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Thermal Heritage: Towards a Network of European Ecomuseums


The project is to build a network of co-operation and exchange of experiences between countries from the North and from the South involved in the preservation and enhancement of thermal heritage, in view of the local development.
Thermal springs sites owe their survival to the conservation of their transfer channels and to the maintenance of a balanced relationship between man and its environment. They require the use of "good practices" of enhancement with respect to the historical, cultural and environmental heritage, such as the practices of the local development which need an ability in spontaneous organisation, social cohesion, and the care for an equitable distribution of the expected advantages.
In prospering thermal areas, the ecomuseum (intended as instrument of preservation and transmission of the memory and heritage of a territory and its inhabitants) is mirroring an identity and allows to conserve its components for the purpose of encouraging the reproduction of the factors of success.
In areas hit by a structural crisis, the ecomuseum will strengthen social cohesion, by reconstructing the sense of a common identity, by constituting a culture based on economic relationships of co-operation, by adopting innovative models compatible with the local abilities and resources. The recognition of the historical, cultural and environmental values may sweep away the taste for the "tabula rasa", by easing the dissemination of the accumulated knowledge.
In the areas where the crisis is a short-term one, the ecomuseum will stress the continuity with the past, put forward the relevance of the thermal culture, thus stimulating the innovative abilities of the social environment and resisting the impoverishment of the know-how.
Each of the local societies should look into its heritage in search of the fundamental values on which it will be able to build its own development - in conformity with the new approaches ands rules of the international co-operation, based on self-determination and reinforcement of the powers attributed to the local communities, viewed as the protagonists of international co-operation.

· To launch co-operation about realising instruments of safeguard and enhancement of the cultural and environmental heritage, for the purpose of activating the process of "self-realisation" of the local societies;
· To develop cultural relationships of reciprocity, by means of polycentric networks able to modify the hierarchical system of the economic global networks, to the advantage of small non hierarchical networks based on exchanges of solidarity;
· To compare the historical processes of constitution of the thermal environments and the strategies of re-interpretation of their cultural heritage in the partner countries (with special attention to landscape and local knowledge);
· To participate in the international debate on the relation of cultural heritage to local development, and on the new forms of international co-operation;
· To develop communication actions addressing the local populations and actively involving them, for the purpose of reinforcing identity, social cohesion and "self-organisation";
· To create a culture of conservation and long-lasting enhancement of heritage among the youth and the broad public;
· To elaborate the guide-lines of the cultural policies and of the territorial planning.

· Theoretical and conceptual: a discussion on the problematic of the cultural riches, on the analysis of the relation of cultural heritage to local development, and of local development to the "new co-operation";
· Methodological and practical: a discussion on the complexity of the practices of valorisation of the local patrimonies;
· Educational and pedagogic: fostering an awareness of cultural and environmental heritage in the local milieu; getting youth and "grand public" more open to a convenient re-interpretation of heritage;
· In the planning policy: elaboration of a guide for cultural policies and
for planning as applied to cultural and environmental heritage;
· In the co-operation policy: beginning the construction of a "new co-operation" (a global network made out of local societies);
· Territorial: creation of territorial added value through the development of the synergy produced by the network, and through the recognition of the
specific characteristics of heritage.

· To realise an international network;
· Itinerant exhibition, with a catalogue (for the knowledge and comparison of the various realities; for the presentation of the materials intended to contribute to the realisation of the ecomuseums);
· Didactic meetings gathering students, researchers and actors of the cultural heritage - and training workshops, equally itinerant, organised by academics and professionals of heritage;
· International symposium as a conclusion of the exhibition.

Web site: www.tch-project.net

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