come to live in Bedum”, they enjoy peace and quiet – “Morning in Łomża … I fall in love with every house and every café, avenue and park”, they value nature – “The mountains surrounding Camini make me feel good” and they appreciate the historical sites and buildings – “The buildings around the castle in Altenburg look like the old buildings in my home country, it always feeds me”.  

We are proud to present our digital photo book where the pictures and stories of newcomers and not so newcomers in declining regions across Europe come together.  

The digital photo book was realised with additional funding of the Utrecht University focus area Migration and Societal Change.