“The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” – David Harvey, The Right to the City
To accompany the IdeaCamp in Stockholm the European Cultural Foundation have released this collection of essays, extracts and interviews Build the City: Perspectives on Commons and Culture.
From the Editors –
This publication is a special collaboration between Krytyka Polityczna, the European Cultural Foundation and ECF Labs, with Subtopia (Sweden), Les Têtes de l’Art (France), Oberliht (Moldova), Culture2Commons (Croatia) and Platoniq (Spain), partners in our action-research network: Connected Action for the Commons. Together, we strive for a new understanding of what the commons means to us in different areas of Europe, in our cities and in our cultural practices. Much has been written recently about the phenomenon of the ‘Commons’, and from many different angles. But culture’s contribution to the specific notion of collaborative practices for the common good in and of our cities requires further exploration. While this publication cannot fully show how the concepts of culture, communities, democracy and the city are intertwined, it does rediscover, re-frame and reconsider previously published historical, artistic, participatory and theoretical perspectives on the subject by a wide variety of authors from different geographical and professional backgrounds. We believe that it is important to share and explore methods, solutions and technologies that can help to build more humane and environmentally friendly cities and communities, where people not only co-exist but truly live together. Through our research we found many interesting texts, studies, interviews and cultural examples of what we see happening in our cities and their wider regions across Europe: a powerful bottom-up movement led by citizens themselves, developing new participatory democratic practices that shape our cities and empower us to govern them in a different, collaborative way. It is inspiring and motivating to witness and support the growing number of local initiatives be it cultural-social centres, cooperatives, neighbourhood communities that experiment with new models and challenge existing structures and habits. Urban movements are becoming legitimate agents for change and challenge the status quo on a larger scale. They show the urgent need for a paradigm shift in city policies. Here we present articles, interviews and visual materials that focus on the commons from different viewpoints, discuss the relationships between commons and peer-to-peer production or transition towns, examine the class divisions in relation to commons and test political possibilities opened up by mobilising people in support of the commons. Most importantly we present examples of the ways in which citizens organise themselves and act to bring about a new reality that can mirror their attempts to deepen democracy and freedom for everything that we hold in common. We believe in culture as an innovative terrain for new forms of democratic, institutional, social, political and existential experimentations, and believe it is important to underline and further explore its central role in ongoing struggles over the commons against the backdrop of an ever-changing changing city landscape. ‘Build the City’ is about people coming together through culture to reclaim their cities and take control of the decisions that affect their surroundings, their neighbourhoods and their lives. With this publication we aim to fuel further debate among citizens, cultural practitioners, city developers and all those interested in the commons, culture and the future of our cities.
Build the City: Perspectives on Commons and Culture features extracts, essays and interviews with –
Agnieszka Winiewska, Charlie Tims, Dougald Hine, Gustavo Soto Santiesteban and Silke Helfrich, Ugo Mattei, Michel Bauwens, Christian Siefkes, Dimitris Parsanoglou, Nicos Trimikliniotis, Vassilis Tsianos, James Bridle, Carlos Delclós, Dan Hancox, Adrien Krauz, Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero, Richard Sennett, Tessy Britton, Christian Iaione, Neal Gorenflo, Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcou, Noel Hatch, Pelin Tan,Vitalie Sprinceana, Vladimir Us, Igor Stokfiszewski, Isabelle Frémeaux, John Jordan, Rob Hopkins, Isabelle Frémeaux, John Jordan, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcou, Carmen Lozano-Bright, Claudia Ciobanu, Sophie Bloemen, Julie Ward MEP, Tinni Ernsjöö Rappe, Culture Hunters, Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi, Katarina Pavi?, Arthur de Grave.