OuiShare Fest Paris: Cities of the World, Unite!

Arthur de Grave: For its 5th edition,  OuiShare Fest Paris, 5-7 July, places cities at the center of attention. Can cities be the basis of democratic renewal? Will they find ways to conquer a political weight proportional to their demographic and economic power? Can global networks of cities take over from an exhausted international system?

Here’s a preview of the program of three days that will be like no other.

Donald Trump’s announcement this June 1st that the United States will be withdrawing from the Paris Accord has caused indignation around the world. On their side of the Atlantic, the fightback was launched by a handful of mayors of big cities, gathered together in an organization called Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. Whatever the mistakes of the White House, they declared, they will work to ensure that within city limits, the fight against global warming will remain a priority. It is city halls, therefore, that will be fulfilling a treaty concluded between nations.

An inconsistent situation some may say. Or could this be a sign of a decisive change to come? Big cities, which already hold substantial demographic, cultural and economic powers, might not be condemned to remain the second order of political actors that they are today. Conversely, in a context of democratic crisis, blurred frontiers, and crumbling Nation-States, our future could well be formed of networked cities that have risen up to the challenge.


As crazy as it may seem, the idea that networks of cities will shape our future is at the heart of the 5th edition of OuiShare Fest Paris. Taking place at the renovated Magasins Généraux in Pantin, this year the event will go far beyond your usual talks, workshops, participative formats and immersive experiences.

Novelties on the menu:

  • the Tribunal of Future Generations: can we let robots keep destroying jobs? Should we write the right to laziness in the Constitution? This decision will lay in the hands of the members of the jury, chosen by lottery for this mock trial run by the Magazine Usbek & Rica (Wed, July 5th).
  • Masterclasses: in the mornings of the 6th and 7th of July experts from 13 countries will hold 4-hour masterclasses.  Participants can sign up to take a storytelling course with the American publishing consultant Ariane Conrad, learn the A to Z of sharing cities with our Dutch colleagues from ShareNL, or even learn to manage a company without bosses with our New Zealander friends from the Enspiral network. And in the background? Each day is dedicated to a particular dimension of globalized cities
  • 3 festive evening events (in comparison to one!)for more opportunities to connect.


Today, it appears ever more difficult to build consensus at the national level; political identities are fragmenting; politicians are going through a grave crisis of legitimacy. It is at this point that the city can emerge as the stage for a renewal of collective action. From this perspective, it is noteworthy that from New York to Madrid, social movements symbolic of the last few years, have occupied public spaces. Because of its size, among other factors, the city is suitable for experimentation with new forms of participative democracy, fueled by the civic tech revolution.

OuiShare Fest will also welcome two pioneers of citizen technologies: Pia Mancini, co-founder of the platforms DemocracyOS and Open Collective, as well as the Argentine political party Partido de la Red, and Jeremy Heimans, Australian activist and entrepreneur, co-founder of the online petition platform Avaaz and of Purpose, which seeks an in-depth transformation of the very idea of power in connected societies. Alastair Parvin, the creator of the WikiHouse Foundation, which applies the organization methods of the famous online encyclopedia to architecture and design, will be discussing the reinvention of cities by citizens themselves.

And, because it is important to articulate the local and the global, this first day will be concluded with an unusual football match; Pantin vs. the rest of the world!


How do we shift from a mass of lonely individuals to an organized and lively ecosystem? Will cities be reborn as platforms for the benefit of their inhabitants? Every local government in the world dreams of replicating Silicon Valley’s success story. But aren’t there other relevant examples to look for, other paths to follow? This topic will be debated between Nicolas Colin (The Family), Jennifer Clamp (Techweek NZ) and Rui Quinta (With Company). Professor and renowned management thinker Anil Gupta (Indian Institute of Management of Ahmedabad) will deliver a talk on what corporate innovators can learn from grassroots movements.

Juan Pablo Ortega (Innotegia, the city of Medellin) and Malik Yakini (Detroit Black Community Food Security Network) will share their stories, which attest to the fact that it is often in cities which went through the worst crises that the drive to innovate is the strongest.

During a “fishbowl” discussion – a OuiShare-favorite hybrid format, somewhere between a business-as-usual conference and a participatory workshop – participants will be invited to reflect on how local authorities can efficiently regulate global collaborative platforms.


Cities with more power and autonomy should by no mean be mistaken for a temptation to retreat. There is no point arguing with the fact that there is already a chasm between globalized metropolitan and peripheral areas. But how do we prevent it from widening?

To echo Mark Watts’ (Executive Director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group) opening talk, day 3 will be all about global urban networks. Founder of the Fab City Global Initiative Tomas Diez will share his vision for a future of locally productive and globally connected self-sufficient cities. Dylan Hendricks (Ten-Year Forecast) will talk about the Internet of cities and the future of borders in the post-Brexit Europe. Another must-attend session: a discussion with the creators of the Darwin Ecosystem and Ateliers La Mouche about the role of alternative spaces in urban revitalization.

And to conclude this Fest in due form, you are warmly invited to a genuine Brazilian Festival on the banks of the Canal de l’Ourcq!

Don’t miss out on this one and explore the full program

Get your ticket at http://paris.ouisharefest.com

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