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on commons
and culture
Krytyka Polityczna
European Cultural

Table ofContents




Agnieszka Winiewska, Culture WITH People, Not Just FOR People!


Charlie Tims, ARough Guide totheCommons:

Who Likes It and Who Doesnt


Dougald Hine, Friendship is aCommons (excerpt)


El Buen Vivir and theCommons: AConversation Between

Gustavo Soto Santiesteban and Silke Helfrich (excerpts)


Ugo Mattei, TheState, theMarket and Some Preliminary

Questions about theCommons (excerpts)


Michel Bauwens, Understanding Peer toPeer

asaRelational Dynamics (excerpt)


Christian Siefkes, TheBoom ofCommons-based

Peer Production (excerpts)


Dimitris Parsanoglou, Nicos Trimikliniotis, VassilisTsianos,

Mobile Commons, Migrant Digitalities and theRight totheCity


James Bridle, All Cameras are Police Cameras


Carlos Delcls, Class Discourse in theMetropolis


Dan Hancox, How toStop Gentrification in London:

What We Can Learn from Spains New Rebel Mayors

Table ofContents


Charlie Tims, Watching Radical Democracy


Dougald Hine, Commoning in theCity


Adrien Krauz, Transition Towns, OrtheDesire

for an Urban Alternative


Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero,

ABrief History ofP2P Urbanism (excerpts)


Richard Sennett, Stimulating Dissonances


Tessy Britton, Creative and Collaborative


LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons:

ADiscussion between Michel Bauwens
and Christian Iaione


Neal Gorenflo, Bologna Celebrates One Year

ofaBold Experiment in Urban Commoning


Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcou,

R-URBAN orHow toCo-produce aResilient City (1st excerpt)


Noel Hatch, From Lamp Posts toPhone Booths:

Using Technology to create Civic Spaces


Pelin Tan, TheCivic Public asaConstellation


Vitalie Sprinceana, TheCity Belongs toEverybody:

Claiming Public Spaces in Chisinau


Vladimir Us, Chisinau Civic Center (excerpts)


Igor Stokfiszewski, Culture for Democracy:

ACentral European Perspective

Table ofContents


Isabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan in conversation

with Rob Hopkins, Isabelle Frmeaux, John Jordan
andtheRise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination


Nataa Petrein-Bachelez, Not Sustainable

Development but Sustainable Co-living


Excerpt from aspeech given by Madjigune Ciss ontheoccasion

ofher receipt oftheWilhelmine vonBayreuth Prize 2011


Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcou,

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City (2nd excerpt)


Carmen Lozano-Bright, Kicking Off aYear

ofP2P Plazas Research and Cartography


Carmen Lozano-Bright, Between Random and Democratic

Practices: TheCommons Board Game


Claudia Ciobanu, From Public Space toCommon

Good: Polands Urban Political Activism


Sophie Bloemen, ACommons-Intergroup Takes

Off in theEU Parliament (excerpt)


Julie Ward MEP, Reclaiming theCommons through Culture and Arts


Tinni Ernsjoo Rappe, Culture Hunters


Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi, Participatory Art asaVector of

Innovative Governance: Reflexivity attheHeart oftheFormalisation Process


Katarina Pavi, New Models ofGovernance ofCulture


Michel Bauwens in conversation with Arthur de Grave,

TheTransition Will Not Be Smooth Sailing

by the Editors

This publication is aspecial collaboration between Krytyka Polityczna,

theEuropean Cultural Foundation
and ECF Labs, with Subtopia (Sweden),
Les Ttes delArt (France), Oberliht
(Moldova), Culture2Commons (Croatia)
and Platoniq (Spain), partners in our
action-research network: Connected
Action for theCommons. Together,
westrive for anew understanding
ofwhat thecommons means tous in
different areas ofEurope, in our cities
and in our cultural practices.
Much has been written recently
about thephenomenon ofthe Com
mons, and from many different angles.
But cultures contribution tothe spe
cific notion ofcollaborative practices
for thecommon goods in and ofour
cities requires further exploration.
While this publication cannot fully show how theconcepts ofculture,
communities, democracy and thecity
are intertwined, it does rediscover,
reframe and reconsider previously
published historical, artistic, participatory and theoretical perspectives
onthesubject by awide variety ofauthors from different geographical and

professional backgrounds. Webelieve

that it is important toshare and
explore methods, solutions and
technologies that can help tobuild
more humane and environmentally
friendly cities and communities,
wherepeople not only co-exist but
truly livetogether.
Through our research we found
many interesting texts, studies, interviews and cultural examples ofwhat
we see happening in our cities and
their wider regions across Europe:
apowerful bottom-upmovement led
by citizens themselves, developing
new participatory democratic practices
that shape our cities and empower us
togovern them in adifferent, collaborative way.
It is inspiring and motivating
towitness and support thegrowing
number oflocal initiativesbe it
cultural-social centres, cooperatives,
neighbourhood communities
thatexperiment with new models
and challenge existing structures and
habits. Urban movements are becoming
legitimate agents for change and challenge thestatus quo onalarger scale.


Introduction the Editors

Theyshow theurgent need for aparadigm shift in city policies.

Here we present articles, interviews and visual materials that focus onthecommons from different
viewpoints, discuss therelationships
between commons and peer-to-peer
production or transition towns,
examine theclass divisions in relation
tocommons and test political possibi
lities opened upby mobilising people
in support ofthecommons. Most
importantly we present examples
oftheways in which citizens organise
themselves and act tobring about
anew r eality that can mirror their
attempts to d
eepen democracy and
freedom for everything that wehold
in common.
We believe in culture asan innovative terrain for new forms ofdemocratic, institutional, social, political
and existential experimentations,
andbelieve it is important tounderline
and further explore its central role in
ongoing struggles over thecommons
against thebackdrop ofan ever-changing changing city landscape. Build
theCity is about people coming together through culture toreclaim their
cities and take control ofthedecisions

that affect their surroundings,

theirneighbourhoods and their lives.
Withthis publication we aim tofuel
further debate among citizens, cultural
practitioners, city developers andall
those interested in thecommons,
culture and thefuture ofour cities.

A note from the editors

This publication draws heavily
ontexts, links and images posted
inECF Labs (
community platform developed by
theEuropean Cultural Foundation.
Several articles in thereader were
posted by the community in ECF Labs,
or linked toapost in one ofthelabs
(e.g. From Lamp Posts toPhone Booths
by Noel Hatch, R-Urban onhow toproduce aresilient cityDoina Petrescu
and Constantin Petcou). Some contributors also moderate labs, thematic spaces open toeverybody (e.g.
Charlie TimsOccupolitics!, Carmen
Lozano-Brightp2p Square!). ECF
Labs is an engine for communities and an important knowledge
resource for theConnected Action

Thefreedom tomake
and remake our cities
and ourselves is one
ofthemost precious
yet most neglected
ofour human rights.
David Harvey, TheRight totheCity

Culture WITH People,

by Agnieszka Winiewska

What culture do we need?

Aculture thats inclusive,
aculture that creates bonds,
onalocal level and in touch
with people.

Culture asaction
On alocal, neighbourhood
level, culture has become
alanguage for describing
reality, for making thehistorical past familiar, for exploring ones surroundings.
Arthas entered public space
not merely asdecoration but
ascommentary, inspiring
dialogue and reflection on
therole ofthat space (asin
thecase ofJoanna Rajkowskas
Oxygenator), or asaform
ofwarfare (best represented
inJulita Wjciks Rainbow, repeatedly burned by homophobic and nationalist hooligans
and renovated by volunteers).

Artists meet sociologists,

anthropologists, historians.
This is not limited toWarsaw:
in Ostrowiec witokrzyski,
atown with some 70,000
inhabitants, cultural activists
made an exhibition reminding
people about aworkers colony
founded in thecity nearly 100
years ago. They consulted historians and worked with tools
used in recording oral history.
Theexhibition was staged in
themiddle ofthetown square.
This is thekind ofculture
we need: made in touch with
people, in collaboration with
them, together; accessible
toasmany people aspossible.
Only half ayear earlier the
very same activists initiated
adebate about therenovated
town square. Some time before, theauthorities had gone
toconsiderable lengths tohave
thesquare paved with granite,
having forgotten toinclude in

isamember of
Krytyka Polityczna
pl), one ofthe
hubs in the
European Cultural Foundations
Networked ProgrammeCon
nected Action for

Culture WITH People, NotJustFORPeople! Agnieszka Winiewska

their scheme theneeds ofthelocals.

Thesquare was turned into agranite
desert. Theactivists reacted: they succeeded in calling an open debate with
themayor where ideas toreclaim
thetown square for people were presented. One was toturn thesquare into
aplace that welcomes culture, meaning
not an occasional concert by acelebrity
star from Warsaw, asis often thecase
in provincial towns, but actions that
are not asmuch aimed at thepublic
asthey are performed in collaboration
with them.
For some reason, atschool we are
taught quite alot about thehistory
ofPoland. They treat us tomore than
ahandful ofworld history, while little
space is left for tales about our own
neighbourhood. We end upknowing
more about columns in ancient Greece
than about our local town hall. It is
simpler with large cities: Gdasks is
thehistory ofSolidarity; Wrocaw had
theOrange Alternative; Warsaw is all
about its 1944 uprising. It is around
those historical events and facts and
narratives about them that acommunity is built. We have founded
our national community onthetales
ofheroic struggles. What about local
communitieshow do we go about
building them? One possible answer
could be offered by people who have
not left their smaller hometowns for
Polands larger cities, asmany young


people typically do. These people who

have stayed behind or who are coming
back totheir hometowns after studying etc. are inviting artists and cultural
activists from other places toshare
their knowledge and experience.

Culture asinclusion
Themost thrilling phenomena in culture in recent years have taken place
in thekey sphere where culture is no
longer made for an audience but is
instead more often perceived asdoing
something with theaudience asparticipants. This is where thepractice
ofcultural activists meets that ofsocial activists. It suddenly occurs that
both groups seek areas and modes that
welcome collaboration. They create
spaces where working together is more
important than thesuccess ofan individual. Theline between activities that
are clearly artistic and those that are
clearly social is fading away.
What about instances ofcultural
actions, new models ofoperating cultural institutions, where theviewer is
an active participant, not merely aconsumer ofafinished work? Have we
got any? ania Nowa Theatre, atthe
Nowa Huta post-industrial district of
Cracow, invites people toparatheatrical
meetings that deal with important social issues. Praska Biblioteka Ssiedzka


Culture WITH People, NotJustFORPeople! Agnieszka Winiewska

(Praga Neighbourhood
Library) in Warsaw is aplace
where thelocals come not
only todiscuss books, but also
tomeet and socialise.
Theemployees ofTeatro
Valle1 in Rome, wanting
toprevent theprivatisation
oftheir facility, started tooccupyit. They subsequently
opened thespace tothepublic,
turning it into asquat, initiating artistic and social activity
founded onnew principles
ofcollaboration between
thetheatre people and spectators. Thetheatre has ceased
tobe aplace that you frequent
all dressed up, accessible only
tothechosen few. It has become acommon space.

Culture ascommons
This kind oftheatre not
only for theeliteswas
fought for, onmore than one
occasion, by activists from
Kalisz in central Poland who
fought against theabsurd
pricing policy oftheKalisz
Theatre Meetings (KTM).
After thedirector ofthe local theatre said, in 2013,
that one can sacrifice ones

winter holidays for theatre,

ontheopening day ofthefestival some ofthespectators
showed upwearing goggles,
skis and skiing poles in their
hands. Those people were
actually theformer patrons
oftheevent who had toquit
going totheKTM, confronted
with exorbitant prices charged
by themanagement. Tickets
for some oftheguest performances sold for roughly
thesame asthetotal cost
ofgoing toanother city and
watching theproduction in
its original venue. Who were
theideal audience oftheKTM,
then? It would seem they were
thevery people who could afford winter holidays. Theprotesters quoted Sebastian
Majewski oftheStary Teatr:
Theatre is not for theelites.
Theatre is for everyone.
Sadly, it is still more
popular toconsider culture
asacommodity, with aprice
tag attached. Aslong aspeople
are willing topay theprice
and buy an expensive ticket
in Kalisz, or anywhere else,
themanagement will not see
any reason tomake it more affordable. Thestage is ruled by
thelaws ofthemarket.

1 TheTeatro Valle

is atheatre built
in 1727 by theart
patron Marquise
Camillo Capranica
inside his spectacular Renaissance palace in
thehistoric centre
ofRome. Theoccupation, which
started in June
2011, was meant
toprevent themunicipality from privatising thetheatre.
InAugust 2014,
theoccupants left
theValle peacefully following
arelocation order
by themunicipality.
Over thecourse
ofthese three
years, theValle became alegally recognised commons
(Fondazione Teatro
Valle Beni Comune)
with collective and
grassroots forms
ofcultural production, urban governance and civic activism, and sparking
anew wave ofcommoning across
Italy and Europe.

Culture WITH People, NotJustFORPeople! Agnieszka Winiewska

But even from apurely economic

point ofview, theprevalence ofthis
mindset is pernicious enough, asit
excludes agood portion ofsociety
fromcivilisation, denying them cultural skills that are crucial in raising
acountrys Gross Domestic Product.
Little by little thedebate onculture is approaching theparallel debate
ontheconcept ofcommons. Culture is
like public transport: everyone should
be entitled toit, with no car owners
privileged over theusers ofbuses
Theever more audible discussions
onthecity and public space in Poland,
oncommons in Europe, have set in
motion areconfiguration oftheways
in which we think. We have started
toask ourselves questions like:
Whoisthecity really for: only for
those who can afford it or for all its inhabitants? Is it parks and public spaces
for everybody that we need more of,
or is it parking lots? Are we going
tolet thebusiness ofprivatising entire
swathes ofour cities, only tobe turned
into shopping malls, go unpunished?
Have streets and plazas with nothing
but banks all over them anything todo
with spaces for human beings?
Go wherever you like in Europe,
and talk toactivists and art workers,
therell always be someone talking
about commons, goods understood
ascommon resources, accessible


property: both physical goods, aspublic

space, and virtual ones. Artists initiate
social debates with their works, activists resort totools traditionally associated with artists. This is what big
European institutions are interested
in. They perceive theartists-social
activists aspartners. This is thekind
ofculture we need: made in touch
withpeople, in collaboration with
them, together; accessible toasmany
people aspossible.

Culture asasocial glue

Culture is not there topay, tobring
profit, not in thesense in which
making business has tobring profit.
Culture counts in adifferent way.
Itisits role in creating acommunity,
in narrating theworld, in establishing
relationships that matters.
Inaworld where individualism has
killed cooperation and thecapacity for
being and working together, where cooperation sucks and self-reliance seems
so cool, we are smoothly and consistently dismantling all social ties. Why
am Isupposed todo something with
my neighbours? Id rather do it alone.
Iam writing this atmy cousins
house. He has small children. Inhis
backyard, there is atrampoline, alarge
one, fitted with amesh enclosure,
for safety. Ican see an identical one

Culture WITH People, NotJustFORPeople! Agnieszka Winiewska

roughly ametre away, in aneighbours

backyard, and another one, alittle
farther off, attheneighbours neighbour. Each child is jumping onits
own trampoline. Will those children
want todo anything together in the
future? Why wont their parents get to
gether and buy one trampoline for all
ofthem toshare? Would they be able
toagree over whose backyard should
have thetrampoline and how tosplit
responsibility oftaking care ofit between them? Or, rather, no one would
like tokeep thetrampoline in case
achild should get hurt and then whose
fault would it be? This is thekind ofsociety we are building: lonely children
ontheir trampolines. And only afew
children atthat. Most will only be able
towatch from behind thefence.
Cultural initiatives that challenge
this extremely individualised model
oftheworld are worth closer attention,
asthey help us re-establish social ties
and our trust in others.

There are enough large festivals

in large cities. Atsuch festivals,
wecan be no more than spectators,
whilst what we need are actions that
offer theopportunity toparticipate.
Lets not fool ourselves: for this kind
ofculture tohappen, state assistance
is needed. Atthis juncture, one cannot but take issue with J.F. Kennedys
Ask not what your country can do
for youask what you can do for
your country. Cultural activists
have taken thefirst step: they have
done something for their country;
now is thetime for thecountry to
respond: offer support, recognition,
means. Subsidising activities is not
enough: though essential, itis limited tosustaining individual projects
over theperiod from June through
December, with security and longterm planning being out ofthequestion. Local, common cultural endeavours have tobe taken seriously.
Theydeserve it.


Rough Guide totheCommons:
ho Likes It and Who Doesnt
by Charlie Tims

Thecommons is away ofdescribing resources that belong

equally toacommunity, be
that community an organisation, alocality or astate.
Resources can refer tonatural
resources like air, water and
land or resources created by
people like language, culture
and tradition. They cannot
be controlled by asingle partybe they public or private.
TheInternational Association
for theStudy oftheCommons
emphasises that thecommons
are forms ofgovernance
for resources which are created and owned collectively.
Inother words, aresource cannot be considered tobe held
in common unless there is
astatute, alicense or an agreement establishing it aspart
ofthecommons. So when
we talk about thecommons,
we are really talking about
thegovernance arrangements

that make something common Creative Commons

Licenses, national parks,
blood banks and so on.
But this is all very cold
and mechanical. Thecommons is aspirit asmuch
asit is atechnical concept.
Evoking theidea ofthecommons is one ofthebest ways
we have ofexpressing acommitment toashared life and
abelief that better, more
interesting, healthy, cohesive
places are those that are accessible and used and shaped
by arange ofdifferent people.
You can hear it in Woodie
Guthries song This Land is
Your Land, and in TheKinks
song God Save TheVillage Green
Preservation Society:
We are theVillage Green
Preservation Society.
God save Donald Duck,
vaudeville and variety.

Charlie Tims
is currently working
with theDoc Next
Network (www.
org) and is an associate ofthethink
tank Demos.


ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

We are theDesperate Dan

Appreciation Society.
God save strawberry jam and
all thedifferent varieties.
Thepoint tograsp here is that
thecommons is not fixed
itis acontested concept
in culture, policy and law.
Atdifferent times in thepast,
governments have legislated
and communities have organised toextend commons, and
arguably toreduce it. But for
many today, thecommons
possibly even thevery idea
ofthecommonsis under
threat from avariety of
sources. Here are some threats
tothecommons in Europe
thathave been in thenews
over thelast year.

Investor-State Dispute
Investor-State Dispute
Settlements (ISDSs) are mechanisms that indemnify aprivate corporation investing
across borders against future
losses, which can be recouped
attheInternational Centre
for Settlement ofInvestment
Disputes in Washington.

It is currently reviewing
501 cases. Originally these
agreements were designed
toencourage corporations
tomake long-term investments in new countries. But
according toarecent article in
TheEconomist,1 multinationals
have exploited woolly definitions ofexpropriation toclaim
compensation for changes
ingovernment policy that
happen tohave harmed
Campaigners and activists have come tosee ISDSs
asaway ofcementing corporate, private interests over
democratic will. TheSwedish
energy giant Vattenfall is
currently suing theGerman
government for $6 billion
because, after theFukushima
disaster in 2011, theGerman
government decided toshut
down its nuclear energy
industry; theCanadian government is being sued by
apharmaceutical company for
increasing drug prices; Egypt
has been successfully sued
bywaste disposal and maintenance constructor Veolia for
introducing aminimum wage;
and Argentina was successfully sued for more than abillion

1 TheArbitration

Game, TheEco
nomist, 11 October
2014. http://www.

ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

dollars for legislating toreduce energy

ISDSs have received plenty ofpublicity recently because theTransatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP)amajor EU/US free trade
deal currently being negotiated
controversially includes ISDS clauses.
Three hundred organisations are
signed uptoapan-European campaign
against TTIP. For these campaigners,
TTIP goes far beyond facilitating free
trade, but rather entrenches therole
ofcorporations, effectively giving them
aveto onfuture government policies.
TheWorld Democracy Movement likes
tocall TTIPtheend ofdemocracy
aswe know it.

Privatising public space

Campaigners see TTIP asone ofmany
frontlines in awar todefend public
resources from private enclosure and
exploitation. There are many others
for example, Italys 2011 referendum
onwater privatisation and Irelands
current struggle tokeep water in public
hands; in theUK theres agrowing
campaign torenationalise railways,
oratleast not toreprivatise previously
failing privatised parts that had been
nationalised; and in Germany and
France there are spirited campaigns
toreverse theprivatisation ofcity


services; while there are campaigns

against theselling off ofmunicipal
housing in Prague and Art House
Cinemas inBudapest.
Another struggle is constantly
waged over thecontrol ofpublic spaces
in towns and cities.
Theissue is almost spiritual.
Publicspaceassome ofthemost
iconic photography ofthe20th century demonstrateshas afunny
way ofshowing societies for what
they really are. For thehopeful, public
space doesnt just symbolise thekind
ofsociety we want tolive in, or provide auseful canvas for news photo
graphers. It plays afunctional role in
making democracy. It follows that,
if public space is passed into private
hands, itwill have adetrimental effect
onwho can use thespace and what can
happen in it and how well ademocracy
It is hard toestablish who owns
public spaces but thesigns ofprivate
control are present in most European
cities. You dont have tolook hard
tofind gated communities, private security firms, surveillance systems and
districts with special local laws that
support theneeds ofshops and businesses. These measures disperse homeless people and protesters, and they
quietly regulate what kind ofactivity
can happen. None ofthis is that noticeable, but thecumulative effect can be


ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

very bland cities. Theissue is

also hard todocument, asit is
difficult tofind out and collate information about who
owns what. IntheUK atleast,
thetask is far from simple.
Since 2012, TheGuardian
newspaper has been trying
tomap privately owned space
that people might reasonably
expect tobe in public ownership, with limited results.
Attempts by protesters in
London tooccupy financial
districts were hampered by
theamount ofland in private
control in theCity ofLondon
and Canary Wharf. Thejournalist Anna Minton has
chronicled therise ofprivately
owned public space. She says,
Theplaces we create reflect
thesocial and economic realities ofthetime and provide
alitmus test for thehealth
ofsociety and democracy.
That fact that we are setting
out tocreate undemocratic
places is simply areflection
ofthetimes we live in.

An openly illiberal authoritarianism that claims thesun has

set onthewestern liberal way

is ontherise across Europe
and atits fringes. Thismay
not necessarily gate off public
streets, or sell off public services but it attacks thecommons by narrowing free
channels for thecirculation
ofideas, sometimes by force.
Two-term Prime Minister
and now President ofTurkey
Recep Erdoan has combined repression ofdissent
with agradual incorporation
ofIslamic values into Turkish
society (head scarves atuniversity, no drinking after
lights out) with aparticularly
aggressive form ofurban
development. Thedocumentary Ekumenopolis2 makes
Istanbul look asthough it is
in an almost permanent state
ofpreparation for an Olympic
Games. Residents and shopkeepers are priced out, bought
out or forced out oftheir
homes tomake way for huge
infrastructure projects and
apartment complexes backed
by an unstoppable armada
ofoverlapping government,
corporate and media power.
It was, ofcourse, aplan
toturn acity centre park into
ashopping mall (in thestyle

2 See http://www.


ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

ofan Ottoman fortress) that

provoked theGezi Park protests in 2013. Theplans for
theremoval ofthepark still
appear tobe onthedrawing
board. According toNewsweek 3
there are currently $100 billion ofconstruction projects
slated for thecity, including aroad tunnel that will
divert traffic into thehistoric centre ofthecity, an
artificial Bosphorus canal
and theworlds largest airportseven times thesize
ofLondons Heathrow.
Thegovernment claims
theprojects are part ofan
effort toturn Istanbul into
aglobal city. So ruthless is
Erdogans regeneration programme that it has actually
led toreports ofparamilitary organisations that fight
thepolice and defend areas
ofthecity from gentrification.
Erdogan has admirers
inside theEuropean Union.
Prime Minister ofHungary
Viktor Orban recently declared his interest in creating
an illiberal state in Turkeys
image. Since he was reelected in 2010, he has eroded
independent institutions,
thejudiciary and themedia,

entrenching his own position

and that ofhis partyFidesz.
InApril 2011 he passed
aconstitutional reform,
gagging theconstitutional
court, effectively allowing
thegovernment topass any
legislation it wishes. He has
also purged state broadcasters and tried todrive theRTL
out ofthecountry. Nongovernmental organisations
(NGOs) in receipt offunding
from international foundations have been blacklisted
and it is becoming harder for
them tooperate. He has also
proposed atax ontheinternet
and incredibly, is trying tointroduce mandatory drug testing for all children, journalists
and politicians.
This dismantling and erosion ofthecountrys constitutional checks and balances has
led thedirector ofEuropean
Alternatives, Lorenzo Marsili,
tocall for theEuropean Union
toplace sanctions onOrban,
which could include suspension ofvoting rights in
theEuropean Council, withdrawal ofstructural funds or
even suspension from theEU
itself. Inan article published
onOpen Democracy last year,


3 Alexander Christie-

Miller, Erdogans
grand construction projects are
tearing Istanbul
apart, Newsweek,
31 July 2014. http://


ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

Peter KrekoDirector ofthePolitical

Capital Institute, aHungarian think
tank argues that Orbans example
has powerful admirers across

Gold mines
Thesimplest ofall commons is theair
that we breathe. It may not be possible
toenclose or privatise air, but it is possible tothreaten it.
Poor regulation ofheavy industry
and mining has left Romania with
alegacy ofsome ofEuropes most polluted towns and villages, for example.
Intheyear 2000, millions ofgallons
ofpoisonous metals and cyanide
poured out ofaholding pond into
theDanube and Tuzla rivers, killing
200 tons offish and spreading atoxic
tide across three countries. InCopsa
Micaatown dominated by smelting
works for several generations96%
ofchildren aged from 2 to14 have
chronic bronchitis and respiratory
Despite widespread poverty and
unemployment, new mining projects
in Romania are hugely controversial.
For thelast 15 years aCanadian-owned
company Gabriel Resources has
been trying toopen Europes largest
open cast mine in Rosia Montana
anarea ofWestern Transylvania in

theApuseni mountains. Local residents have refused tosell their houses

tomake way for it.
Inrecent years thecampaign has
assumed great importance. Between
2012 and 2013 it became an animating
issue in some ofthebiggest protests
Romania has seen since 1990. Rosia
Montana has become asymbol for
the concern of the Romanian people
attheproposed privatisation oftheir
health service, thecosy relationship
between politicians and themedia,
and thecontinuing impact ofausterity
policies. Public outrage has managed
tohold back parliament from granting Gabriel Resources thepermits it
needs for compulsory purchase orders.
However, with suggestions that mining companies are starting toconstruct
mines without permits, thestruggle
seems likely tocontinue.

Election fail
Democracy is themother ofall
commons. Democratic values and the
principle ofself-government may be
very much alive, but it is impossible
toavoid thefact that its procedural

momentselectionsare not.
Only five countries in theEU27
managed aturnout ofmore than 50%
in the2014 elections totheEuropean
Parliament, which saw thelowest

ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

turnouts onrecord. InSlovakia

theturnout was just 17%.
Political parties that reject
thevery institutions they
were being elected todid better than ever.
Turnouts for domestic
parliamentary and presidential
elections are greater, but with
only ahandful topping 66%,
many countries are governed
by parties, presidents and coalitions who have only received
amandate from avery small
proportion ofthepopulation.
Or atleast, amuch smaller
proportion than theperiod
between theend oftheSecond
World War and theend ofthe
century when most countries
in Europe averaged turnouts
ofmore than 80%. Whether
you blame politicians, voters,
thenefarious hand ofelites or
amore subtle set oflong-term
social changes if elections
cant command peoples confidence, then an important
part ofthecommons will go

Perhaps thebiggest threat
tothecommons comes not

from venal politicians, selfserving corporations and

dangerously disinterested
voters, but rather, from all
ofusfrom citizens who
have internalised market
norms and see themselves in
an endless competition, blind
tothecommon good and unquantifiable virtues. Fearful
ofthis future shortly before
death, Jane Jacobs prophesied
TheDark Age Ahead while
Tony Judt apocalyptically declared that Ill Fares theLand
shortly before he died.
In2011 Canadian
essayist Flora Michaels won
theOrwell prize for her book
Monoculture,4 which argues
that an economistic way
ofseeing ourselves has become dangerously pervasive.
Economics, asshe sees it, is
no longer asocial scientific
discipline but an all pervasive dogma that frames our
everyday lives. Its not that
theeconomic story has no
place in theworld, she argues. But without other
stories we have found essential throughout history,
we imprison ourselves. When
thelanguages ofother stories begin tobe lost, we lose


4 Flora S. Michaels,

How One Story
Is Changing
Everything (Red
Clover, 2011).


ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

thevalue ofdiversity and creativity

that keeps our society viable. Were left
trying totranslate something vitally
important tous into economic terms
sowe can justify even talking aboutit
we end upmissing what it means
These sentiments are echoed by
thepopular philosopher Michael
Sandel, who laments asocial shift from
having amarket economy tobeing
amarket society and thedetrimental
impact that this has onthediscussion
ofcompeting values. If it is possible
tosum upthedesires ofthepost2008 protesters across Europe it is
perhaps that they want tolive in
something other than an economy.
They too have come tosee economics
asakind ofdogma that needs tobe
overthrownironically in much
thesame way astheforefathers
ofeconomics saw theChurch during
theEnlightenment. One dogma for

For thecommons!
Across Europe there are hundreds
oforganisations, networks and individuals that are passionate about these
issues and campaign for thecommons.
What distinguishes these groups from
other civil society groups is that they
are arguing for and trying tocreate

new kinds ofcommon space. Theyare

interested in reclaiming institutions,
communities and buildings through
agreements, rules and other devices
tomake them more accessible, democratic and useable. This, perhaps, is
why Occupy has been such apowerful idea. It is metaphor for what these
groups wish toachieve in other areas
ofpublic lifegroups committed
Thats not ofcourse tosay that
they arent concerned about fighting
for rights and threatened class groups.
But thedesire toclaim, demarcate and
create new rules for space is perhaps
anew way ofvoicing these concerns
and expresses adesire toengage with
themeans ofmaking new space rather
than simply making demands.
Thegreat symbolic, theatrical
struggles for power used totake place
atfactory gatesnow they take
place in space. David Harvey calls it
afight for theRight totheCity. Teatro
Valle call it aspatial struggle. InSpain
themunicipalist parties are demanding
aright todecide.

Reclaiming thepolitical party

Europe has anew, new left and it is
animated by thedesire toreclaim
democracy. Agroup ofnew political
parties has emerged with an aspiration

ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

toreclaim collective decision making

from what they see asacorrupt and
broken political system. They aim
tomake anew kind ofpolitical party.
Spain has Podemos, Partido X, Procs
Constituent and across thecountry
there are municipal parties that performed particularly well in municipal
elections. Barcelona has Barcelona
en Comu; Madrid has Ahora Madrid.
Theyare all committed tobottomup decision making and challenging
theold order. For many involved in
these parties, new forms ofparticipation are an end in itself.
Elsewhere in Europe attempts
toreinvent thepolitical party are
less evolved but theappetite is clear.
Denmark has theAlternative founded
by Denmarks only independent MP
Uffe Elbaek. Alternative describes itself
asan international, environmental and
entrepreneurial party and took around
5% ofthevote during recent elections.
Scotlands movement for independence
is headed upby theScottish Nationalist
Party, which includes theagainst
thelot ofthem vote. But ontheir
fringes are groups like Common
Weal and Bella Caledonia, which
may yet produce anew Podemos style
political party. InPoland 36-year-old
Slawomir Sierakowski leads Polands
Krytyka Politycznaor Political
Critique movement (amagazine, cultural centre and think tank). Itis not


apolitical party, but may become one

in thefuture. To be consistent with
Sierakowskis ideas, it would need tobe
markedly different from what theother
In2013 and 2014 there were mass
protests in Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria
and Bosniathelatter opened its own
self-organised, democratic plenums
across thecountry. It remains tobe
seen whether these countries will
found parties like those in Spain and
Greece and try toconstruct an alternative way ofdoing politics.
Italy ofcourse has theFive Star
Movement started by theItalian comedian Beppe Grillo in 2008. Five Star is
committed toopposing and disrupting
theinstitutions ofrepresentative democracy, passing decisions, via opinion
polls, back tovoters. Theparty finished
third in last years parliamentary elections. Its MEPs signed acontract that
could make them liable for a250,000
Euro fine if they are found tohave
broken thepartys code ofconduct.
Theparty is controversial and some
critics suggest that passing votes back
toparty members is avehicle for Grillo
toexercise more control over his party
rather than less. TheEconomist (smugly)
calls it simultaneously themost and
least democratic ofItalys political
movements. And that theory, every
thing from thechoice ofelection
candidates totheremoval ofelected


ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

representatives, is decided
online by theparty rank-andfile. Inpractice, what MrGrillo
and MrCasaleggio say goes,
and neither was chosen
byanyone. 5
Further afield theNet
Party in Buenos Aires recently contested municipal
elections onthepledge that
they would pass all their
voting decisions back directly
totheir members. Although
Argentina is far from Europe,
theNet Partys Democracy OS
operating system for liquid
democracy is proving popular
with social groups in Europe.
Ontheir Wikispace, they provide alist of20 affiliated parties from across theworld.

Reclaiming public space

Themovement toreclaim
public space across Europe
includes ahuge range ofactors
and approaches. Street artists,
performers and free-runners
who play with thesocial
conventions ofpublic space.
Squatters, occupiers and
campaigners who defend,
occupy and reanimate neglected parks and buildings.

Violent protest movements

who fight thepolice and forcibly claim thestreets astheirs.
and artists ECF supports fit
insomewhere here.
These are not new strategies but they produce symbolically important events for
movements preoccupied with
reclaiming space. According
toIgor Stiks oftheUniversity
ofEdinburgh, reclaiming
public space has been particularly important for activists
in theBalkans: TheRight
totheCity movement in
2009/2010 in Zagreb mobilised thousands in defence
ofasquare in downtown
Zagreb; in Dubrovnik citizens
organised todefend anearby
hill from being turned into
agolf resort; in Bosnias second largest city, Banja Luka,
citizens tried todefend one
ofthefew public parks; in
Belgrade smaller mobilisations were triggered by cutting down old trees in one
ofthemain streets, so asto
obtain more parking space, or
by destruction ofaneighbourhood park; in Bulgaria in 2012
people demonstrated against
theprivatisation offorests;

5 Beppe Grillo,

Falling Star,
9December 2014.


ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

in Romania in 2012 against

theprivatisation ofemergency
services, and again against
an ecologically disastrous
gold mine project in Rosia
Montana. 6
InPoland, reclaiming
public space and control
ofurban life is exercising
anew generation. Civil society groups like TheRight
totheCity, TheInhabitants
Forum and theHousing
Movement, operating
under nationwide Urban
Movements Congress, have
successfully campaigned
for participatory b
for planning consultations
and against Krakows bid
tohost theOlympic Games.
Inrecent e lections the Urban
Movement, which ran for
thefirst time in elections
asanationwide coalition
ofcity activists, wonthe
mayoral seat in Gorzow
Wielkopolski, western Poland,
and anumber ofcity council
seats in cities like Warsaw,
Poznan and Torun.
Thestruggle for public
space takes place indoors
too. Inrecent years both
atEmbros in Athens and
Teatro Valle in Rome, groups

ofactivists have come together tooccupy theatres

and keep their work alive.
AtTeatro Valle, occupiers
rallied under theslogan,
Like air and water, culture
is acommons and Teatro
Valle is acommons. They set
about creating transparent
and democratic ways torun
thetheatre. These occupations
are symbolic and real interventions in keeping thegifteconomy ofculture alive
when its value isnt recognised by thestate or possible
within apurely market-based
approach. Inasimilar but
less direct way, Liberate Tate
in London has been periodically occupying Tate Modern
toembarrass it into divesting
itself ofoil sponsorship.
2014 also saw protests
sparked across Spain in
response toan attempt by
theBarcelona government
toshut down theCentro
Social Autogestionado
Can Vies,asocial centre in
Barcelona that had been occupied since 1997. Inthewake
ofprotests in Barcelona,
Valencia and Majorca, themunicipal authorities agreed
tosuspend thedemolition.

6 Igor tiks and

Srecko Horavat,
TheNew Balkan
Revolts: from
Protests toplenums and beyond,
net, 12March 2014.

ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

Atthetime ofwriting this, attheend

ofMay 2015, there are seven social centres in Barcelona in former bank buildings that are under eviction orders
and many other struggles todefend
other social centres in Spainlike
thecampaign tosave Casa Grande del
Pumarejo in Seville. InBologna in Italy,
street artist Blu recently painted amural ontheside ofXM24, asocial centre
that has had tofight several battles
against demolition.

Reclaiming housing
Europe has agrowing housing movement that seeks todefend tenants
from landlords, campaigns tostop
people being priced out oftheir
homes and argues for housing atan
affordable price. Housing is acommons issue because people in precar
ious accommodation are restricted
from having aplace in thecommons.
Few in it would argue for all housing
everywhere tobe placed in common
ownership, but themovement is committed tostopping housing becoming
atradeable commodityensuring
that it can be accessed by all people
without fear ofbeing exploited.
Wemay not all want tolive in an intentional community, but that doesnt
mean that ahouse should be treated
asan exclusively private commodity.


Interestingly though, theoutrage

atthe#poordoorseparate entrances for people living in lower
value housing in luxury developmentsillustrates that many people
feel there should be acommons
ofsorts in private buildings.
Since 2006 in Paris agroup of

artist-activists Jeudi Noir (Black

Thursday Collective) have been campaigning and launching direct actions onhousing issues. Among many
demands they ask for acessation in
increases torent controls and pressurise politicians tohonour commitments toaffordable housing. Their
direct actions have included occupying
an apartment near former President
Sarkozys Paris home aswell asstaging
parties in, and occupying show-flats
inluxury housing developments. These
tactics have been copied in London,
which has arapidly growing network
ofsmall groups campaigning onhousing issues. InScotland there is anew
campaign tocontrol rents. Most cities
across Europe are affected by evictions,
foreclosures, unscrupulous landlords
and thelack ofaffordable or public
housingespecially in thesouth
andin themost unequal cities.
MIPIMamassive international
conference for theregeneration
industry held in Cannes every
March has become atarget for
allthese groups.

ARough Guide totheCommons Charlie Tims

What passes for common sense

So there you have it. Some threats
tothecommons and therearguard
toshore them up. AsImentioned before, Erdogan still hopes tosee Gezi
Park in Istanbul turned into ashopping centre. Making sure it gets built


is clearly about more than creating

somewhere for people togo shopping. Maybe thats because these kinds
ofdisputes arent just about claiming acommons, they are also an attempt bythose with power and those
without it, todetermine what passes

Friendship is aCommons
by Dougald Hine

Iwant todraw a ttention

totwo different ways
ofspeaking about commons.
These two ways ofspeaking
coexist and often get muddled
up, in away that is problematic. So if Icould make acontribution tothegrowing conversation that is taking place
under thebanner ofthecommons, it would be toinvite
us tonotice this difference
within our ways ofspeaking.
Thefirst way ofspeaking
about thecommons is totalk
about it asapool ofresources
tobe managed. Atypical example is found in asummary
ofElinor Ostroms Governing
theCommons. This is offered
Thecommons is ageneral
term for shared resources in
which each stakeholder has an
equal interest.
Thesecond way ofspeaking about commons is as

an alternative totreating
theworld asif it is made
upofresources. InSilence
is aCommons,1 Ivan Illich
says that he wants tomake
thedistinction between
thecommons within which
peoples subsistence activities
are embedded, and resources
that serve for theeconomic
production ofthose commodities onwhich modern survival
depends. Instead ofthecommons being apool ofresources
and aparticular approach
tomanaging them, Illich defines thecommons astheopposite oftheresource.
He talks about thehistory
ofthecommons in Europe,
thecommons that were
enclosed: aspart oftheentry into modern industrial
capitalist society, theland
was taken away from people.
Hetalks about how these
commons were governed

Dougald Hine
isasocial thinker,
writer and former
BBC journalist. He
has been responsible for starting
aseries ofinnovative organisations,
including theweb
startup School
urban regene
ration bureau and
TheDark Mountain
Project. He will act
asoverall facilitator
during theEuropean Cultural Foundations Idea Camp


Friendship is aCommons Dougald Hine

byan unwritten law, afabric

ofinterweaving customs by
which different people within
acommunity had different
relationships by which it was
understood that they could
make use ofparticular areas
ofland for hunting and fishing, for grazing, or collecting
wood or medicinal plants
tomeet their own needs, along
with different obligations
tothat land. Itwas an unwritten law, Illich says, not only
because people did not care
towrite it down, but because
what it protected was areality
much too complex tofit into
Thefirst thing Iwant
tosay about that complex
reality is that its complexity
was not aproblem for people.
It may have been aproblem
for landlords and for governments, because away ofliving that is unwritten is, by
definition, illegible. InSeeing
Like aState,2 James C. Scott
presents thestory oftheway
in which states and other topdown systems have aproblem
with complex, illegible social
realities, which is not necessarily aproblem for thepeople
who live within and make

their life work inside those

complex, illegible social
Illich also frames this
opposition in terms ofindustrial society, theindustrial
product ion ofcommodities,
and something he calls
thevernacular. He draws this
asan axis onagraph, butan
axis that is not astraight line:
atone end it rises straight
toasingle point, but atthe
other it branches like aroot
system in athousand directions. Theindustrial society
is theend where it becomes
astraight line: development
provides us with amodel
by which thehuman needs
ofeveryone onearth are
identical, defined in thesame
way and tobe met by deploying thesame systems offlush
toilets, regardless ofthelocal
context. Attheother end from
this homogeneous industrial
society ofresources and commodities, you have theproliferation ofthevernacular.
Thevernacular corresponds
towhat, in aMarxian voca
bulary, would be d
asproduction for use value
rather than for exchange
value, but Illichs intention

1 This article is from

Ivan Illichs remarks

Science and Man
Thecomputermanaged Society,
Tokyo, Japan, 21
March 1982. See
2 James C. Scott,

Seeing Like
aState: How
Certain Schemes
toImprove the
Human Condi
tion Have Failed
(Yale University
Press, 1999).


Friendship is aCommons Dougald Hine

was toframe this more broadly. Going back toits Latin

roots, thevernacular refers
tothehome-made, thehomebrewed, thehome-spun.
Another important distinction is introduced by Iain
Boal, who points out that
acommons is not thesame
thing asapublic space.
Apublic space is amodern
phenomenon, conceived in
terms ofatomised economic
individuals dealing with
each other within this realm
that we call thepublic. He
points out something fascinating in relation toGarret
Hardins TheTragedy
oftheCommons, 3 which is
one ofthemost influential and
problematic texts onthecommons. Hardin argues that
commons inevitably collapse
because one person takes
more than their share and this
damages it, until over time
theexistence ofthecommons
asawhole is compromised.
This is an argument that
says: we have toprivatise
things, we have tomarketise
things, because otherwise
thefree-riders will eventually erode thecommons.
What Boal points out is that

Hardin was writing this in

San Francisco in 1968, when
thefront pages ofthenewspapers were reporting the
collapse into aHobbesian
nightmare ofthefirst wave
ofhippie communes. So if you
want tounderstand sympathetically, rather than only
criticallywhich is thefirst
way Iwould invite you
tounderstand itHardins
Tragedy oftheCommons
myth, it is really theTragedy
oftheCommunes. Boals argument is that thecommunes
failed because they were
based onautopian ideal that
they were creating apublic,
universal space that anyone
could turn uptoand access
equally, and that this is quite
different toacommons, in any
historical sense. Acommons
is afabric ofrelations that is
built and rebuilt and renego
tiated over generations.
So, we have these two
ways ofspeaking: commons
asapool ofresources tobe
managed, and commons
asan alternative totreating
theworld asmade upofresources. Ofthese two ways
ofspeaking, people who talk
about thecommons in terms

3 Garret Hardin,

originally published
in thejournal
Science, 1968.
See http://www.


Friendship is aCommons Dougald Hine

ofresources have historically

almost always been against
thecommons and for enclosure, rationalisation and
increased production. Because
once you look atthecommons
asapool ofresources, you
dont see that complex, unwritten, illegible reality; what
you see is thetwo or three
things that you enter into
your spreadsheet todescribe
this forest, and then you seek
toimprove theproductivity
oftheforest, and you drive
out thepeople who have had
aright tograze their pigs there
for centuries, you start planting thetrees in straight lines,
theprocess that Scott 4 describes has been set in motion.
So, asAnthony McCann
has pointed out, it is apeculiar
feature ofthewave ofenthusiasm for thenew commons that
alot ofthose who speak in favour ofthecommons today do
so in thelanguage ofresource
management, rather than in
terms ofsocial relations. It
is by no means clear that we
have escaped thetendency
ofresource management approaches toserve theinterests
ofeconomic rationalisation
asagainst human sociability.

We live in aheavily
enclosed world. Thecommons were taken away from
us. InEngland, it started in
thefifteenth century and
was more or less over by
thenineteenth century.
Lawswere passed that overwrote theunwritten laws
that had endured and evolved
for centuries, that granted
new, simple and total forms
ofownership tothefew, and
disenfranchised therest.
Like theindustrial revolution
that followed it, this process
spread from England, inone
form or another, tomost
corners oftheworld and it
continues today. Attheheight
oftheEnglish enclosures,
itwas known asimprovement; today it is more likely
tobe known asdevelopment.
Theresult is that what was
once seen asmisery is now
taken for granted. In1330,
arich merchant in Florence
died and left his wealth tobe
distributed amongst thedestitute, thepeople who had
fallen through thebottom
ofsociety. Thepeople towhom
the money was doled out were
drawn from five categories:
thewidows, theorphans,

4 James C. Scott,


Friendship is aCommons Dougald Hine

those who had recently suffered an

act ofGod, those who had topay
rent for theroof under which they
slept and theheads ofhousehold
dependent onwage work. Inother
words, inthemedieval world, tobe
dependent onhaving tosell your
labour for money asyour primary
means of staying alive or tohave to
pay money in order tohave somewhere
tocall home, these things were seen
asabject misery. Tobe amember ofsociety was tobe part ofahousehold and
even if you were thelowliest member
ofavery humble household, even
with thefeudal obligations you were
under, you had asecurity unknown
No one is saying that this was
abeautiful utopia. Thepoint is torecognise that themodern world in which
we find ourselves came about not least
through thenormalisation ofpeople
not having access tothemeans ofsubsistence, because land and commoning
rights had been taken away from them,
forcing them into aposition where all
oftheir needs had tobe met through
selling their labour tofactory owners
and their equivalents. Many will argue
that, onacost-benefit analysis, industrialisation and modernity have given
us so much that it ends upbeing more


than worth thedeal. Iam not wanting tomake theargument one way or
another, only tobe clear that this was
thenature ofthetrade-off, and that
itwas frequently made against thewill
oftheerstwhile commoner.
Yet therisk ofsuch stories is that
they erect agolden age, tobe mourned
or scorned, but irrelevant tothefallen
condition in which we find ourselves.
Inplace ofthis, Iwould rather we
remind ourselves that, even within
this heavily enclosed world, the

process ofenclosure is never complete: there are still things that we

do not treat asresources. Theclearest
case ofthis, perhaps, is that we do not
think it acceptable totreat our friends
asresources. InEnglish, we have an
everyday expression for someone who
does that: if you find yourself treated
asaresource by someone you thought
tobe afriend, you say, Ive been used.
And everyone knows what you mean,
without any need toelaborate atheory
tomake sense ofit.
For this reason, then, friendship
may well be agood starting point from
which toexplore what it means tobe
part ofacommons that is not merely
aresource management exercise, but
an alternative totreating theworld
asmade upofresources.

Reclaimed spaces workshop, 2013

coordinated by: studioBASAR;
drawing by: CristiStoian.

El Buen Vivir and theCommons:

between GustavoSotoSantiesteban andSilkeHelfrich



Gustavo, Buen Vivir (or Vivir Bien) is an expression that has made its way into theconstitutions ofEcuador and Bolivia, and has become an expression that would summarise an
alternative project for civilisation. Portuguese
sociologist Boaventura da Souza even took
uptheslogan, China or Sumaj Kuasay,1
which is not self-explanatory. Canyou
helpexplain it?
Suma Qamaa, Sumaj Kuasay and Sumak Kwasay
are Aymara and Quechua expressions that
translate into Spanish asBuen Vivir/Vivir Bien.
They are reused in theconstruction ofadiscourse that speaks ofahorizon ofpurposes alternative tothecurrent state ofaffairs, one that
is neither 21st century socialism 2 norAndeanAmazonian capitalism. 3 Ithink Buen Vivir
is aproposal aimed atmaking visible and expressible aspects ofreality that are ignored by
thedominant paradigm. It is aproposal from
aradical and spiritual perspective ofecology,
and is logically incompatible with development
and industrialisation. It speaks ofthepossibility ofliving in common, for which thevery
concept development 4 is not only insufficient

Silke Helfrich
isawriter, activist
and thinker. She cofounded theCommons Strategies
Group with David
Bollier and Michel
Gustavo Soto
is awriter, semiotician and consultant
rights atvarious
universities in

El Buen Vivir and theCommons: AConversation GustavoSotoSantiesteban andSilkeHelfrich

Javier Medina, aphilosopher dedicated

toAndean studies, writes: There is always
more in reality than one can experience or
express atany given moment. Agreater sensitivity tothelatent potential ofsituations,
assumed asasort ofbroader social paradigm,
mayencourage us tothink about things not
only asthey are, in theNewtonian paradigm,
but also in terms ofwhere they are heading,
what they may become (quoted in Soto 2010).
El Buen Vivir/Vivir Bien is thename given
tosomething that is like anew principle ofhope
grounded inancestral practices ofindigenous
communities in theAmericas.


So, it is not surprising that Bolivia and Ecuador

are thetwo countries where thedebate
onelBuen Vivir is most alive. InEcuador, 35%
ofthepopulation self-identify asindigenous,
and in Bolivia, 62%. Inatake onthetopic,
Bolivias ambassador in Germany, Walter
Prudencio Magne Veliz, his countrys first indigenous ambassador, said: An indigenous person thinks more like awe than asan individual
I. What does that we encompass?
Suma Qamaa implies several meanings manifested in community life: thefact ofanimals,
persons, and crops living together; living with
Pachamama (Mother Earththewater,
themountains, thebiosphere) and finally living together with thecommunity ofancestors
(waka). It is acommunity practice that finds
organisational expression in theayllu, which
articulates this economy-life in thechacratherural agricultural space where


1 Boaventura da

Souza Santos, Di
versidades y cam
bios civilizatorios:
la utopa del siglo
XXI? (Belem: FEDAEPS, FSM, 2009).
2 Editors note: 21st

century socialism is apolitical

expression that
gained currency
ten years ago, particularly in thecontext oftheWorld
Social Forum. Itis
also frequently
used in Venezuela
by theadministration ofPresident
Hugo Chavez.
3 lvaro Garca

Linera, Interview
with Miguel Lora,
com, 10 May 2009.
4 See Vinod Rainas

essay criticising theconcept

ofdevelopment in Part 2.

El Buen Vivir and theCommons: AConversation GustavoSotoSantiesteban andSilkeHelfrich

reciprocity predominates. It is evident that

theseenunciations are made from thecommons, from thecommunity, from thefirst person plural, and not from me, from theindivi
dual. Strictly speaking, theindividual without
community isbereft, orphaned, incomplete.

We find these ideas in many different cultures.

Its not just one or theother. Things are not
separate, but interrelated. Therefore, Javier
Medina, aBolivian philosopher who is one
ofthemost literate interpreters oftheidea
ofBuen Vivir, says it is adisplay ofintelligence
that we Bolivians want tohave theState
and also want tohave theayllu, though they
are two antagonistic magnitudes. And he
continues: Ourproblem is that in not picking
uponthecivilising nature ofboth, we confuse
them, provoking theinefficiency ofboth
Atthis point, lets not have any more real
State: follow theliberal Third World simulation,
nor more real Ayllus: intheir place, docile social
movements. 5 Inyour opinion, does theayllu
persist in contemporary Bolivia? Do they have
like aphysical-social embodiment?


Theindigenous ayllu, atthemicro-level,

atthelocal level, persists in theBolivian altiplano. It is founded onreciprocity more than
onthemarket; oncultural identity more than
onhomogenisation; ondecision by assembly
more than theelectoral mechanism; onits
de facto autonomy and its relationship with
theterritory, which is not thelandfactor
ofproductionbut rather precisely thetotality
ofthesystem ofrelationships.

5 See http://



El Buen Vivir and theCommons: AConversation GustavoSotoSantiesteban andSilkeHelfrich



Your description oftheayllu is reminiscent oftheconcept ofcommoning, which is

discussed so much in this book (TheWealth
oftheCommons6) and which expresses much
better than theterm commons where theheartbeat ofthedebate lies. Both el Buen Vivir and
commoning can only be thought ofin their
specific social context and asasocial process.
Indeed, it seems tome that both are more systems ofproduction in community and atthesame
time they produce community.
Buen Vivir seems tome both strange and familiar. Foreign because oftheinnumerable
references born ofadifferent culture and history. And familiar because it makes me think
ofcommoning. Massimo De Angelis writes:
Toturn anouncommonsinto averb
[commoning] simply grounds it in what
is, after all, life flow: there are no commons
without incessant activities ofcommoning,
of(re)producing in common. But it is through
(re)production in common that communities
ofproducers decide for themselves thenorms,
values, and measures ofthings. 7
Louis Wolcher also reminds us that speaking ofthecommons is not thesame asspeaking ofconflicts over property rights. Rather,
it is about people expressing aform oflife
tosupport their autonomy and subsistence
needs. Inbrief, taking ones life into ones
own hands, and not waiting for crumbs todrop
from theKings table. Or from thetable
ofthenation-state. Atthesame time, he fears
that inthewestern world we are in an unlucky


6 David Bollier and

Silke Helfrich
(eds.), TheWealth
AWorld Beyond
Market and
State (Levellers
Press, 2012).
7 Massimo De Ange-

lis, TheBeginning
ofHistory. Value
Struggles and Glo
bal Capital (London: Pluto, 2007).

El Buen Vivir and theCommons: AConversation GustavoSotoSantiesteban andSilkeHelfrich


position, because weno longer have cultural memory ofanother

way ofbeing.

This (re)surgence ofsocial theories and horizons that engage in dialogue with thealternative initiatives and quests
ofthefirst world is very interesting for Latin America.
Duringthe20thcentury, for example, thediscourse, organisational forms, strategies, and vision ofprogress or change
ifyou want tocall it thatdrew onthelessons ofEuropean
social and political processes. Now, onthis Amerindian side,
they drink from thecommunitarian fountains oftheAmericas,
which, we always forget, also inspired thefirst European utopians. Yet,asyou say, it is not just aquestion ofdiscourses but
ofpractices, which, for different reasons, have withstood centuries, andwhich are thecondition that makes it possible tobuild
another truly inclusive social order, one that is for everyone. Itis
not atall simply aquestion ofIndigenous Areas or Protected
Community Areas. What is needed is achange in paradigm.

Intalking about and

engaging thecommons
we must understand
this asthecreation
ofanew subject, one
that will save ourselves
from thehomo cono
micus not todefeat
him but tofree him
from his slavery to
thestate and market.
Saki Bailey, interview with TheCommon Sense Forum

TheState, theMarket
andSomePreliminary Questions
abouttheCommons (excerpts)
by Ugo Mattei

It is afact that thealliance

between state institutions and
private property interests has
been theforce behind therace
for colonial plunder, theenclosure ofthecommons in
eighteenth century England,
and theincreased concentration ofcapital (theoriginal
accumulation ofMarxian
memory).1 The r ecessive
world view is instead based
onan ecological and holistic approach totheworld
and displays relationship,
cooperation and c ommunity
asits typical pattern. This
model, still present in the
organisation ofcommunities
in theperiphery continues
tosuffer amerciless assault by
thestructural adjustment and
comprehensive development
plans oftheWorld Bank and
International Monetary Fund,

which push for modernisation.

Such modernising efforts have
encouraged and resulted in
thecommodification ofland,
and oflocal knowledge, supported by aprocess ofcultural
adjustment (human rights,
rule oflaw, gender equality
etc.) that serves asjustifying rhetoric for continuity
inplunder. 2
Reducing thecommons
tocommodities actually limits
their scope and asaconsequence their revolutionary
potential based onalegitimate
claim for radical equalitarian
redistribution ofresources.
Alongside theempirical
data now available, we must
critically assess our current

Ugo Mattei
is theAlfred and
Hanna Fromm
and Comparative
Law attheUniversity ofCalifornia,
Hastings College
oftheLaw in
San Francisco,
California and afull
Professor ofCivil
Law in theUniversity ofTurin, Italy.

TheState, theMarket andSomePreliminary Questions abouttheCommons (excerpts) Ugo Mattei

institutions and reclaim our

common sense about theissue
ofresource distribution, perverted too long by theliberal
agenda ofmodernity. Thecommons project must be asmuch
about anew framework
for participatory government asalternative property
Thecommons are radically
incompatible with theidea
ofindividual autonomy asdeveloped in therights-based
capitalistic tradition. Inthis
respect, commons are an
ecological-qualitative category
based oninclusion and
access, whereas property and
State sovereignty are rather
economical-quantitative categories based onexclusion
(produced scarcity) and violent
concentration ofpower into
afew hands.
All this, evidently requires
thejurists attention tothedifficult and urgent task ofconstructing thenew foundation
ofalegal order capable oftranscending theproperty-state
dualisms inherent in thecurrent order. Given thedominance ofprivate property,

individualism and competition asthebasis ofthecurrent legal order, thenew order

must correct this imbalance
by focusing onthecollective
and thecommons asthecentre, creating an institutional
setting reflecting long-term
sustainability and full inclusion ofall theglobal commo
ners, including thepoorest
and most vulnerable (human
and non humans). To do so
we need first an epistemic
(and political) emancipation
from thepredatory appetites
ofboth theState and private
property, thetwo fundamental
components ofthedominant
imperialistic Western wisdom. Commons lie beyond
thereductionist opposition
ofsubject-object, which produces thecommodification
ofboth. Commons, unlike private goods and public goods,
are not commodities and
cannot be reduced tothelanguage ofownership. They
express aqualitative relation.
It would be reductive tosay
that we have acommon good:
we should rather see towhat
extent we are thecommons,
in asmuch aswe are part
ofan environment, an urban


1 See Sandro Mezza-

dra, La cosiddetta
originaria, in
AA.VV., Lessico
marxiano, Mani
festolibri, Roma
(2008), pp.2352.
2 See Ugo Mattei

and Laura Nader,

Plunder. When
TheRule ofLaw
is Illegal (WileyBlackwell, 2008).

TheState, theMarket andSomePreliminary Questions abouttheCommons (excerpts) Ugo Mattei

or rural ecosystem. Here, thesubject

is part oftheobject. For this reason
commons are inseparably related and
link individuals, communities and
theecosystem itself.

Political shift
Today we can see from examples
all around us, from global warming
totheeconomic collapse, that the
politically recessive but philosophically
more sophisticated holistic paradigm
offers us afundamental and necessary
shift in theperception ofreality. Inthis
context thecommons can offer an institutional setting reflexive oftheneed
toreject thefalse illusion ofmodern
liberalism and rationalism. This is
why we cannot settle tosee thecommons asamere third way between
private property and thestate asmost
ofthecurrent debate seems tosuggest.
To be sure, in thecurrent academic
resurgence ofinterest, thecommons
are reduced toan institutional setting proposed tomanage theleftovers
oftheWestern historical banquet that
occupies with States and private pro
perty (themythological market) almost
thetotality ofthepolitical scene.
On thecontrary, we believe
that thecommons must be promoted toaninstitutional structure that genuinely questions


thedomains ofprivate property

(and its ideological apparatuses such
asself-determination and themarket) and that oftheState: not athird
way but an ecologically legitimised
foe ofthealliance between private
property and thestate. Theshift
that we need now toaccomplish
politically, not only theoretically,
istochange thedominant wisdom from theabsolute domination
ofthesubject (asowner or State) over
theobject (territory or more generally
theenvironment) toafocus ontherelationship ofthetwo (subject-nature).
Weneed anew common sense recognising, outside oftheWestern liberal
hubris, that each individuals survival
depends onits relationship with others, with thecommunity, with theenvironment. Thefirst necessary shift
that becomes apparent is themove
from afocus onquantity (thefundamental idea ofthescientific revolution and ofcapitalist accumulation)
toqualityakey notion ofthealternative holistic vision.
Alegal system based onthecommons must use theecosystem
asamodel, where acommunity ofindividuals or social groups are linked
by ahorizontal mutual connection
toanetwork where power is dispersed; generally rejecting theidea
ofhierarchy (and competition, produced bythesame logic) in favour

TheState, theMarket andSomePreliminary Questions abouttheCommons (excerpts) Ugo Mattei

ofa participatory and collaborative

model that prevents theconcentration
ofpower in one party or entity, and
puts community interests atthecentre.
Only in such aframework can social
rights actually be satisfied. Inthis logic
acommon (water, culture, theinternet,


land, education) is not acommodity but rather ashared conception

ofthereality that radically challenges
with thearms ofcritique and sometimes with thecritique ofthearms
theseemingly unstoppable trend

Understanding Peer toPeer

asaRelational Dynamics (excerpt)
by Michel Bauwens

Immaterial Commons (CS)

vs.theCapitalist Market (MP)
It is important todiscuss
thecomplex relationship
between so-called immaterial commons, marked by
Communal Shareholding
dynamics, and thecapitalist
marketplace, marked by MP
dynamics. It is ofcourse clear
that theso-called Immaterial
Commons (CS) are themselves
material in many different
ways (electricity, telecommunication networks, materiality
ofthecomputers and labour).
But because ofthemarginal
cost ofreproducing digital
material, it nevertheless functions in quite different ways
than its material infrastructure, i.e. immaterial commons allow for self-allocation
Peer production projects
are collectively sustainable

aslong asnew contributors

replace those who leave;
but they are not individually sustainable because
life-long contributions based
onfree labour do not ensure thesocial reproduction
oftheworkers who contri
bute tothecommons. Both
for-benefit institutions and
market entities are needed
toensure long-term viability:
thefirst through fundraising activities, thesecond
through their contribution
tothesocial reproduction
However, peer production and capitalism can be
said toexist in asituation
ofmutual co-dependency.
Asargued by Yann-Moulier
Boutang,1 contemporary capitalism cannot function without thepositive externalities
ofsocial cooperation, and increasingly those externalities

Michel Bauwens
is atheorist, author
and researcher.
He is thecreator
for Peer-to-Peer
Alternatives, and
one ofthekeynote speakers
Cultural Foundations Idea Camp


Understanding Peer toPeer asaRelational Dynamics (excerpt) Michel Bauwens

that are specifically generated

by peer production. However,
corporations that benefit
from commons ofcode not
only benefit from thesurplus value produced by their
paid workers, but also from
theimmense free labour
value inherent in thecommon production. What this
means is that, although commons ofcode are successful
in creating use value, thepeer
producing communities are
not able tomonetise and
capture thesurplus value
themselves. Inthis sense, peer
production serves thecontinued existence oftheexisting political economy, and
ensures apool ofrelatively
cheap if not free labour, since
only afraction ofcontributions is effectively monetised
and can serve for thesocial
reproduction oftheworkers
involved. This means that
peer production creates both
precarity ontheworkers side,
but also acrisis ofaccumulation ofcapital, since unpaid
free labour is driven from
theconsumption cycle, thus
adding tothecurrent effective demand crisis. Inthecontext ofthis article, Iwill not

discuss solutions tothis contradiction, but itis important

toarticulate itclearly.
Theinterrelation between
community, association and
market entities is therefore
inherently contradictory and
rife with tension. This can be
interpreted astheclass struggle in theera ofknowledge
production. 2 Communities
will be driven tomaintain
theintegrity oftheir commons; corporate entities are
driven by theneed tocapture scarce and therefore
monetisable market value
and are driven topartial enclosures ofthecommons.
Corporations can i nfluence
thecommons through
thepower they exert over
their waged workers, and
through thesubsidies provided totheinfrastructure
and for-benefit associations.
Every commons is therefore
marked by asocial tension
over thepolarity ofpower,
with atleast three players, i.e.
thecommunity, thecorporate
entities and thefor-benefit
institution (one could say
thelatter plays arole similar
tothestate in peer production projects).

1 Yann Moulier

Boutang, Le capi
talisme cognitif, la
nouvelle grande
(Editions Amsterdams, 2007).
2 McKenzie Wark,

Hacker Manifesto
(Harvard University Press, 2004).
Warks class theory
based ontheconflict between
hackers and vectoralist is not entirely
adequate tounderstand peer production class dynamics,
but is nevertheless
auseful start.

Understanding Peer toPeer asaRelational Dynamics (excerpt) Michel Bauwens

Class aspects ofpeer production

Iam positing that there is an underlying class structure tocommonsbased peer production. Why is this
important and how is this related
tomy general argument? Ibelieve
that commons-based peer production is not afull mode ofproduction
within capitalism, asit cannot sustain
its own s ocial reproduction. Indeed,
thesurplus value is clearly captured
by thecorporations that monetise
thevalue offree software in their
own activities. However, Ibelieve
that commons-based peer production
is aproto-mode ofproduction, just
astheshift from slavery tocoloni
(serfdom) created proto-feudal modes
ofvalue creation within thedeclining
Roman Empire, and just asproto-
capitalist formations within feudalisms would later coalesce asadominant capitalist mode ofproduction.
Forthis transition tohappen, it is
required that asection oftheproducing class is gradually mobilised
into thenew mode ofvalue creation
(slaves into coloni/serfs, serfs into
workers, workers into peer producers), while asimilar shift has tooccur
in themanagerial class (i.e. slaveowners into domain-holders; feudal
landowners into capitalist investors;
capitalist investors into netarchical
capitalism). Asuccessful shift would


require asevere crisis in theolder

mode ofproduction, and theavailability ofan emergent hyper-productive
alternative. While it is not possible
toprove or even fully argue this
point in this contribution, it stands
toreason that corporations switching
tocommons-based peer production
would outperform and outcompete
traditional companies using closed
proprietary Intellectual Property with
exclusive reliance onwaged workers;
and that asignificant number ofworkers would find it beneficial toswitch
towards contributions toprojects
involving commons-based peer
So, here is thehypothesis
asregards theclass aspects ofpeer
Inmy view, producers are
knowledge workers, i.e. asection
oftheworking class involved in
theproduction ofimmaterial symbolic value, but often not in thesame
structural position asfactory workers.
Indeed, theessential difference is that
themeans ofproduction, computers
and networks, are atleast under partial
control oftheworkers, because oftheir
distributed nature, which greatly
facilitates access. Theclass condition
ofpeer producers is much more fluid
than those oftheprevious industrial
class, asthey can move from thecondition ofwages workers, tofreelancers,


Understanding Peer toPeer asaRelational Dynamics (excerpt) Michel Bauwens

tovoluntary contributors,
tosmall entrepreneurs (who
can sometimes themselves
become successful for-profit
enterprises). On theother side,
it is clear that there is asector
ofcapital that is interested in
investing in commons-based
peer production, and Icall
this sector that ofnetarchical
capitalism. Netarchical capital
is thesector that understands
that value creation is now
driven by social cooperation
outside oftheclassic wage relation, and aims toprofit from
it. Peer producers and netarchical capital have both congruent and divergent interests.
Convergent, tothedegree that
netarchical capital is funding
and facilitating social cooperation, through platforms that,
albeit under their control,
still allow peer topeer socialisation. To thedegree that
netarchical capital has tofight
against theold structures
that hold it back, it can often
be onthesame side aspeer
producers. However, tothe
degree that it needs tocapture exchange value from the
commons and thecommoners,
and seeks tomaximise profits
onthebasis ofit, it also creates

social tension and class struggle. Corporations are always

divided between their need
and desire tofacilitate social
cooperation, i.e. thedrive
towards openness, and their
need and drive tocapture
value through closure and
control. Ihave described
thenature ofthis social antagonism, and theunstable
nature oftheunderlying social
contracts, in an article for
RePublic, 3 while theDelicious
social bookmarking service
contains an ongoing tag monitoring such conflicts.4
Theclass antagonism
hypothesis that Idescribe
above also informs the ethics
ofcommunal shareholding.
Theexact hypothesis is
thefollowing: peer producers
are workers and their social
condition is determined by
tension between their structural position asworkers
in awage-labour based
dependency, and their desire
for autonomy in production
through their engagement
in production. Inaddition,
in afreelance or entrepreneurial context, there is also
atension between this desire
for autonomy and theneed

3 Michel Bauwens,

TheSocial Web
and its Social
Contracts (2009).
4 See http://www.
mbauwens/P2PConflicts; other related tags are http://www.delicious.
Netarchical-Capitalism; and http://

Understanding Peer toPeer asaRelational Dynamics (excerpt) Michel Bauwens

for their social reproduction through themonetisation oftheir activities. From

thepoint ofview ofnetarchical capital, thecontradiction is between their desire
tocreate theconditions for
sharing and collaboration, and
their need and desire toextract surplus value. Ibelieve
there is apotential solution,
for theknowledge workers
aspeer producers, which is
thecreation ofnew cooperative market entities, in which
thepeer producers themselves would be theowners,
and with amission-oriented
structure and governance
that subsumes theactivities
ofthese new type ofmarket

entities tothecreation not

only ofsustainable livelihoods
for thecommoners (and thus
avoiding aseepage ofsurplus
value outside thecommons
and its reproduction), but also
astrengthening oftheauto
nomy ofthecommons outside
ofacapitalist context. Inthis
context, thenew type offorbenefit market entities would
form acounter-economy outside theneed for profit maximisation and capital accumulation. Counter-economic
coalitions that would practise
shared design and open book
management could obtain
benefits in mutual coordination outside oftheclassic


Chisinau Civic
air cinema. Flat
Space extension, 2012. With
the participation
of studioBASAR,
Urban Reactor,
3*2*1*0, Oberliht

TheBoom ofCommons-based
PeerProduction (excerpts)
by Christian Siefkes

Today, GNU/Linux is
one ofthethree most
popular operating systems (next toWindows
and Mac OS), used by
millions ofpeople.
Linux is most popular
with companies that
need reliable servers.
Itis frequently used for
high-performance applicationsmore than
90% oftheworlds 500
fastest supercomputers
use Linux.1
ofGNU/Linux is based
onthefact thatlike
all free softwareit is
acommons that everybody can use, improve
and share. Thefreedoms
that make free software
acommons were first
defined by Richard
Stallman in the1980s.
He designed theGNU

General Public License

(GPL) asan exemplary
license tolegally protect
these freedoms. TheGPL
(also used by Linux) remains themost popular
free software license. 2
Another crucial factor
is thecommunity that
coordinates thedevelopment oftheoperating
system. Theopen, decentralised and seemingly
chaotic way ofworking together pioneered
by Torvalds and his
collaborators became
known asthebazaar
model ofsoftware development (Raymond
2001). Itcontrasts with
thetop-down, hierarchical, meticulously
planned cathedral style
ofdevelopment, once
used for erecting themedieval cathedrals but

Christian Siefkes
is an author and computer scientist
who has written extensively about
peer-production, open source software development and commoning


TheBoom ofCommons-based PeerProduction (excerpts) Christian Siefkes

also characteristic for

software development in
many companies.
TheGNU/Linux story reveals theessential characteristics ofpeer production. Peer production
is based oncommons:
resources and goods
that are jointly developed and maintained by
acommunity and shared
according tocommunitydefined rules. 3 Thefour
freedoms are themost
important rules that
thefree software community has given itself:
everybody may use free
programs for any purpose, adapt them totheir
needs, share them
with others, improve
them and distribute
Peer production provides
thecapacity tocreate
new commons and
maintain and improve
theexisting ones. Other
resources, such ascomputers, are typically

privately owned, but

they can be used tocontribute totheshared
goals ofaproject, not
for financial gain. 5
While production for
themarket aims toproduce something that
can be sold, theusual
goal ofpeer production
is toproduce something useful. Projects
have acommon goal,
and all participants
contribute tothat goal
in one way or another.
They do so because they
share theobjectives
oftheproject, because
they enjoy what they
are doing, or because
they want togive back
tothecommunity. This
differs from market production, which is based
Meanwhile, countless
other projects use an
open style ofcoope
ration similar toGNU/
Linux. Thefree encyclopaedia Wikipedia
is thebest known example. Ten years after

1 See

2 Regarding alternative licenses

and their compatibility with each

other, see Mike Linksvayer, Creative
Commons: Governing theIntellectual Commons from Below, in
David Bollier and Silke Helfrich
(eds.), TheWealth oftheCommons:
AWorld Beyond Market and State
(Levellers Press, 2012), pp.299304.
3 For an extensive discussion

ofpeer-to-peer production, see

Michel Bauwens, TheTriune Peer
Governance oftheDigital Commons, in David Bollier and Silke
Helfrich (eds.), ibid., pp.323330.
4 See theGNU Project, TheFree Soft

ware Definition (2010) athttp://www. philosophy/free-sw.html
5 Commons are often hybrids ofpri-

vate property and public property

that co-mingle private and joint
use. See for example Liz Alden Wily,
TheGlobal Land Grab: TheNew
Enclosures, and Mayra Lafoz
Bertussi, TheFaxinal: ABrazilian
Experience oftheCommons and
Its Relationship with theState, both
printed in David Bollier and Silke
Helfrich (eds.), op.cit., respectively
pp.132140 and pp.254257).
6 For adetailed discussion ofthedif-

ferences between market logic

and thelogic ofthecommons, see
Stefan Meretz, TheStructural
Communality oftheCommons,
and Silke Helfrich, TheLogic
oftheCommons & theMarket:
AShorthand Comparison oftheir
Core Beliefs, in David Bollier and
Silke Helfrich (eds.), op.cit., respectively pp.283 4 and pp.3536.


TheBoom ofCommons-based PeerProduction (excerpts) Christian Siefkes

its inception, there are

now Wikipedias in more
than 200 languages;
theEnglish edition alone
has more than three
million articles. Linux
and Wikipedia are important examples oftwo
software movement (also
called open source movement) and thefree culture
movementthat are
much larger than their
respective flagships.
There are hundreds
ofthousands offree software programs and millions ofworks (texts, images, music, even movies)
published under Creative
Commons licenses.7
Open hardware
projects design physical
products by freely sharing blueprints, design
documents and bills
ofmaterials. 8 Inthefield
ofelectronic hardware,
theItalian Arduino
project is especially well
known. Many other
projects use or extend
its products. Free furniture designs are created
by Ronen Kadushin

and by theSketchChair
project. TheOpen
Architecture Network
and theArchitecture
for Humanity project
design buildings whose
purpose is toserve
theneeds oftheir inhabitants, rather than
making building companies rich or architects
famous. OpenWear is
acollaborative clothing
platform that supports
people in becoming
producers and finding
collaborators. Wireless
community networks
organise freely accessible wireless networks inmany parts
oftheworld. TheOpen
Prosthetics Project
develops prosthetic
limbs. It was started by
aformer soldier who
had lost ahand in war
and was unable tofind
acommercially available prosthesis suiting
his needs. Aspecial
goal oftheproject is
toimprove themedical
treatment ofpeople who
cannot afford topay alot
(e.g., in theglobalsouth).

7 Thedegrees offreedom granted

by thevarious Creative Commons

licenses vary; not all ofthelicenses assure all four freedoms
guaranteed by free software.
See Mike Linksvayer, op.cit.
8 See Benjamin Mako Hills essay

onopen versus free. Benjamin

Mako Hill, Freedom for Users,
Not for Software, inDavid
Bollier and Silke Helfrich(eds.),
op.cit., pp.305308.

TheBoom ofCommons-based PeerProduction (excerpts) Christian Siefkes

Ofcourse, it is neither possible nor
reasonable for everyone tohave all
theequipment necessary for production in his or her own basement.
Itmakes more sense for productive
infrastructures tobe communitybased (i.e., jointly organised by theinhabitants ofavillage or neighbourhood). There are already examples
ofthis. Forexample, theinhabitants oftheSouth African town of
Scarborough set upadecentralised
mesh network thatallows them toaccess theinternet and thetelephone
network. Necessary equipment such
aswireless routers are bought by individual citizens. No single person
or entity owns thenetwork or large
parts ofit, and therefore nobody is in
aposition toshut it down or censor it.
Thenetworks run onfree software and
alarge part oftheequipment is developed asopen hardware.
Community-organised production places are emerging aswell.
Theglobal Fab Lab network spans over
50cities onfive continents. Fab Labs
are modern open workshops whose
goal is toproduce almost anything.
Thats not yet realistic, but they can
already produce furniture, clothing,
computer equipment (including circuit
boards) and other useful things. So far,
Fab Labs mostly employ proprietary
machines whose design is not open,


making it impossible for people toproduce their own versions or toimprove

them. But parts ofthecommunity are
trying toovercome this limitation.
Their goal is thecreation ofan entirely
commons-based production infrastructure, anetwork offree and open
facilities that utilise only free software
and open hardware. This would pave
theway tolessening peoples dependency onthecapitalist market, with
commons-based peer production producing more and more ofthethings
that people need.
Physical production is impossible
without natural resources. Therefore,
peer production wont be able torealise its full potential unless access
toresources is managed according
toits principles. Digital peer production treats knowledge and software
asacommons. Likewise, physical peer
production needs tomanage resources
and means ofproduction ascommons,
utilising them in afair and sustainable
way and preserving or improving their
current state. For this it is important
tofind modes that ensure that nobody
loses out and that everyones needs
(whether productive or consumptive)
are taken seriously.
Thechallenge is huge, but theunexpected success stories ofpeer productionsuch asGNU/Linux and

TheBoom ofCommons-based PeerProduction (excerpts) Christian Siefkes

Wikipediashow that peer production can achieve alot. Andthelong

history ofthecommons contains
many examples ofthesuccessful longterm usage ofnatural resources and
ofthesuccessful management ofuserbuilt infrastructures. For thefuture


ofcommons-based peer production,

it will be very important tobring
together theperspectives and experiences ofcommoners from all areas
whether digital, ecological ortraditional. They can learn alot from

We are dealing with

aradical shake-up
oftheorder ofthings,
aswe have knownit.
Akey manifestation
and actor in this process
oftheemergence ofnew
orders ofthings are
subaltern migrants.
Nicos Trimikliniotis, Dimitris Parsanoglou, Vassilis Tsianos,
Mobile Commons, Migrant Digitalities and theRight totheCity

Mobile Commons, Migrant Digitalities

and theRight totheCity (excerpts)
by Nicos Trimikliniotis, Dimitris Parsanoglou, Vassilis Tsianos

Prolegomena: Inaworld
turned upside down
It is well documented
that cities are not only
spaces ofconcentrated
diversity reproducing
new and old types of
inequalities.1 They are
also spaces ofprecarityand-resistance that
constantly redefine the
notion ofrights through
theconstant struggles
about thecharacter,
themeaning and theuse
ofspaces; beautifully
painted by Georgiou
thecity is acanvas
for city dwellers who
constantly mark their
identities in their
struggles tofind aplace
in thecity and aplace in
theworld. 2 We explore
thepotentialities for

these precarious spaces

tobe transformed so
astoassume theintima
cy and become home,
affective spaces; in other
words, we explore how
theroughness ofstreet,
thekind ofmicropolitics
ofencroachment ofspace
is turned into commons.
Subaltern and precarious migrants together
with other subaltern
and precarious subjects
are protagonists in these
We are dealing with
heterogeneous transformations and events,
different types ofexplosions, from theOccupy
Movement events
totherebellions and
riots in New York, Paris,
London and Athens,

Nicos Trimikliniotis
is Associate Professor ofLaw and
Sociology and Director oftheCentre
oftheStudy ofMigration, Inter-ethnic
and Labour Relations attheUniversity ofNicosia.
Dimitris Parsanoglou
coordinates, asSenior researcher
oftheCentre for Gender Studies
ofthePanteion University ofSocial
and Political Sciences, theFP7
project MIG@NET: Transnational
Digital Networks, Migration and
Gender, and he teaches Sociology
attheDepartment ofPhilosophy
and Social Studies oftheUniversityofCrete.
Vassilis Tsianos
is lecturer attheDepartment
ofSociology attheUniversity
ofHamburg and Senior Researcher
with theEuropean project Mig@Net,
Transnational Digital Spaces, Migration and Gender.

Mobile Commons Nicos Trimikliniotis, Dimitris Parsanoglou, Vassilis Tsianos

right through totherevolts in theArab world.

TheOccupy Movement is
asmuch aglobal asalocal movement responding totheparticularities
within each society;
theOccupy theBuffer
Zone in Nicosia (OBZ),
one ofthelast divided
cities oftheprevious
order ofthings, speaks
then toabroader audience. Hence, what
happens in Istanbul,
Athens or Nicosia is
becoming more significant to NewYork,
Buenos Aires, Shanghai
or London than ten,
20 or 30 years ago.
This becomes apparent, once we appreciate
how London, abastion
ofold capitalism and
aglobal city offinance 3
has also become ariot
city under theconstant threat ofanew
politics and anew place
for political action.4
We witness similar
scenes alternating in
different cities, from
London, Madrid, Athens
or Istanbul asthedays

ofrage are spreading, causing panic

Theresponses by
theforces oflaw and
order are typical: they
produce appropriate
plans tocombat
this new enemy in
post-cold war world.
Thetitles ofthetwo
documents produced
by theLondon security
authorities, which emphasized thedangers
ofmultiple potential
attacks by non-state
actors utilizing cyber
technology, are indicative: Securing Britain in
theAge ofUncertainly
and Astrong Britain in
anAge ofUncertainly.
Today it appears
rather ironic toclaim
that theEuropean periphery and core has
changed totheadvantage oftheperiphery,
aview shared by numerous critical cosmopolitan scholars before
theeconomic crisis. 5
Together with themassive attack onlabour
rights and freedoms,


1 See Manuel Castells, Luttes ur-

baines (Paris: Maspero, 1973); Alain

Touraine, La Voix et le regard (Paris:
ditions du Seuil, 1978); Saskia Sassen, Guests and Aliens (New York:
TheNew Press, 2000); Henri Lefebvre, TheUrban Revolution (Minneapolis: University ofMinnesota
Press, 2003); David Harvey, Rebel
Cities: From theRight totheCity
totheUrban Revolution (Brooklyn,
NY: Verso, 2012); Judith Butler,
Parting Ways: Jewishness and
theCritique ofZionism (Columbia:
Columbia University Press, 2012).
2 Myria Georgiou, Media and

theCity: Cosmopolitanism
and Difference (Cambridge:
Polity Press, 2013), p.66.
3 Ibid., p.24.
4 Clive Bloom, Riot City: Protest

and Rebellion in theCapital (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), p.29.

5 Gerard Delanty, TheCosmo

politan Imagination: TheRe

newal ofCritical Social Theory
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p.249.
6 Paul Mason, Why Its Kicking Off

Everywhere: TheNew Global

Revolutions (London: Verso, 2012).
7 Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provin

cializing Europe: Postcolonial

Thought and Historical Difference
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p.209.
8 See tienne Balibar, Poli

tics and theOther Scene

(London: Verso, 2012).
9 Michael Burrawoy, Forging Global

Sociology from Below, paper is

based onan address totheConference oftheCouncil ofNational
Associations oftheInternational

Mobile Commons Nicos Trimikliniotis, Dimitris Parsanoglou, Vassilis Tsianos

there is talk ofaglobal r evolution[]

kicking off everywhere.6 Reversing
theEurocentric paradigm that wants Europe
toremain thesovereign
theoretical subject ofall
histories,7 we claim
that theborder triangle
ofEurope is in many
instances becoming
thecentre. 8 It has in fact
become one ofthecentres where history takes
place in abreathless and
breath-taking vertigo,
which unambiguously
calls for forging asociology from below.9
Theborder must indeed
be seen asmethod10

ifwe are tocomprehend what seem tobe

incomprehensible transformations. We propose
amultiple Southern
perspective: ontheone
hand, it is inspired from
what can be seen asasocial science perspective
from theSouth,11 the
Sociology ofthe South12
and Subaltern Studies13
aswell ascritical
race, class, gender and
postcolonial studies;14
ontheother hand, it is
also aSouthern/Eastern
and Mediterranean perspective, which essentially describes akind
ofborder reflexivity


Sociological Association held

in Miami, 910 August 2005.
Seehttp://burawoy.berkeley. edu/
10 Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson,

Border asMethod, or theMultiplication ofLabor (Durham and London:

Duke University Press, 2013).
11 Raewyn W. Connell, Southern

Theory: Social Science and

theGlobal Dynamics ofKnowledge
(Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007).
12 Eliana Dockterman, Turkey

Bans Twitter, Time, available

online athttp://
13 Ranajit Guha and Gayatri

Chakravorty Spivak, Selected

Subaltern Studies (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1988).
14 See Floya Anthias and Nira Yuval-

Davis, Contextualising Feminism:

Gender, Ethnic & Class divisions,
Feminist Review, No.15, November
1983, pp.6275, and Racialised
Boundaries: nation, race, ethnic
ity, colour and class and theanti
racist struggle (London: Routledge,
1992); tienne Balibar and Immanuel
Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class:
Ambiguous identities (London
& New York: Verso, 1991); Stuart
Hall, TheFormations ofModernity:
Understanding Modern Socie
ties an Introduction (Polity Press,
1992); tienne Balibar, Politics and
theOther Scene (London & New
York: Verso, 2002); Christopher
Kyriakides and Rodolpho D.Torres,
Race Defaced: Paradigms ofPes
simism, Politics ofPossibility
(Stanford University Press, 2012).

All Cameras are Police Cameras

by James Bridle

7 November 2014
This essay is thefirst ofaseries ofreports from TheNor,
an investigation into paranoia, electromagnetism, and
infrastructure, commissioned by theHayward Gallery,
Londonin 2014/15 aspart ofMIRRORCITY.
On themorning ofThursday,
30 October 2014, Iset out
towalk theperimeter of
theLondon Congestion
Charge Zone, ajourney
ofsome 12 miles around
thecentre ofthecity. Ibegan
atKings Cross, and walked

widdershins, down theEuston

Road towards Paddington.
Atits Western end, theZones
edge turns down Edgware
Road, runs down Park Lane,
Grosvenor Place, and Vauxhall
Bridge Road, before changing
course again across theriver

James Bridle
is awriter, artist,
publisher and
technologist usually
based in London.
His work covers
ofliterature, culture
and thenetwork.

All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle

towards Elephant & Castle,

Tower Bridge, Spitalfields,
Shoreditch and returns
toKings Cross once more
byCity Road.
For reasons that will become clear, Idid not complete
this walk within theday.
Idid however document
theportion that Iundertookroughly, half ofthetotalin theform of427photos ofsurveillance cameras.
Iphotographed every camera
Isaw, which could see me
(consider this agross underestimation ofthetotal).1
TheCongestion Charge
Zone covers thearea enclosed
by theThird London Wall. This
Wall continues thetransformation, begun by theSecond,
from aphysical into an electromagnetic entity. It is made
ofbits, electrons and radio
waves, becoming less and less
visible even asit becomes
more pervasive.
TheFirst London Wall was
built in thelate 2nd century
by theRomans, in response
toapolitical crisis. Following
themurder ofPertinax in
193theYear oftheFive
EmperorstheEmpire descended into civil war. Clodius

Albinus, Governor ofBritain,

allied with Septimius Severus,
commander ofthetroops in
Illyricum and Pannonia, but
soon turned against him,
proclaiming himself Emperor
with thesupport ofthelegions
in Britain and Hispania.
When Albinus narrowly
escaped assassination by one
ofSeverus messengers in 196
he put himself atthehead
ofa150,000 strong army
and ordered theconstruction offortifications around
thecity. Albinus did not last
long: sailing toGaul, he met
Severus army atLugdunum
(modern Lyon). Inshort order
he was defeated and beheaded,
his headless body tossed into
theRhine, and thehead sent
toRome asawarning toother
TheRomans and their
successors rebuilt and refortified theWall for thenext
1,000 years. Enclosing some
330 acres, theWall forced
all visitors topass through
seven narrow gates that connected thecity totheRoman
road system. Following
theBlitz, theremaining
fragments oftheWall were
among thehighest structures


1 You can explore

all of these photographs at Flickr:

48658422/), and
via this interactive
map (http://shorttermmemoryloss.

All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle

still standing in theCity, and can

still be found extant atBarbican
TheSecond Wall was erected
some 1,800 years later ontheorders
oftheCity ofLondon Police, following
thebombing oftheBaltic Exchange
in 1992 and Bishopsgate in 1993.
Rather than theKentish ragstone that
made uptheFirst Wall, theSecond
Wall was built ofsentry boxes and
roadblocks, with access streets narrowed tochicanes toslow vehicles
atdesignated choke points. (Aswith
theredesign ofOxford Street following theGordon Riots of1780, and in
contrast toHaussmanns strategy in
Paris, London pioneered theuse ofcongestion asatool ofstate control, which,
if nothing else, is true tothesclerotic
nature ofthecity itself.)
TheSecond Wall, commonly
known asthering ofsteel, extended
only slightly beyond theboundaries
ofthefirst, asthenew loci ofvalue,
thetowers ofglobal finance, were
broadly contiguous with older forms
ofwealth and power. In2003, following the11 September attacks
onNew York City, but preceding
the7 July 2005 bombings onLondon
itself, thepolice described thelikelihood ofaterrorist attack onthecity
asinevitable and widened thering
slightly. But ever since the1996
bombing ofDocklands it had been


both obvious and inevitable that

aphysically static wall would not be
sufficient. Instead, thewall must expand, and diffuse.
Much like its predecessor,
theSecond Wall still stands, but it
has been entirely subsumed within
theterritory oftheThird. Its sentry
boxes are frequently left vacant, its
gates left open. Theonly permanently
operating components, its video cameras, form an inner processing ring
reinforcing those ofits successor.
TheThird London Wallthat
which surrounds theCongestion
Charge Zonewas completed
in February 2003, and extended
thetraditional zone oftheWall from
thefinancial district oftheSquare
Mile totheWest End, thecommercial
and entertainment district. Inthis
manner it follows, predictably and
admittedly somewhat belatedly,
theexpansion ofcapitalism itself into
therealm ofeveryday life.
Thecore technology oftheThird
Wall, again pioneered but only partially implemented by theSecond,
isAutomated Number Plate
Recognition, or ANPR. Installations
ofover 800 ANPR cameras record
theunique ID ofevery vehicle that enters theZone in vast databases for later
analysis. When theWall was initially
constructed, thepublic were informed
that this data would only be held,

All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle

andregularly purged, by Transport

forLondon, which oversees traffic matters in thecity. However, within less
than five years, theHome Secretary
gave theMetropolitan Police full access
tothis system, which allowed them
totake acomplete copy ofthedata produced by thesystem.
This permission toaccess thedata
was granted tothepolice onthesole
condition that they only used it when
National Security was under threat. But
since thedata was now in their possession, thepolice reclassified it ascrime
data and now use it for general policing matters, despite thewording
oftheoriginal permission. Asthis data
is not considered tobe personal data
within thedefinition ofthelaw, thepolice are under no obligation todestroy
it, and may retain their ongoing record
ofall vehicle movements within
thecity for aslong asthey desire.
TheANPR cameras that operate on,
within, and beyond theboundaries
oftheCongestion Charge Zone capture
several pieces ofdata atonce, in two
forms. Thefirst is raw information:
theunique plate number ofthevehicle
tracked, thedate and time ofthetracking, and thelocation. Theother two are
images: acropped image oftheplate
itself, for supporting theautomated
read, and awider image ofwhole
vehicle atthemoment it is tracked,
which may also include other vehicles,


theroadway, thedriver, passengers and

Thegradual vacation ofthehuman
sentry boxes ofthering ofsteel, and
their replacement with theautomated
eyes and minds oftheANPR system are
mirrored, out ofsight, by thereplacement ofrooms ofwatchers with databases, and ofcartographers with LIDAR
systems atop cars, and sensors aboard
satellites in low earth orbits. Watching
robots, camera drones, these seeing
systems operate continuously, beyond
therange ofhuman interest and endurance. And they operate, always,
from above, giving them theprivilege
Surveillance images are all before
images, in thesense ofbefore and
after. Theafter might be anything:
an earthquake, ariot, aprotest, awar.
Any system reliant onflow, which
is all networks from vehicle traffic
tocommercial supply tovideo feeds
totheinternet itself, views disruptions within thesame negative moral
context. Surveillance images attain
thestatus ofevidence for unknown
crimes themoment they are created,
and merely await theidentification
ofthemoment they were created
for. Automated imagery criminalises
Suspicion is aglobal variable.
Oncetriggered it bubbles upward
through theentire system. Walking

All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle

down Park Lane, Iwas accosted by

aman in asuit who demanded toknow
what Iwas doing. He took out his
mobile phone, pointed it atmy face,
told me he was going tocirculate my
Shortly afterwards, acolleague
ofhis physically restrained me and
called thepolice. Both men worked
attheGrosvenor House Hotel, whose
cameras were among those that had
been trained onme asIwalked, and
soare included in my documentation.
When they arrived, thepolice officers explained that carrying acamera
in thevicinity ofCentral London was
grounds for suspicion. Imight be aterrorist who posed athreat tothegood
citizens ofLondonmy own city.
Equally Imight be casing thejoint for
some future crime, studying its defences in order tocircumvent them.
Carrying acamera thus justified
thesuspicion ofthesecurity guards
who stopped me and performed acitizens arrest, detaining me until thearrival ofthepolice. This suspicion in
turn justified theactions ofthepolice,
who threatened me with arrest if Idid
not identify myself and explain my
actions. For carrying acamera, Iwas
told, Icould be taken tothestation
and charged with Going Equipped,
aprovision ofthe1968 Theft Act that
determines theimprisonment for
uptothree years ofanyone carrying


equipment that may be used tocommit

Ofcourse, thethreats ofthe
policemen were utterly baseless.
Ofcourse theuse ofcameras in public,
asdictated in numerous statements
bytheMetropolitan Police themselves, is not, and should not be construed as, acrime. But, asanyone who
has ever encountered thepolice in an
analogous situation knows, thelaw
comes adistant second totheexercise
ofpower itself.
TheFourth London Wall will
be made oftransponders carried in
thevehicles themselves. Various
forms ofthese are already ontrial in
theUnited States, where theE-ZPass
system has migrated from toll bridges
and tunnels and out into thewider
city, where it can track thepassage
ofvehicles with radio waves. Theintroduction ofdiagnostic data ports
in cars has lead totheuptake ofconsumer monitors that also transmit
location data, asdo many common GPS
systems. These systems will soon be
formalised in theeCall platform, which
will be mandatory in all new vehicles
It is also being seen in thedevelopment and deployment ofroving
ANPR, fitted toevery police vehicle and
soon onto thebodies ofcouncil operatives themselves. Finally, theWall
loses all physical definition, becoming

All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle

atruly ubiquitous zone, rather than

afixed barrier.
Astheintentionality ofthecameras
image disappears into automation, and
theWall becomes ethereal and obscure,
so theimage itself dissolves, replaced
by data. Cameras no longer see in pictures, but record and process information: thestring ofnumbers onacar licence plate, thedimensions ofahuman
face, theIMEI ofamobile phone, theinfrared reflectivity ofplants, thedepth
and tonality ofavoice.
Around thetime oftheFifth Wall,
thesystem (which once contained actual human sensors, men with spears
atop its ramparts), will regain theability tosee individuals. Atfirst, this will
be done through themedium ofmobile
phone tracking, which is also already
present within theZone. Theswift
shut-down by theCity ofLondon
oftheRenew spy bins, which tracked
themovements ofpassers-by, belies
thewidespread existing implementation ofthesystem in shops and retail
zones across thecity, continually
monitoring themovements ofshoppers
Atthesame time, camera systems deployed attheairports in
theouter reaches ofthezone have
already developed theability toread
human faces, irises, expressions and
gaits in exactly thesame manner
astheir ANPR predecessors, and build


unique, storeable profiles from them.

While its always amusing tothink
ofhow such systems could be evaded
through theuse ofmasks or disruptive patterns, it should be noted that
Section 60AA oftheCriminal Justice
and Public Order Act 1994, deployed
across Central London onthenight
of5 November 2014, gives thepolice
theright todefine azone in which anyone refusing toreveal their face may be
imprisoned for uptoamonth.
Each Wall, and theAbstract Wall
in its totality, is amodel-mirror ofsocial processes. AstheThird Wall is
thenatural product oftheexpansion
offinancial systems and logics from
thebanking sector into every other,
and theFourth Wall addresses the
mechanisation ofthesupply chain and
thedomination oflogistics systems,
so theFifth goes hand in hand with
therapidly expanding privatisation
ofpublic space, thelatest weapon being
deployed against Londoners lingering
desire forthefreedoms ofcity life.
Ifinished my walk atVauxhall,
asmy detention onPark Lane had cost
thebetter part oftheearly afternoon.
Ihope tocomplete thewalk atalater
date. Thedecision tostop was made,
appropriately enough, in theshadow
ofVauxhall Cross, theheadquarters
oftheSecret Intelligence Service, MI6.
Theblazing red spot onthemap, denoting aconcentration ofcameras, is

All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle

accounted for by thisand by

thefar more mysterious building at1 Bessborough Gardens
ontheother side oftheriver,
blank-faced, festooned with
cameras, whose neighbours
regularly complain ofelectromagnetic interference.
For contrast, see thestatistically unlikely dearth ofcameras shown in thearea south
oftheGrosvenor Park Hotel,
onthelower half ofPark Lane.
Ofcourse, there arent fewer
cameras there. Its ahighrisk area. An area attractive
tothieves and terrorists. But
when youve been physically
restrained by blank men in
suits, lectured and threatened
by police officers, you really
just want toget away from
there asquickly aspossible.
When you get in trouble for
looking atthecameras, you
stop looking atthecameras.
But you should really be looking atthecameras.
One ofthedefining
characteristics oftheWall
is that it is not, and cannot
be, voluntary. While some
ofthestrategies listed here
are based oncooperation with
theWall system (tachyometers, navigation and check-in

apps, fitness monitors and

wearable computers), these
are always theaccompaniment or introduction tomandatory systems, and are best
seen aselective, collaborative trials rather than early
adoption or individualistic
disruption. Each successive
Wall is only erected when the
relevant technologies and social systems have arisen that
no longer depend onconsent.
TheSixth Wall will be
built from thethings you
wear onyour body and arrange ontheshelves in
your bedroom. Nest, QOL,
Hue. Automatic. Smart TVs.
HAPIfork. Vessyl. Autographer.
Memeto. Glass. Dropcam.
Jawbone. Fuel. Withings.
Fitbit. Healthkit. Little policemen in your pocket, little policemen onyour skin.
TheSixth Wall will be
made ofintelligent dust that
settles in thefolds ofyour
clothes and communicates
your position and heart rate
toorbiting satellites. Londons
citizens will dream, and
theimages oftheir dreams
will dance onthetelescreens
ofPiccadilly Circus, and be
found wanting.


On next pages:
All images:
James Bridle,
TheNor, Part One:
TheWall, courtesy
oftheartist https://

All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle


All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle


All Cameras are Police Cameras James Bridle


Themetropolis is
afactory for theproduction ofthecommon.
Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Commonwealth

All Cameras are Police Cameras Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri


What's the Recipe

for a Municipal Movement?

Whats underlying thecurrent political situation in Spain? Whats behind

thenew political actors from Spanish
civil society? What have we experienced since 15M (Spanish Occupy)?
This is an illustrated genealogy that
tries toexplain theprocess ofsome
ofthesocial movements that drew
ontheprevious experience ofthenew
partiets and citizens platforms that
are changing thepublic institutions
in Spain. This is just one p
itinerary (there are many more)

ofthelast four years. This was drawn

by theartist Mara Castell and developed by ZEMOS98 in thecontext
oftheproject Radical Democracy:
Reclaiming theCommons. Aproject
coordinated by Doc Next Network
where theSpanish Medialab was
coordinated by Sofa Coca and
formed also by Lucas Tello, Nuria
Campabadal, Guillermo Zapata and
Mario Munera.More media and
othermaterials areavailable on

Class Discourse in theMetropolis

by Carlos Delcls

Social scientists and urban

scholars have been writing for
years about how Barcelonas
social structure has evolved
over thelast several decades,
asits previously industrial
production model has given
way toapost-industrial,

service-oriented economy
increasingly centred around
tourism. This transformation
has been accompanied by
amillenarian fascination with
emerging forms ofeconomic
production that has eclipsed
considerations ofchanges
in therelationship between
people and production. Thus,
asdiscourses regarding work
grew more abstract and immaterial, class discourse
became more absent and less
Intheearly 2000s, urban
theorist Richard Florida
recognised this absence and
stepped into thegap with
his writings ontheimportance ofthecreative class

in economic development.
Hisargument that attracting
and retaining highly educated
professionals tourban centres
leads togrowth, urban regeneration and life-satisfaction
proved very convincing tocity
officials looking for anew progressive narrative for thepostindustrial scenario. Barcelona
was no exception tothis, and
his work became astandard
reference in thecitys bid
tobecome aSmart City, characterised by theuse ofdigital technologies toimprove
economic performance and
thewell-being ofresidents.
Insuch aframework, gentrification is thefocal point
ofclass tensions. But recently,
Florida and many like-minded
urban scholars have begun
tostrongly question thevalidity oftheterm, originally
coined by British sociologist
Ruth Glass todescribe thedisplacement oflow-income residents by more affluent ones.

Carlos Delcls
is asociologist and
writer and editor
ofROAR Magazine.
He is thecommunications coordinator
for theDoc Next
Networks Radical
Democracy project


Class Discourse in theMetropolis Carlos Delcls

Their argument is that gentrification is an exceedingly

vague concept that is difficult
toemploy scientifically, and
that attention should instead
be focused onconcentrated
advantage and disadvantage.
It is asomewhat misleading
approach tothequestion,
presenting concentrated
disadvantage asstatic and
neglecting therole ofgentrification asthedynamic through
which people are displaced
Yet theidea is gaining
support among many aspiring
creatives, not least because
itlends itself quite favourably
tothefractal identity politics
ofthepost-industrial era.
Essentially, thethree classes
Florida refers to(thecreative class, theservice working class and theindustrial
working class) are abroad regrouping oftheUSAs Standard
Occupational Classification.
Florida identifies thecreative class with awide range
ofoccupations spanning tech
workers, artists, engineers,
musicians, health-care professionals, lesbians and gay
men, business professionals,
teachers, scientists and what

he describes ashigh bohe

mians. Characterised by individualistic lifestyle preferences
and cultured tastes, they are
popularly associated with an
increasingly relevant figure
in theurban landscape:
Generally imagined
aswhite, male, privileged and
effete, thehipster provides
critics ofFloridas urban renewal recommendations with
acompelling enemy through
which tosublimate urban
class antagonisms. Inrecent
years, thepop-political critique ofhipsters has quickly
emerged asawidely read subgenre ofinternet literature
and even made it tobookshelves, perhaps most notably
in Spain with Victor Lenores
Indies, hipsters y gafapastas:
Crnica de una dominacin
cultural,1 which is now in its
fourth edition. Meanwhile,
interest in theworking class
antithesis ofthehipster is
also growing, asevidenced by
theimpact ofOwen Joness
Chavs: TheDemonization
oftheWorking Class.2
On thesurface, this interest in identities that embody
urban class antagonisms

1 Victor Lenore,

Indies, hipsters
y gafapastas:
Crnica de una
cultural (Capitn
Swing, 2014).
2 Owen Jones,

Chavs: The
Class (Verso
Books, 2012).

Class Discourse in theMetropolis Carlos Delcls

seems tostem from theinequalities

exacerbated by years ofeconomic crisis
and austerity in Western Europe. It is
tempting toview thehipster vs. chav
conflict asone between thecreative
class and aservice working class that
has replaced theindustrial working
class. Yet such aview reifies Floridas
conceptual framework by granting
thesame excessive importance tolifestyle preferences, consumer habits and
occupation, overlooking thedefining
issue facing work and shaping social
classes in thepost-industrial era:
Precarity splits occupational classes
between insiders and outsiders, establishing ahierarchical gradient that goes
beyond questions ofoccupational prestige todetermine theextent towhich
workers are exposed toavariety
ofrisks such asunemployment, underemployment or poverty, or mental and
physical health risks. While it is known
todisproportionately affect women,
youth and foreign-born residents, there
is also evidence that theneoliberal
reforms carried out under theguise
ofausterity are extending precarity
across occupational categories tothose
who previously enjoyed relatively stable employment conditions.
Moreover, although college-educated young people constitute asubstantial and growing portion oftherapidly
expanding precariat (astheeconomist


Guy Standing has referred tothem),

there is evidence that thevast majority
ofthecollege-educated precariat had
parents who did not go touniversity.
Thus, it is reasonable toconsider that
aclass discourse articulated around
identities based onlifestyles and consumption preferences which are
more strongly shaped by ones age and
educational level than by their social
class oforigin might do more todivide and suppress an emerging class
antagonism than it does togalvanise it.
Incontrast, acursory examination ofthepowerful class discourses
used by thetwo most recent examples
ofmassively supported antagonist politics in Spain, theIndignados movement
for radical democracy and Podemos,
reveals not only astrong aversion
toidentity politics ofthis kind, but also
thedesire toovercome them by imposing anew narrative with anew master
signifier. Slavoj iek has frequently
and mistakenly dismissed these discourses asasimple demand for anew
master directed atan unspecified elite.
What he fails torealise is that thegoal
ofboth theIndignados and Podemos was
never toengage thepolitical establishment through calls for ethical reforms.
Rather, thetarget oftheir discourse
was society atlarge and they were immensely successful in getting their
narratives across. By April of2013,
theValues and Worldviews Survey

Class Discourse in theMetropolis Carlos Delcls

carried out by theBBVA Foundation

identified Spain asEuropes most anticapitalist country, with 74% ofthe
population expressing disdain for
theideology. Thecountry also showed
thelowest average rating oftheinstitutions that make uptheTroika,
including theInternational Monetary
Fund and theEuropean Central Bank,
themain targets oftheIndignadoss
Similarly, Podemoss critique
ofTheRegime of1978 (theyear Spains
constitution was signed into law) and
la casta (thecaste) have proven tremendously effective in mobilising massive
discontent against theclasses benefitting most from thecurrent social order.
Applying Ernesto Laclaus theory about
theutility ofempty signifiers for
left-wing populist politics, they have
successfully brought theIndignados
slogan (We are not theleft or theright.


Weare thepeople atthebottom and we

are coming for thepeople atthetop)
intoelectoral politics.
To counter this threat ofcollective
action, theestablishment unsurprisingly seeks toatomise. And todo this,
they centre their discourse around
thefigure oftheentrepreneur (emprendedor), essentially are-branding
ofthecreative class, with atelling difference in theSpanish context: here,
theself-employed were previously
referred toasautnomos.
Today, however, this figure has
become associated with precarity,
acondition that is antithetical toautonomy. It seems that theestablishments most creative response toan
emerging class identification based
ontheemployment relationship was
tosimply re-brand one subset ofprecarious workers through astrictly

How toStop Gentrification

inLondon: What We Can Learn
fromSpainsNew Rebel Mayors
by Dan Hancox

Imagine if National Health

Service (NHS) worker and
single mother Lindsey
Garrett, who campaigned
tosave theNew Era Estate
in Hackney from development sharks, was thenext
Mayor ofLondon, rather
than some slick politician.
Its not impossiblefor
one thing, she is running for
thepost in 20161but also,
thats pretty much what has
just happened in Barcelona.
Ada Colau, thewoman who
established thehugely successful direct action housing
group thePAH (Plataforma de
Afectados por la Hipoteca or
Platform for People Affected
by Mortgages), which has
blocked over 1,000 evictions
and counting), has just been
elected Mayor oftheSpanish
city, ashead ofthenew

citizens platform Barcelona

en Com.
Themessage from Spain
is clear: rather than fighting
against City Hall, maybe we
should be fighting from City
Hall. Backed by, but indepen
dent from, left-wing political
party Podemos, awave ofcitybased radical democratic
candidacies has just swept
Spains established parties
from power. Ada Colau and
Barcelona en Com have
taken theCatalan city, 2 while
thecapital Madrid, normally
thesecure home oftherightwing Partido Popular, has
been similarly shaken by
anew constellation called
Ahora Madrid, which seized
32% ofthevote 3 and will now
form acoalition arrangement
with thecentre-left Socialist
Party (PSOE).

Dan Hancox
is afreelance writer,
interested in radical
politics, protest,
and pop culture
in Britain, Spain
and beyond. He
notably writes for
TheGuardian, LRB,
VICE, New States
man, Frieze, Five
Dials, TheNational.

How toStop Gentrification inLondon: What We Can Learn fromSpainsNew Rebel Mayors Dan Hancox

Barcelona en Com is already setting out its store. It

is breathtaking because it is
so radical and so blindingly
common-sense atthesame
time, but most ofall because it
is delivering onits promises:
there will be fines for banks
that hold empty properties in
thecity; atax onelectricity
companies; free transport for
under 16s; areview of(often
shoddy) working conditions
among all City Hall subcontracted employees; job
creation through property
renovation; an elimination
ofofficial cars; reduction ofofficials salaries; asubsidy for
low-income households; and
afreeze onnew hotel building.
It is aplatform designed toreverse Barcelonas frenetic and
untrammelled gentrification,
and toreverse thetrend ofcities aslittle more than vehicles
for ever-widening inequality.
Colau announced her victory saying that she would
govern by obeying thepeople, 4 which is aphrase used
by therevolutionary indigenous Mexican movement
theZapatistas, who have established egalitarian self-government that is independent

oftheMexican state since

the1990s. Thefascinating
populist paradox in Spain
is that these new platforms
often have inspiring leaders
who look suspiciously like
ordinary people. But they are
not about their leadersthey
have direct roots in themassive, leaderless 2011 Indignados
movement, and also in local
neighbourhood organisations
ofthebig cities. Barcelona
en Com, Ahora Madrid and
others seek toturn what is
often thesham ofmodern
electoral democracy inside out,
and hand it over tothepeople.
Asone local put it, Colau does
not represent usIve voted
tochange representation into
participation. 5
AsDavid Harvey argued
in his 2012 book Rebel
Cities,6 themisery inflected
by contemporary capitalism
and state power needs tobe
tackled based ontherealities
ofpeoples everyday lives,
not via dusty texts written by
dead Russians. Inthewest,
thefactories are going or
gone. Work is often precarious
and labour organising is difficultthecity must become
thenew factory. Theterrain


1 Simon Harris, ITV

News, 12 May 2015.

See http://www.
2 Miquel Noguer,

El Pais, 25 May
2015. See http://
3 Bruno Garca Gallo,

El Pais, 25May
2015. See http://

25May 2015.
5 See Twitter ht-

6 David Harvey,

Rebel Cities:
From theRight
totheUrban Revo
lution (Brooklyn,
NY: Verso, 2012).

How toStop Gentrification inLondon: What We Can Learn fromSpainsNew Rebel Mayors Dan Hancox

onwhich we organise
and fight for justice, equality and real democracy is no
longer thefactory shop floor,
but theactual places where
we live. London and Barcelona
share similar problems asthey
grow, gentrify and privatise.
Asmy hometown
ofLondon explodes in
sizewith 1.3 million
new Londoners expected
by 2030its chief subject,
theprecarious city dweller,
is also proliferating atarate
ofknots. While each new
glass skyscraper in theshape
ofakitchen appliance is anew
monument tosuccess for
some, there does not appear
tobe acorresponding reduction in inequality or suffering
in thecapital. On thecontrary, in thedecade leading
upto201112, thenumber
ofpeople in in-work poverty in London increased by
440,0007asreal wages
stagnated and house prices,
rents and living costs soared.
InLondon we are along
way off thejubilant scenes
onthestreets ofBarcelona
and Madrid in May 2015, but
there are promising signs that
thefight back is beginning.

This astonishing map provides

links to45 housing and antigentrification campaigns in
thecapitalonly ahandful
were in existence ayear ago.
Skills and experience are being shared from theFocus
E15 mums totheNew Era
residents, from Cressingham
Gardens in south London
totheSweets Way Estate
Londoners are mounting
hyper-specific, hyper-local
campaigns todefend their
homes against theersatz
golden handshake proffered by
theregeneration industry and
its patrons in our town halls.
These are themost important
practical battles oftheminute,
based asthey are in communities, among neighbours, for
theessential right tolive in
thecity. Interestingly, their
logic is broadening outwards:
therecent Reclaim Brixton
protest was notable because
it objected togentrification
asageneral process. 8
Therapid and recent
growth ofthese campaigns
also speaks tothequestion
posed by thenew Spanish
populism ofPodemos and
its municipal friends in


7 New Policy Institute

and Trust for London, Londons Pov

erty Profile 2013,
8 See,

27April 2015:

How toStop Gentrification inLondon: What We Can Learn fromSpainsNew Rebel Mayors Dan Hancox


London housing
and gentrification
See https://www.

Barcelona, Madrid, Zaragoza,

Cadiz and beyond: how do you
build aleft-wing alternative
whose language and tactics
dont reek ofapast offailure
and irrelevance? Podemoss
populist philosophy, adapted
from thelate Argentinian
philosopher Ernesto Laclau, 9
aims toconstruct an internal antagonistic frontier
ofthepeople against acorrupt and self-serving elite.
Inthecontext ofacity, it pulls
aveil over theold left because
it is based onanew subject:
not theFordist factory worker,
but theprecarious city dweller.
Their employment is
insecure, irregular and poorly
paid, ofcoursebut their

housing is insecure aswell.

Inthelight ofits rapid gentrification and thedeep-set
Spanish housing crisis,
itmakes perfect sense that
Barcelonas new Mayor is
theleader ofthePAH, theradical anti-eviction movement
that has garnered 89% approval in polls. Tellingly, adocumentary about thePAH has
been doing therounds among
Londons growing number
ofhousing activist groups
recently.10 With unaffordable
housing thenew norm in
London, this emerging antagonistic frontier is forming
against aproperty developer
and landlord class that is being subsidised country-wide

9 Dan Hancox,

9 February
2015. See http://
10 See YouTube:


How toStop Gentrification inLondon: What We Can Learn fromSpainsNew Rebel Mayors Dan Hancox

by thetax-payer tothetune
of26.7 billion ayear, via tax
breaks and housing benefit.11
So how do we follow
Spains example and make
theleap from those 45 localised campaigns toCity Hall
itself? TheLondon Mayoral
elections in 2016 will see
afew interesting candidates
Garrett from theNew Era
Estate, for one; Sian Berry
from theGreens, for another. Anew non-partisan
organisation ontheSpanish
model, Take Back theCity,12
was launched in London recently, with thenotion that
they might find and support apeoples candidate for
Mayor in 2016. Hopefully this
goal will only be aone sideproduct ofamuch wider effort
toempower thecitys marginalised communities. Take
Back TheCity is formed from
thesame mindset asthenew
wave ofhousing campaigns,

with no more storied an ideology than thenotion that

thecity should belong toall
its citizens, not just therich
We are many, and they
are few, and we have to
remind ourselves ofthat as
wegaze upattheopalescent,
mocking hubris ofTheShard.
Asafamous Spanish radical
from afew generations prior
toAda Colau said, it is we
who built these palaces and
citiesand we can build
others totake their place.13
Tothemillions ofLondoners
who have been abandoned,
ignored or exploited by politicians and bosses; toyoung
people herded out ofpublic
space and out offree education, permanent renters,
migrants, victims ofracist
policing, thedisabled, carers,
theinsecurely housed,
theunderpaid and unemployedits time totake
back our cities.


11 Hilary Osborne,

9February 2015.
See http://www.
12 See http://take-
13 Buenaventura

Durruti. See

Thefight for
thecommons in
cities is essentially
afight toreclaim
tore-imagine how
city life is organized.
David Bollier, TheCommons, Political Transformation and Cities

Watching Radical Democracy:

Doc Next Network goes looking for
alternative democracy & finds an
urban movement for thecommons
by Charlie Tims

Initiated by theEuropean
Cultural Foundation in 2010,
Doc Next Network (DNN) is
aplatform ofmedia-interested
organisations from across
Europe that collaborate with
one another onprojects that
use film and media toexplore
social issues. DNN believes in
using media in collaborative
ways, often working directly
with citizens and social agents.
Their hope is that this approach
will result in powerful new
stories about life in Europe.
Ihave been working with
DNN for thelast year digging
around in its media archive,
looking for stories, connections and associations.
This article is thestory
ofRadical Democracy
aeighteen-month project

byDNN co-funded by
theOpen Society Initiative
forEurope that used media
making asaway ofresearching, celebrating and supporting people across Europe who
are calling for better forms
Intherun uptothe
elections totheEuropean
Parliament last year, we announced amedia challenge inviting film and media makers
from across Europe tocraft
videos that proposed ways
toimprove democracy. More
than 200 videos were submitted. They came from campaigners, amateur film makers
and hobby media makers.
Much dissatisfaction with
democracy was expressed.
Here are some examples.

Charlie Tims
is currently working
with theDoc Next
Network (http:// and
is an associate
ofthethink tank

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


Here are two frames from an animated film Backward Run by
Turkish animator Ayce Kartal. Theanimation shows how control
oftelevision and newspapers kept the2013 Gezi Park protests
from public view.

Backward Run
by Ayce Kartal,
2013, courtesy
ofDNN Media
Collection (CC BYNC-ND 3.0).

These two frames are taken from Grayscale by theNinotchka Art
Project, which questions how much Spains policing ofpublic
protest has changed since Francos dictatorship.

Grayscale by
Ninotchka Art
Project, 2013,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY-SA 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


IBelieve by
ZEMOS98, 2013,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY-SA 3.0).

Venal politics
Many videos submitted tothevideo challenge poked fun atvain
and power-hungry politicians. These frames are taken from
IBelieve, made by theSpanish collective ZEMOS98.

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


Two-Tailed Dog
Party by ron
Halsz, 2013,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

Big business
Fear ofpowerful corporations and oligarchs bending democratic
institutions totheir will featured in many videos. TheHungarian
Two-Tailed Dog Party submitted by ron Halsz shows an ironic
protest in support ofbankers and oligarchs.

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims

Excluded groups
If measured in video minutes alone, thegreatest problem with
democracy in Europe, according totheRadical Democracy Video
Challenge, was thelow status ofindividuals and groups suffering discrimination, exploitation and criminalisation. This list
included homeless people criminalised for living onthestreets
in Hungary, asylum seekers, sex workers, disabled people, gay
people, transsexuals and women. This frame is taken from Alittle
piece ofland made by Marjolein Busstra. It shows urban nomads
struggling for theright tolive onastrip ofwasteland ontheedge


ALittle Piece
ofLand by
Marjolein Busstra,
2014, courtesy
ofDNN Media
Collection (CC BYNC-ND 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims

Aswell asall this dissatisfaction and frustration, alternative
systems ofdemocratic representation were proposed in some
videos. Ican be there too argues for ademocracy featuring theidea
ofrandom citizen representation in governments. An election
by lottery rather than vote. Inthefilm, Emese Jerne sees her
number selected onnational television. Later we see her arriving
attheparliament totakeoffice.
In2014 theBelgian Youth Parliament dissolved itself calling
for elective democracy tobe replaced with acitizen lottery.


ICan Be
There Too? by
Emese Jerne, 2014,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims

Another video made by aPolish film maker, Inga

Hajdarowicz, focused onparticipatory budgeting in Medellin,
Colombia. Participatory budgeting is aprocess ofdeciding how
aproportion ofacitys budget is spent through aseries ofpublic
dialogues. Here is ashot ofAdriana Giraldo Soto showing building works paid for by participatory budgeting that is improving
her community.

Taking democracy closer toeveryday life

But systemic proposals like this were few and far between.
Where films drew attention toalternatives and hope, radical
democracy was interpreted tomean acting locally todefend
housing from developers, protecting and supporting thegrowth
ofpublic spaces and challenging institutions tobe more publicly
accountable. You could say that, for these video makers, radical democracy was about applying theprinciple ofdemocracy
toeveryday life.


Meet Two
ofThem by Inga
Hajdarowicz, 2014,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY-SCNA 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims

Hope Area #2 made by Jeanne Dressen opens awindow

ontheParis Occupy protests in 2011.


Hope Area #2 by
Jeanne Dressen,
2012, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection (CC BY-SCNA 3.0).
Tale ofSpring by
Ermni Kadic, 2014,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY 3.0).

Ermni Kadics AWinters Tale ofSpring tells thestory ofBosnias

plenumsassemblies that formed during protests across Bosnia
during Spring 2014.

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims

Aseries ofvideos submitted by Vladimir Turner show artistic

interventions that symbolically challenge thepower ofadvertising in public space.

Emeko Fil Gullaries Grand Mansion ofel Pumarejo shows

thedepth offeeling among people in Seville, Spain who are
campaigning for apublicly owned apartment tostay open.


(2012), Enlightenment (2013), Urbania Jones (2012)
by Vladimir Turner,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY-NC 3.0).

Grand Mansion
ofel Pumarejo by
Emeko Fil Gullarie,
2014, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection (CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


InFight Visual Pollution, Marija Jacimovic calls for political

posters tobe cleared away from public spaces after elections
Fight Visual
Pollution by Marija
Jacimovic, 2014,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

Reclaiming thecommons
Films like this showed campaigners and artists symbolically,
literally and legally trying toclaim space in cities, disrupt its
rules and replace thedominating influence ofone group with
ademocratic spirit. Inthesecond phase ofRadical Democracy,
we referred tothis action asreclaiming thecommons
because for these struggles, protests and campaigns tobe
successful, they would need toestablish new common spaces,
goods and resources in cities. These spaces would need tobe
accessible and influenced by thepeople who used them.
Inthis second phase, after theoriginal Media Challenge,
thefour media making hubs ofDoc Next Network in Spain,
Poland, Turkey and theUK worked with local campaigning orga
nisations. They aimed tohelp these campaigns with videos and
other forms ofmedia. Thecampaigners worked in three related
areasreclaiming home, public space and political parties.

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims

Here are some frames taken from two videos made in
London that aimed tosupport people campaigning toimprove the conditions oftenants who rent privately in London.
The firstofthetwo videos aimed toinform theviewer about
the d
iminished status ofproperty guardianseffectively legal
squatters who waive what few rights tenants have in London
for cheap rents in buildings that are awaiting development.
Theguardian isin thebottom left hand corner oftheshot.
This next frame is taken from amocumentary that illustrates
thesocially destructive nature ofLondons rental market.
Inthis scene, alandlord explores his tenants underwear
draweran act that, although illegal, would be hard for
atenant tochallengegiven thefact that landlords need no


Who Guards
by DNN UK Media
Lab, 2015, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection (CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


Londonville by
DNN UK Media
Lab, 2015, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection (CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

reason toevict their tenants

in England and can do so with
little notice.
Inthefinal scene
ofthefilmwhich shows
thedog-eat-dog, rent-or-berented nature ofLondons
housing crisisall thetenants, landlords and estate
agents take hammers tothe
set and destroy it.
These films show that its possible for governments tofulfil
their legal responsibility toprovide people with shelter, but
what results can often be far from what might be called ahome.
Forthese video makers, thinking ofhousing aspart ofthecommons may not necessarily mean sharing your home with other
peoplebut it does mean that homes in cities are not possible
ifhousing is left tobe part ofthemarket like any other commo
dity. Acommon good, perhaps.

Londonville by
DNN London Media
Lab, 2015, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection (CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


onTwo wheels by
Attila EndrdiMike, 2014,
courtesy ofDNN
Media Collection
(CC BY-SA3.0).

Public spaces
Videos that celebrate new urban community culture
bicycle fixing workshops, people who act, play and educate
inpublic spaces & social centresfeatured strongly in the
original challenge.
Autonomy ontwo wheels is abeguiling portrait oftwo young
Hungarians who dream ofmaking Budapest into acooperative
city and have started abicycle fixing workshop and community.
Inthesame city, Valyo shows thework oftheValyo Group, which
is trying tobring thelife oftheDanube closer tothecity.
MeettheRiver by
theValyo Group,
2014, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection Valyo

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


Here are some frames from Open Jazdowacampaign topreserve some under-appreciated but unique wooden houses and
support thegrowth ofapublic space around them.
Open Jazdow by
DNN Polish Media
Lab 2015, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection (CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


Open Jazdow by
DNN Polish Media
Lab 2015, courtesy
ofDNN Media Collection (CC BY-NCSA 3.0).

And here are two people campaigning tosave them.

TheUrban Movement in Poland that initiatives like Open Jazdow
are part ofhas been effective in influencing mayoral elections
and has also successfully campaigned against theKrakow 2022
Olympic Games. But its worth mentioning too that what began
asacall for green spaceagreen commonshas become
acall for more democracy. Both Lodz and Sopot have recently
introduced participatory budgeting in response topressure
from theurban movement. It probably wasnt acoincidence that
thevideo about participatory budgeting we looked atearlier was
made by someone from Poland.

Political parties
InSpain, new parties have formed in cities with theaim
ofclaiming politics with thesame principles they have used
toclaim spaces and buildings during protests and occupations
ofrecent years. Attheend ofMay, candidates from new municipal partieskeen oncollective decision-making processes,
openness and mistrustful offree-market economicsstood in
elections all over thecountry.

Watching Radical Democracy Charlie Tims


Recipes by
DNN Spanish
Media Lab 2015,
courtesy ofDNN
Media C
(CC BY-SA 3.0).

InBarcelona themunicipal government is, atthetime of

writing, controlled by Barcelona en Comu and its leader Ada
Colau. Municipal Recipes is afilm made by ZEMOS98 in thespring
of2015, which shows candidates, activists and campaigners
involved in these campaigns.
They express adeep and profound faith in thepower ofwidespread participation in decision making tomake cities better.
Sadly Guillermo Zapata (pictured in thecentre ofthetable),
although being elected in Madrid and appointed astheculture
spokesperson, has already had toresign over afew ill-judged
Tweets he made several years ago.
So towrap things up. When thevideo challenge phase
oftheproject pointed toalternative forms ofdemocracy, radical
democracy meant applying democratic principles toeveryday
life in thecity. Taken totheir logical conclusion, this action
means an urban commons, or urban common goods need tobe
established. Thats why theproject focused onestablishing
common goods in three areashousing, public space and better
democracy. Thecriticism ofthese movements is that they lack
democratic legitimacy asthepeople involved are unaccountable, self-appointed interest groups. But it seems that in many
instances, rather than rejecting them, reclaiming thecommons
is/leads toastrategy for renewing democratic institutions.

Commoning in theCity
by Dougald Hine

Inthearchitecture museum ontheisland

ofSkeppsholmen, in theheart
ofStockholm, 11 ofus have
been brought together
tospend two days t hinking
aloud around thetheme
ofCommoning theCity.
Thehuman rights researcher
Saki Bailey provides aforensic
analysis ofthefoundations
ofproperty law. Theartist
Fritz Haeg tells us what
happened when he opened
his home in Los Angeles
tothepublic asaspace for
collective learning and collaboration. Alda Sigurardttir
leads us through aversion
ofthevisioning process that
was used by thenational assembly ofcitizens, following
theeconomic and political collapse in Iceland. Meanwhile,
Fredrik slundthefounder
ofaSwedish think tank,
thename ofwhich translates asCreate Commons
hasthebest T-shirt slogan

oftheevent: Home-cooking
is killing therestaurant
Iam thenight watchman onthis team, sent in
toreplace theSwiss author,
P.M., theman responsible for
theanarchist utopia bolobolo,
who has had topull out for
family reasons. Taking his
place in theopen conference
that is thecentrepiece ofthe
two days, Irealise that this
is thefirst time Ihave spoken in public onthesubject
ofthecommons. For most
oftheothers, this is aterm
that has been attheheart
oftheir work for years or decades. Meanwhile, this event
itself is evidence ofthenew
importance that it is taking
on: commons is becoming
acharged word, following
apath similar tothose taken
by words such assustainability and resilience, raised
asabanner under which an
increasing variety ofpeople

Dougald Hine
is asocial thinker,
writer and former
BBC journalist.
Hehas been
responsible for
starting aseries
including theweb
startup School
urban regeneration
bureau and The
Dark Mountain
Project. He will
act asoverall
facilitator during
Cultural Foundations Idea Camp

Commoning in theCity Dougald Hine

and organisations wish toplace

Atsuch moments, there can be
mixed feelings for those who have
along history with theword in question: there is room for asense ofvindication, but also concern atthenew
meanings, or new vaguenesses, that accrete toaword asit comes into vogue.
Asarelative outsider, it is interesting
toobserve people coming toterms
with this, and certain questions arise:
not least, why is this happening now?
Ofeverything Ihear during
these two days, theanswer that most
impresses me comes from Stavros
Stavrides: commons has become useful, he argues, because ofachange in
attitude tothestate, adisillusionment
with thepublic and aneed for another term totakes its place. Thepublic
sphere, public values, thepublic sector: all ofthese things might once
have promised some counterweight
tothedestructive force ofthemarket,
but this no longer seems tobe thecase.
We are not witnessing aturn
towards anarchism, exactly, but
something more pragmatic: ashift in
thegeneral mood, reflecting thereality
ofpeoples experience after five years
ofthis unending crisis, itself coming
after decades ofneoliberalism. It is
theattitude that underlies theSquares
Movement, from Tahrir toSyntagma,
thePuerta del Sol and Zuccotti Park.


If those camping out in cities across

three continents were reluctant
todistill their discontent into aset
ofdemands ongovernment, this was
not simply autopian refusal toengage
with thecompromises ofpolitical reality; itwas also aconviction that toput
hope in government is now themost
utopian position ofall. This is also
theattitude that has driven therise
ofBeppe Grillos Five Star Movement,
and it has all theuncomfortable ambiguities that such an example suggests.
Into this vacuum, thecommons
enters asan alternative toboth public
and private. Ifind myself wanting
topush this further, tosuggest that
it indicates asignificant historical rupture, in atleast two senses:
abreaking oftheframe ofpolitics
asatug ofwar between theforces
ofstate and market; and thefailure
oftheproject ofthepublic, thepromise ofliberal modernity toconstruct
aneutral space in which we could
meet each other asindividuals with
certain universal rights. This latter
point is particularly uncomfortable,
we discover during our conversations
in Stockholm, since many ofour
ideas ofsocial justice are founded
onthat framework. Yet if it is true
that therise ofthecommons reflects
thefailure ofthepublic, it is not clear
that we can simply expect toborrow
its assumptions.

Commoning in theCity Dougald Hine

Apolitics that has abandoned

thepublic might justly be called
apost-modern politics. We have
already seen thecynical form ofsuch
apolitics in thehands ofBush, Blair
and Berlusconi: thereliance oncontrolling thenarrative, thedisdain
for thereality-based community.
Against this, theappeal toolder public
values looks sadly nostalgic. (Think
ofAaron Sorkins latest series for HBO,
TheNewsroom: its opening titles, amontage ofanobler age ofAmerican journalism, theseries itself offers akind
ofliberal wish-fulfilment, while Obama
presides over drone wars and assassination lists.) Theattraction ofthecommons, then, may be that it promises
theemergence ofanon-cynical form
ofpost-modern politics.
If thecommons was tohand
asareference point for such apolitics,
this was tono small extent theresult
oftheemergence ofnew modes ofcollaboration, facilitated bybut not
limited to theinternet. Agreat deal
ofexcitement, some ofit well-founded
and some ofit hype, has centred
onthedisruption toour forms ofpro
perty and modes ofproduction being
brought by theways in which people
are using networked technologies.
Ithardly helps that attempts toarticulate thegenuine possibilities ofthese
technologies that are inevitably entangled with theinterests ofventure


capital firms and huge corporations,

alibertarian ideology, and aCaliforniainflected mythology about theevolution ofhuman consciousness.
Apart from anything else, these
entanglements obscure theextent
towhich themost appealing aspects
oftheinternet are often asold as
thehills: many ofthemodes ofcommunity and collaboration that have
come into being around these techno
logies are recapitulations ofearlier
social themes, marginalised by
thestructure and scale ofindustrial
mass societies.
One ofthedefining characteristics
ofsuch societies has been themarginalisation ofhuman sociability:
domestic space becomes aprivate
sanctum, strangers no longer speak
toone another in thestreet, while
there is acompulsion tochoose
themore profitable and efficient
mode ofany productive activity over
forms whose inefficiencies might allow more room for sociability and
meaning within theactivity itself.
Describing theorganisation of a ctivity
within cities, thesociologist Ray
Oldenburg identified thephenomenon
ofthethird place: neither thehome
nor theworkplace, but theconvivial
meeting pointwhether pub, cafe
or hair salonwhose importance
tothelife ofalocal community is out
ofproportion totheamount oftime we

Commoning in theCity Dougald Hine

get tospend there. Where Oldenburg

views this asan eternal feature of
human societies, we might recognise
thethird place asakind ofnative reservation: an enclave in which our indigenous sociability exists under license,
while therest ofthesocial landscape
issubject tothedemand forefficiency.
Against this, it is striking that
theonline spaces that inspire greatest
attachment seem tobe those that have
something in common with thecampfire, thebazaar, or indeed thecommons,
and that such pre-industrial social
forms have been arecurring reference point within internet culture.
These spaces exceed theboundaries
ofthethird place, both in therange
ofactivity taking place within them
and theamount oftime that many
devote tothem. Even thestructure
oftheinternet itself resembles not so
much theinformation superhighway
envisaged by politicians in the1990s
astheproliferating web oftrade
routes that centred ontheSilk Road.
(Thehistorical analogy is also implicit
in theargument made by theinformation activist Smri McCarthy, that
theradical possibilities ofthese technologies are under threat from theindustrialisation oftheinternet.)
There are deep ambiguities here:
technologically, theinternet represents
an intensification ofmany ofthedynamics oftheindustrial era; yet in


thenew social spaces that have accompanied it, people have had powerful
experiences ofwhat it means tocome
together, work and build communities
under conditions other than those that
dominate thereal-world communities
and workplaces we have inherited from
industrial society.
Whatever else, these ambiguities
imply thepolitical nature ofsuch
spaces: thenew forms ofcollaboration easily turn into new forms
ofexploitationtheline between
crowdsourcing and unpaid labour is
poorly markedand hence our conversations in Stockholm also touch
ontheneed for new forms ofcollective
Thehistorical commons might suggest another element within theresistance toexploitation and theformation
ofanew politics. AsIvan Illich and
Anthony McCann have argued, historically, thecommons was not simply
apool ofresources tobe managed,
but an alternative toseeing theworld
asmade ofresources. Specifically,
thecommons was not something to
beexploited for theproduction ofcommodities, but something that people
could draw onwithin customary limits
toprovide for their own subsistence.
During thegenerations ofenclosure and industrialisation, themeaning
oftheterm subsistence was turned
upside down: aword which, in its


Commoning in theCity Dougald Hine

origin, referred totheability

tostand firm came tosignify
weakness instead ofstrength.
Inthelanguage ofeconomics,
subsistence now stands for
thebarest and most miserable
form ofhuman existence.
Theirony is that this inversion
took place just asthemeans
ofsubsistence were being
taken away from thegreater
part ofthepopulation, not
least through theenclosure
ofcommon lands towhich
they had previously enjoyed
claims ofusage.
To reclaim subsistence
asacondition ofstrength,
especially when compared
tototal dependence onwage
labour, is not toconfuse it
with thefantasy ofself-sufficiency that has aparticular
grip ontheAmerican imagination. When Illich speaks
ofthecommons within
which peoples subsistence
activities are embedded,1
heisdescribing afabric of
social relations, apatchwork
ofcustomary law.
Reclaiming theconcept ofsubsistencethe
ability tostand firm, tomeet
many ofour own needs,
without being wholly

atthemercy ofthemarket
or thestatemay be an important piece in thejigsaw
ofa21st century politics.
IfthePirate Party marks
one end ofthenew politics
ofthecommons, perhaps
theother end looks something like theLandless
How do we handle it,
when words that have mattered tous gather anew
momentum and get raised
asbanners? Ofcourse, Ihope
that good things will flourish
in thename ofthecommons
in theyears ahead. Atthesame
time, theexperience ofmany
who have worked for thegoal
ofsustainability suggests how
disorientating such ajourney
can become. Subsistence
is hardly theonly example
ofaword that has come
tomean theopposite ofwhat
it once did.
That words fail us is not
amistake, it is in thevery nature oflanguage. Intheplenary session that brings our time
onSkeppsholmen toaclose,
Ifind myself again quoting
that passage from Illich about
areality much too complex
tofit into paragraphs. If what

1 Ivan Illich, Silence

is aCommons, remarks attheAsahi

Science and Man
Thecomputermanaged Society,
Tokyo, Japan, 21
March 1982. See


Commoning in theCity Dougald Hine

matters most is thepart that

is hardest towrite down, then
thechallenge is tostay faithful tothis: totack towards
theunwritten, rather than setting astraight course towards
an approximation. Ultimately,
allour language is provisional,
an endless reaching towards
what we are trying tosay.
Such statements sound
close tothose made by
thekind oftheorists ofpostmodernism whose students
often fall into cynicism. Yet
theprovisional nature oflanguage need not be asource
ofdespair: it can be sufficient
toour situation. Thetrick is
tohold our words lightly, tobe
willing tolet them go, for
noword needs tobe sacred.
And asIwrite this, four weeks
after those conversations in
Stockholm, it occurs tome
that perhaps Iam just stumbling towards what P.M. himself would have said tous, had
he been able tomake thetrip
from Switzerland.
Here he is, in an interview from 2004, explaining

what led him totheinvention

Theoriginal idea for creating this weird secret language
came upbecause theEuropean
left-wing terminology was no
longer viable. Nowadays when
people talk about communism,
thats gulag, no one wants
tohear about it. Or if people
talk about socialism, then they
are speaking ofSchrders politicsretirement cutsand
no one wants that, either. And
all oftheother standard leftwing expressions such assolidarity, community, theyre all
contaminated and no longer
useful. But thethings that
they stand for are actually
quite good. Idont want tosuffer because ofterminology for
which Iam not toblame; instead, Id rather create my own.
It would probably take longer
toexplain that thecommunism that Iam talking about
is not theone that Isaw. It is
easier tosimply say Iam for
bolobolo, and then everyone
starts tothink ofthethings all
over again, tore-think them.

Transition Towns, or theDesire

foran Urban Alternative
by Adrien Krauz

Theentry oftheterm transition into thevocabulary

ofpublic action shows that
questions regarding how
tobuild more sustainable
models for society are still
relevant. Theresponse offered by transition towns is
amodel for action involving
avariety oflocal and citizenled initiatives that are based
onamethod for sustainable
environmental development
called permaculture.1
Faced with thethreat ofan
environmental crisis, our
Western societies created
thenotion ofsustainable
development. Defined and
understood asadevelopment
model that seeks tostrike
abetter balance between ecological, social and economic
dimensions, aswell asameans
ofmanaging natural resources
that takes theneeds offuture

generations into consideration, this term has today been

integrated into public policies
and planning and development practices.
Theidea oftransition, by
contrast, is aconcept that is
currently emerging. It seems
topick upwhere sustainable development left off in
terms ofpublic policy. This
latter termafter more than
30 years ofexistenceno
longer has sufficient clout in
thecontext ofthecurrent
ecological crisis. Thenotion
oftransition, which has
made occasional appearances in specialist milieux
since theearly 1980s, is now
attheheart ofdebates in various arenas: public institutions,
academia and activist circles,
aswell asamong citizens.
It takes several forms and
can have anumber ofdifferent meanings, depending

Adrien Krauz
is an architect
and urban planner
who is currently
preparing aPhD
Nanterre La
Defense aspart
team within
themixed research
unit LAVUE
(Laboratory for
Architecture, Cities, Urban Planning
and theEnvironment). His thesis
questions thevisions oftheworld
by therhetoric
ontransition and
that adopt such


Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz

onthecontext (ecological
transition, energy transition, post-carbon transition,
sustainability transitions,
citizen-led transition, transition towns, etc.). Furthermore,
it is gradually being incorporated into thelinguistic register ofpublic action in France
Ofthese approaches, itis
transition towns that are
garnering growing interest
through thespatialised dimension ofthenotion that
they underpin. Since 2006,
this unidentified political
object 2 is made upoflocal
and citizen-led initiatives
and experiments that seek
todevelop lifestyles that
are less oil-dependent.
Thetowns that have joined
this movement have apractical guide onwhich tobase
their actionstheTransition
Handbook, 3 drawn upby one
ofthemovements initiators,
Rob Hopkinsand are certified and structured by an
NGO, theTransition Network.
Transition towns can now
be found in over 40 different
countries, forming what
observers call theTransition
Movement.4 Thecombination

ofthewords transition and

town may raise anumber
ofexpectations among urban
planners and other development professionals, in anticipation ofalternative practices
in their disciplines. Theesta
blishment ofurban planning
asadiscipline was built on
adesire for social reformand
theconstitution ofmodels,
thefirst ofwhich took the
orm ofutopias. 5 Theword
transition itself indicates
ahorizon ofexpectation
that is reminiscent ofthis
desire for reform. How does
theTransition Movement
address thequestion ofspace
and theway space is used
and developed? Does this
outlook stem from adesire
toreturn toautopian situation or amodel ofsome kind?
Andifso, towhat extent?

Peak oil and local resilience

TheTransition Movement
emerged in England in
2006 attheinitiative of
Rob Hopkins, an environmental activist who teaches
permaculture atKinsale
College ofFurther Education

1 Permacul-

design inspired by
natural ecosystemswas developed in the1970s
in Australia.
2 See Simon Cottin-

Marx, Fabrice
Flipo and Antoine
Lagneau, La
transition, une
utopie concrete?,
Mouvements, 75
(2013): pp.712.
3 Rob Hopkins,

Handbook: From
Oil Depend
ency toLocal
Resilience (Green
Books, 2008).
4 See Luc Semal,

Politiques locales
de decroissance,
in Sinai, A.
(dir.), Penser la
(Paris: Presses de
Sciences Po, 2013).
5 See Franoise

Choay, LUrbanisme,
utopies et realites
(Paris: Seuil, 1965).

Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz

in Kinsale, County Cork,

Ireland. Hopkins is conscious
oftheimminence ofpeak oil,
announced by many experts
asthemoment when theglobal production ofoil will reach
its maximum output level
before decreasing until all resources are exhausted. Inour
completely oil-dependent
societies, theprospect of
peak oil heralds disastrous
Hopkins works with his
students onenergy descent
action plans (EDAPs) with
theaim ofoffering solutions
for transition towards
apost-oil future. In2006,
in Totnes in Devon (southwest England), he organised
thefirst experimental transition town. In2008, he
wrote theabove-mentioned
Transition Handbook, in which
he explains thereasons for
making thetransition towards less oil-dependent lifestyles. He proposes a12-step
method for launching atransition initiative, from the creation ofatemporary steering
group totheconstruction
ofan EDAP. This handbook
and its various translations
have led toarapid increase in

thenumber oflocal transition

groups, aswell astheinter
nationalisation ofthemovement. AsofSeptember 2013,
itcomprised almost 500 official initiatives in 43 countries.6
Raising awareness of
peak oil is atthevery heart
oftheTransition Movement.
Asaresult, asense ofurgency
emerges, makingaccording
totheMovementtheprospect ofpost-carbon transition
inevitable. Theissue athand
is therefore one ofinventing
and promoting post-oil
lifestyles that can be built
onthereinforcement ofcommunities resilienceaconcept taken from theenvironmental sciences that, in this
context, designates theability
ofasystem (here, acommunity) toresist an external shock
(thescarcity ofoil). This capacity for resilience amounts
toreducing communities
dependency onoil by pursuing
an energy descent objective,
in other words areduction in
energy consumption, together
with arelocation ofproduction, in particular offood.
ofinter-community ties and
theGreat Reskilling, which


6 More detailed data

can be found here:


Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz

involves reviving vernacular

skills (cultivating, repairing,
making, etc.) that fell into
decline with theadvent
ofcheap energy, also forms
part ofthis local resilience.
TheTransition Movement defines its approach asresolutely
inclusive, positive and practical. It eschews conflict and
criticism, preferring tofoster
commitment through theconstruction ofreal, tangible
alternatives. This approach,
which professes tobe apolitical, is, however, also asource
ofcriticism: objections focus
ontheabsence ofquestions
relating tosocial justice or
equality, or underline thefact
that it forms part ofamovement that depoliticises environmental issues.7
With regard tothis approach, measures that seek
torelocate exchanges, such
aslocally sourced veg-box
schemes, local and complementary currencies, LETS (local
exchange trading systems) and
time banks orwaste recovery
centres (places where discarded objects can be reused
or recycled) clearly have their
place within theTransition
Movement. But it is through

efforts to reintegrate agriculture into thecity that thework

oftransitioners is most visible. This takes theform ofactions and projects (community
gardens, composters, crop
plantation in public spaces,
city roofs used for agriculture) that reflect thefact that
themovements foundations
lie in permaculture. This in
turn forms thedesign glue
and theethical foundations
[used] tounderpin Transition
work. 8

Permaculture: asocial project

for sustainable prosperity
Permaculture (acontraction
ofpermanent agriculture)
is an alternative approach
toagriculture developed in
Australia in the1970s by
biologist Bill Mollison and
environmental designer
David Holmgren, both environmental activists.
Alongside therise ofathird
world environmentalism,
permaculture developed in
response toobservations
ofthedamage produced by
industrial agriculture oncultivable land, and thehigh levels

7 For abroader

analysis, see
Anneleen Kenis
and Eric Mathijs,
the local: thecase
Towns movement in
Flanders (Belgium),
Journal ofRural
Studies, 34 (2014):
Christian Jonet
and Pablo Servigne,
Initiatives de
transition: la question politique,
Mouvements, 75
(2013): pp.7076.
Paul Chatterton
and Alice Cutler,
Un ecologisme
apolitique. Debat
autour de la transi
tion (Montreal:
Ecosociete, 2013).
8 Rob Hopkins,

op.cit., p.137.


Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz

ofenergy consumed, aswell

astheasymmetries in development itgenerates.9
Asan alternative,
Holmgren and Mollison proposed thecreation ofadaptive, integrated systems for
theself-perpetuation ofplant
and animal species useful
tohumankind.10 By imitating
therelationships and structures observed in nature, they
suggested aseries ofoperating
principles (including observation, adaptiveness, energy
conservation, diversity and
theuse ofsimple, small-scale
solutions) that could be used
toobtain efficient, sustainable
production systems.
Permaculture is more
than just aset oforganic
farming techniques: its originators present it asacontribution towards theconstruction ofatruly environmental
science in education and life
and amodel that incorporates
ecology, energy conservation, landscape design, urban
renewal, architecture, agriculture [].11 Their approach
takes asits starting point
theobservation that societies need shared ideals and
long-term goals and that

permaculture may be one

ofthecontributions towards
such ends. Holmgren and
Mollison assert that they have
taken into account problems
ofunemployment [], ofurban neurosis, and ofthefeeling ofpowerlessness and lack
ofdirection common tomany
ofus in todays world.
Inthis sense, permaculture
claims tobe asolution capable ofbringing sustainable
prosperity tosociety, based
onatruly globalvision.12
Over thelast 25 years,
thedefinition ofpermaculture
has evolved toincorporate
inhabitants, their constructions and theways in which
they organise themselves,
shifting from avision ofpermaculture aspermanent
or sustainable agriculture
toone ofapermanent or sustainable culture.13 Moreover,
Hopkins declares that he sees
theTransition model asan
attempt tocreate permaculture onthescale ofthecity.14
For him, it is aquestion
ofrethinking human establishments in thelight ofarenewed relationship with nature asthekey tohumanitys
long-term existence.

9 See David

Holmgren and Bill

Mollison, Permac
ulture One: APer
ennial Agriculture
for Human Settle
ments (Melbourne:
Transworld, 1978).

10 David Holmgren

and Bill Mollison,

ibid., p.15.
11 David Holmgren

and Bill Mollison,

ibid., p.16.
12 Emmanuel

Pezres, La perma
culture ausein
delagriculture urbaine: du jardin au
projet de societe,
VertigOla revue electronique
en sciences
10(2) (2010).
Accessed 14 May
2015, see http://
13 David Holmgren,

Principles and
Pathways Beyond
Sustainability (East
Meon: Permanent
Publications, 2011).
14 Interview with Rob

Hopkins by Sami
Grover, 27 March
2007, available
online atthefollowing address:


Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz

From adevelopment
standpoint, this means creating asymbiotic relationship between thetown and
thecountry, with theproduction offood within
thecity and theproduction
offibres, fuel[] and proteins
in nearby rural areas, and an
exchange ofservices, assistance and skills.15 Intown,
this means converting potentially productive spaces
(Allcities have unused vacant land; roadside verges[],
conservatories, concrete
roofs, balconies, glass walls
and south-facing windows. 16
These spaces are used torecover energy and produce
food, leading toarchitectural
adaptations relating totheposition ofwindows, thelayout
ofbalconies and roofs, and
theinstallation oftrellis systems, for example.
Inhis Transition Handbook,
Hopkins proposes avision
for England in 2030. He
imagines urban agriculture
asapriority for urban planners and for communities
(we have redesigned cities
in order tomake them productive places.17 He sees
thereturn ofmarket gardens

onthefringes ofcities and

inlarge urban parks. Interms
ofarchitecture, he foresees
an increase in theenergy efficiency ofdwellings, thedevelopment ofgroup housing,
theuse oflocal and natural
materials such asrammed
earth, straw, hemp and
wood, or recycled materials,
aswell asanationwide training programme in building
techniques. These spatial
measures go hand in hand
with aslower pace oflife
and changes in residents
habits, leading toagreater
rootedness in their cities and
their bioregions,18 aswell
asincreased participation in
what is consequently amore
vibrant local life.

Urban planning based

onahybrid ofthenatural
and social sciences
Through its reformatory
scope and its description
ofmeasures for amore
desirable use ofspace,
theTransition Movement
could be considered tohave
characteristics in common
with certain urbanistic

15 David Holmgren

and Bill Mollison,

op.cit., p.111.
16 David Holmgren

and Bill Mollison,

ibid., p.114.
17 Rob Hopkins,

op.cit., p.110.
18 Thenotion ofbi-

oregions was
influenced by
thework ofPatrick
Geddes and, later,
Lewis Mumford
It was conceptualised in order
todefine ascale
capable oftaking
problems into
consideration (see
Sale, Dwellers in
theLand: TheBi
oregional Vision
(San Francisco:
Sierra Club, 1985);
Robert L. Thayer,
Jr., LifePlace: Bi
oregional Thought
and Practice
(Oakland: University ofCalifornia
Press, 2003); Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann,


Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz

orpre-urbanistic models described by Francoise Choay.19

For example, inthe Transition
Handbook and Permaculture
One, references are made
toWilliam Morris and
Ebenezer Howard, aswell
astoKropotkin and Lewis
Mumford. Theorigins
oftheTransition Movement
appear tolie with theculturalist urbaniststhrough
theimportance accorded
tothecommunity, through
its criticisms ofindustry
and technological progress,
through acertain nostalgia
for apre-industrial past considered more resilient, and
so forth. Inthis way, it places
itself within autopian lineage, while also introducing
new elements that enable it
tomove beyond this ancestry.
For example, thedefinition ofadesirable future
society no longer takes place
nowhere but instead in
themultiple possibilities offered by amodel for action.
Inthis respect, theTransition
is rooted in reality. Unlike
utopias ofspatial form, and
their tendency for closure, 20
it proposes apractice for
transforming thereal where

thevision acts asacatalyst or

compass rather than aplan.
Furthermore, theTransition
does not base its alternative
paradigm onculture or exclusively in social relations
but onanew link with nature
considered astheprelude
toapermanent culture, yet
without adopting an antiurban stance.
Accordingly, the
Transition Movement
would seem tostem from
an environmentalisation
of culturalism. This enables
it tofirmly tie development
practices toamore in-depth
knowledge ofecological
systems. Indoing so, it reexamines urban planning
from adifferent angle: while
it is typically considered arational science or interpreted
from thestandpoint ofthe
social sciences, here it appears
asahybrid branch ofknow
ledge that combines aspects
from both thenatural and
social sciences. TheTransition
Movement raises thequestion ofadesign and development rationality that seeks
tomove beyond sustainable
development approaches
by focusing onthelocal and

7(10) (1977):
pp.3994 01).
Currently, theconcept oftheurban
bioregion lies
oftheItalian territorialist school, led
by Alberto Magnaghi (see Alberto
Magnaghi, La
Bioregion urbaine.
Petit traite sur
le territoire bien
commun (Paris:
Eterotopia, 2014).
19 See Franoise

Choay, op.cit., and

Claire Carriou and
Olivier Ratouis,
[Quels modeles
25 June 2014. Accessed 14 May
2015, URL: www.
Quels- modelespour-l-urbanisme.
html. Also available
in English (translated by Oliver Waine):
[Is there amodel for
sustainable urban
Metropolitics, 27
November 2014.
Accessed 14 May
2015, URL: www.


Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz

thespecificities thereof, while

also establishing theessential
conditions for theself-replication ofecosystems.

Principles rather than amodel

Theidea oftransition calls
for us toabandon one situation and achieve another,
more desirable one. Inthis
sense, it seems tomobilise
both utopia, asasituationally transcendent idea, 21
andaproject-based approach,
asit strives tobuild atrajectory, however uncertain,
towards this desired situation. There is no question
ofan overarching rational
planning approach, or
ofseeking one best way,
but rather ofopening

thefield ofpossibilities and

ofrecognising thevarious
means ofreaching this goal.
Inthis way, theTransition
Movement is guided by
principles, values and one
or more visions that act
ascompasses that orient its
development. It makes use
ofexperimentation, training
and individuals capacity for
Although it maintains links with texts that
are considered utopian,
theTransition Movement
does not propose any kind
ofurban model. It calls into
question our ability toconstruct our future in acollective, considered manner, by
proposing alternatives that
aim tobe both radical and

20 David Harvey,

Spaces ofHope
(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
Press, 2000).
21 Karl Mannheim,

Ideologie et Utopie
(Paris: Librairie
Marcel Riviere
et Cie, 1956).

Chisinau Civic
Centeropen air
cinema, 2012.
Chisinau Civic
park, 2014.
Dance performance by contact
improvisation group
in Zaikin Park.

Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz


Transition Towns, or theDesire foran Urban Alternative Adrien Krauz


ABrief History ofP2P Urbanism

by Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero

P2P (peer-to-peer) Urbanism

joins ideas from theopensource software movement
together with new thinking
by urbanists, into adiscipline
oriented towards satisfying
human needs. P2P-Urbanism
is concerned with cooperative
and creative efforts todefine
space for peoples use. This
essay explains P2P-Urbanism
astheoutcome ofseveral
historical processes, describes
thecooperative participation
schemes that P2P-Urbanism
creates, and indicates thepossible outcomes ofapplying
P2P-Urbanism in different human environments.

Thecombination ofpeerto-peer and urbanism
TheP2P-Urbanism movement
is quite recent, and it is

drawing in urban d
and planners who have been
working independently
for years, mostly unaware
ofsimilar efforts being made
in other regions oftheworld
or even close by. (Some reasons for this isolation will be
explored in thelater section
Potential detractors ofP2PUrbanism). People who join
P2P-Urbanism represent
aheterogeneous group consisting ofindividuals championing collaborative design
and user participation in
planning; New Urbanists tied
tothecommercial US movement ofthat name; followers
ofChristopher Alexander;
urban activists; and others.
Gradually, practitioners in
other fields will learn about
P2P-Urbanism and bring in
their knowledge where appropriate. Candidates include
Permaculturists (who design

A. Salingaros
is Professor
ofTexas atSan
Antonio, urbanist
and architectural
is asoftware
programmer and
one ofthefounders oftheGnome
project, awidelyused, free graphical
environment mainly
for GNU/Linux

ABrief History ofP2P Urbanism (excerpts) Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero

productive ecosystems that

let humans live in harmony
with plants and animals)
with adeep practical understanding ofBiophilia,1
advocates ofvernacular and
low-energy construction,
and various independent or
resilient communities that
wish tosustain themselves
from theground up.
P2P-Urbanism is all about
letting people design and
build their own environments, using information and
techniques that are shared
freely. Theimplications ofthis
have abroad scope.
Inparallel tothefree/
open-source software
movement, designing acity
and ones own dwelling
and working environment
should be based upon freely
available design rules rather
than some secret code decided upon by an appointed
authority. Furthermore,
open-source urban code must
be open tomodification and
adaptation tolocal conditions
and individual needs, which
is thewhole point ofopensource. For e xample, theDPZ
SmartCode 2 not only allows
but also requires calibration

tolocal conditions, and for

this reason it pertains toP2PUrbanism despite thecorporate parentage ofmany New
Urbanist projects.
One implication ofthis
new way ofthinking about
thecity is toencourage
reclaiming common open
space in theurban environment. Asignificant phenomenon in 20th century urbanism has been thedeliberate
elimination ofshared public
space, since theopen space
surrounding standalone
modernist buildings tends
tobe amorphous, hostile and
therefore useless. Attractive
public space was recreated
elsewhere under theguise
ofprivate, controlled space
within commercial centres.
Inthis way, common space
that is essential for citizen
interactions (and thus forms
thebasis ofshared societal
values) has been privatised,
re-packaged and then sold
back tothepeople. P2PUrbanism reverses this
tendency. Inthenext section we will explore how
free participation changes
theway in which urbanism
is done.


1 Permaculture,
2 TheSmartCode is

amodel transectbased planning and

zoning document
based onenvironmental analysis.
It addresses all
scales ofplanning,
from theregion
totheblock and
building. Thetemplate is intended
for local calibration
toyour town or
code, theSmartCode keeps settlements compact
and rural lands
open, literally reforming thesprawling patterns of
zoning. Theoriginal
SmartCode was
released by Duany
Plater-Zyberk &
Cie (DPZ) in 2003,
after two decades
ofresearch and
Ithas been continually updated with
input from scores
from numerous
disciplines. Since
2004, themodel
code has been
completely open
source and free

ABrief History ofP2P Urbanism (excerpts) Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero

Participation schemes for

urbanism and architecture
Centrally-planned environments or buildings are often
designed strictly onpaper
and subsequently built tothat
specification, without any
room for adaptation or for
input from thefinal users.
Infact, theworst examples
are theresults ofspeculative
building with no adaptive
purpose in mind. However,
there has always been asmall
and underutilised intersection ofP2P thinkers and
urbanists/planners that have
promoted participatory events
outside theofficial planning
system. Those urban interventions have tended tobe
temporary rather than permanent because ofthedifficulty ofimplementing changes
Although thepresent
group behind P2P-Urbanism
was formed only in 2010,
participatory planning and
design go back decades,
particularly in thework
ofJ.F.C. Turner onself-built
housing inSouthAmerica. 3
Christopher Alexanders most
relevant work is thebook

APattern Language from

1977, 4 followed by TheNature
ofOrder from 20012005. 5
More recent P2P collaborative
projects based upon theidea
ofthecommons were developed and applied by Agatino
Rizzo and many others.6 These
projects rely explicitly upon
defining common ownership
ofaphysical or virtual region
ofurban space.
After decades ofcentral
planning that ignores local
conditions and thecomplex
needs offinal users, and
that tries todo away with
thecommons for monetary
reasons, people have forgotten
theprincipal geometrical patterns that generated our most
successful human-scaled urban spaces throughout history.
There has been an important
loss oftheshared knowledge
that once let people build humane environments without
much in theway offormal
Successful urban design
has everything todo with real
quality oflife and sustainability. With themodernist or postmodernist status quo, themain
consideration for construction
has been thevisual impact


3 John F. C. Turner,

Housing by People
(London: Marion
Boyars, 1976) http://
4 Christopher

lexander, Sara
Ishikawa, Murray
Silverstein, Max
Jacobson, Ingrid
&Shlomo Angel,
APattern Language
(New York: Oxford
University Press,
1977) http://www.
5 Christopher Alex-

ander, TheNature
ofOrder: Books
One toFour (Berkeley, California:
Center for Environmental Structure,
6 Agatino Rizzos


ABrief History ofP2P Urbanism (excerpts) Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero

ofthefinished p
roduct. Incontrast
tothis, P2P-Urbanism has just asmuch
tosay about theprocess ofplanning
asthefinal, adaptive, human-scale
outcome. It represents aset ofqualities and goals that are widely sharable,
and which go far beyond architecture
and urban design. Principles ofgood
urbanism and architecture are widely
shareable and acceptable by everyday people, but they are not entirely
obvious. For example, it takes careful
explaining toconvince people that
apedestrian network can be woven
into car-centric cities, and that rather
than making traffic chaotic, this will
in fact reduce traffic, which is something that everyone would appreciate.
Interms ofevolutionary design, astepby-step design process that re-adjusts
according toreal-time constraints and
human needs leads tothedesired final
result, something impossible toachieve
from apre-conceived or formal design.
Let us consider briefly thekinds
ofparticipation that can be open todifferent people. Architects ofcourse deal
with thedesign ofbuildings. An architect familiar with theneeds ofacertain
region may know, for example, that
an 80cm eave is enough toprotect
three-metre tall storeys from rainfall,
in aparticular region with acertain
average ofwind and rain. Abuilder
may be well versed in theactual craft
ofconstruction, that tobuild this kind


ofeave, with thetraditional forms

used in this region, requires such
and such materials and techniques.
Thefinal dweller ofahouse will certainly be interested in protecting his
windows and walls from rainfall, but
he may want tohave asay in what kind
ofwindow he wants: ifhe wants it
toopen totheoutside, then it must not
bump against thewide eave. Thus it is
important toestablish communication
between users, builders, designers and
everyone who is involved with aparticular environment.
Our hypothetical rainy region
will doubtless have similar problems
toother similar regions in different
parts oftheworld. P2P-Urbanism lets
these geographically separated people
connect together tolearn from each
others experience. Trial-and-error
can be reduced by being able toask,
whoknows how tobuild windows
and eaves that will stand this kind
ofrainfall?, and toget an answer
backed byevidence.
Bigger problems can be attacked in
asimilar way. Instead ofabstract, philosophical-sounding talk like theshape
ofthecity must reflect thespirit
oftheage, and windows must be designed tomimic acurtain wall (why?),
we can look for evidence ofcities that
are humane and livable. We can then
adapt their good ideas tolocal conditions, drawing upon theknowledge

ABrief History ofP2P Urbanism (excerpts) Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero

ofall thepeople who participate in theP2P-Urbanism

Construction firms that
embrace P2P-Urbanism may
end upbeing well-liked in
thecommunities where they
work, for they will actually
be in constant communication with theusers oftheir
products, rather than just
doing hit-and-run construction that is not loved or cared
for byanyone.
Uptonow, residents have
not been able tomake any
changes onsignature architecture projects, and not even
ontheunattractive housing
blocks they happen toreside
in for economic reasons. P2PUrbanism instead advocates
for people being allowed
tomodify their environment
tosuit their needs, instead
ofrelying exclusively onadesigner who does not even live
there. P2P-Urbanism is like
an informally scientific way
ofbuilding: take someones
published knowledge, improve it and publish it again
so that other people can do
thesame. Evidence-based
design relies upon agrowing
stock ofscientific experiments

that document and interpret

thepositive or negative effects thebuilt environment
has onhuman psychology
and well-being.7 Peoples instinctive preferences can be
driven either by Biophilia
(apreference for organic
environments) or fashion
(with sometimes disastrous
Acentral feature ofNew
Urbanist projects is acharrette that involves user input
beforehand, although sometimes applied in only asuperficial manner. Nevertheless,
in thebest cases, acharrette
process is not just an opinion
poll; it is also anon-dogmatic
educational process, adialogue
among stakeholders leading
toafinal agreement. The result reaches ahigher level
ofunderstanding compared
towhere theindividual participants startedfrom.

Consequences for
marginalised people
Some proponents ofthe
movement view P2P-Urba
nism asaway togive power
tomarginalised people,


7 Nikos Salingaros,

Life and thegeometry oftheenvironment, Athens Dia

logues EJournal,
Harvard Universitys Center for
Hellenic Studies
(November 2010)

ABrief History ofP2P Urbanism (excerpts) Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero

interms of creating theenvironment

in which they live. This point ofview
is true, but it is not thewhole story.
AP2P p
rocess will have tosomehow
channel and amalgamate pure indivi
dualist, spontaneous preferences and
cravings within apractical c ommon
goal. There is avast distinction
between good and bad urban form:
only thefirst type encourages sociocultural relations to fl
ourish; bad
urban form leads, among other things,
toneighbours who never even interact
with each other.
Atop-down way ofthinking and
urban implementation has always determined accessibility topublic housing and facilities built by government,
and has fixed thedivision ofpower in
theurban arena. We want tofacilitate
integration ofpeople now separated
by differences ofsocial status, using
thebuilt environment tohelp accomplish that.
Marginalised people or minorities
will find tremendous power in being


able tobuild their own environment

inexpensively, and knowing that
they are building something good.
There exists aprecedent for this in
thevarious eco-villages in Mexico
that do their own construction, with
local materials, and where everything
is hand-built. P2P-Urbanism provides
thekey tosuccessfully integrating
thetwo existing ways ofdoing
things: i) large-scale planning that
alone is capable ofproviding thenecessary infrastructure ofahealthy
city; and ii) informal (and most often
illegal) self-built settlements that
are growing in an uncontrolled way
For marginalised people we
can expect consequences similar
towhat has happened with theuse
offree/open-source software in
developing nations: local expertise
is formed, alocal economy follows,
and thewhole country is enriched
by being able totake care ofits

Stimulating Dissonances
by Richard Sennett

Inthespirit ofEphraim
Lessing, most ofus would like
tobelieve that it is possible
for all thedifferent people
who live in Europe toenjoy
alife ofpeaceful c oexistence.
Inlight ofthis, Iwould like
toshare some thoughts
ontheissue oftolerance,
asIbelieve agreat deal
ofnonsense has been spoken
onthis particular subject.
Nonsense in thesense that
many people seem tobelieve
tolerance is apeaceful state
in which people live together
in harmony. Inmy view, this
is an illusion. It is an illusion
that coexistence means living
your life in apeaceful state.
Itis more acase ofliving your
life in astate ofupheaval,
not in thesense ofunrest or
violence, but in thesense that
coexisting with people who
are different toyou may be
something ofaroller coaster
ride. We need tofind away
ofcoming toterms with

this fact and trying toenjoy

theride. Personally, Ithink
we need tostart viewing the
frictions we might experience
with others asapositive
rather than always assomething negative. This means
that we need tothink of
these potential frictions
assomething positive that
encourages us tothink about
our own way oflife, whatever
thedisruptions these frictions
Inthis article, Iwould
like tofocus onone particular
aspect ofthis issue, namely
where we might find aspace
in which people can experience this kind ofdiversity and
all theunpleasant, stimulating,
destabilising and uncertain
self-perception that goes with
it. Ibelieve this kind ofspace
can be created in aparticular
type oftown or city.
Atthis point, Iwould
like toquote from Immanuel
Kants excellent essay

Richard Sennett
is theCentennial
Professor ofSociology atthe
London School
and University
Professor ofthe
Humanities atNew
York University.


Stimulating Dissonances Richard Sennett

onthesubject ofpeace that he wrote

in 1784. Intheessay he uses avery
insightful expression: Thecrooked
timber that man is made out of. Any
genuinely open urban environment
will be full ofpeople who vary widely
in terms oftheir financial status, ethnicity, politics, sexual orientation and
lifestyle and yet share thesame space.
Does this crookedness need tobe
straightened out? Albert Speer obviously thought so. He tried tomould
thestreets, parks, office buildings and
houses ofGerman cities, and especially
Berlin, into auniform shape. Today
there are other forces atwork that contribute tothis straightening, including
thegrowing financial inequality that is
helping todivide formerly very diverse
residential areas from each other. Our
towns and cities are becoming more
heterogeneous, but not more mixed.
Themost popular form ofresidential area these days is thegated community. This is what people want if
they are given thechoice. Kant would
not be happy if he could see what was
happening in todays towns and cities.
If we look atthequote in its entirety,
what he wrote was: Out oftimber
so crooked asthat from which man is
made, nothing entirely straight can be
built. If we accept this, then good citizens should accept neighbours who are
different tothem without attempting
tostraighten them out. Kant believed

that even themost diverse ofpeople

could live peacefully together. He was
oftheview that people could not only
live together in arelatively chaotic
space with all its corners, side streets
and unexpected experiences but also
actually enjoy life there. Hewas committed totheideal ofasociety that
is capable ofliving with complexity.
Personally, Ibelieve that words such
asmulticultural and inclusive are
now worn-out clichs. Im starting
towonder whether theright conditions for encounters cannot actually be
physically created, whether towns and
cities can be designed in such away
that theappropriate spaces are created
toencourage encounters.
Atthis point Iwould like togive
you ashort insight into my book
TheOpen City, in which Idescribe what
Ibelieve it would take todesign such
acity. Iwork ontheassumption that
acity will always require dividing lines
between distinct areas andl generally
tend todifferentiate between two types
ofdividing line: borders and boundaries.
These are thetwo fundamental types
ofdividing line that traditionally develop
between different parts of a city.

Theopen city
Theproblem that we have today is that
we tend tocreate more boundaries


Stimulating Dissonances Richard Sennett

and so create closed spaces. We seem

tohave forgotten how tocreate borders. Istarted todevelop these ideas
around 15 years ago when Ibegan
teaching attheMassachusetts Institute
ofTechnology and spent more time in
thecompany ofnatural scientists. Imet
some biologists there who suggested
that this difference between open
borders and closed boundaries exists
in nature tooatleast under certain
Lets take alook atthedifference between acell membrane and
acell wall. Acell membrane selectively allows theexchange ofsubstances between theoutside and inside
ofthecell. Thecell wall, ontheother
hand, retains asmuch aspossible
inside thecell; it effectively forms
arigid boundary. Thecell membrane is
open in avery special way, in asmuch
asit is both permeable and resistant
atthesame time. When we think
ofsomething being open, we tend
tothink ofan open door, which we
can simply walk through. However,
theconcept oftheopen door cannot be realistically applied tohuman
coexistence. Openness can still mean
that tensions existthekind oftensions that are apparent in theinterplay
between permeability and resistance.
Thecell membrane tries totake in
asmany nutrients aspossible, while
atthesame time acting tokeep what

is necessary inside thecell. lt is this

tension between permeability and
resistance that creates openness, not
theabsence oftensionthis is anatural phenomenon.

Thetigers no-go area

Incontrast, Id like touse theterritory ofthetiger in Asia asan example
ofanatural boundary. Tigers create
boundaries by marking what they
see astheir territory. This territory
then becomes ano-go area, aspace
that thetiger effectively bans others
from entering. Thedifference here is
that theterritory is an area oflimited a ctivity. So in thenatural world,
thedifference between aborder and
aboundary is that aborder defines an
area ofhigh activity between different species, while aboundary defines
adead space. My argument is that this
principle can be applied tohumans and
their activities too. When you bring
people together in different situations,
you create life, but when you separate
them, you are effectively sentencing
thecity toaslow death.
Ionce took ahair-raising helicopter flight over So Paulo in Brazil
and saw atypical example ofthekind
ofboundary often created within cities. On theleft hand side ofawall was
afavela, ontheother side was avery

Stimulating Dissonances Richard Sennett

expensive apartment block. Every

floor had aswimming pool onthebalcony. Theswimming pools overlooked
thefavela and thefavela looked
upattheswimming pools. When people ask me How come theres so much
violence in Sao Paulo? or Why cant
thepeople there get along with each
other? Ishow them one ofthephotos
Itook from thehelicopter and this
gives them aclear impression ofwhat
Imean by thedifference between
aborder and aboundary.
So, how do we create apermeable border like acell membrane in
an urban context? Let me give you an
example from thecity ofCopenhagen.
ln theold part ofthecity there is
ahome for patients suffering from
Alzheimers disease. Many oftheresidents with Alzheimers are brought
out tovisit thelocal cafs instead
ofbeing kept out ofsightthis
is an example ofpermeability. This
means that there is apermeable relationship between theinside and
outside world. lt may not always be
particularly comfortable for atourist
if you have tosit in acaf with three
people suffering from advanced stages
ofAlzheimersand Ican say this
from firsthand experiencebut it is
reality. Thetruth lies within.
To round off these examples,
Iwould like tosay something about
liminality. These dividing lines that


Ihave described toyou are liminal

spaces and Iwould like tobriefly
refer tothework ofWilliam James,
one oftheworlds first major psychologists. Attheend ofthe19th century, he talked about what he referred
toasthespotlight oftheconsciousness. When we are conscious ofsomething, we shine aspotlight onitand
zone those things ontheperiphery
out ofthefocus ofour awareness.
According toJames, this is themechanism by which we concentrate
Liminality, ontheother hand, is
an altogether different state, both psychologically and psychophysically. It is
thevery definition ofperipheral vision.
Theconical field ofvision in thehuman
eye is a60-degree circle, so ahalf
circle would be 30 degrees. According
toJames, we naturally focus our view
onacentral point, but thequestion
urban planners have toask themselves
is what can be seen ontheperiphery
ofthat particular view. This is about
liminality. It is about seeing thebigger picture and not just thecentre.
This is thebasic principle espoused by
theEnglish psychologist and paediatrician Donald Woods Winnicott and
deals with theway we view things
Ibelieve that it is possible tocreate spaces in which people can experience apermeable membrane type

Stimulating Dissonances Richard Sennett

oflife; spaces in which many different

types ofpeople are brought together.
Wouldnt this result in people integrating? Not necessarily. But it would
atleast create thekind ofphysical
environment in which people
Ibelieve this is really important.
Most oftheexperiences we have in
cities are silent ones.lm not talking
about reading out theUN Universal
Declaration onHuman Rights every
time we go tobuy apiece ofcake or
abottle ofmilk. But people generally
remain silent around people who are
different tothem, even though they
are sharing thesame physical space.
Their experiences ofcoexistence tend
tobe ofaphysical nature, rather than
averbal one. Ialso believe urban planners have got it wrong, because they
should be creating aphysical experience in which seeing theway somebody moves, for example, or noticing
whether they wear aburka or how
they stand next tosomebody else can
actually lead tolearning how tolive together, no matter how disturbing that
might seem. Ironically, thesupporters
ofthePegida movement live in an area
ofGermany with one ofthelowest
percentages offoreigners. It doesnt
really surprise me that these people,
who have very little actual contact
with Muslims, think that all Muslims
are terrorists. Thereason for this is that


they dont actually live in close contact

with any Muslims.
Urban planning needs tobe completely rethought. We need tobe focusing onprecisely these peripheral
zones between different urban areas.
Forexample, we should be building
schools ontheedges ofcommunities
rather than in themiddle ofthem.
And, asinCopenhagen, we should
take people who suffer from that
terrible disease into thecity, instead
ofkeeping them in isolation. We need
tostart thinking ofthese peripheral
zones between urban areas asour
natural environment. They may not
be themost attractive areas, but they
are important. Ibelieve this is where
urban planning shouldstart.
Iwould like toquote Kant once
again, ashe is often held uptosupport
arguments in favour ofcosmopolitan
behaviour. It is worth remembering
that theFrench word cosmopolite was
originally used todescribe diplomats.
They were meant tobe able tomove
easily from place toplace, culture
toculture, without becoming integrated or apart ofthem. Inthe19th
century this idea ofmental mobility
stood in stark contrast totheidea
ofphysical mobility. Inthose days,
acosmopolitan person was somebody
who could move around acity like one
ofBaudelaires flneurs and observe
thevarious comings and goings from


Stimulating Dissonances Richard Sennett

adistance. Cosmopolitans
still felt athome no matter how far from home
they might be. Inthewords
oftheFrench sociologist
Henri Lefebvre, they felt they
had aright tothewhole city.
Theadvantage ofthis kind
ofattitude is that it stops
people living lives full offantasies about other people, asis
thecase with thesupporters

ofthePegida movement. They

harbour strange ideas about
Muslims for thesimple reason
that they never actually come
into contact with them. My
idea ofamixed city basically
involves expanding theperipheral zones between areas,
rather than creating concentrations ofspecific communities, so that people can coexist
in all areas ofthecity.

Chisinau Civic
park, 2014, Park
Fanfare on the
stage, by studioBASAR.
Chisinau Civic
park, 2014, stage
in the park, by

Stimulating Dissonances Richard Sennett


Thecommons is not
amagic wand. Its
simply an opening,
apathway, ascaffolding
tobuild anew. Indeed,
acommons works only
if there are commoners
participating in it.
David Bollier, TheCommons, Political Transformation and Cities

Creative and Collaborative

by Tessy Britton

Although 2011 was ayear

in which theheadlines were
stolen by revolt, riot and
demonstration, highlighting
large-scale, sometimes violent,
rejections ofthestatus quo,
it was also ayear in which
creative and collaborative local
projects pushed through in
sufficient numbers globally
for patterns and longer-term
implications tobecome clearer
than ever before.
Asregular citizens,
we have anumber ofwell-
established routes toparticipating in society. We participate through being consumers,
supporting theeconomy, circulating money through this
vast system toprovide valuable livelihoods for ourselves
and others. We also participate
through generosity, giving
what we can spare toworthy
causes and volunteering
tohelp people with fewer
advantages, both athome and
abroad. Many ofus choose

toget involved in social governance roles, representing

stakeholders and groups in
avariety ofways. We take
onformal roles and responsibilities, through school
governance, standing for local
councils, acting oncommittees and community forums,
and ofcourse voting in elections. Asaway ofensuring
fair and equitable accountability ondecision-making,
weoften get involved in public
consultations and when we
dont consider our concerns
are sufficiently well heard,
our frustrations spill over into
challenging decisions more
directly through campaigning
and protesting.
With such acomprehen
sive and varied range of
opportunities toparticipate
in, why are we seeing people
engaging in their communities in new waysand how
can we define some ofthose

differences more clearly?

Tessy Britton
is co-founder
Systems Lab,
and Director
ofZero Zero,
studio ofarchitects,
strategic designers,
social scientists,
economists and
urban designers
practising design
beyond its tradi
tional borders

Creative and Collaborative Tessy Britton

Heres asimple example ofthese new

creative and collaborative behaviours:
aperson has an idea ofhow their street
or community might look or feel different. Maybe they think afew benches in
their street would create new opportunities for neighbours toget toknow
one another better through informal
contact. Historically, they could take
their idea tothelocal authority or their
ward councillortobe supported
or not. But if that person knocked
onafew neighbours doors, described
their idea and managed tocollect some
donations and together, they could
buy abench or two, or even go so
far astodesign and make their own
benches, perhaps with materials from
their own gardens, then this would
be significantly different toasking
theauthorities torespond toyour
suggestion. They wouldnt be acting
out ofcharity, or representing anyone,
or campaigning. They had acreative,
socially informed idea and, working
collaboratively with neighbours, they
made it happen.
This same pattern is appearing
all over theplace, through community fruit collections, skill sharing,
resource sharing and tons ofprojects
relating tofoodgrowing, cooking,
making and learningand what we
are seeing is culturally very different
from what we have witnessed before.
Knowledge about systems, thesocial


needs ofpeople, theideas and methods

ofmaking these social projects successful, is slowly becoming more widespread. Professionals are deploying
their expertise in their own communities voluntarily. There is amuch deeper
and wider appreciation oftheidea
ofwaste, thecurrent waste ofpeoples
talents, ideas and energies, aswell
asthephysical resources lying empty.
Collectively, these different strands
ofthinking represent opportunities
toact in clever and successful ways
that have thepotential totransform
how we live day-to-day.
Five years ago, if someone told you
that their street had joined together
torent aspace toserve asacreative
common community space, you
would have been very surprised.
But last month in Rotterdam Ispent
themorning in one ofthese spaces,
called theLiving Room. This beautiful
space is paid for by membership from
thecommunity, each paying 3 Euros
per month, and managed by volunteers.
InIsrael, thepractice ofcommunities
renting ashared house for community
activities is becoming commonplace
insome areas.
People across theglobe are rediscovering thepleasures and benefits
ofcommon activity: neither aspassive
consumers ofculture, nor asneedy
recipients ofcharity, but asactive
makers and designers ofwhere they


Creative and Collaborative Tessy Britton

live. Thereis anew sense

ofagency emerging, ofoptimism and ofcontrol, and it is
revealing itself through real,
positive activity onahuman
scale, not through theorising
or large systemic change.
For nearly four years,
Ihave been working
onaproject called Social
Spaces,1 concentrating

obsessively onunderstanding these phenomena in

great detail, asthey have
emerged. We now have 45
collaborative books in productionTheCommunity
Lovers Guide totheUniverse 2
collecting stories ofthese new
types oflocal project from
places around theworld.
Over thepast 15 months,
we have worked in over
80communities, asking 2,000
people what they would like
tosee more ofin theplaces
where they live. Not asingle
person has asked for more restaurants, clothing or jewellery
shops. Instead, people from
all around theUK told us that
they want tolive in commu
nities where thedivisions
between age, culture, wealth
(andlack ofit) are bridged.
They told us that they want

tolive in beautiful places and,

very importantly, that they
want new types ofcommon
space, places where they can
start thework ofbuilding
more sociable communities.
They say that they want tocreate asense ofcommunity,
topool their own ideas, talents, and build ontheir innate
resourcefulness and resilience
through simple activities.
When added together, they believe that these activities can
start tomake significant steps
towards transforming their
communities, and individual
pieces ofresearch confirm this.
What has emerged from this
work is an amazing collective
vision: ahome-made vision
that is not being imposed by
social theorists, themedia
It is important tounderstand and analyse what effects
this new type ofparticipation may be having, because
atscale this new independent
creativity, often happening
without theneed for funding
or permission, has thepotential toseriously disrupt many
ofour existing systems.
If local people can connect with one another easily,

1 See http://www.civ-
2 See http://www.

Creative and Collaborative Tessy Britton

can improve their neighbourhoods

through collective activity, can deploy
sophisticated and strategic thinking
totheir project designs, improving
health and well-being, reducing unemployment and crime, without so
much asanod towards politicians,
might this effectively drain those
politicians ofpower?
Perhaps you are thinking that
thepatterns ofactivity Ihave been describing fit rather well with thestated
ambitions oftodays politicians: citizens getting more involved, relieving
thestate offinancial burdens, generating positive, networked effects that no
linear, direct government interventions
could achieve. Yet despite this apparent fit, it may turn out that asignificant shift in politicians behaviours is
needed, if they want tostay relevant in
such ascenario.
One example ofwhat this looks
like in real life is that ofan impressive
small group ofpeople Imet in atown
in Cornwall. They had successfully
negotiated with an energy company
tocreate alarge community fund that
would make it possible tobecome collectively self-sufficient in generating
green energy through rooftop solar
panels, etc. This fund will be managed
by thecommunity, for thecommunity.
Not asingle line ofresponsibility or
credit for theproject passes through
theexisting local democratic system.


If you are alocal councillor,

you might easily fall in love with
all this place-shaping and making.
You have vegetables popping upall
over theplace, more people riding
bicycles, more people smiling. New
projects are blossoming: there are
new childrens nurseries co-managed
by parents, people are sharing their
stuff, sometimes people knit jumpers
for thelamp posts. OK, sometimes it
might seem alittle quirky, but we like
it, and it is happening.
Asaresult ofall this new sociability and industrious activity, crime
is going down, unemployment is
going downyou know, all by itselfwithout you, thecouncillor,
making abudget decision or lifting
afinger. So how exactly do you get
re-elected, if there is no direct route
ofattribution between you and all this
community transformation?
Thepenny finally drops for this
particular councillor. She or he is going toroll uptheir sleeves and get
stuck in, because they realise that
its theonly way toremain relevant.
Before you know it, they are digging
upvegetables and painting walls,
removing administrative barriers
tocommunity progress, and connecting people, ideas, expertise and
resources both in thecommunity and
in thecouncil, asthough their life depended onit.


Creative and Collaborative Tessy Britton

Doesnt sound too bad does it,

fromacitizens perspective?
So thenext time someone asks
you toplant carrots, build abench,
transform an empty space, bake

apiedont think ofthese

assmall or trivial acts. Who
knows, they could turn out tobe
themost politically radical things
you could do.

LabGov Laboratory for

theGovernance oftheCommons
adiscussion between Michel Bauwens and Christian Iaione

Acommons-based economy
cannot thrive without appropriate institutions, especially those that represent
apartner state approach.
Professor Christian Iaione
ofLUISS University (Guido
Carli Free International
University for Social Studies)
in Rome is apioneer ofsuch
institutional innovation
in Italian cities. Hiswork
with thecity ofBologna
onBolognas Regulation for
theCare and Regeneration
ofUrban Commons is abreakthrough. This regulation allows citizen coalitions topropose improvements totheir
neighbourhoods, and thecity
tocontract with citizens
for key assistance. Inother
words, themunicipality

functions asan enabler, g iving

citizens individual and
More than 30 projects
have already been approved
in this context and dozens
ofItalian cities are adopting
this regulation. TheCOMantova project in Mantua,
Italy is one such example.
Ithas been set upfor citizenbased social innovations
using amulti-stakeholder
approach that includes
Professor Iaione. Intheinterview below, we asked him
about his motivation, theideas
that have shaped his work,
his urban commons projects
inBologna and Mantua, and
how he sees theexpansion
ofthis approach in cities
throughout theworld.

Christian Iaione
is the coordinator (LAboratory for theGOVernance ofCommons), Associate
Professor ofPublic
Law atGuglielmo
Marconi University ofRome and
Visiting Professor
atLUISS University
Michel Bauwens
is atheorist, author
and researcher.
He is thecreator
for Peer-to-Peer
Alternatives, and
one ofthekeynote speakers
Cultural Foundations Idea Camp

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione



Before we explore your work, what sparked your passion for

urban commons?


Igrew upin Southern Italy, but with an Anglo-Saxon imprinting. My parents lived in theUS in thesixties. They eventually
decided togo back. My father told me they made this choice
because they wanted togive back totheir country. Inthe1970s,
they were both Vice-Mayors in their respective hometowns
(Contrada and Atripalda, near Avellino). Thefirst time Iwent
totheUS was 1980. Iwas five years old and running away
from acatastrophic earthquake that hit my city and its county
(Avellino). Schools and other public services were shut down.
My mother, my brothers and Ifled toNew York andNewJersey
tostay with friends and relatives. My father decided tostay
inItaly totake care ofhis city and his citizens.
These were thefirst lessons Ilearned about life and theUS.
Thesense ofduty that my father taught me with his example,
and that theUS can be awelcoming land for those in need.
Almost 20 years later in 1999, Ienrolled in theUniversity of
California Berkeley Extension Program. InBerkeley Ilearned
theimportance ofbecoming aunique human able tocollaborate
with other unique human beings, rather than competing tobe
thefirst ofmy class. Icame back totheStates for athird time
tointern attheInternational Law Institute in [Washington]
D.C.acity where you can feel theimmanent presence of power
and how distant institutions can be from theneeds of citizens
and how reluctant they are toinnovate, but also how you
can find innovators within government. Lessons learned: ifyou
want tochange something you have tochange it from theinside by finding those who are willing towork with you. Ithen
had theopportunity towork and develop my academic studies
asaresearch fellow atNew York University School ofLaw. It was
there that Ideveloped thetheoretical framework for local public
entrepreneurship, which is thebasis oftheCO-Mantova project
and theidea ofthecity asacommons. My study onthetragedy
ofurban roads and experiments in Bologna led tothis.

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione



You run LabGovLABoratory for theGOVernance ofcommons

dealing with new commons-centric urban governance. LabGov
ispart ofan important Italian academic institution, LUISS University, and, in particular, theInternational Center onDemocracy and
Democratization led by Leonardo Morlinoaprominent international political scientist. What is LabGov?


LabGov is an in-house clinic for social, economic, institutional and

legal innovators who carry out empirical work toimplement inno
vations in public policy based oncollaborative governance and
public collaboration for thecommons, subsidiarity, active citizenship, sharing economy, collaborative consumption, shared value,
and collective impact. Ico-produce theclinic with young people
graduating from LUISS University. Idesigned this programme
having in mind apowerful new social class that is ontherise.
Itis aclass ofactive citizens, social innovators, makers, creatives,
sharing and collaborative economy practitioners, service designers,
co-working and co-production experts, and urban designers.
This social class is pushing or nudging society, business and
institutions towards new frontiers. Students should have the
opportunity tojoin this social class and help it move thefrontier
forward. That is why, through theclinic, student interns develop
projects that must come tolife. Students must implement inno
vation in areas where innovation has not been brought yet or
amplify theinnovation in existing projects. In2013 LabGov
wasdevoted tothesubject TheCity asaCommons, while
in2014 itwas focused onCulture asaCommons.
Intheacademic year 20142015, thefocus ofstudy is green
governance, tobe understood asasocial, economic, institutional
and legal technology. Therefore, this year theLabGov is devoted
totheland asacommons: environment, agriculture and food.
All thereal life projects we design in theLaboratory are then
proposed toreal life actors that are willing toexperiment with
theideas we seed. LabGov is anon-profit rooted in theuniver
sity but working ontheoutside. LabGov intends toupdate
theTriple Helix concept oftheuniversity-industry-government

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione

relationship because we believe in aQuintuple

Helix approach (embedded in LabGov logo)
where universities become an active member
ofthecommunity and facilitate thecreation of
new forms ofpartnerships in thegeneral interest
between government, industry and businesses,
thenot for profit sector, social innovators and
citizens, and other institutions such as schools,
academies, plus research and cultural centres.

You are known asone ofthekey authors

ofthenew regulation oncollaboration for
thecare and regeneration ofurban commons,
which was adopted by Bologna and is now
being adopted by other Italian cities. What
exactly does theRegolamento sulla collaborazione per ibeni comuni urbani entail, and
are there already practical consequences?


TheBologna Regulation is part oftheTheCity

asaCommons project that LabGov started
in 2012. It consists oftwo years offield work
and three urban commons governance labs.
TheBologna regulation is a30-page regulatory framework outlining how local authorities, citizens and thecommunity atlarge can
manage public and private spaces and assets
together. Assuch, its asort ofhandbook for
civic and public collaboration, and also anew
vision for government. It reflects thestrong
belief that we need acultural shift in terms
ofhow we think about government, moving
away from theLeviathan State or Welfare State
toward collaborative or polycentric governance.
Thiscalls for more public collaboration, nudge
regulations1 and citytelling.


1 Nudge regulations

focus onpreventing
people from making so-called bad
decisions that may
harm themselves,
like over-eating or
buying less energy
efficient appliances.
Thesubjective nature ofwhat can be
labelled asabad
decision means
that thepotential
scope ofnudge
regulations is unlimited.
See https://

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione

Ihave been researching thetopic

ofthecommons for quite along time, and
atsome point Irealised that thecity could
actually be interpreted asacollaborative commons. Isynthesised my research in apaper
City asaCommons 2 presented ataconference
in Utrecht and later published in theIndiana
University Digital Library oftheCommons.
This was thebackground study for theBologna
and Mantova projects. Iam now working
with Sheila Foster from Fordham Law School
onamore comprehensive study that is going
tolay out atheoretical framework building
onthebackground studies Ideveloped in
Italian (see an article titled La citt come bene
comune 3) and theempirical work Iam carrying
out in several Italian cities.

We met atthepresentation ofCO-Mantova,

anambitious project torevive thelocal economy
with young social innovators, which also proposes an innovative five-fold local governance
scheme. Tell us why Mantova needed this, how
theprocess with youth worked, and how thecity,
province and Chamber ofCommerce came toaccept theprocess. Above all: whats next?


CO-Mantova is aprototype ofaprocess torun

thecity asacollaborative commons, i.e., acocity. Aco-city should be based oncollaborative governance ofthecommons whereby
urban, environmental, cultural, knowledge and
digital commons are co-managed by thefive
actors ofthecollaborative/polycentric governancesocial innovators (i.e., active citizens,
makers, digital innovators, urban regenerators,


2 Paper presented

attheSecond Thematic Conference

oftheIASC onDesign and Dynamics
for Collective
Action: ATribute
toProf. Elinor
Ostrom, 29November1December 2012,
available atthe
Digital Library
3 See http://www.

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione


rurban innovators, etc.), public authorities, businesses, civil society organisations, knowledge institutions (i.e., schools, universities, cultural academies, etc.)through an institutionalised
public-private-citizen partnership. This partnership will give
birth toalocal peer-to-peer physical, digital and institutional
platform with three main aims: living together (collaborative
services); growing together (co-ventures); making together
Theproject is supported by thelocal Chamber ofCommerce,
theCity, theProvince, local NGOs (non-governmental organisations), young entrepreneurs, SMEs (small and medium-sized
enterprises) and knowledge institutions, such astheMantua
University Foundation, and some very forward-looking
Thefirst step was seeding social innovation through
acollaborative call for Culture asaCommons tobring forth
social innovators in Mantua. Second step was theco-design
laboratory Enterprises for theCommons, an idea camp where
theseven projects from thecall were cultivated and synergies
created between projects and with thecity. Thethird phase was
theGovernance camp, acollaborative governance prototyping
stage that led tothedrafting oftheCollaborative Governance
Pact, theCollaboration Toolkit and theSustainability Plan,
which was presented tothepublic during theFestival
ofCooperation on27 November 2014.
Thenext step is thefourth and final phase: thegovernance
testing and modelling through thelaunch ofapublic consultation in thecity onthetext ofthePact and aroadshow generating
interest in CO-Mantova among possible signatories belonging
tothefive categories ofcollaborative governance actors. Wealso
may have CO-Mantova opening upaCommons School.

What are theprospects for public collaboration and commonsoriented local governance schemes? What do you see happening elsewhere and what do you want tosee change in

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione



This really depends onthelocal context. Inmy opinion, people

are what matters themost, and thebest entry point is always
tofind thepeople or group who believe in change, and in doing things better by pushing theboundaries ofinstitutional
innovation. You need people with around-the-clock commitment
beyond their official duty both tothecommunity, theinstitution
and toexcellence.
You always have totake into account that public officials
are likely tobe very cautious, since changing one thing tends
toimpact other things. Innovation is not theresult ofrevolution, but its quiet, not necessarily slow, but difficult and involves
acontinuous negotiation process. This is something that you
have tofigure out ontheground. If you manage toimplement
change with thepublic administration rather than using political drivers, your change is much more likely tobe permanent.
There are some good examples about how public collaboration and commons-oriented local governance schemes are
taking place. Florence is one example where collaboration has
been seeded in several institutions and projects that thecity is
already running. Thenew mayor and new commissioners have
already shown interest in expanding thereach ofacollaborative
approach within thecity government.
Moreover, agrowing community ofinnovators is working
in Italy tofoster collaborative practices, sharing economy and
social innovation. One example is theSharing School that was
held from 23 to26 ofJanuary 2015 in Matera, the2019 European
Capital ofCulture.


What else are you working on? What are your long-term


We are talking about acultural shift. Thenew governance model

proposed is anew way for us torelate toalmost everything,
from economy tosociety asawhole and toother people, in other
words: our vision oftheworld changes. Whether this cultural
paradigm takes expression in sharing acar, or caring about where

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione


thetrash ends up, this is all part ofa21st century way ofliving:
away ofsharing things, sharing services, sharing spaces, sharing
production and sharing responsibilities.
You need anudging class instead ofaruling class, aclass
that has thedrive toconvince and nudge society and institutions
towards asharing and collaborative paradigm. But you cannot
force change, you have tonudge people toshare and collaborate.
For this reason, since 2012, Ive suggested thecreation
ofafederalised network oflocal hubs ofexpertise gathering
bestpractices, starting upexperimentations in different territories, spreading governance culture and disseminating knowledge
among Italian territories. This National Collaboration Network
could become ahub that provides collaboration toolkits, regulations and governance schemes, aswell astraining programmes
and day-by-day assistance for local administrators tohelp them
drive change toward sharing and governance ofthecommons.
This could accelerate theshift towards a21st century paradigm
ofpublic administration.

What other cities are you allied with or are learning from?
IsCO-Mantova part ofany networks or associations that support
commons-based urban development?


Many other cities are taking theroute synthesised by COMantova and opened by Bologna with its regulation oncollaboration for urban commons. Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples,
Battipaglia and Palermo have decided or are deciding toinvest
energy, skills and other resources onthechallenge ofcollaboration. They increasingly believe that only through co-design and
bottom-upprocesses ofcivic and economic empowerment is it
possible toface thechallenges that congestion, agglomeration
and density that cities will face in thefuture.


How are LUISS students or LabGov interns involved

inCO-Mantova? And what feedback are you getting

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione



LabGovers, aswe call LabGov interns, participated actively

during all thephases oftheMantova project. They supported
project design and field implementation. They handled internal
and external communication, organised theworkshops and
conferences, and facilitated thedifferent project working
groups, which, for instance, created theCollaboration Pact,
theCollaboration Toolkit and theSustainability Plan.
For them, CO-Mantova was their first fieldwork and occasion
totest thecompetencies acquired during their university studies,
and through thecolloquium that LabGov holds every year
on commons governance, sharing economy, social innovation
and nudge regulation. LabGov helps young, talented students
develop useful skills for their careers. These are all skills that,
duetothe continuous transformation ofsociety, you will not find
in books or learn in aclassroom. For this reason, LabGov teaches
collaboration, service design, project management and the
sharing ofroles and responsibilities through alearning by doing
approach. Thanks toLabGov, young students and graduates
enter theworking world better prepared than their colleagues.
Iam confident that LabGovers will hold important positions
insociety and will be thedriving force ofchange by fostering
collaboration and acommons-oriented economic approach.


Inconclusion, how do you see theinter-relationship ofthecommons, city governments, citizens, market players and market


Thejob ofcity governments, and maybe every government

layer, is changing. Their function is less about commanding
or providing. They are increasingly acting asaplatform that
enables collaboration between citizens and social innovators,
not for profit organisations, businesses and universities
thefive actors ofcollaborative governancetounleash
thefull potential ofurban, cultural and environmental commons, promote asustainable commons-oriented development
paradigm, updating theconcept ofState or government and

LabGov Laboratory for theGovernance oftheCommons Michel Bauwens andChristian Iaione


therefore implying asNeal Gorenflo would say ashift in power

and social relations. Market institutions are more interested
inthis process than one might think. This is themain take away
oftheMantova experiment. Infact, it is thelocal Chamber
ofCommerce, thelocal cooperative movement, thelocal businesses and theyoung entrepreneurs that are investing more
inthis innovative project than other sectors. SMEs and big
companies alike are looking for new, innovative approaches
totheway value is produced. Therace tothebottom that globalisation has triggered is no longer an available strategy for
aknowledge economy system like Mantova. Economic actors increasingly understand that they should invest in producing collaborative value and create collaborative economic ecosystems
that foster creativity, knowledge, identity and trust.
This new phenomenon represents an opportunity torevolutionise thecurrent state ofplay ofthesociety, economy,
institutions and law. This new social, economic, institutional
and legal paradigm is going tocharacterise the21st century
astheCO-century, thecentury ofCOmmons, COllaboration,
COoperation, COmmunity, COmmunication, CO-design,
CO-production, CO-management, COexistence, CO-living.
Forallthese reasons, it is urgent todesign therules and institutions ofthis new century. LabGov is working onthis frontier
and is doing it together with experts, organisations and indivi
duals that represent what we think is anewly rising social class,
aclass ofeconomic and institutional innovators.

Bologna Celebrates One Year

of aBold Experiment in Urban
by Neal Gorenflo

It all began with park benches.

In2011, agroup ofwomen
in Bologna, Italy wanted
todonate benches totheir
neighbourhood park, Piazza
Carducci. There was nowhere
tosit in their park. So they
called thecity government
toget permission toput in
benches. They called one
department, which referred
them toanother, which sent
them onagain. No one in
thecity could help them.
Thisdilemma highlighted
animportant civic lacuna
there simply was no way
for citizens tocontribute
improvements tothecity.
Infact, itwas illegal.
Fast forward to16May
2015. TheMayor, City
Councillors, community
leaders, journalists and hundreds ofothers gathered

attheawe-inspiring MAST
Gallery for theopening
ceremony ofBolognas Civic
Collaboration Fest celebrating theone-year anniversary
oftheBologna Regulation for
theCare and Regeneration
oftheUrban Commons,
ahistory-making institutional innovation that enables
Bologna tooperate asacollaborative commons. Now
Bolognas citizens have alegal
way tocontribute tothecity.
Since theregulation passed
one year ago, more than
100projects have signed collaboration pacts with thecity
under theregulation tocontribute urban improvements
with 100 more in thepipeline.
Itwas an impevent filled with
ceremony, emotion, historical
significance all in acontext
oftough political realities.

Neal Gorenflo
is theco-founder
ofShareable, an
news, action,
connection hub
for thesharing
Inaddition tohis
work atShareable,
Neal is an adviser
totheUS Solidarity
Economy Network,
OuiShare, Peers,
Mayor Park ofSeoul
in South Korea
and is aformer Innovation Fellow for
Mayor Lee ofSan

Bologna Celebrates One Year of aBold Experiment in Urban Commoning Neal Gorenflo

City Councillor Luca Rizzo Nervo

opened theceremony with arousing
speech. He said anew day was dawning where no you cant was turning into yes we can together, where
citizens are self-determining, and
where anew, empowering relationship
between citizens and city had begun.
He said he was tired oftheold, pessimistic rhetoric and that theregulation
opened upanew, hopeful development path that takes active citizenship tothenext level. He ended with
avision ofBologna asan entire city
powered by sharing and collaboration
aspart ofaglobal network ofother
cities onthesame path.
Administrator Donato Di Memmo,
theurban commons project leader,
spoke totheimportance oftheurban
commons for urban art, digital innovation and social cohesion and theneed
for improvement in theapplication
oftheregulation. He said that relationships are thestarting point and
that with training and more visibility
theregulation could meet thehigh
expectations for it.
We heard from theleaders ofthree
projects that had signed pacts. Michela
Bassi spoke oftheimpact ofher Social
Streets project, which has moved from
anetwork ofneighbourhood Facebook
groups toanon-profit with aset oftangible projects including an outdoor ad
turned into aneighbourhood bulletin


board. Veronica Veronesi introduced

Reuse With Love, agroup of50 neighbours who joined forces tofight waste
and improve thelives ofchildren and
thepoor. Annarita Ciaruffoli ofDentro
Al Nido (Inside theNest) spoke
ofhow theregulation was helping
Stefano Brugnara, President
ofArci Bologna and spokesperson
for theBologna Third Sector Forum,
an association oflocal non-profits,
spoke ofthedurable role ofnon-profits
under thenew regulation; that they
dont get subsumed by it, but rather
can be strengthened by it, especially
iftheres transparency in its application. Hiscomments hinted ataconcern
that non-profits would be weakened
Giovanni Ginocchini ofBolognas
Urban Centre commented onurban
transformation from aphysical standpoint including fighting graffiti, renovation ofthecitys famous arcades,
green lighting in public spaces and
better social housing.
While theproceedings included
adiverse set ofstakeholders, Mayor
Virginio Merola was clearly theheadliner. He gave an engaging speech filled
with emotion and historical reflection.
His main point, which was areminder
ofBolognas long history ofcivic innovation, was that Bolognas people and
their cooperative culture are thecitys

Bologna Celebrates One Year of aBold Experiment in Urban Commoning Neal Gorenflo

most important assets, the

things that set it apart. He said
theregulation was taking this
tradition tothenext level.
He got emotional atpoints
in his speech, pausing tohold
back tears. This stirred the
audience. He connected.
He spoke oftheneed for
citizens tolove each other
and tohave thefreedom to
do thebest for oneself and
others. He said its easy toget
depressed by thedaily news,
but that theDNA ofBologna
is theability ofcitizens to
fulfil their dreams. Hespoke
about theincreasing diversity ofthecityonly 30%
ofresidents are Bologna
bornand theneed tofocus
oncommonalities, common
assets, human rights and
equality. He urged theaudience tocreate an intelligent
cityone based ongreat
toamerely smart city. He
concluded that, while theres
aneed for much more citizen
action, that this doesnt mean
theend ofhierarchy. Thecity
still needs dedicated civil
TheMayor has been criticised asthemayor who cries

and for not having av ision.

Igot word after thecere
mony that theMayor said
theurban commons is now
his vision. Iwas blown away
how aligned his and Luca
Rizzo Nervos vision is with
Shareables and our Sharing
Cities Network. Perhaps its
more accurate tosay that our
vision is aligned with theirs
asBologna has a1,000-year
history ofcivic innovation
that includes thefirst university in theWestern world,
self-rule asan independent
city-state during theMiddle
Ages, and more recently the
rise oftheregions famously
large cooperative sector.
One conclusion ofRobert
Putnams influential book
about Italy, Making Democracy
Work,1 was that northern
Italians were richer than their
southern cousins because
they were civic, not thereverse ashe had previously
thought. TheMayors speech
about thecooperative spirit
ofBologna was not hot air.
Ithad theweight ofhistory
behind it. It spoke toanecessary and feasible revival ofit.
After theMayor spoke,
and attheinvitation ofour


1 Robert D. Putman,

Making Democra
cy Work: Civic Tra
ditions in Modern
Italy (Princeton University Press, 1993).

Bologna Celebrates One Year of aBold Experiment in Urban Commoning Neal Gorenflo

host, Christian Iaione ofLUISS LabGov,

Fordham University professor Sheila
Foster, commons activist David Bollier
and Igave short talks about theurban
commons. Sheila focused onthepotential oftheurban commons tofoster human development. David spoke about
commons-based economic development and Bolognas potential toinspire
other cities. And Ispoke about thehow
living day-to-day in thecommons
builds citizenship.
Theceremony was concluded
inthemost fitting way possible.
All theleaders ofprojects operating
under theregulation were invited
onstage. TheMayor gave each aUSB
key tothecity with acopy ofregulations onthedrive. TheUSB key was
thebrainchild ofChristian Iaione and
Michele dAlena, thecivic collaboration
fest project leader. What agreat idea.
Itcreated ajoyful moment that symbolised ashift in power from elected
leaders tocitizens.
Thenext day Christian Iaione and
Elena De Nictolis, Alessandra Feola and
Elia Lofranco ofLUISS LabGov gave
adelegation including Sheila Foster
and Iatour ofprojects that were active
that day. Our first stop was one of
seven citizen groups painting buildings
in thecitys historic centre. Painting
is abig deal because ofan abundance
ofgraffiti and theneed tomaintain
theancient buildings, which is crucial


for quality oflife, not tomention

thetourist trade.
There Isaw theregulations multistakeholder collaboration in action.
Thepainting crew was anon-profit,
Lawyers atWork. Themunicipal waste
management company Hera had
dropped off thepainting kit earlier
in theday. It included paint that met
thecitys historical code, brushes,
smocks toprotect clothing, cones
tomark off thework area and more.
Hera had also cleared thepainting
project with thebuilding owner and
city. Thecity hosted an online map
that showed all theprojects active that
day and their location. Citizens could
track and join projects online or do it
spontaneously. Aneighbour had joined
Lawyers atWork when they happened
by theworksite, something that happens regularly with Bolognas urban
commons projects. Neighbours also
share project activity onsocial media,
which can spark more activity and
My idea ofplacemaking was radically upgraded by witnessing theregulation in action. Here themaking part
ofplacemaking was brought tolife in
avivid and dynamic way. No longer
was placemaking for urban design
experts who plan everything out in
advance, but rather it was for everyone in areal-time multi-stakeholder
dance that included both planned and

Bologna Celebrates One Year of aBold Experiment in Urban Commoning Neal Gorenflo

spontaneous elements. Ibegan tosee

thepossibilities ofan entirely new way
tolive in acity that was even more creative, enlivening and social than what
cities already offer.
Inbetween stops in what turned
out tobe along, vigorous walk, Ihad
thechance tochat with Sheila Foster
and Christian Iaione who had just coauthored asoon-to-be published paper
conceptualising thecity ascommons
from an administrative law standpoint.
Two points stood out in our conversation. First, that anew era was dawning
where citizens are active co-managers
oftheresources they use in cities instead ofpassive recipients ofservices.
Secondly, that theold idea ofcommons
needed an upgrade in theurban context. Most academic studies ofcommons revolve around relatively isolated
natural resource commons like forests,
fisheries and pastures. Urban commons
must by necessity be embedded in
adense weave ofinstitutions. They
cant be asindependent ofthemarket
and government asthenatural resource commons that Elinor Ostrom
was famous for studying. Room must


be made for urban commons in acitys

administrative law and processes.
Inaddition, they must be productively
linked toother sectors ofwith acity.
This arguably makes urban commons
more complex toset up, but could provide more protection for them than
whats typical for natural resource
commons, which are prone toclosure. This highlighted theimportance
ofBolognas urban commons regulation. It has opened space for theurban
commons toflourish in Bologna and is
already leading theway for other cities
in Italy and beyond.
After acouple ofother stops, we
ended our tour atPiazza Carducci.
Iwanted tosee where Bolognas urban commons began. Igot my wish.
Thepark was ordinary, and thats just
thepoint. Themost extraordinary
social innovations can begin in ordinary places with asimple wish. This
was such aplace, and it was beautiful tome for that reason. All ofus
gathered onone ofthebenches for
apicture tocommemorate thepioneers
ofBolognas urban commons, thewomen ofPiazza Carducci.





O em








Pilots F
Credit: atelier

40% FOO






CO2 / YE







R-URBAN or How toCo-produce

aResilient City (1st excerpt)
by Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu

Theright toresilience
Resilience is akey term
in thecontext ofthecurrent economic crisis
and lack ofresources.
Incontrast tosustainability, which is focused
onmaintaining thestatus quo ofasystem by
controlling thebalance
between its inputs
and outputs, without
necessarily addressing
thefactors ofchange
and disequilibrium, resilience addresses how
systems can adapt and
thrive in changing circumstances. Resilience is
adynamic concept with
no stable definition or
identity outside thecircumstances producing
it. Incontrast tosustainability, which tends
tofocus onmaintaining

an environmental balance, resilience is adaptive and transformative,

inducing change that
harbours vast potentials
for rethinking assumptions and building new
systems.1 Although
thecurrent resilience
discourse is not tobe
embraced uncritically
without paying heed
tothesometimes naive
and idealistic comparison ofsocial and
biological systems and
their adaptability toengendering well-being,
theconcept ofresilience
itself has thepotential
toinclude questions and
contradictions addressed
in terms ofpolitical
ecology. 2
R-URBAN 3 maintains
that urban sustainability is acivic right and

Doina Petrescu
is Professor ofArchitecture and
Design Activism attheUniversity
Constantin Petcou
is aParis-based architect whose
work stresses theintersections
between architecture, urbanism
They are both co-founders ofatelier
darchitecture autogre (aaa),
aprofessional organisation that
conducts actions and research
onparticipatory urbanism and
architecture involving local residents
in self-managing projects in their
neighbourhoods, engaging in social
and ecological practices, andinitiating resilient networks (www.

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

creates theconditions
for this right tosustainability tobe exercised,
not only asaright torely
onand consume sustainability (provided by
theremains ofthewelfare state or bought
from private providers),
but asaright toproduce
it (allowing citizens
involvement in decisionmaking and action).
Although sustainability
is ontheagenda ofmany
urban projects today, this
does not necessarily imply that all these projects
are political in their
approach totheissue.
Apolitico-ecological approach like that
ofR-URBAN will not just
positively and uncritically propose improved
development dynamics,
but also question the
processes that bring
about social injustice and
inequitable urban environments.4 Some voices
such asDavid Harvey5
argue that thetransformation ofurban spaces
is acollective rather
than an individual right,

because collective power

is necessary toreshape
urban processes. Harvey
describes theright to
the city asthecitizens
freedom to access urban
resources: it is aright
tochange ourselves
by changing thecity.6
Inthis sense, R-URBAN
follows Harveys ideas
and facilitates theassertion ofthis right
through appropriation,
transformation and
networking processes,
and theuse ofurban infrastructures. R-URBAN
perhaps differs from
Harvey in scope, asit
does not seek toinstitute alarge-scale global
movement opposing
thefinancial capital
that controls urban development, but instead
aims toempower urban
residents topropose alternative projects where
they live, and tofoster
local and greater networks, testing methods
ofself-management, selfbuilding and self-production. Inthis respect,
R-URBAN is perhaps


1 See Brigit Maguire and Sophie

artwright, Assessing acommu

nitys capacity tomanage change:
Aresilience approach tosocial
assessment (Bureau ofRural
Sciences, May 2008).
Available at
2 We are here joining theranks ofpo-

litical ecologists who criticise thesuperficial understandings ofpolitics,

power and social construction
popularised in resilience rhetoric
(see Alf Hornborg, Zero-sum world:
Challenges in conceptualizing
environmental load displacement
and ecologically unequal exchange
in theworld-system, International
Journal ofComparative Sociology, 5(34), 2009, pp.237265).
3 R-URBAN is abottom-upstrategy

that explores thepossibilities

ofenhancing thecapacity ofurban resilience by introducing
anetwork ofresident-run facilities tocreate complementarities
between key fields ofactivity
(economy, housing, urban agriculture, culture). R-URBAN initiates
locally closed ecological cycles
that will support theemergence
ofalternative models ofliving,
producing and consuming between theurban and therural.
4 Some ofthese ideas were first

developed in Clare Brass, Flora

Bowden and Kate McGeevor, Codesigning urban opportunities,
SCIBE Working Paper No. 4., 2011
5 David Harvey, TheRight totheCity,

New Left Review, 53 (910), September-October 2008, pp.234 0.

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

closer toLefebvres idea

oftheright tothecity.
Lefebvre imagines alocally conceived emancipatory project, emphasising theneed tofreely
propose alternative possibilities for urban practice atalevel ofeveryday
life. He proposes anew
methodology, called
transduction, toencourage thecreation
ofexperimental utopias.
Framed by existing reality, this would introduce
rigour in invention and
knowledge in utopia
asaway ofavoiding
irresponsible idealism.7
Lefebvre underlines
thekey role ofurban
imaginaries in understanding, challenging
and transforming
urbanity and opening
theway toamultiplicity
ofrepresentations and
interventions. From this
perspective, R-URBAN
is atransductive
project, both rigorous
and utopian, popular
and experimental. It is
based ontheaggregation

ofmany individual and

collective interventions
that complement each
other, forming metabolic
networks that stimulate
circulatory changes
while simultaneously
informing one another.
Such networks will accommodate multiplicity
and valorise imagination
atall levels.
R-URBAN could
hence be suspected
ofaligning itself opportunistically with theBig
Society principles proposed by theUKs Tory
Prime Minister, David
Cameron, toimplement
theidea ofcommunities taking more control,
ofmore volunteerism,
more charitable giving,
ofsocial enterprises
taking onabigger role,
ofpeople establishing
public services themselves. 8 But theessential difference is
that R-URBAN is not
responding directly
totheonset ofthefinancial crisis and is not
embracing aprogramme
ofeconomic resilience


6 David Harvey, ibid., p.23.

7 Henri Lefebvre, Writings on C ities

(New York: Blackwell, 1996).

8 Speech delivered by British

Prime Minister David Cameron

onBig Society onMonday,
14February 2011. See https://www.

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

in which thestate is absent: such

aprogramme would explicitly promote
thereliance onunpaid work tomask
thedisappearance ofwelfare structures and themassive cuts in public
services. TheR-URBAN strategy is not
relegating economic responsibility
tocitizens because thestate is unable
or unwilling toassume it any longer,
but claims thesocial and political
right toquestion thestates power
interms ofits role and responsibility.
Local authorities and public institutions are integrated in thestrategy
asequal partners, assuming theroles
ofenablers, sponsors and administrators. Inaddition tourban residents and
civic organisations, public institutions
(e.g., city councils, regeneration offices,
public land trusts, schools and cultural
agencies) are also invited totake part
in this experimental utopia, and to
challenge their routines. It is not only
theresidents who must change themselves by changing thecity, asclaimed
by Harvey, 9 but also thepoliticians and
specialists presently in charge ofacity.
Assuch, R-URBAN is not only
about grassroots innovation tomeet
social, economic and environmental needs, but also about political
critique and ideological expression,
affirming thenecessity ofnew social and economic agencies based
onalternatives tothedominant sociotechnical regime. R-URBAN gives its


self-organised constituency themeans

toact locally onaneighbourhood
scale, and creates opportunities for
actions and activities that could change
their future. It affirms their right
Concentrating onspatial agencies and civic hubs, R-URBAN tries
tosupply tools and spaces that will
manifest citizens existing resilient
initiatives and practices. Spatial planning processes contribute toexpressing ecological cycles in tangible ways,
andhelp facilitate citizens experiences ofmaking anddoing.
Inparallel toits civic hubs, which
represent anew ecological urban infrastructure, R-URBAN also puts new
political and democratic tools in place:
forms ofself-governance supporting theemergence ofdifferent kinds
offormal and informal economic
organisation across thenetwork.
These are all part ofacooperative civic
land-trust, theentity that will govern
theentire R-URBAN project. Being
transferable and multipliable, these
tools are realised in cooperation with
other partners and concerned citizens.

Micro-social and cultural resilience

Unlike other initiatives exclusively
dealing with sustainability from
atechnological and environmental

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

perspective, R-URBAN
advocates ageneral
change ofculture,
understood asachange
in how we do things,
in order tochange
R-URBAN proposes
new collective practices, which, in addition
toreducing theecological footprint, also contribute toreinventing
near-at-hand relationships based onsolidarities (i.e., ways ofbeing
involved and deciding
collectively, sharing
spaces and grouping
facilities, rules and
principles ofcohabitation). Thetransformation needs totake place
ofeach individual, each
subjectivity, tobuild
aculture ofresilience.
AsRob Hopkins puts
it, resilience is not just
an outer process: it is
also an inner one, ofbecoming more flexible,
robust and skilled.10
Theculture ofresilience
includes processes ofreskilling, skill sharing,

social networking
and mutual learning.
These micro-social and
micro-cultural practices, usually related
toindividual lifestyles
and activities (e.g., food
cultivation and waste
collection, car-sharing,
exchanging tools and
skills with neighbours),
elicit attention todetails, singularities, and
thecreative and innovatory potentials found
onthelevel ofeveryday
life. R-URBAN maps this
local capacity toinvent
and transform in detail,
but also, in parallel,
theadministrative constraints that block it,
proposing ways ofbypassing them by way
ofrestated policies and

Commons and
Theissue ofcommons
lies attheheart ofdiscussions revolving
around co-produced
democracy. Michael

9 David Harvey, op.cit.

10 Rob Hopkins, Resilience think-

ing, Resurgence (2009), p.15.


R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

Hardt and Antonio

Negri11 define c ommons
assomething that is not
discovered but produced
biopolitically: Wecall
thecurrently dominant
model biopolitical production tounderline
thefact that it involves
not only material production in straight economic terms, but also
affects and contributes
toproducing all other
aspects ofsocial life,
i.e. theeconomic, cultural and political. This
biopolitical production
and thegreater number
ofcommons it creates
support thepossibility
ofdemocracy today. 12
Asustainable demo
cracy should be based
onalong-term policy
ofcommons, aswell
asthesocial solidarities understood assuch.
Creating value today
is about networking
subjectivities and capturing, diverting and
appropriating what they
do with thecommons
they give rise to.13

According toRavel
and Negri,14 therevolutionary project ofour
time is all about this
capturing, diverting,
appropriating and reclaiming ofcommons
asaconstitutive process.
This is areappropriation
and reinvention atone
and thesame time.
Theundertaking needs
new categories and institutions, new forms
ofmanagement and
governance, spaces and
actorsan entire infrastructure both material
and virtual.
R-URBAN endea
vours toco-produce
this new infrastructure
that is simultaneously
areappropriation and
areinvention ofnew
forms ofcommons,
ranging from collective,
self-managed facilities
and collective knowledge and skills tonew
forms ofgroups and
networks. Thefacilities
and uses proposed by
R-URBAN will be shared
and propagated onvarious scales, progressively


11 Michael Hardt and Antonio

Negri, Multitude: Guerre et

democratie alage delempire
(Paris: La Decouverte, 2004).
12 Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri,

Ibid., p.910, authors translation.

13 Antonio Negri and Judith Ravel,

Inventer le commun des hommes, Multitudes No. 31 (Paris:

Editions Amsterdam, 2008).
14 Antonio Negri and Judith Ravel,

ibid., p.7, authors translation.

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

constituting anetwork that is open

tovarious users and
includes adaptable elements and processes
based onopen-source
Rather than buying
it, theR-URBAN land
trust currently established in Colombes,
France bypasses thefixation onnotions ofproperty and negotiates
land for (short and long
term) uses rather than
ownership. Theright
touse is an intrinsic
quality ofcommons,
asopposed totheright
toown. Asin previous
projects, aspecific focus
here is onurban interstices and spaces that
evade financial speculation, if only temporarily.
This is also theposition
ofHolloway15 who,
having analysed various
forms ofand initiatives
for transforming society,

concludes that theonly 15

possible way tothink
about radical change
in society is within its
interstices and that
thebest way ofoperating in interstices is
toorganise them.16 This
is exactly what R-URBAN
does: it organises arange
ofspatial, temporal and
human interstices and
transforms them into
shared facilities; it sets
upadifferent type of
urban space, neither public nor private, tohost reinvented collective practices and collaborative
organisations; it initiates
networks ofinterstices
toreinvent commons in
metropolitan contexts.
This type oforganisation
involves forms ofcommoning, ways ofensuring
theexpansion and sustainability oftheshared
pool ofresources, but
also ways ofcommonality asasocial practice.


John Holloway, Un mouvement

contre-et-au-dela: A propos du
debat sur mon livre, Variations:
Revue internationale de theorie
critique, 18(04), 2006, pp.1530.
John Holloway, ibid., p.1920,
authors translation.

From Lamp Posts toPhoneBooths:

Using Technology tocreate
by Noel Hatch

British journalist Paul Mason

recently listed the10 things
aperfect city needs,1 ranging from hipster economics
topolitical unrest, but with
nomention ofpublic space!
Other city indexes focus
onpublic space, like those
produced by theEIU 2 and
Monocle. 3 Where they differ
from Masons is their datadriven approach.
If you took their methods
totheir logical conclusion,
we could end upliving in
aworld where democracy
is replaced by aPanopticon,
tracking everything toensure theplaces we live in are
aligned with these indexes.
Imagine your councils promise in 2030: If its not measured, it wont get done. Part
ofthesmart city movement
believes well soon be able

tocreate algorithms for how

cities should be run.
While one day thesmart
city may be able totrack
every interaction we have
with thespaces around us
todesign theoptimal user
experience, we value public
spaces in much more instinctive wayslike our trip
totheseaside asachild or
our first kiss in thepark.
However, weve had smart
city movements before, from
Roman builders toVictorian
engineers, transforming our
lives for thebetter, introducing new technologies
tohelp us travel more quickly,
tomanaging our sewage more
Nowhere is this more visible than by thesea. AsDan
Thompson highlights, 4 seaside towns were theplaces

Noel Hatch
is therecipient
ofa2014 Research
and Development
grant from ECF
for his idea: Hack
Your Borders.
He is atrustee
ofEuropean Alternatives (http://www.


From Lamp Posts toPhoneBooths: Using Technology tocreate CivicSpaces Noel Hatch

that industry carried out its

research and development.
They are scattered with rusted
remains ofprototyped cuttingedge technology, from concrete seawalls tomechanical
marine lifts. Thedifference
nowadays is that its become
much easier for citizens touse
theinfrastructure that technology runs ontocarry out
our own research and development, from creating awebsite
to3D printing ahouse. So before we throw the3D printed
baby out with thebathwater,
lets explore how we can
support citizens touse technology tomake thebest use
ofthespaces around them.
But first we need toexplore theopportunities
there are for people tomake
thebest use ofthespaces
around them. Lets understand what motivates people
touse public spaces, using
Demos typology ofdifferent
users ofpublic space.
What influences people
most in whether public spaces
meet their needs, is thelevel
and type ofinteraction they
expect tohave with others.
Some groups look tospaces
where institutions will

structure and control interaction like shopping malls,

churches or sports clubs.
Other groups prefer touse
public spaces asinfrastructure
tocreate new forms ofinteraction, from doing hobbies together, watching over
theneighbourhood tomore
spontaneous interventions.
There are different models ofhow cities should be
designed. Asyou can see
from this diagram, they cater
tovery specific types ofusers
ofpublic spaces. Thechallenge our society faces is that
its becoming increasingly
difficult torelate topeople
who dont think or act like
us. People who dont feel
comfortable interacting with
people they dont know feel
threatened by those who
want nothing more than
this. People who want things
tostay theway theyve always been are challenged by
those who want todisrupt
theway things are done
tostimulate innovation.
Trying toorganise public
spaces based onthedesign
principles ofaparticular
model will therefore always
create inequalities between

1 Paul Mason, The10

things aperfect city

needs, TheGuard
ian, 25 August
2014. See http://
2 See http://www.
3 See http://monocle.

4 See http://


From Lamp Posts toPhoneBooths: Using Technology tocreate CivicSpaces Noel Hatch

different groups. Whats most important is tosupport different forms

ofinteraction that can complement
each other.
So how can we create in between
spaces that are attheintersection
ofspontaneous and curated activities,
offormal and informal design and
ofintimate and collective interactions?
We can invert roles, getting citizens tobe thedesigners oftheir local
parks. We can subvert resources, filling
sweet machines with seed bombs so
children can grow their own food. We
can graft practices from other fields,


like using sensors and gaming toget

lampposts totalk topeople. Inother
words, we can find new ways of u
existing resources that may never
have been used in public space.
AsDemos argues: If we can get
themicro public spaces ofstreet corners, cafs, malls and parks toflourish
in away that simultaneously meets
peoples personal needs and thewider
common good, then this intelligence
and thepatterns ofinteraction stimulated might just trickle up and start
creating patterns and value onthenext
scale up.

Change life! Change

society! These precepts
mean nothing without
theproduction ofan
appropriate space.
Henri Lefebvre, TheProduction ofSpaces


Public asaConstellation
by Pelin Tan

Thecreation ofinstituting
society, asinstituted society,
is each time acommon world
(kosmos koinos), thepositing
ofindividuals, oftheir types,
relations and activities; but also thepositing ofthings, their
types, relations and significationall ofwhich are caught
upeach time in receptacles
and frames ofreference instituted ascommon, which make
them exist together.1

Cornelius Castoriadis

Does one particular physical place in our cities ensure
thenotion ofacivic public?
Inwhat moment and specific
urban staging does thecivic
perform tobe able toembody
itself aspublic? Urban squares
in cities are often described
asthepublic space where,
when confronted with hegemony, agroup ofindividuals

comes together asacollective

body and begins toact asasocial subject. But theemancipation ofthis social subject asit
rises against hegemony is only
possible through an embodiment that is both collective
and relational.
Incontrast tocommon
urban history in Western societies, where theembodiment
ofcollectives is usually tied
toaparticular space within
thecity, in many Ottoman cities, for example, public space
and thesocial subject exist
more or less asaconstellation.
Architectural historian and
theorist Uur Tanyeli often
questions thedualistic structure ofprivate and public
space in Western societies. 2
According tohim, in Ottoman
cities such duality never
existed; instead, their complex
lifestyles and heterogeneous
communities created multiple
spatial experiences and therefore opportunities toembody

Pelin Tan
is involved in
artistic and architectural projects
that focus onurban
conflict andterri
torial politics, gift
economy, thecondition oflabour and
mixed methods in


TheCivic Public asaConstellation Pelin Tan

acivic public. Therefore,

themeaning and practice
ofpublic space here was layered, multiple and performative, which is rather different
from themore restrained
practices we tend tosee in
Accordingly, instead
offetishising thesquare
understood asasite that will
originate acivic public
we should consider different
forms oforganisation and
constellations where this
civic public can embody itself.
Constellations here mean
both thespatial experience in
theurban territory and thenature ofcollectivity, which consists in types ofcollaboration,
thepractice ofcommoning,
and alternative economic currencies. Recent events witnessed in parks and squares
such asZuccoti Park, Gezi
Park, Tahrir Square and others are not only aresounding
call towards an active civic
public, but also showcase alternative forms ofcollaboration in everyday practices.
Although public uprisings in
demand ofnon-clerical democracy often take place in
temporary urban spaces that

are temporarily occupied or

made use of, they also resort
tothelong-term practice
ofcommoning, asan experience embodied within theurban. Both result in theoccupation and transformation
ofspace from anonymous or
non-significant tocollectively

According toFrench philosopher Alain Badiou, an event
is political if its material is
collective, or if theevent can
only be attributed toacollective multiplicity. 3 Within
this framework, how can
theevent ofurban resistance
transform itself asacollective
civic embodiment? Why did
Gezi Park and Taksim Square
become theurban spaces
toexperience citizenship,
and what is their relationship toother sites ofurban
resistance such asSyntagma
Square, Tahrir Square, Zuccotti
Park or movements such
astheStuttgart 21 protest?
And how, after its invasion
by thepolice, did theGezi
Park resistance transform

1 Cornelius Casto-

riadis, TheImagi
nary Institution of
S ociety. Translated
by K. Blamey (Cambridge, Massachusetts: theMIT Press
Cambridge, 1998).
2 Uur Tanyeli,

Genileyen Dny
ada Sanat, Kent ve
Siyaset: 9th Inter
national Istanbul
Biennale (Istanbul:
IKSV, 2005).


TheCivic Public asaConstellation Pelin Tan

itself into urban assemblies in

different districts and parks
Inthelast five years we
have participated extensive
ly in and witnessed many
instances ofhow city centres
uprisings all over theworld.
Urban resistance, street
riots and occupying parks
or squares toprotest against
capitalist society and authoritarian governments, which
have proven themselves
asstrategies since the1960s,
seem tobe theonly concrete
collective action nowadays
that is political though nonpartisan. AsDavid Harvey
explains when referring
toLefebvres revolutionary
moment in his recent book
Rebel Cities, reinventing
thecity inevitably depends
upon theexercise ofacollective power over theprocesses
ofurbanisation. 4 Addressing
urban centres, Harvey continues: there is an impulse
towards and longing for its
restoration which arises again
toproduce far-reaching political effects; aswe have recently
seen in central squares.5 Thus,
we can see how acollective

power that derives its visibility and action from theurban

territory can create its own
heterotopic site, which is
themoment when thepublic
collectively re-inhabits and
reclaims urban space despite
their differences.
Inthecase ofGezi Park,
recent events testify toanew
urban space ofconflict
where acollective power is
actively exercised, namely
asthemeaning ofcoming
together in public space is
appropriated asaform ofprotest against urbanisation.
Theheterogeneity ofthepublic
and thestrategy ofpassive
resistance against police
force, aswell asthecommon
drive toreclaim everyday life
against aneoliberal system
via apark, has alot ofsimilarities with other urban movements such astheK21 protest
in Stuttgart or theon-going
anti-nuclear protest in Tokyo
park following theTsunami
of2011. However, we can see
how this spontaneous and
specific instance ofcoming
together is also aforce of
accumulation that has an
impact in other local movements in Istanbul. This can

3 Alain Badiou, Meta

politics (London:
Verso, 2005) p.142.
4 David Harvey,

Rebel Cities:
From theRight
Revolution (London: Verso, 2012).
5 David Harvey, ibid.


TheCivic Public asaConstellation Pelin Tan

be seen in theanti-nuclear
protests in Turkey, protests
by theIstanbul Chamber
ofArchitects, theIstanbul
Chamber ofUrban Planners
against urban destruction and
thecentralised upside-down
projects such as3.Bridge for
Istanbul, theTaksim Square
construction and other related
Aside from calling authorities toparticipatory, grassroots urban decision-making
strategies directly in thesites
where this radical democracy
is taking place, these parks
and squares ofurban resistance also foster theformation
ofaradical form ofcitizenship. Theproject Decolonizing
Architecture by architects
Alessandro Petti and Sandra
Hilal is areference onpractices ofcommoning and
radical citizenship in spaces
ofconflict urbanism, asseen
in their study oftheformation ofarefugee camp where
acitizen is stripped ofhis or
her political rights, reduced
tobare life. Conflict urbanism and urban uprising are
still ahope against forceful
urbanisation, asthey introduce an instance ofirruption

where acivic public can perform spontaneously through

acollective action tocreate
something radically different,
asstated byLefebvre.6

How can self-organised,
self-regulating networks
and collective structures
such astheoccupy movements in urban space inspire
economic models, especially
where thegeneration and
re-distribution ofwealth are
And how can these spaces,
under exceptional conditions,
serve ascommon knowledge based onthepractice
ofcommoning? Nowadays,
we discuss precarious working conditions and their
effects onimmaterial labour.
Immaterial industries, according toBifo: asks instead
toplace our very souls atits
disposal: intelligence, sensibility, creativity and language.7
Currently, our understanding ofthenature ofprecarious labour is mostly based
onatime/work frame that
leads tolabour exploitation

6 David Harvey,

ibid, p.XVII.
7 Franco Berardi

Bifo, TheSoul
Alienation To Au
tonomy. Translated
by F. Cadel and
G. Mecchia (Los
Angeles, London:
Semiotext (E) Foreign Agents Series,
2009) p.192193.

TheCivic Public asaConstellation Pelin Tan

and lack ofemployment security, but

these conditions do not necessarily
correspond toour relative experience in different work types. Rather,
precarious labour and theconflict
ofproduction exist in atotally different way within autonomous structures
and networks. We can witness some
examples ofthis in different geographies, where autonomous structures
and collectives whose labour is based
onrelational collaboration and selforganisation are actively being pursued
and developed.
There are practical cases ofselforganised labour structures managing
well ontheir own, not only tosustain
production but also tomaintain fluid
networks ofcreative collectivism and
collaboration. Thepractice ofcollectives or self-starting ventures by architects, artists and designers such asRAD
(Kyoto), Hanare (Kyoto), Woofer Ten
(Hong Kong) or Souzy Troust (Athens),
toname just afew, is areaction
tothecurrent economic crisis, which
cannot be separated from thepolitical
one. This crisis is inert and has certainly influenced institutional structures
and governmentality (government, cultural and creative infrastructures such
asdesign offices and art related spaces).
Within this context, asaresult
oftheeconomic crisis in thecountry,
Kyoto-based RAD (which stands for
Research for Architecture Domain),


asmall shared space by architects

and cultural activists, positions itself
against theconservative institutionalism ofarchitecture in Japan. The option
towork onavariety offronts istied not
only totheneed todiversify sources
ofincome but also with adesire to
establish apractice ofcritical thinking within thesphere ofdesign in the
company oflike-minded individuals.
Collaborating with cultural activists
and running acaf and social kitchen,
theHanare collective (also inKyoto) is
afinancially self-sufficient practice that
deals with thepressing social issues
ofeveryday life. InAthens, acollective
formed by artists, architects, designers,
NGO workers and immigrants runs
thespace Souzy Troust, established
asafood/sewing/art/design space
based onthefree exchange oflabour.
Thecollective Woofer Ten in Hong
Kong rejects neoliberal production and
focuses onself-organised urban actions
and public interventions.
Most ofthese groups and networks
are involved in anti-nuclear and ecological protest, urban pedagogy based
ontools ofempowerment and selflearning, teaching, acting, research,
reclaiming alternative urban space,
social media, urban farming and the
requalification ofcity centres against
aggressive real estate development
plans. Additionally, they also undertake daily activities collaborating

TheCivic Public asaConstellation Pelin Tan

with temporary workers,

thehomeless and disenfranchised communities tocreate
support structures for these
groups. Besides their autonomous structures, they also
try tocreate models that are
criticality connected tonew
forms ofsocial relations and
commoning. 8 Examples ofthis
can be seen in theorganisation
ofdiscussant groups, collective actions, urban movements
and general meetings.
From this perspective,
their work can be seen asaresearch method for thepractice
incommon. Ithink themeaning ofcommons is not what
we own or share or produce
asproperty, ownership, economical means or accumulation, but more along thelines
ofwhat David Harvey points
out associal relations that
are closely connected toevery
day life. 9 According topolitical economist Massimo
De Angelis, Commons are
ameans ofestablishing anew
political discourse that builds
onand helps toarticulate
themany existing, often minor
struggles, and recognises their
power toovercome capitalist


society. 10 He defines three no- 8 Auseful commentary onthis was

tions in order toexplain that
made by art writer
thecommons are not simply
and curator Pauline
Yao in thecontext
theresources that we share
ofart production
but away ofcommoning:
and collectives:
theway in which resources
Artcollectives, alternative art spacare pooled and made availes, deterritorialized
able toagroup ofindividuals
social and relationwho then build or rediscover
al practices all fit
within this schema
asense ofcommunity, and
and present
theresulting social process
possible critical
ofbeing common.
models for how we
understand and
Also today, food socio
witness theways
logist and activist Raj Patel
in which art can
focuses onhow we define
exert its own encommons. He says: Commons ergy upon agiven
environment or
is about how we manage
social context,
resources together. 11 His
rather than simply
emerge asits by
argument is not only about
product. Pauline
managing and sustaining food
Yao quoted from
growing and sharing but also
AGame Played
Without Rules Has
about how food-related moveNo Losers, e-flux
ments should be in solidarJournal, 7 June
ity with other movements.
2009, New York.
Commons, asunderstood
9 David Harvey
here, is not asimple concept
interviewed by
about collective sharing or
Pelin Tan, Aye
avdar (June,
ownership. It holds asensi2012, Istanbul).
tive position within adeDavid Harvey,
fined community and public,
Rebel C ities:
From theRight
especially in contested tertotheCity tothe
ritories or cities undergoing
Urban Revolution
or under threat ofneoliberal
(Brooklyn, NY:
destruction oftheir built environment. Negotiation and
10 An Architektur,
2010. Onthe
theconflict ofvalues are key


TheCivic Public asaConstellation Pelin Tan

in such commoning practices.

Claiming thecommons based
solely ontheidea ofthecollective use ofproperty would
therefore not constitute an
example ofcommoning.
AsStavros Stavrides
argues, more than theact or
fact ofsharing, it is theexistence ofgrounds for negotiation that is most important.
Conceptualising commons
onthebasis ofthepublic,
however, does not focus on
similarities or commonalities
but onthevery differences
between people that can possibly meet onapurposefully
instituted common ground.
We have toestablish grounds
for negotiation rather than
grounds for affirmation
ofwhat is shared.12
To go back toexemplary
cases ofcollectives in this text,
it is important tonote that
thelabour exchange strategies they operate are generally
based both onimmaterial and
physical labour. Here, thealienating forces ofimmaterial
labour disappear and thesurplus is handled onthebasis
ofethics rather than capitalist
market imperatives. Therelational network established

here is more ofan instant

community that chooses
tothink and discuss together
rather than anormative
structure. Self-organisation is
not asimple hierarchy based
oncertain labour activities
and their division, but conversely, it is awork/labour
structure that allows one tobe
afarmer in themorning and
agraphic designer in theafternoon. To reiterate Stavrides
sharp analysis, collaboration
is not about affirmation, but
negotiation. It is about debating critical issues in an urban
space that is itself apressing
and compelling concern.
Insummary, creating collective, non-clerical, political
action in theurban space is
not about theorganisation
or theevent itself, but about
co-existing and functioning
together toachieve commoning. This is rooted onareconsideration and realisation
ofour practices ofcollaboration, alternative economies,
autonomous networks, selforganisation and surplus
strategies, which are different
from what neoliberal realities and production logics try
toforce us upon us. TheGezi

APublic Interview
with Massimo De
Angelis and Stavros
Stavrides, e-flux
Journal, 17 June
2010, New York.
R. Patel, The
Hungry ofEarth,
Radical Philosophy,
No.151, Sept/Oct.
2008, London.
An Architektur,
2010. On theCommons: APublic
Interview with
Massimo De Angelis and Stavros
Stavrides, e-flux
Journal, 17 June
2010, New York.

TheCivic Public asaConstellation Pelin Tan

Park experience is about collaborating,

moving in solidarity despite our differences, voluntary work, anon-partisan,
non-clerical yet democratic platform,
and friendship. Before thegovernment
dispersed theGezi Park protestors,
food, beverage, and all other needs
were managed by self-initiated groups.
Furthermore, avegetable and flower
garden was even set upin thepark.
Asseen here, all self or collective initiatives are based onvoluntary labour
exchange in general terms, but they
also beyond, asexchange labour in this
case is not apractice where one could
be called avolunteer. Being avolunteer here both exceeds and diminishes
this new form ofworking together,
asthevoluntary in labour repre-


sents thevery source ofthepower of

collective action.
Asthecivic public appeared
asacollective social subject in resistance first in Gezi Park and Taksim
Square, it later spread all over the
city ofIstanbul in theform ofurban
assemblies. This constellation of
thecivic public embodied itself into
several public forums held every
evening, where discussions and open
speeches took place tomake decisions
for further actions ofcommoning.
Theconstellation leads toquestions:
What kind ofdemocracy do we want?
How can we turn theurban territory
into asite ofresistance, prolonging
thecivic effects ofoccupation instead
offetishizing asspecific place?

TheCity Belongs toEverybody:

Claiming Public Spaces in Chisinau
by Vitalie Sprinceana

AttheChisinau City Council
meeting on5 September
2013, ascandalous, unusual
informal alliance sprang
upbetween representatives oftheLiberal Party
(PLtheparty oftheMayor
Dorin Chirtoaca) and those
oftheCommunist Party.
Together they decided togive
allotments, green areas and
other city property totherepresentatives ofthese parties
and certain affiliated groups.1
TheLiberal Democratic Party
(PLDM) boycotted themeeting, accusing PL and PCRM
(Party ofCommunists
oftheRepublic ofMoldova)
ofmaking dubious deals under thetable todivide city
grounds and spaces between
themselves. 2 TheMayor
ofChisinau, in turn, accused
thePLDM ofthievery ofpublic

property, ineffective management and dubious administration oftheChisinau Airport

and theEconomy Bank. 3 These
accusations aroused suspicion
from asmall group ofcivil society members, but their misgivings came too late and had
no bearing onthedecisions
already adopted by thelocal
This anecdote illustrates
an all-too-familiar scene in
current Moldovan post-Soviet
politics, including thearbitrariness ofideological platforms;
theimportance ofeconomic
interests over slogans and
party rhetoric; and theweakness ofcivil society and activist groups. Such groups are
constantly unable tovoice
criticisms, and are therefore
excluded from thedecisionmaking process, and condemned for their supposedly
reactive attitudes.

Vitalie Sprinceana
is aMoldovan
sociologist, philosopher, activist
and journalist, and
amember ofOberliht Association in
Chisinau, Moldova
one ofthehubs in
theEuropean Cultural Foundations
networked programmeCon
nected Action for


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

Inshort, thepolitical landofcommunism versus democscape ofChisinau comprises

racy (e.g., in the2003 election
three groups: an administracampaign for thelocal admintion that acts mostly onbehalf
istration). Theresult ofthis
ofbusiness interests; scatcontinued disregard can be attered groups ofactivists; and
tributed tothedeplorable state
themostly passive citizens.
ofpublic space in Chisinau.
Theparadigm has reWithin thelast 20 years,
mained mostly unchanged
thecity has suffered aseries
over thelast 20 years.
oftransformations that had
Chisinau, along with other
detrimental consequences:
parts ofthecountry, did not
Existing public spaces
previously witness massive
urban protests that targeted
(parks,sport and cultural
thecity and its problems.
infrastructures, recreational
Themost tense moments
areas, courtyards near housing
ofrecent Moldavian hisblocks and playgrounds, etc.)
tory were related tomore
degraded due tolooser admingeneral themes ofnational
istration ofthespaces by local
identity (1989), social poliauthorities. Theprivatisation/
cies (2000) and elections and
fencing ofpublic property redemocracy onanational level
sulted in thetransformation
ofpublic spaces (parks, green
Major problems ofthe
areas, etc.) into private spaces
citytheurban public space,
where hotels, restaurants and
thepolicies ofdiscrimination
other commercial buildings
and exclusion within theurwere erected.
Arise in thenumber ofcars
ban space, urban citizenship,
theright tothecity, decisionled toadaily overload oftraffic
making transparency in local
in thecity centre (theamount
public administrationhave
ofdaily traffic in Chisinau has
been ignored, either pushed
increased several times within
totheedge ofthepublic disthepast 20 years). Theabsence
course or, in thebest case,
ofavailable parking spaces has
merely assimilated into wider
also turned most ofthesidepolitical debates such asthat
walks and theareas between

1 See http://unimedia.

2 See http://www.

3 See https://


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

blocks and roads into parking

areas, thereby limiting space
for pedestrians and cyclists.
Intense migration from rural
tourban areas and thesubsequent need for residential
buildings has resulted in
theexplosion oftheconstruction industry. Between 2005
and 2010 over 10,000 new
apartments were built in
Chisinau, 4 resulting in thedeforestation ofgreen areas,
reduction ofspaces between
housing blocks and thedestruction ofplaygrounds and
recreational areas.
Thecommercialisation ofpublic spaces resulted in an explosion ofstreet advertising and
vendors (ofnewspapers, baked
goods, cigarettes, alcohol,
clothing, fast food, kvas and
other refreshments, etc.)
Thepublic/social activities
(recreation, socialisation, rest,
artistic activity) ofpublic
spaces have been substituted
with profit-making entities
(parks, public toilets, water
sources, etc.). Thecity has thus
not only lost public spaces for
said social activities, but has
also become devoid offree
public toilets and sources

Thecitizens have been continuously excluded from

decision-making processes
concerning urban policies,
city development, local
project financing and more.
Thecity centre has been taken
over by large commercial
projects such asthose ofSun
City (amall), Skytower (an office building), theNobil Hotel
and Grand Plaza (aresidential
Thehistoric city centre and
its existing social structure
have been destroyed. Within
thepast 17 years, ofthe977
architectural sites that formed
thecentre, 78 (nearly 10%)
have been completely demolished, and another 155 have
undergone reconstruction that
has significantly altered their
uniqueness and authenticity. 5
Certain political and religious
groups took over public spaces
in away that excluded others
(religious minorities, economically disadvantaged groups,
etc.) from use ofthose spaces.
Other visibility policies
and police-enforced political
control ofthespaces contributed tothemarginalisation and exclusion ofgroups
that do not fit into theimage

4 Construction

in theRepublic
National Statistics
Bureau, Chisinau,
2011, p.58 (see
5 TheBlack Book

Patrimony ofChisi
nau, 2010.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

ofadecent city, such ashomeless people, beggars, prostitutes, people with alcohol or
drug addictions, etc.
Such transformations are
not unique toChisinau. Most
post-Socialist cities have undergone similar processes related tothepolitical-economic
context. They have encountered accelerated reforms for
theintroduction ofthemarket
economy, thede-industrialisation ofurban economies and
thegrowth oftheservices sector, therise ofconsumption,
thegradual dismantlement
ofthesocial state, therise
ofsocial inequality, political
and religious populism, and
theconsolidation ofsome
political-economic oligarchies
atlocal and nationallevels.6

Claiming public spaces

inChisinau: Methodological
This article intends todescribe
several urban activism movements from Chisinau that
differed in vision, strategies,
ethnic and political compositions, messages and symbols.
These movements are rather

recent, having taken place in

thelast two tothree years, although some oftheorganisations became active much earlier. TheOberliht Association,
for example, aparticipant in
theprotest atEurope Square,
has been active in thepublic space ofChisinau since
My perspective is twofold, asboth an activist and
asociologist. Therefore this
text will speak in two voices
that may sometimes overlap
but in other cases will speak
distinctly. Asasociologist
Iwill attempt toanchor my
observations, thefacts and
theactivities in thecontext
ofcontemporary social theory.
My activist perspective will
be influenced more personally, asIparticipated directly
in various ways (in theorganisation oftheactivities,
dissemination ofmaterials,
etc.). Ifit this methodology
within thetradition ofpublic sociology, inaugurated by
Michael Burawoy.7 Iunderstand my approach not only
asone oftheoretical reflection
upon social processes, but also
asapresentation ofone type
oflocal activism that might be


6 For awider discus-

sion see Sonia

Hirt, Iron Curtains
Gates, Suburbs
and Privatiza
tion ofSpace in
City (Hoboken,
N.J.: Wiley & Sons,
2012) and Kiril
Stanilov, ThePostSocialist City:
Urban Form and
Space Transforma
tions in Central and
Eastern Europe
After Socialism
(Springer, 2010).
7 Michael Burawoy,

For Public Sociology in Public Soci

ology: Fifteen Emi
nent Sociologists
Debate Policies
and theProfession
Century, edited
by Dan Clawson
et al. (Berkeley:
University ofCalifornia Press, 2007)


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

connected toother types ofactivism, and asadevelopment

ofsome recommendations that
might facilitate other urban
Iwill present three
cases ofactivism in terms
ofclaiming public space:
theAnti-Sbarro protest from
Europe Square; themovement for therevitalisation
oftheCantemir Boulevard
axis; and thereconstruction oftheRotonda in Valea
Morilor Park.
Iexamine these three
cases within thetheoretical
framework ofreactive protests versus proactive protests
or from opposition toproposition. 8 This conceptual model
was developed following
areflection upon anti/alterglobalisation movements such
astheWorld Social Forum
(WSF) and the1999 Seattle
Thecategory ofreactive
protests, asdefined generally, includes protests that are
anti actions, through which
thesocial movement, group
ofactivists, or civil society
opposes an action ofthestate
or local authority, oftheeconomic agent, or ofother

groups ofcitizens. Protests

against demolition ofhistoric
monuments and illegal constructions can be included in
this type ofprotest.
Thecategory ofproactive
protests, ontheother hand,
refers toprotest actions by
which thesocial movement,
group ofactivists, or civil society not only opposes acertain
type ofaction, but also implements reform projects or offers
suggestions for alternative
Thedistinction between
these categorieswhich
appeared from contemporary Gramscian reflections
ondiscursive dominations and
thepossibilities ofcombatting
neoliberal hegemony through
alter-hegemoniesis obviously not absolute. It should be
perceived asaflexible continuum rather than adichotomy.
Such flexible approaches 9
are aware that theprotest
isnt fixed in alinear scheme,
but rather under adynamic
logic, in which thereactive
and proactive aspects coexist.
Asarbitrary asit is, thedistinction is still necessary
because it guides theprotest
movements, allowing them

8 Marian Pinsky,

From Reactive
TheWorld Social
Forum and theAnti/
Movement, McGill
Review, VolumeI,
January 2010,
pp.328; Gary
Marks and Doug
McAdam, Social Movements
and theChanging Structure
ofPolitical Opportunity in the
European Union1.
West European
Politics 19:2 (1996),
pp.249278; Steven M. Buechler,
New Social Movement Theories,
Sociological Quar
terly 36:3 (1995);
pp.4414 64.
9 See especially

Marian Pinsky, ibid.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

tonot only identify thefact

that they oppose acertain
cause (via thereactive phase),
but also torecognise and

contest what thedominating

discourse may present asnatural or theonly possible solution (in theproactive phase).

Case 1: TheAnti-Sbarro protest in Europe Square

a) Chronology
TheEurope Square, situated attheentrance in
theStefan cel Mare si
Sfant Public Garden, was

inaugurated by theDelegation
oftheEuropean Union (EU)
totheRepublic ofMoldova
and theCity Council of Chi
sinau in 2008. Apresentation
oftheEU logo redesigned with


construction site
Pizzeria, Chisinau,
after thefence
was dismantled,
January 2013.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

flowers and anewly installed

flag marked theoccasion.
Thepolitical significance was
obviousthenewly elected
Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca represented theLiberal Party, apolitical formation whose platform placed great emphasis
onaccelerating thecountrys
European integration. This
directly opposed thegoverning party ofthetime, which
had apro-Eastern, Communist
Thenew leadership ofthe
city invested enormously in
thesymbolic aspect ofthis
location; it is where theMayor
annually presents tothecitizens his report oftheyears
activity. Indeed EuropeSquare
was built deliberately as
amonument-space that symbolises theEuropean aspirations ofMoldova.10
ofDecember 2012, afence
went uparound thesquare
indicating new forthcoming construction. Thefirst
person tosignal this new
construction site was theactivist Oleg Brega, ontheweb
television platform Curaj TV.11
Later some texts appeared
about this construction site

onpersonal blogs, onsome

public platforms and onsocial
networks.12 There was much
controversy about thelack
ofinformation onasupposedly public entity.
Finally on17 December,
theMayor commanded
thedirectors for architecture and public relations
atthecity hall toprovide
thepublic with more information ontheconstruction
ofthesquare.13 Theseauthorities merely offered
that theconstruction was
perfectly legal, which
did not satisfy theactivist
communities, including
theNGO My Dear City and
other organisations such
asSave theGreen Chisinau
Association, Salvgardare
Association, Oberliht Asso
ciation, theAgency for In
spection and Restoration
ofMonuments, aswell asinformal groups ofother active
citizens and bloggers. These
groups agreed toorganise
apublic protest for 26Wed
nesday. Inthemeantime,
theycreated aFacebook
page and ablog dedicated
totheprotest (


10 IntheRepublic

theprocess ofadherence totheEU
represents more
than atechnical
process, ofnegotiation ofpolicies:
it was conceived
project ofmodernisation and asacivilising choice.
11 See http://curaj.

12 Vitalie Spranceana,

National Culture
House. About
theStefan cel Mare
si Sfant Public
Garden (see http://
13 See http://www.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

Theonline social networks

not only brought people together who did not know
each other, but also facilitated
organisation oftheprotest.
Theactivists were able toefficiently share thetasks: soliciting theofficial documents
from city hall, researching
thelegal aspects toprepare
juridical criticisms, printing
thebanners and slogans for
theprotest, etc.
Several days before
theprotest, theEurope Square
construction site also caught
theattention ofthemainstream media.14 Thepublic
debate was therefore widened. On 25 December,
theday before theprotest,
theentrepreneurs made
apublic statement that they
intended tobuild apizzeria
that is part oftheAmerican
chain Sbarro.15 Later that
day, theactivists participated
in aworkshop organised by
theOberliht Association
towrite protest slogans.
Theprotest was held,
asplanned, on26 December,
and without any major setbacks. Thepress, widely
present, reflected generously theevent and gave

voice totheprotestors state- 14

ments. Because theconstruction didnt comply with all
legal requirements, lacking
theapproval oftheMinistry
ofCulture and theNational
Monuments Council, the
protesters demanded that
construction should be suspended, that public consultations should be initiated,
and asameasure that would
prevent similar situations
from happening in thefuture,
there should be increased
transparency and citizens participation in decision-making
Atthat moment, Mayor
Dorin Chirtoaca ordered construction onthis site tostop
until thecircumstances could 15
be clarified. Thus thefirst objective oftheprotest tostop
theconstruction was successfully accomplished. However,
thesame evening, under
thepretext that theMayors
order had not yet been presented tothem, theentrepreneurs continued construction,
pouring theconcrete foundation ofthefuture pizzeria.
An activist who witnessed
this by chance immediately
passed thenews onvia social


See: Anew cafe

teria with terrace
in thecentre
Thebuilding will be
placed near Europe Square, (see
Photo); Natalia Hadarca, Anew pighouse in thecenter
ofChisinau? (see
Unimedia: What
would be built in
Europe Square and
what are theowners reasons, (see

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

networks. Several activists,

accompanied by television
reporters, went tothesite
and filmed theprocess. Mayor
Chirtoaca also appeared,
promising topunish theentrepreneurs for wilfully disobeying city hall orders. Thenext
day, thesecret construction
was broadcast ontelevision
and drew much commentary.
Attheweekly city hall
meeting on28 December,
theauthorities reconfirmed
their intention tocancel
theconstruction authorisation and torestore thehistoric ground tothepublic
garden space. Thefence was
removed thesame day and
thepizzeria foundation was
demolished in thebeginning
ofMarch 2013.
Inaway, theprotest
against theconstruction in
Europe Square, with its effective social mobilisation,
media presence, pressure
ontheauthorities, and eventual dismantling oftheillegal
construction, is an exemplary
story ofsuccess. Furthermore,
in order toavoid future scandals, city hall began topublish
all construction authorisations
granted and applied for onits

official website. More broadly 16

speaking, theprotest also
initiated thepractice ofopening upsensitive subject matters regarding historical sites
topublic debate.
However, from adifferent point ofview, theprotest
encountered several failures.
First, asone oftheprotest
participants pointed out,
although theconstruction
itself was stopped, thebureaucratic machinery ofthedirections that give illegal
authorisation still remained
functional and untouched.16
No official in thelong bureau
cratic chain that initially
authorised theconstruction
has been prosecuted; Mayor
Chirtoaca only promised that
he would withdraw his personal trust in theguilty individuals. Theeffort also failed
togenerate adebate large
enough (i.e. involving atleast
amajority ofthecity) about
urban citizenship, participative democracy, exclusion and
theright tohave avoice.
But if we bear in mind that
theactivist scene is ethnically
and linguistically disjointed,
theprotest had agenerally
favourable result.


Vitalie Sprinceanahow we protest (about Europe

Square, Sbarro
and Mayor Chirtoaca), (see http://

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

toposition themselves clearly

within thelegal context, with
all its practical and moral
Iwill not elaborate onall
thecircumstances and factors
oflaw, naming/calling practhat influenced theevents that
tices. Theentrepreneurs didnt
transpired (anyway we do
have any other choice than
not know much about what
topopulate thelegal field and
took place behind bureautosuffer thenegative moral
cratic curtains), but Iwill just
and symbolic consequences
comment onsome Iconsider
ofthis positioning.
Thesymbolic moment:
Thelegalist moment:
Asstudies ofsocial moveTheentrepreneurs did not
ments demonstrate, avital
have all thedocuments in ortool in such movements
der. Adecisive factor in makare thesymbolic policies,
ing thelegal aspects clear was
or theability tobuild and
thepresence and active parmanipulate symbolic inticipation ofMr. Ion Stefanita,
terpretations,17 which can
catalyse thegrowth ofactheDirector oftheAgency for
tivist networks or generate
Inspection and Restoration
additional pressure upon
ofMonuments (AIRM), an
political actors. Inthecase
institution affiliated with
oftheEurope Square protest,
theMinistry ofCulture and
thesymbolic strategies were
responsible for protecting
moulded onan abundance
theheritage oftheRepublic
ofpre-existing symbolic forofMoldova. Asamember
mulations: theClassics Alley,
oftheNational Monuments
theStefan cel Mare si Sfant
Council, theinstitution that
Public Garden, themost
would have granted theenimportant monument
trepreneurs authorisation
ofChisinau that has existed
should they have warranted
in thecentre ofthecity for
it, Mr. Stefanita knew that
200 years, themonument
they had not properly received
ofthenational poet Mihai
approval from theCouncil.
Eminescu, Europe Square
This allowed theactivists
b) What lessons can we
learn from this protest?


17 Margaret E. Keck,

Activists Beyond
Borders: Advo
cacy Networks
in International
Politics (Cornell
University Press,
1998) pp.2223.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

and theMayors declared

commitment totheproject
ofEuropean integration,
his own image ofyoung
reformists consistently
promoted by theMayor,
etc. Theactivists subverted
therhetoric oftheauthorities touse it against them.
Thus theslogan, ThePublic
Garden resisted for 200 years
under authoritarian regimes
but now is ontheedge
ofvanishing in 20 years
ofdemocracy combined
references tothedemocratic
rhetoric oftheMayor and
theauthoritarian rhetoric
from which he claimed separation. Another message, presented asacollage, showed
Mihai Eminescu, thenational
poet and guardian figure
ofthedemocratic right, with
aSbarro pizza beside him.
Thepoet was depicted assaying he would like apizza for
his birthday (coincidentally,
his birthday is celebrated
on15 January). This strategic
collage aimed toreveal an inconsistency. On theone hand
theauthorities self-importantly celebrated Eminescu
every year; and ontheother
hand they intended tobuild

acommercial pizzeria right
Thetechnological moment:
Much has been written about
therole ofinformation technology in protest movements,
both positive and negative.18
TheTwitter revolution from
Moldova on7 April 2009
put thecountry onthemap,
making it aprominent focus in studying theimpact
oftechnology onthepolitical
process.19 TheEurope Square
protest certainly benefitted
from effective use oftheinternet. One might even say
that theprotest would have
been less successful if theparticipants had not used it. They
created several discussions
groups onFacebook, aswell
asablog onwhich topost
daily updates, explanations,
scanned copies ofofficial documents, protest resolutions,
etc. Theblog was also auseful
place tocompile feedback from
thepressincluding links
tonews sites, television channels and other media presentations. Theuse ofFacebook also
led toconnection via mobile
phones, which has continued
past theend oftheprotest.
Other blogs and discussion


For enthusiastic
opinions see especially Howard
Rheingold, Smart
Mobs: TheNext
Social Revolu
tion (Basic Books,
2007). For acri
tical view over
potential oftheinternet, see Evgeny
Morozov, TheNet
Delusion: TheDark
Side ofInternet
Freedom (Public
Affairs, 2012).
Twitter Revolution.
Episode 1: Repu
blic ofMoldova
(Chisinau: ARC,
Stiina Publishing
Houses, 2010).

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

forums, namely voxreport.unitheMayor asresponsible for, also helped toraise
creating theconflict. This, in
thevisibility oftheprotest.
turn, allowed certain press
Unfortunately, theprotest
tointerpret an anti-Mayor
logic, against theparty that
also suffered negative aspects
oftechnology. Several activists he represents. Another logic
received anonymous Skype
attempted toguess some
calls trying tointimidate
violent traits oftheprotest
them. 20 Even though these
actions. Due tosuch misincalls failed toachieve their
terpretations, keeping avoice
goal ofcausing riffs among
ofour own where we could
theactivists, they still showed
was crucial tothesuccess
thepotential vulnerabilities
ofonline communication
Thepolitical moment:
during protest actions. IllInmany regards, theprotest
intended anonymity can erode
actions from Europe Square
thefragile trust ofan eclectic
represented political innovacommunity that only knows
tions within theMoldovan
each other online!
political context. First, theactivists managed tobuild
Thecommunicative moment:
Throughout theduration
anew field ofaction and
oftheprotest, theparticipants
discourse outside thetradimaintained adistinct voice
tional political space. This
and tried tomake it heard
new political field has centred
despite themedia turmoil.
ontheissue ofpublic space
Especially important was
and served asaplatform
toanswer, ateach step, three
for thediscussion ofsome
fundamental questions: Who
broader political themes
are we? Why do we protest?
urban citizenship, symbolic
What are theclaims ofthepropolicies, theright toclaim
test? Sometimes local media
thecitythat often escape
misinterpreted certain asnarrower partisan discourses,
pects. For example, thefact
aswell asofsocial movethat city hall was guilty ofbad
ments in Moldova. Second,
management ofpublic propthetheme ofpolitical space
erty resulted in identifying
turned out tobe one that


20 Theconflict related

totheconstruction from Europe

Square is growing:
aprotester claims
tobe intimidated by
phone (see http://

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

could transcend theideological, ethnic and linguistic

barriers that fissure theactivist medium in Moldova.
Theprotest brought together

organisations ofartists,
Russian-speaking activists,
Romanian-speaking activists,
left-wing activists and rightwing activists.

Case 2: Cantemir Boulevard

Theproject ofCantemir
Boulevard, led by architect
Alexei Shchiusev, emerged
immediately after thewar

in adevelopment plan for

thecity ofChisinau. According
totheplan, thelower
part ofthecity was tobe


Theimaginary line along

workshop, 2012


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

demolished in order togive

way toaspacious boulevard
that would allow for thesynchronisation oftheupper
part ofthecity with thelower
part. Themass destruction
resulting from theSecond
World Warwhich partially
or totally destroyed approximately 70% ofthecitys buildings21and immense respect
ofShchiusevs authority allowed theauthorities tocarve
thecity asthey pleased.
Thefirst plan intended
forCantemir Boulevard
toend atCosmonauts Street,
but in1972 theboulevard
was extended toreach Calea
Iesilor Street. Only several
parts oftheprojected boule
vard have actually been built,
however: theCosmonauts
Street, thepart between
Negruzzi and Ismail Streets,
and thepart extending from
Surprisingly, theidea
ofbuilding Cantemir
Boulevard survived thecollapse oftheSoviet Union
and has continued under
democratic leadership and
its General Urbanistic Plan
(GUP), adopted in 2007. 22
Theleadership argued

theboulevard could make

road traffic through thecentral sector more fluid, and
connect theChisinau Airport
with theBuiucani district.
Alarge community ofarchitects criticised this initiative onthegrounds that it
would violate national laws
and international conventions signed by theRepublic
ofMoldova protecting historically significant parts
ofthecity, which includes
thecity centre. 23
Thearchitects accused
city hall ofadopting decisions
without consulting specialists in thefield. Afterwards,
theGUP was rejected by
both theMoldova Academy
ofScience and theMinistry
Atthetime ofwriting,
Cantemir Boulevard remained
in limbo. Thediscussions surrounding theGUP had shifted
totheZonal Urbanistic Project
(ZUP), which likewise hopes
toimprove thecity centre and
tobuild theboulevard.
Inresponse, agroup ofartists and architects launched
aproject toprevent thebuilding oftheboulevard, themass
destruction ofhistorically

21 Virgil Pslariuc.

Who destroyed his

torical Chisinau?
(see http://www.
22 TheGeneral

Urban Plan (see
23 See http://unimedia.


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

significant architecture, and

thesubsequent negative impact oncommunity life. They
aimed toengage localsboth
temporary and permanent
residents, service workers,
passers-byin various activities that would strengthen
local identity, revitalise some
abandoned public spaces and
attract and inspire other parts
Thefirst stage ofthis
project ofrevitalisation,
which took place from 26
July 2012 and was organised
by theAssociation ofYoung
Artists Oberliht (Chisinau,
Moldova) and Planwerk (Cluj,
Romania), was aworkshop
onmapping thepublic spaces
ofChisinau. 24 Theprogramme
included an exploration
ofnew criteria and ways
ofcataloguing thecitys
public spaces, conception
ofanew grid for evaluating
selected public spaces, and
tours ofthemapped zones.
Italso identified ten locations
ofthewould-be Cantemir
Boulevard with potential
Thesecond stage was
thecreation ofareading
group called Public Space

inPost-Socialism led by so- 24

ciologist Vitalie Sprinceanu,
which was held in thesummer
and autumn of2012 and gathered students, artists and activists. This reading group, also
present onsocial networks,
aimed tofamiliarise its mem- 25
bers with thefundamental
theoretical concepts necessary
tounderstand urban policies,
urban democracy, theright
tothecity, and theregional
and local transformations that
occurred in post-Socialist
areas over thelast 20 years.
Adirect result ofthegroup
was theorganisation ofare
gularly updated online library
containing relevant texts, both
classic and contemporary,
inRomanian, Russian, English
and French. 25
Thethird stage was toconduct asurvey-questionnaire
for theusers ofthepublic
space from thechosen ten
locations along Cantemir
Boulevard. Sprinceanu developed thequestionnaire
incollaboration with several
students from theFaculty
ofHistory and Philosophy,
theDepartment ofPhilosophy
and Anthropology oftheState
University ofMoldova and


Mapping ofPublic
Space in Chisinau
(201213) (see
See http://chisineu.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

conducted thesurvey from

March toApril 2013. Thesurvey included questions about
theactivities oftheplaces,
civic involvement, wishes and
visions for changes in thelocals use ofpublic space, mechanisms ofsocial inclusion or
exclusion, and emotional attachment totheplace. Theresults were publicly presented
in May 2013.
Themost interesting
and perhaps most useful
feedback was theprevailing
scepticism among users
ofthepublic spaces regarding
thepossibility oftheir being
involved in decision-making
processes. Alarge majority
ofthose surveyed expressed
that they would gladly participate in and have many ideas
for therenovation ofthese
spaces, but were doubtful
whether authorities would
payany attention tothem.
Assuch, this community
ofartist-activists decided
that theproject they launched
must not only be done for
thecitizens, but also by them.
They organised, through
international participation
asapart oftheproject SPACES:
TheCivic Center ofChisinau,

aseries ofartistic events

onCantemir Boulevard concerning therevitalisation
oftheten identified locations. Architects Alex Axinte
and Cristi Borcan from
studioBASAR in Romania
organised apublic workshop ofurban interventions
for 713 September 2013. 26
Thisworkshop was followed
by ahands-onrehabilitation
project by residents attheintersection ofIvan Zaikin and
Sf. Andrei Streets, aswell
asapicnic and film screening.
Aspart ofthesame project,
Slovak artists Jana Kapelova
and Michal Moravcik conducted an intervention
in adifferent location, on
Balanescu Street, reusing old
furniture gathered from local
residents. 27 Swedish artist
Karl Hallberg contributed
an intervention ofhis own,
inTriangle 2, ontheintersection ofPruncul, Sf. Andrei,
and I. Doncev Streets. 28
One ofthegreat difficulties in evaluating thesuccess ofthese movements
is in thefact that they are
almost always works-inprogress. Such is thecase with
Cantemir Boulevard. Itisstill


26 TheChisinau Civic

Centre: Recovered
Spaces. Urban
Workshop with studioBASAR (Cristi
Tudor ELIAN [RO],
711 September
2013 (see http://
27 See http://chisineu.

28 SPACES: Intersec-

tions, an installation
by Karl Hallberg, 20
September 2013,
17:00 (see http://


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

too soon toevaluate its chances

oflong-term success. Fortunately,
theboulevard plan is still in discussion
and there is strong enough opposition
from theartistic community against its
construction. On theother hand, entrepreneurs and commercial agents have
taken advantage ofthechaos ofGUP
and ZUP todemolish and rebuild large
parts ofthearea without theapproval
oftheauthorities. Asindicated by
one oftheactivists, there is arisk that
theCantemir Boulevard zone could be
completely demolished even before any
decision is made onits plans.
Inthese circumstances, two communities gain particular significance.
Thefirst ofthese is artist communities, specifically those within
urban activism. They decidedly enrich
thesymbolic repertoire, make activist movements more attractive, and
bring about new reflections and artistic practices in public space. Urban
activist-artists are asopportune

asregular local artists are obsessively separate from politics. This is

aconsequence oftheexcessive politicisation ofart in theSoviet period
and tendency tokeep any political art
toquiet themes such asanti-Communism, national identity or orthodoxy.
Thepossibilities ofart interventions
are truly limitless, both in real space
and in virtual space.
Thesecond community is that
offoreign artists. Their significance
lies in thepossibility ofestablishing
transnational connections. However,
this community is not without its
complications. Although its efforts
could improve thevisibility oflocal actions outside thecountry, it could also
take away opportunities from local
Moldovan artists; art interventions in
public spaces could become aprivilege
offoreign artists, leaving Moldovan
artists tosearch for other niches. There
is adifficult balance tostrike between
their respective involvements.

Case 3: TheRotonda from Valea Morilor Park

a) Chronology
Valea Morilor Park (known during
theSoviet era astheCentral Culture
and Recreation Park oftheLeninist
Komsomol ofMoldova, Leonid
Brejnev) was developed by architect

Robert Kurtz and began construction in 1950 under then-Secretary

oftheMoldovan Communist party,
Leonid Brejnev. 29 Theeponymous
youth division oftheCommunist
Party, theKomsomol, and other young
people throughout thecity carried

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

out theactual construction

ofthepark, thelake and
cultural objects. Intheseventies, themain entrance
atSerghei Lazo Street, where
theRotonda and theCascade
Ladder are situated, became
animportant centre ofcultural
life and recreation for thecity
After thecollapse ofthe
Soviet Union, thelake became filled with mud and
thesurrounding park signi
ficantly degraded. Although
theauthorities organised
athorough cleaning and
reconstruction ofthelake
from 2006 to2011 so it

could re-open tothepublic,

other partsincluding
theCascade ladder, thestreet
lights and nearby roads
remain in astate ofdisrepair
and disuse. TheRotonda also 29
became covered in graffiti
and its base asite ofpublic
garbage disposal.
Theparks condition
moved Moldovan immigrant Antonina Svalbonene,
originally from Greece,
to put out adiscreet call
on Facebook for therevitalisation oftheRotonda.
InJanuary 2013, she urged
cityresidents toorganise acollective cleanup ofthearea


before (left) and
after (right) the

Chisinau: an ency
clopedia (Chisinau:
A. I. Timush, 1984).


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

surrounding theRotonda,
especially thesteps and pavilion. Theresponse was
positive: asmall but slowly
growing community consolidated ontheFacebook
group, Vosstanovim Kishinev
(Russian) or Sa restabilim
orasul Chisinau (Romanian),
which translates asLets recover Chisinau in English. 30
After further deliberations,
thegroup decided toorganise acleanup for Sunday,
3February 2013.
Despite thecold weather
and thesnow, several dozen
people went tothepark,
where they set towork cleaning thearea. They gathered
thewithered leaves and
branches, theplastic and metal trash, and other garbage.
Thecleanup attracted theattention ofseveral politicians,
including aformer mayoral
candidate, aswell asseveral
television stars, journalists,
bloggers and activists. This
civic action, all themore
admirable considering the
weather conditions, was
widely presented in themedia
later, both through traditional media (some ofwhich
were present atthecleanup)

aswell associal media and

blogs. Together they garnered
further interest in thearea.
City leadership also
reacted tothis initiative,
withMayor Dorin Chirtoaca
promising ataCity Council
meeting that he would
grant thenecessary support torestore theRotonda.
He ordered calculations
ofthefinances required, but
thepresented sum turned
out tobe extremely high:
600 million lei (around
US$50 million). Some acti
vists suspect that city hall
justified its lack ofaction and
withdrawal from therehabilitation effort because ofthis
potential financial burden.
Meanwhile, for several
months, theRotonda ini
tiative continued within
theonline social networks;
locals decided that they must
take theeffort into their own
hands rather than count
onthesupport oftheauthorities. They decided that
therecovery oftheRotonda
meant not only restoring its
physical condition, but also
restoring thecultural life it
once had. This would sustain
their motivation and efforts,

30 See https://



TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

and make them meaningful

in thelong term.
Asecond collective cleaning took place on10 August.
This time theactivists not
only cleaned thearea but
also painted theRotonda
itself, aswell asthefence in
theback. Thecleanup was
followed by amaster class
ofArgentine dance organised
by theSchool ofDance Tango
Argentino Chisinau, led by
Tatiana Grodinskaia. 31
On 22 August, the
Rotonda hosted its first live
concert with thesupport
ofthePresidential Orchestra
oftheRepublic ofMoldova,
drawing 2,000 people tothe
event. InSeptember several
benches and trash cans were

its potential outcomes are

Themovement still has
toface several challenges
in thenear future, including thefollowing: building
bridges with Romanianspeaking communities; accepting alternative cultural
groups; traps ofpolitical
affiliations; maintaining its
civic dimension.
Below Iwill reflect and
elaborate further onsignificant aspects ofthemovement:
Theproactive moment:
This is perhaps themost
significant contribution
ofthemovement. Theactions
not only helped torestore
aspace that was abandoned
formany years, but also
reintegrated it into thecitys
cultural life. Furthermore,
b) Reflections and practices
through this movement,
theactivist community shifted
Therevitalisation ofthe
decidedly from thereaction
Rotonda in Valea Morilor Park
phase toone ofsocial and pois an interesting case ofaclitical creativity. TheRotonda
tivist efforts with important
recovery initiative undoubttransnational and multi-ethnic
edly enlarged theprotest and
participation. Like theaforeactivist repertoire ofthecity.
mentioned rehabilitation
Thepolitical moment:
oftheCantemir Boulevard
Even though theorganisarea, however, this is amoveers and activists took care
ment still in development and
toremove theaffiliation

31 Inhabitants of

Chisinau are being called toclean

theValea Morilor
Park, http://www.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana


ofthecause from any political parusual in 2014, an election year for

ties, political influence was palpable
theParliament. Inthepolitical context
ateach step. Initially, Igor Dodon,
atthetime ofwriting, Mayor Chirtoaca
theformer mayoral candidate and
represented anational political party
President oftheSocialist party
that was in strong opposition toand
andtherefore apolitical rival ofthe
competition with theother parties,
serving Mayorparticipated acespecially theCommunist Party.
tively atthegeneral cleaning from
Thesuccess and failures in Chisinau
3February, both personally and
would count immensely onChirtoacas
through ayouth organisation he leads.
election agenda; this is why asuccessHis p
resence aswell ashis declarations
ful initiative such astheRotonda, consignificantly impacted theMayors
ducted without support from thelocal
quick reaction, who dubbed thereauthorities, would be rather uncomcovery oftheRotonda populist. After
fortable for thecity administration,
this, political interest in theRotonda
which might decide toget involved
diminished for awhile, allowing
in order toco-opt themovement and
themovement todevelop following
claim its success for theadministraits own logic and toplan, far from
tion. Ontheother hand, some other potheeyes ofthepress, its further aclitical forces such astheSocialist Party,
tions. Eventually, however, some jourwith themost consistently anti-Chirnalists, political activists from another
toaca platform, might decide toclaim
opposing partytheCommunist
being part ofthesuccess ofthis moveParty (PCRM)became involved.
ment and tobecome involved atalater
Theseincluded Dimitrii Kavruk,
stageoftheproject. If that happens,
theEditor-in-Chief oftheCommunist
publication PULS, and Constantin
Theethnic-cultural moment:
Starish, Deputy in theParliament
Theinitiative for therevitalisation
oftheRepublic ofMoldova from PCRM.
oftheRotonda is certainly anchored
Even though they claimed exclusively
inthepersonal and collective nostalgia
civic, non-party-affiliated participaofaparticular social groupalarge
tion, their known affiliation reprepart ofChisinaus Russian-speaking
sented achallenge for themovement
population (which includes Russians,
to c onstantly prove that it positioned
Ukrainians and Jews). This is one
itself outside party sympathies.
oftheprojects strengths, but simul
Thechallenge ofpolitical affiliations
taneously also one ofits greatest
was likely be more acute than
vulnerabilities. Theexplicit aim


TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

ofthecommunity, declared
would succeed in integrating
countless times, is torestore
thedifferent architectural and
theRotonda asan object of
historic heritages ofthecity.
local and national importance,
This is why, even if theiniasit was before the1980s.
tiative oftheRotonda is an
However, thelogic ofresto
excellent and successful one,
ration ofacertain past hides
too few Romanian-speaking
several traps. First, doing
activists find themselves
so anchors themovement
within aproject ofrestoring
in aspecific, pre-conceived
aSoviet architectural monunotion ofpublic space, one
ment. Many ofthem would
controlled and accessible
prefer adifferent form ofre
only tocertain social groups
storation that would include
(theso-called good people,
thedestruction ofpre-Soviet
thegood rest and good
era monuments. Therefore
music type). This definition
activism confronts avariety
explicitly excludes those
ofseemingly incompatible
ofunwanted social groups,
restoration discourses,
like homeless people, but
afact that thecommunity
also those ofalternative soof activists has not yet
cial groupsgraffiti a rtists,
rockers, punks, hipsters.
Another challenge for
Another equally complex
theRotonda initiative is
trap is in thedifferent Soviet
acultural one. Thecultural
architecture and monuments
actions for revitalisation
and their interpretations.
ofthezone consisted until
For example, there are many
now ofevents oftraditional
Romanian-speaking activists
or mainstream culture: fanwho consider Chisinau overfare music, dance, poetry
loaded with traces ofthe
readings. During aconference
Russian and Soviet presdedicated tothepublic spaces
ence and believe that some
ofChisinau, one ofthe organofthese should disappear
isers said that thespace was
completely. Thecity has not
still spared ofthe intervenyet established along-term
tions ofinformal and alternaidentity strategyone that
tive groups such asrockers,

32 See http://www.

TheCity Belongs toEverybody Vitalie Sprinceana

punks and others. Howthecommunity will react toapotential cultural

intrusion ofthis kind, or how and
whether it will succeed in integrating
into theimage oftheidyllic Soviet,
isstill tobe determined.


traditional political actors attempts

toco-opt successful movements for
their own interestsare unique
Due toall these complexities,
itisquite difficult topaint adefinitive
picture ofurban activism in Chisinau.
Still, Iwould permit myself two preConclusion
liminary conclusions:
Even if these social movements
Thesocial movements in Moldova
were tofurther develop only under
described above have, without adoubt,
theworst circumstancesthat is,
commonalities with other similar
ifthey were dissolved or co-opted
movements in surrounding countries.
byother political actorsthey would
Thedependence ofthemovements
still have made asignificant contriontheinternet and online social
bution in that they introduced new
networks; theuse ofinformation
themes in political debates: ofpublic
technologies for mobilisation and orspace, ofdomination and control over
ganisation; theeffort toenlarge thenapublic space and ofurban democracy.
tional and local political discussion
These themes have already solidified
by including new and relevant topics,
and found aplace within theagenda
such asurban citizenship, theright for
ofcurrent political debates in various
thecity, local democracy and transparforms (in topics such asprotection
ency ofdecision-making processes;
ofarchitectural heritage, or preventing
theinequality ofpower and resources
exclusion ofcertain sexual or religious
both among activist groups and among
minorities in public spaces, and actions
big businesses and local or national
for revitalisation ofpublic spaces).
authorities. These are some elements
Weexpect them tobe discussed more
that can be found in other capitals
intensely intheupcomingelections.
ofpost-Socialist countries aswell.
An indirect but very important effect
Yetsome aspectssuch asthesepaofthese movements is therecovery
ration ofthecommunities ofactivofprotest asan instrument of creating
ists by ethnic and linguistic criteria,
political pressure. It allows us toprocultural and ideological separation
pose new forms ofpolitical organisaconcerning theCommunist city herittion and cooperation outside thetradiage, theactivist efforts tocounteract
tional political field, and touse various

TheCity Belongs toEverybody: Vitalie Sprinceana

communicative means in
thearts, such asperformance,
toexpress an important message. These elements will help

tobuild an active urban citizenship and give citizens new,

innovative ways for getting


zone//art space,
2012 drawing by
George Marinescu,

Chisinau Civic Center

by Vladimir Us

How can we make, through

art, research, urban planning,
architecture, institutional
creativity and activism, the
public spaces ofour cities
more welcoming, open
Initiated in 2012 by the
Oberliht Association, the
Chisinau Civic Center series
ofprojects and events opened
upadialogue onthe issue
ofpublic space during aperiod
oftransition quest ioning
therole ofcommon goods
and their role incommunity
development. New models for
governing these spaces and
goods were proposed, aswell
asforms of institutional innovation that would help toprotect ordemocratise them.
TheChisinau Civic Center
series ofprojects encouraged
citizens toget involved in
cultural aswell asurban and
social projects. They could look
back attheir work through

different lenses such ascriticism and protesttothink

ofthepublic role that art could
have in post-Soviet societies.
Theproject also examined
thepotential ofart tobring
about change by organising
participatory art events in
Chisinau, making use of
available public spaces.
All three programmes illustrated below were inspired
by and are based ontheresults
oftheMapping ofPublic Space
in Chisinau workshop that
took place in July 2012
com/proiecte/atelier-cartografiere/). Theprogrammes,
in turn, stimulated aseries of
artistic interventions and sociological research by artists and
curators, architects, sociologists, historians and other professionals interested in urban
developmentshedding light
ontheunequal distribution of
spaces and resources that characterises post-Soviet states.

Vladimir Us
is aMoldovan artist
and curator, and
Association in
Chisinau, Moldova
one ofthehubs
in theEuropean
Cultural Foundations networked
Connected Action
for theCommons.

Chisinau Civic
the Red Lines,
IfYou Dont
Need It by Public
Pedestal (Michal
Moravcik and Jana
Kapelova), 2013.
Photo: Oberliht.
Chisinau Civic
Center, Alternative
Network of Public
Spaces forChi
sinau, mapdesigned by Diana

Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us


Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us



Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us

Chisinau Civic Center

Open air cinema
(1831 August 2012)

Theproject consisted
ofatwo-week residency for
several collectives ofarchitects and focused ontwo different spaces in theMoldovan
capital ofChisinau: apublic
square onBucuresti str. 68
(that in themeantime had
become aparking lot) and an
abandoned fountain in front
ofChekhov Theatre, next
toaluxury hotel and ashopping mall. Both spaces provided evidence ofthestates failure tomaintain open public
spaces in thecity and provide
thenecessary public services
(for example, lighting, security
for pedestrians and proper
cleaning). Inthesquare there
was also theissue ofillegally parked cars in front
oftheCultural Department
ofChisinau. Several art collectives that used Flat Space
(an open structure installed in
thesquare in 2009 that serves
asaplatform for artistic
events) gradually expanded
their activities and moved

eyond thewalls ofFlat

Space into therest ofthe
square, reclaiming it for cultural action. They organised
exhibitions, poetry readings,
screenings, concerts, artistic
interventions and campaigns
there. To support theneeds
oftheartistic community,
theydesigned an open-air
cinema asan extension
ofFlat Space. This not only
blocked one oftheautomobile accesses totheinformal
parking lot, but also accommodated diverse members
ofthepublic who came for
thefilm screenings, flea markets, sports and other activities organised within theperiod oftheresidency.
During thesame time,
aspecial film programme
called Demolition was
screened onone oftheexterior walls oftheChekhov
Theatre, facing theLeogrand
Hotel (Leopress SRL), which
was responsible for thedemolition ofan architectural
monument next toit in 2011.
To create seating, they adapted an abandoned fountain
in front ofChekhov Theatre;
they cleaned and repainted it,
aswell ascreating astaircase

Chisinau Civic
Centeropen air
cinema. Flat Space
extension, 2012
With theparti
cipation of
Urban Reactor,
3*2*1*0, Oberliht

Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us



Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us

access into thefountain.

Asaresult, thefountain
acquired anew meaning and
public function, transformed
from awater fixture into an
open-air cinema.

Chisinau Civic Center

Beyond thered lines
(26 August
22September 2013)

One oftheissues raised by

theartistic and architectural
community in Chisinau was
theconstruction ofCantemir
Boulevard. Theboulevard,
designed in the1970s by
Soviet architects, was only
partially built, but still remains ontheofficial Chisinau
General Urban Plan, two
decades after thedissolution oftheSoviet Union and
Moldovas independence.
Toaddress this issue, agroup
ofartists, architects and
researchers participated in
aresidency programme and
conference toshare similar
experiences that could enrich
their understanding ofthis
situation and reveal new

forms ofcriticism and protest.

This collaboration turned into
aseries ofparticipatory art
works involving Chisinau
inhabitants. Together they
opened new public spaces for
culture and civic engagement
in theareas where Cantemir
Boulevard was supposed
tobe built.
Theproject challenged
theway urban plans were
designed in thepast during
an authoritarian regime,
halfacentury later, taken
forgranted and not even discussed publiclyhindering
citizens participation in the
process ofurban planning.

Chisinau Civic Center

Peoples Park (11 August
6 September 2014)

Beyond theconsequences
that themajor infrastructure projects could have for
thelife ofthecity, thefate
ofsome smaller spaces in
thedistricts ofthehistorical centre also worried the
curatorial team. Thethird
Chisinau Civic Center

Chisinau Civic
thered lines. If you
dont need it, 2013.
Installation by Public Pedestal (Michal
Chisinau Civic
thered lines.
Intersection, 2013.
Installation by Karl

On next pages:
Chisinau Civic
park. Consultations
with Zaikin Parks
2014. Chisinau
Civic Center
Defensive Fruit
Tree, 2014. Installation by Angela
Chisinau Civic
park. Picnic in
thePark, 2014.
Daniela Palimariu in
collaboration with

Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us


Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us


Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us



Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us

programme focused mainly

onthepark located attheintersection ofSf. Andrei and
Ivan Zaikin streets. One of
thefew green spaces from
thehistorical area, thepark
issituated attheedge ofthe
old centre, once known
asone ofthemost dangerous
districts. Characterised by
abandonment and decay,
ithas threatened to d
into theshadow ofreal
estate interests. Once rehabilitated, thepark had

thepotential tofulfill some

vital needs ofthecitys residents, including children and
parents, aswell asyoung
people and theelderly.
Theprogramme put
astrong an emphasis on
involving theresidents of
Chisinau, especially those
who lived nearest tothearea.
Through their interactions,
they settled onacommon
vision for thepark asapublic spot accessible and

2014 by URBalance.

Chisinau Civic Center Vladimir Us


Culture for Democracy:

ACentralEuropean Perspective
by Igor Stokfiszewski

Tense times
Iwrite these words atatime
ofgreat tension across
theworld. Inthecountries
oftheEuropean Union,
theechoes ofeuro-parliamentary elections from May
2014 continue toresound,
along with thecampaigns
preceding them, in which
either themeaning ofunion
is undermined and national
interests put forward ahead
ofthose ofthecontinent,
or there is wrangling over
theshape ofEurope, where
political ambitions directed
towards thetightening ofcooperation between members
and concomitant international solidarity are presented
ascontradicting economic
activity that has anegative
effect onthetrust and bonds
between countries. Or we see
thedefence ofan obligatory

federal order whose economic

leanings aim tomake savings
attheexpense ofpublic
services (health, transport,
education, culture, sheltered
housing) and whose politics
entail agradual closing ofborders, which impacts negatively
onpublic attitudes toothers.
Even though theelections saw
thetriumph ofthemoderate
conservatives, surely no campaign has ever heard so many
xenophobic, combative and
confrontational slogans directed towards neighbours.
Alongside theevents
surrounding theeuroelections, in thesouthern
belt ofthecontinent and
in some ofits Western
countries, there were demonstrations urging fundamental reform oftheUnion.
Thousands ofpeople marched
thestreets chanting slogans
in which three appeals stood

is aPolish artist
and activist,
member ofKrytyka
Polityczna, one
ofthehubs in
theEuropean Cultural Foundations
networked programmeCon
nected Action for

Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski

out particularly strongly: for interhuman and international solidarity;

for ademocratic order that would be
directed more towards theself-determination ofcitizens; for thetransfer
ofwhat is common into citizens
handsbeginning with natural
resources, through topublic spaces,
and ending with cultural and digital
goods. These demonstrations added
yet another voice tothecampaign that
began in 2011 by social movements
that speak out against thedomination
ofmercantilism and theinefficiency
ofrepresentative democracy, blaming it
for Europes deepening crisis.
If Ihave understood correctly the
atmosphere prevailing in thesocieties
ofwestern and southern Europe,
Iwould say that they find themselves
facing thechallenge ofprogressive
economic and cultural social disintegration, and that theway toimprove
social well-being is by working to
establish communities, toforge collective bondsbetween individuals
and groupsand toform attitudes
orientated towards empathy, solidarity and reciprocity. Furthermore,
empowering citizens, raising thelevel
ofindividual participation in decisionmaking processes, regaining control
over common resources are all areas in
which work should be done.
Meanwhile, abattle rages in
Ukraine toestablish anew political


order. It is characterised by alevel

ofruthlessness that we have not
seen in along time. People are dying,
theplanes ofexistential order and
sense ofwhat is meaningful are laid
wasteboth historically and practically. Thespectres ofnationalism and
militarism are awakening. Xenophobia
intensifieswith its hostility to
others, particularly toRussians.
Thehorror! asJoseph Conrad would
say. Thesituation in Ukraine proves
that our perception ofindividual and
collective life in Europe continues tobe
dominated by concepts ofwar, hatred
and violence.

Thepost-Communist landscape
Where in thecrucible ofall these tendencies are we tolocate thecountries
ofthecentral-European belt, beginning with theBaltic countries, down
through Poland, theCzech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova,
Bulgaria, asfar astheBalkans?
They seem tohave accumulated all
thetendencies listed abovesocial
stratification, combativeness, aloofness towards others, disintegration
ofthecollective, individual passivity.
Inthecountries ofCentral Europe,
webemoan, too, how theprivate is advantaged over what is public and common, theunderinvestment ofcitizens

Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski

voices, thelack ofindividual empowerment and

that ofentire social groups,
and thelow level ofparticipation in collective life.
Furthermore, direct proximity
with Ukraine and theliving
memory oftheBalkan wars
resonate in central European
societies through thegrowth
ofviolent reactions. Just like
their Western and Southern
neighbours, thecountries
ofthecontinents central
belt certainly feel theconsequences ofthechanges in
contemporary capitalism and
themalfunctions ofparliamentary democracyoften
in an intensely concentrated
form, since thefree-market
experiment was implemented
more violently here than in
other parts ofthecontinent,
and theformation ofstate systems is still in progress. Ireferred totense times: Central
Europe, is in fact, marking
aquarter ofacentury since
itemerged from Communism
and this post-Communist
condition is still what distinguishes theregion. How can it
be characterised?
TheCroatian philosopher
Boris Buden, in his work

Zone ofTransition: OntheEnd

ofPost-Communism,1 notes
that one characteristic
ofthecondition is theregions
ensnarement, asit were, byits
Communist past that continues endlessly toconstitute
thesubject ofdebate and collective passions. Alongside
thesettling ofaccounts with
Communism, aprofound
reinterpretation ofthehistorical foundations ofcollective
identity is going on. Thetraces
ofits multicultural heritage
and convictions are f ading,
along with thememory of
emancipatory battles that
emerged out ofthis h
thetraces ofthecultural
legacy oftheindustrial era
theworld oflabour and the
ethos oftheworking class.
We are left with apatriotically
inclined mono-society nurturing national identities and
permeated with national versions ofreligious doctrines.
ofany progressive agenda
due tothecatastrophic consequences which, people are
convinced, were brought about
by thedictatorship oftheleft
(asCommunism is perceived),
permits theflourishing


1 Boris Buden, Strefa

przejcia. Okocu
nizmu, tr. Micha
Sutowski (Warsaw:
Krytyki Politycznej, 2012).


Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski

ofconservatisms and nationalisms that are thebane

oftheregion. Meanwhile,
theimportant role played by
theCatholic and Orthodox
churches in weakening and
dismantling Communist regimes now puts them in an
advantageous position from
which toconduct an open
battle against secularisation onanumber offronts:
through language, pressure
for legislation and in public
spaces, which they appropriate
through religious symbols.
Moreover, for Buden,
thelandscape ofthepostCommunist part ofthecontinent is thelandscape ofNew
Europe plus capitalism,
which is more capitalist than
its Western original, and thus
more elastic, more relative,
more savage, which has
liberated itself toafar greater
extent from state institutionalised forms ofsocial
solidarity 2 and which is dominated by anever-growing
chasm between rich and poor,
theelimination ofall forms of
social solidarity, thesocial inequality which cries to heaven
for vengeance, and widespread
social traumas, which lead

toaparticular type of social

callousness 3 that can be understood in terms ofakind
ofcollective passivity. Changes
in thesense ofidentity linked
with economic reforms have
yet another tangible consequence: themillions of
workers biographies onwhich
acollective identity has been
built for half acentury now
reveal themselves tobe an
historical error. These people
live in avoid, drifting in
thedirection ofnationalistic
attitudes. Furthermore, alongside thede-legitimisation
oftheheritage ofindustrial
culture accompanied by
radical changes attheheart
oftheeconomy, there has been
acorrosion ofthepositive valorisation ofemployment law,
which today, in this region,
begins togrow in importance
However, post-Communist
societies share one positive
toBudenwhich differentiates them from other parts
ofthecontinent and provides
aglimmer ofhope that social
change might be possible. This
is their passionate engagement
with and sincere approach

2 Ibid., p.63.
3 Ibid., p.61.


Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski

todemocracy. Writing about

theattitude ofWesterners
towards theCentral European
revolutions ofthebeginning
ofthe1990s, Buden quotes
theSlovene philosopher
Rado Riha who says that
what fascinated them so
much was theassumed
fascination without reser
vation with Western demo
cracy onthepart ofEastern
Europeanstheir nave,
almost blind faith in it. 4 This
sincere and enthusiastic engagement was dictated, among
other things, by theway life
had been saturated with politicsalegacy ofcommunism;
it had pervaded every sphere
ofexistence, which meant
that thedepoliticisation of
society happened very slowly.
Thus collective behaviour
after theCommunist era
wasasPiotr Piotrowski,
thePolish scholar oftheregions art, puts itcharacterised by agoraphilia: thedrive
toenter thepublic space,
thedesire toparticipate in
that space, toperform critical
functions for thesake ofand
within that social space. 5
InCentral Europe, there appears tobe asmaller distance

between theindividual,
thesocial and thepolitical.
What, then, are thechallenges facing thedemocracies ofCentral Europe? Let
us list again those that we
seem toshare with other
parts ofthecontinent: greater
empowerment ofcitizens,
raising levels ofparticipation, building community
bonds and social integration.
Theleading slogans here might
be empathy, solidarity and
reciprocity. Further: thebattle
toreform concepts ofproperty,
theestablishment ofcommon
goods, theretrieval ofpublic
space by citizens. Inanother
area: efforts toweaken
eruptions ofviolence; and
looking atyet another area:
relegitimising emancipatory
traditionsfrom workers
disputes tofeminism and
therights ofimmigrants.
And finally, thechallengesof:
neutralising theinfluence
ofthechurch in thedomain of
language and in public spaces;
absorbing thecultural h
oflabour into theprocess
ofcreating asense ofidentity;
nurturing links between individual lives, social impact

4 Ibid., p.18.
5 Piotr Piotrowski,

Agorafilia. Sz
tuka Idemokracja
cznej Europie
(Pozna: Dom
Wydawniczy REBIS, 2010), p.7.

Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski

Culture for democracy

in Central Europe


plastic and wood. Let us encourage

people totransform it into their own
art and place it in spaces they can
Where do cultural practices fit among
make their own. Isee reclaiming social
all these endeavours? Insome cases
space by appropriating it for civic art
such asthesphere oflanguage or idenasan essential weapon in thebattle
titythey are absolutely essential.
for thecommon good. Furthermore,
Inothers, they play akey role since
there are so many icons and symbols
culture and art, among their many
that need tobe completely rethought in
functions, can boost an individuals
order tobalance those ofthereligious
powers ofexpression, shape mutual
or patriotic imagination that overruns
relations, raise levels ofparticipation
thestreets and squares ofpost-Comand mitigate attitudes towards others.
munist towns. Such icons can emerge
Inshortculture and art can make
only from below, through grassroots
apositive contribution tothecause
collective creation.
ofdemocracy thanks tothepressure
When talking about self-expression,
they exert onthose things, which seem
its individual dimension is worth
today tohinder social revitalisation,
opening out towhat is common.
particularly in thefollowing areas:
Thecreation ofspace tobuild relationships based onreciprocity and empathy, tostimulate thesensestouch,
Through stimulating citizens tocreative action and establishing platforms
smellin order tofacilitate extrafor free expression. Making culture
verbal communication, empathy with
atool with which ordinary people,
others, and toencourage openness; art
notexperts, can express themselves
and cultural institutions have arole
and experiment imaginatively. Ien
toplay in all ofthis.
visage artistic practices asmoderating We need tocreate acommon artisactivities ofcivic self-expression, with
tic symbolism that can incorporate
culture providing theinfrastructure
themultitude ofhuman biographies,
experiences and hopes and which can
be located in parks, squares, courtyards
By providing citizens with public
spaces for open-air sculptural purposand railway stations.
es, and providing buildings ascanvases Another possible area ofactivity could
onwhich topaint. There are so many
be atheatre ofemancipation history:
objects that can be used asmaterial
making streets and squares into stages
tocreate structuresso much glass,
for presenting thepast, action replays

Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski


ofstrikes, revolutionary battles and

into theregion ofrealpolitik or
joyful marches, so that they become
struggles inthefield ofculture. Art
theexperimental halls ofthepolitiinstitutions have been thesubject
cal rallies ofthefuture. Let us not be
ofdemocratic debate forseveral years
ashamed ofour fathers, mothers and
now. Obviously, theydemand reform
grandparents who were workers
in thedirection of co-governance
let us listen totheir biographies, honby workers and public participation.
our their grimy hands, thestink ofmaThis process takes place and develops
chine oil and their workers gloves.
alongside thestruggle oftheart preLet us reclaim emancipation narracariat toensure that employment law
tives through artthis is what art is
in this field is observed. One cannot
for. And in doing so, let us do justice
influence democracy through nurturtothetruth about our proletarian and
ing feudal power structures. Inrecent
peasant roots.
years, ourcountries have experienced
thecreation ofartists unions, art Our ideas about culture demand
areversal ofperspective, so tospeak.
activism, anddisputes between artistic
People create culture by being together,
circles and thestate.
through celebrating common feasts,
But in this part ofEurope we are
adapting civic and suburban aesthetplagued by alack ofautonomous spaces
ics tosuit their own needs, and by
for cultural-artistic activity thathas
putting values into practice through
grown out ofthemilieu ofactivists
interaction with neighbours and with
i.e., those people who prefer thesocial
strangers onthemetro. It is through
totheartistic. Practising politics
strengthening these basic activities
through artagoraphilia, which
that Isee hope, in creating thecondihas yielded acrop ofpowerful poli
tions for their unhindered blossoming,
tical projects initiated by artists
devoting thetools ofart tothecause
inthecountries ofCentral Europe
ofcitizens self-determination and
demands structural strengthening
thecontinuity ofcultural movements.
ofindependent circles that operate
within acircuit ofsocial practices
Inthis way, one can mark atrajectory
along whichasIsee itculture
beyond theinstitutional. This is where
can move for thepromotion ofdearadical and real grassroots approach
mocracy in this part ofthecontitoculture is nurtured that can connent. Inwhat sort ofinstitutional
stitute an effective tool with which
framework or organisational system
topromote democracy; this is where
could this be realised? Here wecross
structural boundaries are crossed

Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski

through sacrifice, engagement

and opposition that takes no
account ofconditions or circumstances. This is where one
can really believe that demo
cracy is an absolute value.

Thefield ofculture can positively and effectively promote
democratic processes in
Central Europe if its institutional and organisational
framework is reformed. This
can be done ontheone hand
by democratising artistic institutions, and ontheother
through more investment
inautonomous organisations
that act socially through culture. Inboth cases, particular awareness ofthelabour
law asit applies toartists
is indispensible, asis neutralising thesocial impact
ofthegrowth ofinstability
among theart precariat. Itis
also crucial toappreciate
cultural activities asforming
anatural component in

thepromotion ofsocial wellbeing through grassroots

practice ofbeing together,
social interaction and applying
surrounding material resour
ces toones own imagination
and aesthetics.
Insuch astructural framework, one should pay particular attention toartistic activity
that aims toencourage grassroots self-expression through
art by non-professional
artists. Second, one should
encourage practices that are
geared towards thecommunity, shaping extra-verbal ways
ofcreating bonds through
developing empathy and
reciprocity. Third, it is worth
stressing theimportance
ofcreative initiatives that
aim toreclaim emancipation
narratives or that appreciate
historical identities emerging
from theworld ofindustry.
Finally, one should stress
theimportance ofdiscussing
thesymbols appearing in public spaces that could refresh
collective iconography and


ary Imagination
onTour with
theClown Army.
Free performance
announcing operation HaHaHa
against theG8
Spring 2005.

Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski


Culture for Democracy: ACentralEuropean Perspective Igor Stokfiszewski


Isabelle Frmeaux, John Jordan

andtheRise oftheInsurrectionary
Isabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan in conversation with Rob Hopkins



Thework we do has several dimensions. Wedo

alot ofexperiments. We like tocall what we do
experimental projects or pieces. We like theidea
ofexperimenting collectively and accepting
that sometimes things might fail, and that by
embracing that capacity for failure we can be
more creative. Im by training an academic and
atrainer, so Itend tobe more into thetraining
dimension ofwhat we do.
We do quite alot ofworkshops and trainings, from aday totwo weeks with artists and
activists toreally see thesynergies between
arts and activism and often permaculture, and
tosee how when these three domains merge,
we can create synergies for more creative,
more efficient, more productive, more resilient
projects that we aim tobe projects that are
geared towards forms ofresistance and civil
What we dont do is political art. Were quite
critical ofthenotion ofpolitical art, which
for us is art that is about political issues.
Occasionally we make films and books but
we call those holidays in representation.

Rob Hopkins
is an a ctivist
and writer.
Towns network.
Frmeaux and
John Jordan
Its acollective
that, according
toIsabelle, aims
atopening spaces,
real or virtual, and
bringing artists and
activists together
towork onand
co-create more
creative forms
ofresistance and
civil disobedience.

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins

Themajority ofour work is not making films

and books, its actually making these experiments that are really critiquing representation;
theidea that most artists will make aperformance about climate change or asculptural
installation about theloss ofbiodiversity or
afilm about climate justice.
What we are very clear about is that actually what we like todo, and what we think
is vitally important, is tobring artists and
activists together, not toshow theworld
but totransform it directly. Not tomake images ofpolitics, but tomake politics artistic.
Thereason we work with these two worlds is
we think that artists have alot ofcreativity,
alot ofcapacity tothink outside thebox, alot
ofcapacity totransform things into poetics,
yet often have big egos and not much social
We think activistsand ofcourse these
are generalisationsoften have alot ofsocial critique, capacity towork collectively,
but often afailure ofimagination. Often
they have thesame rituals, thesame kinds
ofdemonstrations, thesame kinds oftools for
transforming society. By bringing these two
worlds together, we think we can actually
create something different.
We are always embedded in social movements. We spent five years asorganisers within
theClimate Camp and atthesame time asorganising thecamp we were also organising
workshops and actions that brought artists and
activists together. For example, one project was
thecreation ofathing called theGreat Rebel
Raft Regatta1 where we buried awhole load


1 See http://

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins


ofboats in aforest aweek before theClimate Camp happened

inKingsnorth in Kent.
TheClimate Camp was aself-managed camp developed
tocreate education and alternatives totheclimate catastrophe,
but it also always had an action attheend ofit. This camp
atKingsnorth was actually tostop thebuilding ofanew coalfired power station that was taking place next toapower station
that already existed. Theproject that we did, theGreat Rebel Raft
Regatta basically brought people together into affinity groups.
We buried boats aweek beforehand in theforest and with
theboat was abottle ofrum. We also gave them atreasure map.
We sent people off in their affinity groups tofind theburied
boat with thetreasure map. They would dig uptheboat, sleep in
theforest overnight, then at7 oclock run out oftheforest, take
their boat onto theriver and go and find and block thepower
station. We got about 150 people, and one boat managed toblock
athird ofthepower station and shut athird ofit down. For us,
its really using forms ofaction that are effective in terms of
having an effect onthereal world, but also are fun and adventurous. Thewhole aesthetic ofthetreasure map and thebottle
ofrum and thepeople dressed upaspirates brings aplayful
element toactivism, which we think is absolutely fundamental.

You use this term insurrectionary imagination. Could you just

say alittle bit more about what you mean by that?


Theimagination has thepotential and is afundamental ingredient for insurrection. We wanted toreclaim theoffensive and
thedefiance that is often lacking in art. Calling it alaboratory
would call ontheidea ofimagination without having what we
feel can be quite abland understanding and bland connotation
oftheword imaginationwhich is very often seen assomething lovely and creative and child-likeby actually reclaiming theexistence ofthedefiance ofwhat we wanted todo. This
is why we put theword insurrectionary in thename ofour

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins


Heres how we describe it onour website:2

TheLaboratory ofInsurrectionary Imagination
(Lab ofii) merges art and life, creativity and resistance, proposition and opposition. Infamous
for touring theUK recruiting arebel clown
army, running courses in post-capitalist culture, throwing snowballs atbankers, turning
hundreds ofabandoned bikes into machines
ofdisobedience and launching arebel raft regatta toshut down acoal-fired power station; we
treat insurrection asan art and art asameans
ofpreparing for thecoming insurrection.
TheLab ofii is now in theprocess ofsetting
upan international utopian art/life school
onaPermaculture farm in Brittany.
We dont actually believe in theseparation
between artists and activists, and we dont
actually believe in those two terms. We think


2 See https://


encircle theCIRCA
Insurgent Rebel
Clown Army) during theday
ofaction against
theG8Gleneagles, Scotland,
July 2005. Photo:
Ian Teh.

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins

thenotion ofart asaseparate action in everyday life is avery recent phenomenon within
theWestern tradition. Inmost cultures there
isnt aseparation ofart and everyday life.
We think that activismthis idea
that activists have this monopoly onsocial
changeis exactly thesame asart having
amonopoly oncreativity. Actually everyone can
and has thecapacity and does change theworld
in some way, all thetime. So in away its akind
ofdialectical relationship, because we wanted
toget rid ofboth those notions. For us, creating an insurrection or some kind ofrevolutionary change (which we think is absolutely
necessary), we have toprovide thealternatives
tocapitalism and theclimate catastrophe and
resist theproblems that are happening that we
cant divide.


Arebel clown
puts lip stick
onand repeatedly
kisses riot shields.
Resistance against
theG8 summit, Edinburgh, Scotland,
July 2005. Photo:

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins


We see theDNA ofsocial transformation asbeing two

strands. Being thecreation ofalternatives such asTransition
Towns etc., and aresistance, aresistance against thefossil fuel
industries, thebanks that fund them and so on. One without
theother is absolutely pointless, because if we dont resist then
we forget who theenemy is and theres amassive danger that
our projects become simply experiments in laboratories for
new forms ofgreen capitalism. If we dont create thealternatives, then ofcourse we simply have aculture ofresistance and
aculture thats simply saying no all thetime and that isnt sustainable in terms ofmental health and personal sustainability
because people just burn out.
Historically we see thedivision ofthese two movements
being absolutely aproblem, and Ithink the1970s is aclassic
example. For us in all our projects, we try tomake models ofalternative forms ofliving. So we havent flown onaplane for ten
years, despite thefact that we have this international art world
career, where most ofthepeople in that world spend their life
onaeroplanes. We live ecologically, we live in ayurt in acommunity where we set upan organic farm, where we put theland
into production.
For us thats not necessarily political but thats what we do
normally anyway, and resistance work is always done without hierarchy. We teach consensus atthebeginning ofall our
projects and we try and use permaculture principles tomake
them happen.
Asone example, and this is relevant because our latest
project is geared towards theCOP 21 in Paris, theUN Climate
Summit, which is aiming tofind auniversal agreement onCO
emissions and adaptation and so onin December 2015. In2009,
we were invited by two museums todo projects around COP15
in Denmark, in Copenhagen. We were invited by theArnolfini
Gallery in Bristol and theCentre for Contemporary Art
We had already spent some time in Copenhagen. We
published abook onalternatives called Paths Through Utopias,

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins


unfortunately only available in French, Korean and German.

And we spent some time in Christiania, aself-managed community in Copenhagen. We noticed then, during that time, that
there were thousands ofabandoned bikes all over Copenhagen.
So we thought: theres thematerial. Theres apermaculture
principle, create no waste. We thought lets see what we can
do with thewaste ofCopenhagen with these abandoned bikes.
Lets transform them into tools ofcivil disobedience.
Traditionally, civil disobedience in theGandhian, Thoreau
tradition is through thebody and we thought what can we
do with thebody and abicycle? We proposed this tothetwo
museums, they both agreed. Intheproject we worked with
theClimate Camp asthemovement we were working with and
theidea was that we would produce prototypes in theArnolfini
Gallery where we would put 50 people together in an open free
workshop. We would teach them thebasics ofpermaculture
principles and so on, and we would then gook, what can we
do with these bikes, and design aprototype that wed then take
toCopenhagen toscale up.
Then we had an interesting moment when both museums
said you cant do any welding in themuseum. So we thought
ok, fine, well get acontainer outside and we can put an image
in it and itll be amore public space anyway, so theproblem was
thesolution. Then they had aphone call from theCopenhagen
curator and she said, weve got acontainer, but theres just one
little thing. We just talked tothepolice in Denmark, and there are
certain rules about what is abicycle.
Abicycle cant have more than three wheels. It cant be
more than three metres long etc., etc. If your objects are outside
ofthose rules then you have towrite tothepolice, you have
toshow them thedesign and it will take three weeks before they
come back toyou and say youve got theright togo ontheroad.
So we said, well thats very interesting, but were doing civil
disobedience. We dont really care whether thebikes are legal
ornot. Atwhich point there was this pause, and she was like
soyoure really going todo it

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins

Weve had this experience in theart world

alot. Basically, alot oftheart world pretends
todo politics. They have these very radical
texts and radical propositions. Maybe she
imagined we were going tobuild these objects
and stay in themuseum, but for us thats not
thepoint. Thepoint is actually totake action.
Unfortunately themuseum then pulled out,
but we did find an ex-squat in Copenhagen
that is asort ofart and cultural centre called
theCandy Factory and produced aproject there.
About 200 people ended upbeing involved and
took part in thedemonstration against thecorporate domination oftheUN climate talks.
Inaway this is agood example ofhow we
think alot ofso-called political art atthemoment, which is very trendy. There are endless
biennials, museum exhibitions, theatre festivals


Put theFun
Between Your Legs:
Become theBike
before thegallery
was transformed
into an open bike
workshop, Arnolfini
Gallery, Bristol. Autumn 2009. Photo:

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins

that use theword political, radical, socially

engaged and so on. Actually, asfar aswere
concerned, alot ofit is what wed call pictures


You recently wrote that theLeft is very scared

ofusing desire and thebody and capitalism and
theRight are brilliant atit. Can you talk us
through what theimplications ofthat are, and
for Transition aswell?
There is atendency amongst theLeft, and
ofcourse these are massive generalisations.
Atendency tofeel that theproblem is what
people dont know and that therefore if we can
produce more facts or figures or information
or reports and that people know whats going
on; if we can show themaths, if we can have


Put theFun
Between Your Legs:
Become theBike
(Double Double
Trouble) one
built and used during thedirect actions attheCOP15
Climate Summit,
December 2009.
Photo: Kristian

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins


better pictures ofthenumber ofspecies that are going extinct or

thenumber ofpeople that are being affected, thefigures ofunemployment etc., then people will react. Theres this idea that there is
alarge number ofpeople who dont act because they dont know.
Whereas we believe that very often theproblem is actually
what people do know, that they cling ontothings and values
that have been thestructure oftheir life for along time, and that
what generally makes people move is not rational thinking but
much more often desires and fantasies ofwhat could be.
Theres abeautiful quote by an American author called Stephen
Duncan that puts it very beautifully, about thedreams ofwhat
could be. Thedreams ofwhat could be are much more located
in theemotions, in thebody, rather than in theleft brain. Its really important tocombine them. Its not aquestion ofthrowing
thebaby out with thebathwater and saying stop all reports, stop
all research, stop all science. But tonot overly rely onthem.
Thenumbers should be there asbackup, tobe used ascrutches, but what is going tomotivate most ofus is tobe able toexperience emotionally and bodily alife that is more just, that is
more healthy, that is more relaxed, that is more enjoyable. Thats
not something that is purely rational. That is one oftheknots
that is very complicated tountie, thegreat lie ofneo-liberalism
and capitalism, which is that more stuff necessarily means abetter life. We know that its untrue, and yet this is something that
is difficult tountie. We will manage tountie that by talking and
calling upon peoples values.
Atthesame time, one ofthenotions that can be ofnew
learning for projects like Transition Towns is that these emotions
are thepositive emotions ofwhat could be, but also thenegative emotions ofwhat we know is wrong with what is going on.
Actually, it is amatter offinding thebalance and finding how one
can feed theother and not overcome theother. Sometimes there
can be atendency towant todeny and obscure theanger and
frustration attheinjustice and thedestruction.
Actually these emotions need tobe acknowledged, and need
tobe used asfuel for resistance, while theemotions ofwhat

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins


could be can be used asatool tomove forward tothealternative.

Its thecombination ofthese two emotions that can make thesocial movements irresistible and indestructible, and very often
themovements are indestructible when theyre only calling upon
one ofthose. So it comes back tothis DNA oftheyes and theno,
but Ithink its very true in thekind ofemotions that we call
upon in ourselves and in other people.

Permaculture is abig part ofyour work. Could you say abit about
that? Why is permaculture important towhat you do?


It offers avery inspiring and stable framework; avery stable

value framework. To be able towork in theway we want, we
thought that thethree main pillars ofpermaculture are avery
efficient way ofmaking people understand that actually its not
so complicated. Because theprinciples are areally good road map
for working towards thesystem, and designs that are productive
and resilient and respectful. Personally we feel very touched by
theidea that you take nature asyour teacher and themore you do
that, theless you see nature asthis external thing outside ofyou.
More and more you take it asatool so that you can reintegrate yourself in nature, which weve been taught tosee asthis
thing thefact that we very often talk about theenvironment is
telling. Its this thing that surrounds us, that obviously were not
part of. Permaculture is an excellent tool tobe able toreintegrate
oneself into what is actually our only consistent thing. So we
try touse theprinciples asframeworks for our experiments, and
generally thespirit ofpermaculture is our inspiration.


And we have this ten-day training called Think like aForest, which
we have done four or five times over thepast years. Its actually
very inspiredits atraining in art, activism and permaculture
and it really looks atwhat does art bring toactivism, what does
activism bring toart, what does art bring topermaculture, what
does permaculture bring toart and activism and so forth, tolook
atit asasystem ofthree worlds. That training was actually very

Rise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination I sabelle Frmeaux and John Jordan with Rob Hopkins

inspired by atraining by Starhawk, whos an

anarcho-feminist witch. She was very involved
in thepeace movement in the80s and thealt
toglobalisation movement, who has acourse
called theEarth Activist Training Course that
we both attended. This was very much abig inspiration for us many, many years ago.
We modelled our course onthat in asense
where theres apermaculture element, but
instead ofhaving thewitchcraft element, we
replaced witchcraft with art. Her thing is earthbased spirituality, activism and permaculture.
Ours is art, activism and permaculture. And
in asense, art is magic. Its aform ofmagic.
We think thats one ofits powers, that actually things become true when enough people
believe in them. Art is very good atweaving
themagic that we need in these moments.


Think Like
aForest workshop
in art activism and
ofInsurrectionary Imagination,
lar.O.n.c.e, Brittany,
Autumn 2011. Photo:
John Jordan.

Not Sustainable Development,

butSustainable Co-living

by Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

Developed societies
oftheglobal north, buffeted by financial crises
and crises ofvalues,
theacceleration oftime
and unrelenting technological progress, now
talk ofsocio-ecological
systems. This new way
oflooking atthings
stems not only from
theurgent necessity
tostart implementing
ecological policies and
raise civic awareness, but
also from growing financial and economic
instability, local and international forms ofterrorism, natural disasters
and crucial new developments in thehumanities,
most notably anthropology and sociology. Socioecological systems are
networks or interconnected systems between

people and nature,

capable ofmaintaining balance in theface
ofconstant change, thus
laying thegroundwork
for resilience.
Resilience stands
totheidea ofsociotechnological development. First emerging
asaconcept within
thestudy oftheecology
ofsystems in the1970s,
resilience evolved into
ascience dealing with
complex adaptive systems, becoming established astheprevalent
strategy adopted in risk
and natural resources
management. 2 Over
thepast two decades
it has been included in
theconceiving ofthesocalled commons society, 3 in social sciences,

Nataa Petrein-Bachelez
is an art critic and independent
curator based in Paris, France.
She was thecurator ofthe7th
Triennial ofContemporary Art in

Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

international financial
and economic politics,
logistics ofcrisis
management, terrorism
and natural disasters
management, corporate
risk analysis, thepsychology oftrauma, urban
planning, healthcare and
asaproposed upgrading oftheglobal trend
ofdeveloping sustainability in thesocieties
oftheglobal north.
Theterm is used
widely, with avariety ofconnotations:
in natural sciences or
physics, aresilient body
is described asflexible,
durable, and capable
ofspringing back toits
original form and transforming theenergy
received into its own
reconstruction (agood
example ofthis is
thesponge). Inpsychology, resilience refers
tothesubjects ability
torecover its original
state relatively quickly
after some significant
stress or shock and continuing with theprocesses ofself-realisation

without amajor setback.

Applied more narrowly
in thesphere ofcultural
work, resilience is more
than just theability
toadapt, promoted by
theconcept oftheflexible subject 4 over thepast
two decades, which was
adopted by corporate
capitalism and neoliberalism and triggered
themass movement
ofprecarious labour.
Resilience encompasses exploring reciprocal dependence and finding ones political and
socio-ecological place in
aworld that is out ofbalance and creates increasingly disadvantageous
living conditions. Rather
than trying tofind global
solutions for some indefinite future or projecting
apossible perfect balance, resilient thinking
focuses onthediversity
ofpractical solutions for
thehere and now, and
onthecooperation and
creativity ofeveryone
involved in acommunity
or society. Atthesame
time, resilient thinking


1 Theterm sustainable living is

taken from an interview with

theeco-feminist and activist Vandana Shiva. (See: http://navdanya.
org/news/327-vandana-shivatraditional-knowledge-biodiversitya-sustainable-living and http:// Accessed on25 November 2013.
2 Asignificant text onresilience

and ecology is theCanadian

ecologist C. S. Hollings, Resilience and stability ofecological
systems, Annual Review ofEcol
ogy and Systematics 4 (1973):
123. Amore contemporary work
onthis topic is Brian Walker and
David Salt, Resilience Thinking:
Sustaining Ecosystems and
People in aChanging World,
(Washington: Island Press, 2006).
3 Commons society, unlike

themarket-oriented one, proposes anew understanding

ofnatural and social resources
ascollective and common.
4 According toSuely Rolnik, who

develops theconcept offlexible

subjectivity based onBrian Holmes,
this is theproduct oftheemergence
ofthecreative class in the1950s,
which meant existential experimenting and aradical break with thedominant forces: Flexible subjectivity
was adopted asapolitics ofdesire
by awide range ofpeople, who
began todesert thecurrent ways
oflife and trace alternative cartographiesaprocess supported and
made possible by its broad collective extension, in Politics ofFlex
ible Subjectivity. TheEvent-Work
ofLygia Clark, http://www.pucsp.

Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

looks atthecritical and

dystopian near future;
unable toanticipate
or postpone it, it can
only react by adapting
toit. Similarly asevery
new concept, resilience
too has drawn alot
ofunfavourable critical
responses, with themain
reproaches being its
general depoliticisedness
(which makes it vulnerable toappropriation
by neoliberal thought),
its favouring resources
while ignoring conflicts,
and its focus onre-estab
lishing theprevious
status quo rather than
effecting change.
Ibegan examining
contemporary art production in Slovenia, and
concentrically beyond
its borders, atthetime
when theOccupy movement came toan end,
theall-Slovenian uprising was organised, agovernment fell and another
took office, and drastic
austerity measures were
introduced. Thegrowing
discontent and social,
political, moral and

economic crises echoed

in conversations with
younger artists. Ihad
theopportunity tosee
how difficult it is todo
creative work under
these circumstances and
in this environment.
Young artists, architects,
designers, activists, curators and other cultural
fighters talked about
experimenting with
artistic practices, further
futile transformations
ofSlovenian freelance
cultural workers into
self-managing admini
strative bodies, 5 thecuts
in already minimal
public funds, thelack
ofprivate initiative, and
theemergence ofnew
forms ofco-financing
such asKickStarter and
concepts ofcollaboration such asco-working,
do-it-together and
Keen oninterconnecting, they are
increasingly aware
oftheimportance of
cooperative economies
and theopen-source
mentality, commoning,


5 This phenomenon is discussed

by Bojana Kunst in her new book

Umetnik na delu. Bliina umetnosti
in kapitalizma (Artist atWork. Prox
imity ofArt and Capitalism): An
excellent case in point for analysing
thesocial contradictions ofthenew
forms ofproduction is thestatus
offreelance artists, in particular
from thepoint ofview ofthebureaucratic ideas for regulating this status
we have witnessed in Slovenia over
thepast two decades, aperiod in
which theartist transited from an
independent (freelance) toaselfemployed person. Atthebeginning
ofthetransition, there was still
an albeit hazy but nonetheless
consensual social sphere ofpublic
independent/freelance work, supported asacommon good also
by thestate; precisely because
artists are public figures, they are
also construed asindependent.
Now, however, bureaucrats prefer
tospeak ofthem asself-employed,
which automatically renders theartist apart oftheprivate economy.
This in turn reduces thepublic
consent tosupport theartists
work, since theindependent public
sphere assuch is disappearing.
(Ljubljana: Maska, 2012) p.123.
6 Deriving from thedo-it-yourself

(DIY) concept, do-it-together appeared asaterm ontheinternet just

under adecade ago, most notably
in thesphere ofart and activism
asaform ofcollaboration along
theprinciples oftheopen source
movement, non-hierarchical relations, and network co-creation.

Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

producing ones resour

ces or, asVandana Shiva
calls it, self-making.7
This generation tells
stories about the gene
rations oftheir p
and grandparents
with alot ofempathy,
or assumes theposition ofco-creators of
their own generation.
Despite therelevance
of the above-mentioned
criticism ofit, Iused
theconcept ofresilience
asflexibility asthemain
metaphor for this triennial survey oftheproduction ofyounger to
middle generation a rtists
living under todays
conditions ofcrisis and
with minor, even major
disasters following one
another. This also ironically refers totheconcept offlexicurity, 8
which in Slovenia
atleast remains just
unrealised potential.
Blending work and
everyday life forms the
basis ofnew economic,
ethical and production p
rinciples that
theyounger generation

ofartists uses totransform therole ofthecreative subject in contem

porary Slovenian
society, or asBojana
Kunst writes onthis
intertwining oflabour
and life:
Labour must think
about its modes ofproduction; in thecase
ofcontemporary art,
these are the(open,
flexible, communicative, affective) postFordist modes that
actually separate work
from themateriality
ofthework process in
advance Today pro
duction modes are
literally fused with labour itself, theflexibility
and communicativeness
ofthework processes
overlap with theopenness and processuality
ofwork, while theuse
ofcreativity overlaps
with experimentation
and research; this leaves
artists virtually forced
tokeep revolutionising
their production modes
Theprincipal techno
logy ofproducing work


7 Vandana Shiva talks about self-

making or swadeshi asadesire

toachieve theultimate quality in
ones own making: If were going
tolive in aworld beyond thefinancial crisis, wed better start doing
things for ourselves, making things
for ourselves, growing our food,
making our homes, creating our
education and health systems.
Putting pressure onthestate
is fine, but ultimately Ibelieve we
need togo beyond thecentralised
state and centralised corporate
control. We need togo into decentralised communities that reclaim
thecapacity tomake. And that is
swadeshi. Vandana Shiva in an
interview for Yes Magazine, 2009.
8 Theterm flexicurity denotes

achieving maximum synergy ofeffects and balance in theconditions

ruling thelabour market in theEU.
Thepurported goals offlexicurity
include allowing greater individual
participation in thelabour market,
reducing unemployment, support in entering thelabour market,
and easier and faster transition
from one contract toanother.

Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

becomes visibility,
which must be linked
tothesame material
and embodied processes
that enable this visibility
ofwork. Oftentimes, this
visibility is possible due
flexibility and uncertainty ofwork, duetofetishising theimmaterial and
speculative e xperience
astheprincipal social
and communicative
experience that artistic work can make
possible Asthedividing line between life and
work in late-capitalist
working processes fades,
also thepossibilities for
an emancipatory alliance between work and
life dwindle, an alliance
born out oftheincessant politicising ofthis
difference, which makes
apparent theparadoxes
ofcontemporary autonomy, theillusory option
ofchoice, and oforganising ones life9
Despite these inevitable facts, young artists
enter into dialogue with
biotechnology, critical

theory and political
activism, underscor10
ing ontheother hand
thecyclical nature
oftime by reviving traditional knowledge and
techniques. Searching
for strategies towork
and also survive, strategies that become
atthesame time away
ofcollaborating and coproducing, coupled with
thecontents oftheir
work have become one
ofthemany inspirations
in structuring thetriennial. New approaches
tosecuring financial resources for survival have
led tonew ways ofcollaboration, in which
theisolation ofbeing
stationed in front
ofones computer is no
longer enough; it must
be upgraded with socialising and discussions,
which also means sharing theresponsibility for
(co-)financing theplace
hosting thesocialising.10
Thetriennial gave
prominence topractices
that can be seen asanalogous totheconcept


Bojana Kunst, op.cit., pp.120123.

Initiatives such asCoworking
attheKino ika and Creative
Cooperatives in panski borci
are two good examples ofsuch
collective approaches.

Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

ofresilience, i.e., community-oriented, situated,11

participatory, performative, architectural, feminist, socio-ecological,
civic and other discursive practices exploring
new (or revived) community principles, such
urban gardening and
co-working, aswell
social question ofcoexistence.
Coexistence or coliving is amajor factor
in raising awareness
ofmutual dependence in
micro-localities. Asan
old African proverb says,
if you want togo fast
go alone; if you want
togo far go together.
TheMetelkova neighbourhood in the Tabor
district of Ljubljana has
evolved into an amazing
cultural quarter, starting
with theAutonomous
Cultural Zone Metel
kova, now celebrating its
20th anniversary ofpersistent self-defining and
unrelenting struggle for
survival this year, and

theBunker Institute,
which has been managing theOld Power
Station for years now,
animating thespace
with projects exploring
various principles ofcoliving and co-working.
Considering therelations and collaborations
set upat, by, and for
thetriennial, thecomplexity of, and contrasts
in thenature of, the
spaces and theinitiatives involved cannot be
ignored, contributing
toantagonisms and
disagreements b
during, and after
thetriennial. Bratko
Bibi dedicated asubdivision ofachapter
in his contribution
Improvizacije na temo
93/13 (Improvisations
onTheme 93/13) for
theMetelkova anthology,
published in honour
ofthe20 years ofwork
ofAutonomous Cultural
Zone Metelkova City,
tothese relations,
w riting about thecomplexity oftheproblems
ofcoexistence between


Institutions and artistic practices

following theprinciple ofsituatedness or embededness by activating
their micro-locations, thelocality ofthesubjects, change and
adapt totheir local conditions.
Theinternational network Cluster,
founded in 2011, brings together
seven European contemporary
art institutions and one from Israel;
theinstitutions are largely located
onmetropolitan peripheries or in
residential areas and work interactively with their local contexts.

Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

theACZ Metelkova
and theMuseum
square and its institutions: Atthemeeting
oftheForum oftheACZ
Metelkova City, which
serves asthedecisionmaking instance
apropos ofthecommon issues oftheACZ
Metelkova City, held in
June 2013, thefollowing
conclusion was adopted
[regarding theinvitation
issued by theDirector
oftheMSUM and thecurator ofthe7th Triennial
u3 toMetelkova City
topresent its activities and participate in
theTriennial: that there
is no consensus toparticipate in theexhibition,
although thediscussion
clearly left open theoption for every individual
toparticipate individually. Among other things,
themembers oftheACZ
Metelkova City wrote
in their conclusion that
theinvitation from
the+MSUM was gentrification pure and simple,
theyre trying tocreate areserve in which

Indians play themselves.12
Thetriennial was
processual by nature.
Most works exhibited
attheMSUM+, thekuc
Gallery, theSCCA Project
Room, and theperformative projects in
theMuseum square were
more than just art works,
they were also documentary pieces, fragments
ofnarratives, witnesses
oflong-term or lasting processes in which
they activated or altered
subsequent gestures and
activities. Thetriennial
gave prominence totime
and space, unfolding
atseveral locations
in thedesire togive
theyoung generation an
opportunity toexpress
their potential through
addressing urgent local
and global socio-political
problems and tocontribute tothedebate in and
over existing Slovenian
cultural policy. There
was aprogramme ofperformative projects and
debates that highlighted
thesymptoms and

Bratko Bibi, Improvizacije na temo 93/13, Metelkova

(Ljubljana: KZ, 2013) p.188.


Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

unease of, and theexisting or emerging relations

between neighbours in,
theurban space in which
theMuseum square with
its four museums is located and which directly
relates tothelegendary
Autonomous Cultural
Zone Metelkova.
Employing avariety
ofapproaches, some
artists and neighbours
also reacted critically
Debates were organised in collaboration
with individual agents,
group initiatives and
structures. Themain topics ofthedebates related
totheconcept ofresilience via theparticular
interests and activities
initiatives. Theguests
and thepublic discussed
hybrid spaces in art,
theeconomic position
ofartists in presentday society (both from
thelocal and international perspectives), contemporary production
models and institutions,

abstract and concrete

spaces ofcapitalism,
therole and influence
ofnew technologies
ontheindividual and
society and thebiopolitics ofthecentres
ofpower. For themost
part they revolved
around problems experienced by particular
institutions, structures,
initiatives and individuals in theshared space
oftheMetelkova neighbourhood and theTabor
district, and onthepossibilities ofconnecting and networking in
thefield ofpolitics and
culture. Thelast debate
in particular, about
thework oftheinternational network Cluster,
stressed theimportance ofsolidarity in
view ofthefact that all
agents in aparticular
country are dependent
onthesame cultural
politics, which puts their
struggle for survival in
amutually dependent
relationship with their
collaboration with one


13 Such examples were one ofMaja

Delaks actions in theTransmit

tance performance, thedebate
organised by DPU, Leja Jurii
and Teja Rebas Sofa, and
theinstallation/barrier blocking
thepassage between theMuseum square and theACZ Metelkova City bearing thelegend
Nopasarn [they shall not pass].
14 From Adela elezniks opening re-

marks atthedebate with theCluster

network, 29 September 2013.

Not Sustainable Development, butSustainable Co-living Nataa Petrein-Bachelez

One ofthepotentials ofcontemporary art is that it can lead tosustainable (co)living by enhancing social cohesiveness and providing possibilities
for agency, for addressing conflicts,
and translating knowledge beyond
theborders ofindividual communities or disciplines. Itgives everyone


involved in theprocess ofboth its creation and reception achance tochange

theway they think about themselves,
others and theway things in everyday
life work. It was this curators secret
wish that theresilient practices in
contemporary art could enable creati
vity with, rather than just for, people.

Migration is not
ofaplace and the
occupation ofadifferent
one, it is themaking
and remaking ofones
own life onthescenery
Dimitris Papadopoulos and Vassilis Tsianos,
TheAutonomy ofMigration: TheAnimals ofUndocumented Mobility

Excerpt from aspeech given by

Madjigune Ciss ontheoccasion
ofher receipt oftheWilhelmine
vonBayreuth Prize 2011

It is agreat honour for me

tobe thefourth recipient
oftheWilhelmine ofBayreuth
Prize for tolerance and humanity in cultural diversity. To be
awarded aprize ofsuch distinction, following eminent
personalities ofworldwide
renown, is not an easy matter.
One is tempted toask oneself
what one has done tomerit
such agreat honour.
Asthesecond child ofparents ofrural origin who were
impelled tomove totown
by recurrent drought, Ifirst
saw thelight ofday in Dakar,
then thecapital ofFrench
West Africa (AOF). My father did not himself have
thechance togo toschool and
was self-taught. However, he
was atrue visionary and insisted that I, theonly daughter
ofthefamily, should have

thesame opportunity tostudy

astheboys since, ashe said,
we are entering an era in
which education is going
toplay abig role in society.
Brought upwith much
rigour and respecting ones
neighbour, values such
asjomm (courage), kersa
(shame) and mugne (patience)
were instilled into me from
ayoung age, all this being
framed by aspirit ofsolidarity.
Ioften heard my mother say
Nit nitaye garabam or man
is theremedy ofman. Aschildren ofpoor families relegated
totheperiphery oftheurban
centres, we grew upin spaces
where only mutual solidarity allowed people tomake
ends meet. Pleasures were
shared, aswell assorrows, and
themost urgent assistance
was provided by acommunity

Madjigune Ciss
is thefounder
ofWomen for
Development in
Africa (REFDAF),
which works tohelp
women access
resources so that
they can adopt
more sustainable agricultural
methods and enjoy
more autonomy
and greater food

Madjigune Ciss ontheoccasion ofher receipt oftheWilhelmine ofBayreuth Prize 2011

eager tomaintain their balance in asituation ofextreme poverty, ofalmost

permanent crisis. Courage, ingenuity,
and initiative by women have always
impressed me. Ibegan my social commitment in primary school when Iread
and wrote letters for theadults who
were almost all illiterate.
Our own historyofmy people
and ofour nationhas always been
hidden from us by thecolonisers in
order tomaintain their domination.
Only much later did Ilearn that, according tooral traditions, asearly
asin 1222 theMande Charta, afirst
declaration ofhuman rights for people
in Africa, was declared by Soundiata
Keta, Emperor oftheMali Empire.
Inthis he called for respect for human
life, respect for ones neighbour and
social justice, while condemning two
serious evils, notably hunger and slavery, thus making his people subject
totherule oflaw.
My commitment tohuman rights
dates back tothat period in my childhood. Idid not understand why
thepeople were and remained deprived
and Ionly thought about helping
them in thebest way Icould. Ibegan
tothink about solutions and Istarted
tomake small contributions: teaching
literacy courses, providing school assistance, organising cleaning actions.
When thestrong wind ofMay 1968
reached us also in Africa, thequestion


ofrights reached quite another level for

me: theright toadecent life, tonormal
conditions ofeducation, tohealth. Thus,
Imade efforts tobring about changes
that were modest but still useful for
Much later, my participation in
thestruggle oftheSans-Papiers (illegal immigrants) was thecontinuation
ofmy early commitment. Increasingly,
Irealised theabsurdity ofthesituation:
that human beings should be deprived
oftheir basic right ofmovement. This
is simply unjust.
Immigration laws have certainly
become more exacting and more coordinated onaEuropean scale; this
is also because ofaparadigm shift.
Europe uses increasingly stringent
measures tolimit, and even suppress,
theright totravel freely. Foreigners
living onEuropean territory are insidiously pushed into illegality by
theconditions and criteria required
when seeking extension ofresidence
permits. These are undignified and
frankly unbearable. For example, aforeign student or worker being required
toqueue upin front offoreign national registration offices at4 oclock
in themorning in thehope ofbeing let
in at9 oclock; families end upbeing
separated, with estrangements encouraged and with children being controlled when leaving school. Thehardening ofimmigration policy becomes

Madjigune Ciss ontheoccasion ofher receipt oftheWilhelmine ofBayreuth Prize 2011

evident before aforeigner even sets

foot onEuropean soil. Be it abusinessman, professor, human rights
activist, student or trader, theapplicant for avisa has toundertake areal
combative encounter and undergoes
all sorts ofvexations and humiliations
tohis dignity asahuman being in order toget an entry visa for European
territory. This creates frustrations that
are not conducive togood relations
between Europe and thecountries
This policy against human rights
is often justified by theneed topreserve economic stability, notably
employment, within aEurope that
has, for many years, pursued ultraliberal policies. And now Europe is
about toundergo draconian austerity
measures very much like those structural adjustment plans imposed in
the1980s onthecountries oftheSouth
by theInternational Monetary Fund
(IMF) and theWorld Bank. Thepayment
ofinterest onthedebts oftheSouthern
countries, together with bad governance, has gradually suffocated our
economies, jeopardising all economic,
social and cultural development.
InAfrica, from thefirst, mutual social assistance and solidarity permitted
thepopulations toresist theexacerbation ofpoverty. Then, gradually, social
movements and organisations arose.
Themost vulnerable strata ofAfrican


society have thus reunited and organised themselves in order totake their
destiny into their own hands.
InSenegal, REFDAF (Rseau des
femmes pour le dveloppement en
Afrique) was born in 2000 by thewill
ofwomen who were victims ofausterity policies and ofthelack ofpolitical will among our leaders toget
out ofthediabolical circle ofpoverty.
Bycombining womens networks and
their grassroots associations, REFDAF
wishes topromote anew vision
ofeconomic and social development in
Africa and toreflect therole ofwomen
in thecreation ofconditions for sustainable development.
Themajority ofwomen live in unacceptable conditions: without running
water or electricity, without rewarding
outlets for their produce, sometimes
without aroof. Their most fundamental
rights are plainly ignored: theright
tohealth, toeducation, totraining,
theright toentertainment
To redress this situation, REFDAF
has created Local Product Exchange
Platforms (Espace dchanges). This
is aproject whose first step has been
tobuy market stalls and shops for
women in thebig markets ofDakar
in order toallow women tosell their
local products atjust prices. Achain
develops from thewoman who cultivates land, raises birds or processes her
products, uptothemarketing spaces

Madjigune Ciss ontheoccasion ofher receipt oftheWilhelmine ofBayreuth Prize 2011

for primary or finished products, under

thecontrol ofthewomen themselves
who, in this way, have acomprehensive
vision oftheprocess, from production
Another equally important
initiative, theproject oftheREFDAF
Womens Housing Area (Cit des
Femmes du REFDAF) came into being
in December 2002. Theaim is toallow
women tobe owners oftheir plots,
something rare in Senegal where
only 2% ofwomen are landowners.
TheREFDAF women opened acommunal bank account in January 2003
and have already saved, despite their
meagre incomes, more than 80 million
Franc CFA (120,000). Women themselves have drawn uptheplans for
this housing estate, located where they
want tolive, acommunal habitat that
takes into account local requirements
such asclimate, independent access
torenewable energy, access toeducation, health etc.
All these projects are part oftheaspect oftraining women: an area that
REFDAF is very insistent onin its programmes, in order tofill in thegaps
within their education and tooffer
new perspectives toevery one ofthem.
Inthis way, wherever possible, REFDAF
organises qualifying training in literacy, IT, advocacy and lobbying financial
management, and training toobtain
adriving license.


Finally, in thesame perspective

ofopening uppossibilities, REFDAF is
involved in setting upalarge movement toinclude other African women,
with themain objective ofmaking
afemale civil society emerge that
is strong and capable ofmaking an
impact ontheorientations, aswell
astheactions, that mark societal advance. REFDAF aims atforming female
citizens in acomprehensive sense, who
can then take responsibilities in their
Asyou can see, REFDAFs mission
is tomake asustainable contribution
tothedevelopment ofSenegal and
ofAfrica, but also tolink upwith that
new form ofglobal thinking that emphasises, above all, thehuman being
and its harmonious development.
Today, in times ofmultiple crises,
oflacking orientations, ofconflicts,
Africa interrogates itself, and is questioned about, what contribution it can
make totheconcert ofnations. This
question imposes itself onall ofus
inhabitants oftheearth. InEurope,
thecurrently raging crisis acutely
raises thequestion ofwhich mode
ofdevelopment we want and which
would create abalance for all. InAfrica,
thecrisis has taught us tomanage
day-to-day life differently, toinitiate
aholistic development that takes into
consideration areasonable exploitation ofour resources, investing not

Madjigune Ciss ontheoccasion ofher receipt oftheWilhelmine ofBayreuth Prize 2011

only in thepresent but also in the

future. Themodels we follow are still
ofan empirical kind whose theoretical
frameworks remain tobe formulated.
We therefore invite theintellectuals and researchers oftheInstitute
for African Studies oftheUniversity
ofBayreuth toengage with us in this
reflection process:


How topromote solidarity with,

and acceptance of, theother, since
we all belong toone and thesame
How tolink upwith nature topreserve our ecosystems?
What kind ofhumanity do we want
for ourselves and for thecoming

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce

aResilient City (2nd excerpt)
by Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu

R-URBAN, an agency ofcoproduced urban regeneration

R-URBAN is one ofthemany
small-scale initiatives to
have emerged in response
totheslow pace ofgovern
mental procedures and the
lack ofconsensus in further
addressing thechallenges
ofglobal crisis and evaluating
their consequences for peoples lives. New approaches
tourban regeneration are
desperately needed in times
ofeconomic crisis, and could
benefit from theincreased
social capital attending the
diminishment offinancial ca
pital. R-URBAN was conceived
asan open source strategy
enabling residents toplay
anactive part in changing the
city while also changing their
ways oflivingin it.
This strategy creates
anetwork ofcitizen projects

and grassroots organisations around aseries ofselfmanaged collective facilities

hosting economic and cultural
activities and everyday practices that contribute toboosting resilience in an urban context. Thenetwork, which acts
through locally closed circuits,
starts ataneighbourhood
level and progressively scales
uptothecity and regional level. InaGuattarian ecosophical
vein,1 thestrategy considers
social, ecological and economic
aspects asequally essential for
resilient processes. R-URBAN
addresses communities from
urban and suburban contexts,
involving adiversity ofactors
(i.e., residents, local authorities,
public organisations, professionals, civic stakeholders)
totake various responsibilities
in theprojects governance.
Incontrast toother regene
ration projects conceived by

Doina Petrescu
is Professor
ofArchitecture and
Design Activism
is aParis-based
architect whose
work stresses
between architecture, urbanism and

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

specialist teams and facilitated

by managerial structures,
thearchitects and planners
here take an active role asinitiators, facilitators, mediators
and consultants in various
civic partnerships brought
about by theproject. Thisleads
toamore effective, faster
and more sustainable implementation, and allows for
greater participation ofnonspecialists in co-producing
it. Theprojects are conceived
asprocesses that not only result in aphysical transformation ofurban contexts, but also
contribute tothesocial and
political emancipation ofthose
living and acting in them.
Although anchored in
everyday life and committed
toradical change, R-URBAN is
also part ofaspecific tradition
ofmodelling resilient development starting with Howards
Garden City (Howard, 1889)
and Geddess Regional City
(Geddes, 1915) and continuing today with theTransition
Town (Hopkins, 2008). But
in contrast tothese models,
R-URBAN is no direct application oftheory, but tries todevelop an exploratory practice
and atheoretical analysis, both

ofwhich constantly inform

one another.
Asopposed totheGarden
City concept, R-URBAN does
not propose an ideal model
oftransformation, but deals
with thecollapse ofmodern
urban ideals and their many
failures in addressing the
future. Also, R-URBAN picks
upfrom theRegional City
concept theidea ofregional
dynamics, but in this case
onthebasis ofbottom-upinitiatives oflocal residents.
Itconsiders both large-scale
processes and small-scale
phenomena. Global concerns
are addressed locally, but
within theexisting conditions. TheR-URBAN transformation is realised in successive stages by investing in
temporarily available spaces
and creating short-term uses
able toprefigure future urban
R-URBAN also incorporates
many Transition Town principles, although it does not
necessarily operate onatown
scale, but negotiates its own
(e.g. ablock, neighbourhood or
district), depending onactor
participation. No pre-existing
communities are targeted;


1 Flix Guattari,

TheThree Ecolo
gies (London: Continuum F., 2008).

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

instead, new communities

formed through theproject
must agree ontheir own rules
and theprinciples tobe followed in its management.
With its civic hubs and collective facilities, R-URBAN tries
tolend visibility tothenetworks ofsolidarity and
ecological cycles it creates.
Architecture plays an important role here: that ofhosting and showcasing resilient
practices and processes, and
ofrendering tangible and concrete what would otherwise
only remain adiscourse. Also,
architecture is not only physical, but social and political
aswell. Theinspirations we
took from social theorists and

philosophers like Guattari,

Gorz, Lefebvre, Harvey, Negri
and Holloway have been constantly challenged by thereality ofour active research

R-URBAN in Colombes
After three years ofresearch,
we proposed theproject
tovarious local authorities
and grassroots organisations
in cities and towns ofFrance.
Weconceived ofit asaparticipative strategy based onlocal
circuits that activate material
(e.g., water, energy, waste and
food) and immaterial (e.g., local
know-how, socio-economic,


in Colombes:
Photo credit: atelier


R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

cultural and self-building)

flows between key fields
ofactivity (e.g., theeconomy,
housing and urban agriculture)
already contained or implemented in theexisting fabric
ofthecity. In2011, R-URBAN
started in Colombes, asuburban town with 84,000 residents near Paris, in partnership with thelocal authorities
and anumber oforganisations,
aswell aswith theinvolvement ofarange oflocal residents. Inits initial four-year
period, theproject is intended
togradually create anetwork
around anumber ofcollec
tive hubs, each ofthem
serving complementary urban
functions (i.e., housing, urban
agriculture, recycling, ecoconstruction, local culture),
that bring together emerging
citizens projects. Within
acontext ofwelfare services
being withdrawn, these collective facilities will host selfprovided services and citizenrun production units that will
simultaneously play astrategic
part in locally closed economic
and ecological cycles. 2
Colombes offers
aty pical suburban context
with amix ofprivate and

council housing estates.

Suburbia is akey territory
for R-URBAN: although specific toamodern conception
ofcity, it is one ofthemost
crucial territories tobe redeveloped and regenerated in
theinterest ofresilience today. With its mix ofprivate
and council housing estates,
Colombes is confronted
with all kinds ofsuburban
problems, such associal
or economic deprivation
and youth crime, typical
of large-scale dormitory
suburbs and theconsumerist, car-dependent lifestyle in
more affluent suburbs with
generally middle-class po
pulations. Colombes nonetheless also has anumber
ofadvantages and assets:
despite ahigh unemployment rate (17% ofthe
working population, well
above thenational average
of10.2% in 2012), Colombes
boasts many local organisations (approximately 450)
and avery active civic life.
Drawing strength from
this very active civic life and
from thecultural and social
diversity ofColombes, we
started by launching several

2 For more in-

formation, see

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

collective facilities, including

recycling and eco-construction projects, cooperative
housing and urban agriculture
units, which are cooperating
toset upthefirst spatial and
ecological agencies in thearea.
Their architecture showcases thevarious issues they
address, such asrecycled local
materials, local skills, energy
production and food cultivation, by means ofspecific
devices and building components. Thefirst three pilot

facilitiesAgrocite, Recyclab
and Ecohabare collectively
run hubs that catalyse existing
activities with theaim of
introducing and propagating
resilient routines and lifestyles
that residents can adopt and
practise onindividual and
domestic levels, such asretro
fitting properties toaccommodate food cultivation and
energy generation.
Agrocite is an agricultural unit comprising an
experimental micro-farm,


Colombes: Inauguration ofthe
Agrocit, 2013.
Photo credit: atelier

R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu


in Colombes:
Recyclab, 2015.
Photo credit: atelier

community gardens, educatio

nal and cultural spaces, plus
arange ofexperimental
devices for compost-powered
heating, rainwater c ollection,
solar energy generation,
aquaponic gardening and
phyto-remediation. Agrocite is
ahybrid structure, with some
components run associal
enterprises (e.g., themicrofarm, market and cafe) and
others by user organisations
(e.g.,thecommunity garden,
cultural and educational
spaces) and local associations.
Recyclab is arecycling
and eco-construction unit
comprising several facilities
fostering and reusing locally
salvaged materials, recycling

and transforming them

into reco-construction elements for self-building and
retrofitting. An attendant
fab lab 3 hasbeen set upfor
theresidents use. Recyclab
will function asasocial
Ecohab is acooperative
eco-housing project comprising anumber ofpartially
self-built and collectively
managed ecological properties, including several shared
facilities and schemes (e.g.,
food cultivation, production
spaces, energy and water
harvesting, car sharing).
Theseven propert ies will
include two subsidised flats
and atemporary residential

3 Fab lab is short

for fabrication
laboratory, asmallscale workshop
equipped with
various fabrication machines
and tools enabling
users toproduce
almost anything.


R-URBAN or How toCo-produce aResilient City Constantin Petcou andDoina Petrescu

unit for students and resear

chers. Ecohab will be run
R-URBANs collective faci
lities will grow in number and
be managed by acooperative
land trust that will acquire
spaces, facilitate development
and guarantee democratic
governance. 4
Inparallel, thestrategy
will be propagated onlarger
scales: regionally, nationally,
Europe-wide. Theart and
architecture practice public
works, R-URBANs partner
in London, is currently developing aconnected project
in Hackney Wick: R-URBAN
Wick. 5 Thefirst R-URBAN
facility in Hackney Wick is
amobile production unit:
WickonWheels (WOW).
Thisunit encourages collective production in situ, using
local materials, resources
and knowledge. It is aparti
cipatory project engaging
with residents and local artisans toproduce, reuse and

Flows, networks and

cycles ofproduction and
consumption will emerge
between thecollective facilities and their neighbourhood,
closing chains ofdemand
and supply aslocally aspossible. To overcome thecurrent
crisis, we must try toproduce what we consume and
consume what we produce,
astheFrench philosopher
Andre Gorz puts it.6
R-URBAN interprets this
production and consumption chain broadly, well
beyond thematerial aspects,
toinclude cultural, cognitive
and affective dimensions.
Theproject sets aprecedent
for aparticipative retrofitting ofmetropolitan suburbs
where therelationship between theurban and rural
is reconsidered. Itendeavours todemonstrate what
citizens can achieve ifthey
change their work routines
and lifestyles tocollectively
address thechallenges

4 For more informa-

tion about theRURBAN cooperative land trust, go

tohttp://r- urban.
5 This collabora-

tion is supported
by theLife+
programme in
apartnership between aaa, theCity
ofColombes and
public works.
6 Andr Gorz,

Ecologica (Paris:
ditions Galile,
2008), p.13.

Kicking Off aYear ofP2P Plazas

Research and Cartography
by Carmen Lozano-Bright

2014 ended onagood note.

Last October, Ihad theopportunity toparticipate, together
with 49 other project initiators, in theIdea Camp event
in Marseille. TheEuropean
Cultural Foundation (ECF)
promoted this event, geared
towards shaking upour
views onpublic space. After
thethree-day gathering, all
50 participants were invited
topresent aResearch and
Development project tobe
funded during 2015. ECF announced aset of25 R&D
grants last December, and P2P
Plazas: aSouthern European
network was in.
Today, Europe struggles
through avolatile reality.
Severe economic blight and
theindustrial dissolution
suffered over several decades
have devastated thesocial and
economic outlook ofour cities
and rural areas. Consequently,

many industrial buildings

and factories are left empty,
inactive; thepublic sector
also has abandoned buildings
and lots. Basic services like
education, health and culture
are cut astheWelfare State
is contested. Paradoxically,
this atmosphere has empowered citizens toreclaim
their own environments and
heritage, shaping innovative
roles in their production and
consumption ofculture and
Considering what Henri
Lefebvre calls therhythmic
character ofthecity, we
should heed thenoises
and voices ofpublic space
as unique expressions of
Southern European spirit,
through disruptive movements
including Spains 15M, Greek
and Italian street protests in
2011 and theTaksim Square
and Gezi Park occupations in

is therecipient
ofan R&D grant
from theEuropean
Cultural Foundation
for her research
into Southern
European commoning practices.
She moderates
thep2pSquare! Lab
onECFLabs, ECFs
online community space (https://
She is amember
ofPlatoniq in
Barcelona, Spain
one ofthehubs in
theEuropean Cultural Foundations
Networked ProgrammeCon
nected Action for

Kicking Off aYear ofP2P Plazas Research and Cartography Carmen Lozano-Bright

Istanbul. Movements that emerged rapidly and seemed ephemeral from outside reveal themselves tobe widespread
over local contexts. What once was underground has become commonplace,
accepted: urban gardens, self-managed
social centres, open schools, fablabs,
squats, active urban squares, hacklabs,
medialabs, makerspaces, connected by
scores ofnetworks.
Were calling this Southern
European phenomenon P2P Plazas:
places where bottom-upinitiatives
connect actions among peers (citizens).
Peers decide for themselves what todo
toinvent and participate in new forms
ofcultural production and consumption, far from theestablished so-called
Cultural Industries.
Frontiers that were strictly demarcated today merge and interact. Each
local area contains its own unique
context for its open spaces; community
relationships tothat context determine
theeventual re-use and re-invigoration
ofthose places. Abandoned factories
become new types ofwork spaces


(fablabs, makerspaces, worker cooperatives), open lots may become community commercial spaces (artisan
and local food markets). Theneighbourhoods cultural associations with
theoriginal space guide its rebirth, not
only its original use or legal zoning.
These places host practices steeped
insite-specific knowledge and learning, giving adeeply expanded, personal
significance tocommons-managed
Although these practices surround
us, there is no big picture toexplain
thedeep significance ofthese transformations onour societies.
Each space finds its way through
different legal (and illegal) formats,
agreements and contracts with private
and public owners. If we could affect
aclearer view by mapping these experiences throughout Southern Europe,
including themanagement and legal
aspects ofhow theyre (re)signifying their environments, we would
provide acatalogue ofprototypes

Kicking Off aYear ofP2P Plazas Research and Cartography Carmen Lozano-Bright

Mapping these p2p (peer-to-peer)

practices also reveals their Achilles
heel: sustainability. It is crucial that local
governments understand these transformations, provide support and tools
for citizens topromote their own initiatives. Future developments out ofthis
research could prototype p2p practices
toestablish aSouthern European network with thecommon ground ofsharing tools, knowledge and legal frames.
Through this year-long investigation, we will listen tothose noises and
rhythms that sustain our cities, and
shape aleast common legal frame
serving institutions and citizens toestablish dialogues and understandings.
Thecommunities reshaping their local
environments are central tothis research. We must feel theactive beating
heart ofour cities, and tojoin hands
across borders. This is away tobuild
Europe together.


This research requires thesupport

offoundations and institutions that believe in investigation for social change.
Thepeer-to-peer experiences we learn
from are mostly based in community volunteer work. Archiving and
researching are not prioritised asare
other, more tangible and immediate
tasks. Works that create abig picture
do exist, but without time, effort and
communication devoted toresearch,
creating theoverall map isnt possible.
Isolating thetools adapted in local
contexts can provide abellwether for
paradigm changes, and help us identify
innovations in social, political and economic opportunities.
This proposal emerges from alocal
perspective ofengagement with the
routine atEl Campo de Cebada, acommons-oriented plaza in Madrid. It has
expanded to other territories through
thedigital sphere. Thecontext ofthis

Kicking Off aYear ofP2P Plazas Research and Cartography Carmen Lozano-Bright

research includes acentral

cluster based in Madrid collaborating with several feeder
nodes (starting elsewhere in
Spain, Greece and Italy, then
throughout Southern Europe).
Thenetwork extension will
operate in thedigital context
through an internal/external
communication toolkit.
Coincidentally, Spain held
local elections in May 2015,
especially noteworthy for
theemergence ofnew political
actors. Theresearch includes
meetings with political parties
and citizen candidates toassess their position onthese
questions, and evaluate their
willingness toimplement
aleast common frame.
This research does not
emerge out oftheblue. Its

inspired by many many!

existing initiatives that have
helped build acommon cartography. For example (and
these are all in Spain, for
themoment): La Aventura
de Aprender (TheLearning
Adventure); Arquitecturas
Colectivas (Collective
Architectures network);
cartographies by Vivero de
Iniciativas Ciudadanas (VIC),
among others.
Throughout 2015, we have
been working hand in hand
with other closely related research groups, like Straddle3s
guide for activating public
space (Barcelona); Adelita
Husni-Beys investigation
onhousing and squatting
(TheNetherlands and Italy);
Radarqs open source urban


Any given day

atEl Campo de
Cebada, Madrid.
Spring 2013, photo
credit: Carmen
Open University atEl Campo
deCebada, Madrid.
3rd edition, summer 2015, photo
credit: Carmen

Kicking Off aYear ofP2P Plazas Research and Cartography Carmen Lozano-Bright


Urban garden
in an abandoned
lot. Vallcarca,
Barcelona. Winter
2015, photo credit:
Carmen LozanoBright.
Navarinou Park,
Athens, May 2015,
photo credit: Carmen Lozano-Bright.

furniture (Barcelona); theintense activity atPollinaria

(Abruzzo, Italy); and also
theresearch by Catherine
Lenoblealittle detached
because ofits field, but sharing ahuge common ground
and perspectiveondigital
toy libraries. Theresearch and

communication will also be

supported by theGuerrilla
Translation team.
Well be watching other
necessary projects with great
impact potential, including
ZEMOS98 (Seville, Spain), (Athens) and
1+1eleven (Puglia, Italy).

Kicking Off aYear ofP2P Plazas Research and Cartography Carmen Lozano-Bright


Between Random and Democratic

Practices: TheCommons Board Game
by Carmen Lozano-Bright

We arrived in Seville with

amission and few rules:
tosit down for three days
toproduce theCommonspoly.
Inother words, starting from
thecommon idea ofMonopoly,
thegame weve all played, we
had tothink about aderivation oftheboard game whose
goal wasnt winning through
accumulation but through
collaboration. And making it
aprototype. And explaining it
toinexperienced players. All
ofthis in three days. It was table number 5 oftheHackcamp
#reclaimthecommons and
luckily we got aplace near
thecoffee machine patio.
There was amatter
toclarify before getting down
towork. Theorigin ofthefamous board game onwhich
you play capitalism and real
estate speculation has little
known roots. Its predecessor was called TheLandlords

Game and was patented in

1904 by Elizabeth Lizzie
Magie. Thegoal ofthis North
American womans design
was toexplain theperverse
effects ofmonopolising land
and theusefulness oftaxing
property. She was convinced
that educating children in
thebelief that theaccumulation ofgoods had unfair
consequences would show its
effect when they were adults.
On her own she produced
several editions with different
distribution companies until
she sold thepatent toParker
Brothers in 1935 for $500.
From then on, thecompany
produced thefamous Monopoly
and its unending variations
ingeography and subjects.
Returning totheroots
was akey step tounder
standing thechallenge
ofproducing Commonspoly:
restoring theboard game and

is therecipient
ofan R&D grant
from theEuropean
Cultural Foundation
for her research
into Southern European commoning

Between Random and Democratic Practices: TheCommons Board Game Carmen Lozano-Bright

giving it back some ofthefeatures

Lizzie conceived more than acentury
ago. Thekey wasnt toproduce anew
game with theresulting waste ofhypothetical production and distribution processes, but hacking theboard
game every family has athome and
playing it with different rules. Repair
in Spanish is aword with more than
one meaning. This variety ofmeanings
contributed todefining our new board
game: it can mean repair in thesense
offixing, in its Spanish term reparar;
it also means torealise; in addition
we were also inspired by thefree
interpretation in English ofre-pair
asre-couple or reunite.
After three working days, we found
thekey: in Commonspoly youre playing
against time. Inaset number ofturns,
thegoods atstake will be privatised.
And theplayers are challenged to
liberate them for thecommons.
Thedice determines thestage ofthe
game for each object atstake onascale
that ranges from Pure Mad Max
Horror (near Margaret Thatchers wettest dreams) toCommonsfare Utopia
(afantasy beyond Elinor Ostrom).
Thescale comprises private, public
andcommunitarian goods.
Thegoods under threat belong
tofour categories: urban, environmental, related tothebody and
toknowledge. Inorder toprevent
privatisation, each player has welfare


points. And, asin real life, theinitial

well-being conditions are not thesame
for each player. They differ according
togender, class, citizenship and skill.
Furthermore, by investing welfare
tounblock theprivatisation ofgoods,
players gain legitimacy points.
Legitimacy and welfare are liable todisappear, atleast toagreat
extent, if theplayer happens tofall
into thesquare called Tragedy ofthe
Commons. Time is also lost in the
form ofturnswhile points are won
if chance takes us totheBureaucracy
or Assembly squares.
But why play if theres no competition? Does aboard game rewarding
good, where thecommons is thebest
and only possible world, make any
sense? Ofcourse not. Thechallenge
is in theability topreserve thecommons in general without losing ones
individual well-being. Fromthispoint
ofview; no one is the w inner we
all dont win.
Thescale ofthegame has many
things in common with thecamps
that filled squares in 2011. We mean
that Commonspoly is not aparticular city, nor does it refer toaglobal
board. Instead it represents alink with
theephemeral villages built and dismantled in so many cities and in so
many formats: from 15M toOccupy,
from theArab Spring toSyntagma,
from Brazil toGezi Park.

Between Random and Democratic Practices: TheCommons Board Game Carmen Lozano-Bright

Commonspoly is, finally,

alittle representation ofthe
board game oflife: it is decided somewhere between
random and democratic practices. But in order toachieve
an open code game it was
necessary tosupply it with
documentary evidence and
define certain rules. For this
task we had thehelp ofRubn
Martnez from theepilogue
ofhis Audiovisual Source
Code Were all contingent,
butyou are necessary. The
sound ofThomas TheTank
Engine & Friends singing
Rules &Regulations inspired
some ofthe rules and situations ofthe game.
This little corner ofthe
hackcamp, where we pooled
knowledge, opinions and fun,
was composed very wisely
ofVirginia Benvenuti, Carla
drawer ofcards and boards
Vassilis Chryssos, Francisco
Jurado, Jos Laulh, Carmen
Lozano, Rubn Martnez,
Peter Matjai, Mara G.
Perulero, Natxo Rodrguez,
Igor Stokfiszewski, Menno
Weijs, Mario Munera and
Guillermo Zapata in thetask
ofactivating thescene.


Between Random and Democratic Practices: TheCommons Board Game Carmen Lozano-Bright


Original drawing
of Commons
poly board by
Carla Boserman.
Board designed
and developed
by members of
Table 5, Reclaim
the Commons
17th Edition of
the ZEMOS98
festival. Photo:

From Public Space toCommon

Good: Polands Urban Political
by Claudia Ciobanu

We are thefirst generation

that is not associating public space with oppression,
but rather with freedom
and thepublic sphere, says
30-year-old sociologist and
urban activist Joanna Erbel,
explaining why activism
around public space issues
has become so fashionable
inPoland over thepast
To city inhabitants across
Poland, theresults ofthis
activism are obvious. More
people rely onbiking for getting towork. There is arising
interest in local and ecological
food and anewly discovered
passion for urban gardening.
Attempts tobuild residential
complexes in green areas are
rejected by grassroots campaigns, and many citizens
submit projects for financing

from participatory budgets

introduced over thelast years
in several cities.
Our generation had
tofind some new focus because topics like state democracy were already taken upby
theolder generation; so we
turned tocities asthesubject
ofour political activity, adds
Erbel. Finally, people started
going abroad and getting ideas.
Erasmus probably did more
for biking in Poland than any
public policy!

Polands urban movements

What are today called
Polands urban movements
(ruchy miejskie) have their
roots in 20062007 but
became more visible in 2011,
when acongress ofall urban

Claudia Ciobanu
is aRomanian
journalist based
in Warsaw. Her
articles have been
published notably
in TheGuardian,
and Inter Press

From Public Space toCommon Good: Polands Urban Political Activism Claudia Ciobanu

movements in Poland took place in

Poznan (urban activism is asdeveloped in other cities ofPoland asin
thecapital, Warsaw). Inone oftheearly victories, inhabitants oftheRataje
neighbourhood in Poznan forced
theMayor togive uptheconstruction
ofacommercial residential complex in
an area where people wanted tohave
green space. Inthemost notorious
case, in 2014, inhabitants ofKrakow
rejected in areferendum theorganisation ofthe2022 Winter Olympic
Games in their city following agrassroots campaign.
It was last year too, in 2014, that
thestrength oftheurban movements
became clear during thecampaigns
for local elections taking place in
November. Candidates oftheurban
movements were present in mainstream media and their proposals
became topics ofwide debate, some
ofthem (such asbetter biking infrastructure) being gradually incorporated
in theplatforms ofbig parties.
Candidates representing
theCovenant ofUrban Movements
(Porozumienie Ruchow Miejskich,
thepre-electoral alliance grouping
movements from various cities) made
it tolocal and neighbourhood councils
in seven cities, including Warsaw, and
even won amayoral seat in Gorzow
Wielkopolksi and avice-mayor position in Poznan.


According toEwa Sufin-Jacquemart

from thePolish Green Party, activism
around city issues was aresponse to
amix ofneoliberal policies promoted
by all post-Socialist governments in
Poland and massive investments in
infrastructure funded with EU money
ever since Poland joined theblock in
2004. Poland is anotoriously good
student oftheEU when it comes
toabsorbing funds, having made use
ofaround 80 billion from theEU
budget over thelast 10 years.
There was construction going
oneverywhere in Polish cities, roads,
gated residential areas, while all urban
planning dating from theCommunist
period was eliminated, says SufinJacquemart. Less and less public space
was available for people and public
services were being privatised. Living
in thecity meant that you have topay
for everything.
Thecity movements happened
due tothegenerational change, says
sociologist Maciej Gdula from Warsaw
University. Theyoung are not limited
by theideology ofkeeping upwith
theWest and with indispensable, bitter
But therise ofthemiddle class is
also an important reason behind city
movements, adds Gdula. Iwould link
their popularity not only with theincrease in thenumber ofpeople belonging tothemiddle class, but also with

From Public Space toCommon Good: Polands Urban Political Activism Claudia Ciobanu

aspecific articulation ofthemiddle

class cultureleaders ofcity movements speak about order in thepublic
space and quality ofpublic services.

Beyond themiddle class

Despite their success, urban movements have been criticised for not
going far enough. For one, being driven
by this class, they fail totackle issues
that are burning for thepoor living
in cities. For another, they do not address thestructural causes ofproblems,
such asindiscriminate privatisation or
austerity politics (importantly, before
thelocal elections, theurban movements from Porozumienie declared
themselves non-ideological, including
both left and right-wingers in their
ranks). For thecritics, these shortcomings limit thesupport for and theimpact ofurban movements.
According tocity gardener Iza
Kaszynska, some ofthemost important problems affecting Polish people
today are precarious labour contracts
(Poland has thelargest proportion in
theEU ofworking people onprecarious contracts without stability and
benefits, ataround 30%) and unaffordable housing.
Thefact that urban dwellers spend
their entire salaries onrents or credits, or that they do not have access


toaffordable public services, which

makes them live precarious lives in
thecity, should be amajor issue for
urban movements, says Kaszynska.
Alot oftheurban activism is
made by themiddle class who do
not have these problems with housing or precarious contracts, or do not
want toopenly identify with this type
ofprecarious situation even if they are
in it, agrees Jakub Zaczek, an activist
who is working both against eviction
ofpeople from reprivatised homes and
against precarious working contracts.
Atthebeginnings ofurban activism in Warsaw and other cities,
we made what Icall an intellectual
mistake or omission, explains Joanna
Erbel. Our main issue, especially
inWarsaw, was public space because
we thought it equals thepublic
sphere and that, if you take people out
ofthepublic space, you exclude them.
But that was just thebeginning and it
is not enough. Many ofus have since
turned our attention from issues
ofpublic space toissues ofthecommon good, we started looking
athousing for example.
Indeed, an impressive movement
against thereprivatisation ofpublic
buildings and eviction ofpeople living
in them, which gripped many Polish
cities over thelast years, does seem
topoint toaway in which activism
could move beyond public space

From Public Space toCommon Good: Polands Urban Political Activism Claudia Ciobanu

issues toroot causes ofcity life problems while building broad alliances
According toJakub Zaczek, the
reprivatisation ofpublic buildings in
Poland, which has been taking place
since 1989, is ahighly abusive process,
not only because those claiming buildings often falsify their rights tothe
property with authorities turning
ablind eye, but also because Polish authorities are not forced by law tooffer
alternative housing tothose kicked out.
Interestingly, reprivatisations in
Warsaw in particular offer an occasion toquestion what is often adogma
in post-Socialist Central and Eastern
Europe, that private property is
thecore building block ofafair, free
and democratic society. Notoriously,
Warsaw was virtually effaced
attheend ofWorld War II, and thereconstruction ofits building stock was
done with huge reliance onvolunteer
efforts by citizens. These same people
were then given theright tolive astenants ofthecity in thenew buildings,
which became property oftheSocialist
state. And they (or their heirs) are being evicted today in thename ofaprewar order.
Thelack ofany protection for
theevicted tenants adds insult toinjury. Social and communal housing
(these are two categories ofhousing
offered by thestate for less privileged


people, with social being cheaper

torent and having worse conditions
than communal) are very hard toaccess
in Poland because ofthelimited stock,
high rents relative toincomes and
tough criteria for accessing this kind
Until recently, alegislative gap
made it impossible for those knowing they would be evicted toapply
for social housing until themoment
they were effectively out oftheir old
homes. Inpractice, this meant p
were pushed into homelessness
bystate policies.
Inthis context, tenants supported by activists (often from
small leftist and anarchist groups
such asSyrena squat in Warsaw
orZaczeks Committee for the
Defence ofTenantsKomitet Obrony
Lokatorow) started resisting evictions.
Inresponse, they were often harassed
by thenew owners ofbuildings,
including via making thebuilding
uninhabitable. Inan infamous case that
became asymbol for themovement,
thebody ofatenants rights activist,
Jolanta Brzeska, was found in 2011
charred in aforest near Warsaw.
Thetenants movement, driven
bythevulnerable people evicted from
their homes and supported by radical
activists, enjoys thesympathy and
sometimes support ofcity movements.
Reprivatisations affect not only people

From Public Space toCommon Good: Polands Urban Political Activism Claudia Ciobanu

but also green areas or buildings

ofhistorical value, which theurban
middle classes are concerned about.
Importantly, themovement makes
thelink between adestroyed green
area or an evicted family and thewild
reprivatisation strategies ofcity authorities and thelack ofsocial support
for theevicted and for poor families
who cannot afford rent in general.

Theleft is upfor grabs

InPoland, anew generation has grown
and started having an impact onpolitics. To be sure, activism in thecities
goes way beyond theurban movements
and some oftheinitiatives, among
them food or biking cooperatives or
squats, are explicitly trying topropose
alternatives toacapitalist system they
consider abusive.
Yet this fresh activist energy for
themoment lacks astrong expression
in electoral politics (Porozumienie is
non-ideological and only interested in
thelocal elections). Asin most other
Central and Eastern European countries, in Poland too, theleft is discredited and themain political parties have
aright-wing agenda, no matter what
labels they carry.
Polands main centre-left
party (theformer Communists in
theDemocratic Left Alliance, SLD)


hardly reaches 10% ofvoters preferences these days and is rejected by

thenew left activists for implementing
neo-liberal measures in thepast.
Potentially thebest political
expression ofPolands new left is
thePolish Green Party, which has
been steadily growing over thepast
year, but still got below 3% ofthevote
attheWarsaw mayoral elections via
its candidate Joanna Erbel. According
toEwa Sufin-Jacquemart, it is astruggle tocompromise between theneeds
ofecologists, feminists, socialists and
other progressives, all ofwhom see little chance ofparty representation outside oftheGreens.
TheGreens are now collecting signatures toput forward acandidate in
this years presidential elections. Their
proposal is Anna Grodzka, atransgender parliamentarian known for her
work against evictions, for fairer taxation and for theenvironment.
Thelabels ofgreen and left that
theGreen Party carries now are not acceptable for those in Poland who would
benefit from leftist policies, comments
activist Michal Augustyn, who created apopular non-monetary exchange
system, Wymiennik. Incoal-reliant
Poland, environmentalists are asmarginal astheleft, in large part because
ofsystematic pro-coal and anti-green
propaganda ofall parties in power
since 1989.

From Public Space toCommon Good: Polands Urban Political Activism Claudia Ciobanu

Ithink in Poland there is potential

for aparty which addresses thequestions and demands oftheworking class
together with theproblems ofthemiddle class, comments sociologist Maciej
Gdula. Thepotential is considerable
and there are real social forces that can
be organised. Theobstacles are thelack
ofleadership and therather stable economic situation in Poland.
Maybe in Poland it is not yet
thetime for abig social movement


such astheones which stand atthebasis ofSyrizas or Podemos popularity,

but it is definitely thetime tostart such
amovement, says Michal Augustyn.
Themiddle class in Poland will soon
start shrinking, like elsewhere in
Europe, so it is important not tobuild
political ghettos around those lifestyle
issues but go out and create coalitions
with those less fortunate, by listening
tothem, amplifying their voices and
practicing solidarity.

ACommons-Intergroup Takes Off

intheEU Parliament (excerpt)
by Sophie Bloemen

Landed in real politics

Among its 28 intergroups,
theEuropean Parliament
now also counts aCommons
Intergroup. TheParliaments
main political factions decided
onthelist ofintergroups late
last year. Inorder toform an
intergroup there need tobe
three supporting political
groups atleast, which can be
quite achallenge aseach political group can only join alimited number ofintergroups.
Even though theintergroups have no legislative
power, it can be valuable
having such arepresentation
in theEuropean Parliament.
Attheminimum, it is amultiparty forum where one can
exchange views and propose
ideas onparticular subjects in
an informal way. Those who
choose towork with such
an intergroup, its Members

ofParliament, and civil society

or lobbyists, share thenotion
that acertain topic is important and can focus onhow
toget things done.
TheCommons Intergroup
had its launch meeting in
May 2015 and will start its
activities after thesummer.
This particular group will allow for discussions onpolicy
from ashared perspective:
theidea that thecommons
is an important and helpful
way offraming theimportant
themes ofpresent times.
Asthere can only be so
many Intergroups, inevitably
thegroup is theresult ofapolitical compromise. Ithas
been formed by Members
oftheEuropean Parliament
(MEPs) from theGreens,
theleft group GUE, thelarge
Social Democrat party
(S&D) and thegroup EFDD,
which now includes Beppe

Sophie Bloemen
is acivil society
activist and policy
advisor based in
Berlin. She coordinates TheCommons Network,
together with David

ACommons-Intergroup Takes Off intheEU Parliament (excerpt) Sophie Bloemen

Grillo with his Five Star Movement.

Themovement onwater asacommons
has been instrumental for themobilisation oftheintergroup.

Fundamental change in sight

We have totake astep back and ask:
What are commons? What are common
goods? There are distinct definitions:
On theone hand, an operational notion would define commons asshared
resources, governed by acertain community. On theother hand, amoral
notion would say commons or common goods refer togoods that benefit
society asawhole, and are fundamental
topeoples lives, regardless ofhow they
are governed.
These could be many things.
Politically it will be more about claiming certain matters ascommons or
common goods, for example, natural
resources, health services or useful
knowledge. Tackling core areas ofour


co-existence from aperspective ofthe

commons is ofgreat significance. Its
important because eventually this will
lead toamove towards thesustainable
management and equitable sharing
Another aspect that makes this
approach appealing is that thecommons movement takes acommunity
and ecological systems perspective.
This philosophy moves away from
apurely individual rights-, marketand private property-based worldview. No need toelaborate that for
many this worldview is attheroot
ofthecurrent economic and environmental crises.
Commons thinking expresses
astrong denial oftheidea that society
is and should be composed ofatomised individuals living asconsumers.
Instead thecommons discourse points
tothepossibility that people can live
their lives ascitizens, deeply embedded in social relationships. Moreover,
that citizens active participation is
important in realising well-being and
awell-functioning society.

Reclaiming theCommons through

Culture and Arts
by Julie Ward, MEP

These are turbulent times for

We have seen years of
economic crisis and austerity
produce asense ofalienation and distrust. Only last
month, in May 2015, we heard
oftheformation ofafarright group in theEuropean
Parliament, bringing together
fascist anti-democratic and
xenophobic parties that want
totear us apart.
Margaret Thatcher famously said that there is no such
thing associety, only individuals and familiesand indeed,
after 30 years ofneo-liberalism,
we have seen privatisation and
commercialisation ofmany
ofour public spaces and public goods, and aconsumerist
culture, which prizes shallow,
short-term material gain over
all else, and appropriates our
common public spaces for private commercial gain.

Inthemeantime, marginalised communities have been

simply left behind asinequalities grow. Alot ofthealienation and distrust in politics
comes from theneo-liberal
attempt toabolish s ociety.
Ontheother hand, new
democratic participation is
on themove. New technologies, theweb and social media
have allowed for new connections, new mobilisation and
anew common digital sphere.
Faced with unemployment
and austerity, young people
have taken tothestreets, or
developed new cooperative
online business models, and
an environmental and social
political consciousness.
All this is why theidea
ofthecommons is so relevant
today, and why it is so important topromote it, aswe strive
towards amore open, more inclusive, more participatory and

Julie Ward
is aMember
Parliament (MEP)
and amember
for Common
Goods and Public

Reclaiming theCommons through Culture and Arts Julie Ward

more cooperative model ofdemocracy

for the21st century.
Reclaiming thecommons requires
thecombination oftwo elements:
stories ofpolitical alienation, oppression, exclusion, ontheone hand, and
afight for engagement and change
ontheother that is exactly therole
ofthearts in generating and expanding our public sphere, and space for
It is with this vibrant creativity,
using thearts and with determined
inspiration, that we must reclaim
our common public spaces. With this
drive and creativity, we can make our
cities more liveable, more sustainable,


more inclusive and promote innovative economic models that are fairer,
more cooperative and put people
andplanet first.
Drawing oninspiration from existing original and dynamic projects,
we can re-shape public discourse, and
mobilise progressives across societies,
from thealternative and critical left,
into themainstream. Initiatives aiming atreclaiming thepublic spaces,
thecommons and thecities, illustrate what we all must assert loudly
and proudlythat Thatcher was
wrongsociety does exist, it is all
around us, and our fight for social
justice and democracy goes on.

Reclaiming theCommons through Culture and Arts Julie Ward

Reclaimed spaces
workshop, 2013
coordinated by:
drawing by:


Since theurban
process is amajor
channel ofsurplus
use, establishing
democratic manage
ment over its urban
deployment constitutes
theright tothecity.
David Harvey, TheRight totheCity

Culture hunters
by Tinni Ernsjoo Rappe

Culture Hunters was created

tomeet young passionate individuals striving toachieve
change in their local areas.
Intheform ofan intense
cultural manager course,
25participants are allowed
tostrengthen their individual
capacity ascultural activists
aswell aslearn from good
cases in thecompany oflikeminded youth. Amain goal

We picked theones that had

shown adesire toachieve
something, who already had
drive and then we pushed
them on. We wanted togive
them contacts, inspiration,
points ofentry, practical
tips and networks, explains
Ceylan Holago, project manager for cultural development
atBotkyrka municipality.
Emma Dominguez works
part-time atFanzingo in
theSubtopia space, aswell
asatKonstfrmjandet (an

was tointroduce theyouth

tothebureaucracy oflocal
government and how tonavigate it. Theproject stems
from amunicipal notion that
citizen engagement always
needs tobe encouraged and
was designed in collaboration
between local autonomous
change makers Fanzingo 1 and
thedepartment ofCulture
and Recreation in Botkyrka.

organisation that works in arts

education) and is co-manager
ofthegroup. Shepoints
out thevalue oflearning
theofficial procedures within
themunicipality tokids who
want toplay active roles and
influence things.
When you know how the
municipality works, you
know how tomake things
happen, she says. When
Iwas younger Ithought that
thepeople who had power
were super-smart and knew

Ernsjoo Rappe
is aSwedish journalist and writer.

Culture hunters Tinni Ernsjoo Rappe

everything about everything.

atRiksteatern for eight years,
Ofcourse, when you find out
where she had plenty oftime
that thats not thecase, sometothink about how therething happens toyou.
sources are distributed in
It was during theproject
thecultural sector.
Its ridiculous that there are
Alby r inte till salu [Alby
is not for sale] that Emma
all these institutions getting
realised that it was actually
all this money, but that their
possible toinfluence things.
work reaches so few people.
We went toameeting where
Iwant tochange that. Iwant
we received information about
todistribute themoney
thesales, and we were all so
better. Every- body should
angry. Why hadnt anybody
have access toeverything,
spoken tous about this? We
Ceylan says. Thefirst group
felt completely powerless,
ofculture hunters consisted
but before we left, some ofus
of23 youths from north and
decided that we would atleast
south Botkyrka. Young, pastry todo something about it.
sionate and committed peoWe began taking names for
ple with thedesire torun
petitions, Emma explains.
cultural projects.
Ofcourse, hearing about
Its avery diverse mix
thestrength and commitment
ofpeople. We brought them
that your parents showed in
together and reminded them
their home countries has an
that people want tosee their
effect onyou, knowing that
work and that they are role
they are these amazing peomodels. All those things
ple and then seeing that they
are important tooffset
never get achance in Sweden.
thethings people in thesubButnow Iknow that Ihave
urbs keep getting told: that
power, that words are power.
they dont stand achance,
That you can shake things
that theyll never get jobs,
upand cause change. Iwant
that no matter what they do
toteach others how todo that.
itll never make adifference,
Before she started towork
says Emma Dominguez.
for Botkyrka municipalInthefall of2015,
ity, Ceylan Holago worked
Kulturjgarna will move


1 Founded in 2006,

Fanzingo is anonprofit independent professional

platform for young
people who want
toshare their
ideas and thoughts
through radio, film,
television and writing. It aims tocreate opportunities
for young people
in general and
groups in parti
cular, tolearn
totell stories from
their perspective.
Fanzingos concept
has four pillars:
social activity, advocacy, education
and production.

Culture hunters Tinni Ernsjoo Rappe

ontothenext phase, and recruit anew

group ofparticipants.
We consider theeffects ofempower
ing individual citizens this way. What
are thecosts, and what are thebenefits?
One thing were seeing is that it provides arecruiting base for themunici-


pality and its projects. Now, we have

afolio ofprevious participants that
themunicipality can access when they
need people for various projects. Iwant
tooffer influence and resources topeople who would never have them otherwise. Thats my job, says Ceylan.

Participatory Art asaVector

ofInnovative Governance:
Reflexivity attheHeart
oftheFormalisation Process
by Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

This research aims toquestion

theformalisation process set
upin asocial innovation approach. Through acase study,
we will demonstrate how
developing areflexive analysis
with non-financial institutional partners allowed for
significant progress in governance building in an association
using artistic participatory
practices asamobilisation
tool for thepopulations onits
Many surveys have demonstrated thecapacity for
associations todevelop institutional logics promoting
social innovation.1 Yet, social
innovation is acomplex thing
toachieve for associations.
Indeed, toestablish new processes, they must create new

paths and follow isomorphic

logic, which can make them
fall under thecompany-based
model or thepublic service
concession-based model. 2
Inorder toface this macrosocial level ofdetermination
and maintain aspecific innovation process, associations collectives must agree
locally onthenature oftheir
project, their form ofgovernance, 3 and their shared
vision ofsolidarity.4 Todo
so, they need new categories
and new concepts. According
toDandurand, social innovation often comes from citizen
initiatives and, upstream or
downstream, from outcomes
resulting from research in social sciences and humanities,
nay arts and literature. 5

Philippe Eynaud
is Associate
Professor, IAE
Paris, PanthonSorbonne. Winner
oftheRobert Reix
prize 2008, his
research focuses
technology systems and how they
contribute tonew
governance models
in thenon-profit
Sam Khebizi
is thefounder
ofLes Ttes delArt
association in Marseille, France (www.,
one ofthehubs in
theEuropean Cultural Foundations
Networked ProgrammeCon
nected Action for

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

And so, like technological

innovation, social innovation
can benefit from and develop
thanks tocross-pollination
between research, experimentation and in-field action. But
if this interaction between
researchers and practitioners
in technological innovation
is richly documented, it is not
so much thecase with social
innovation. Inthis paper, we
will question theinstitutional processes ofinnovation between an association
and outside partners who
have both theknow-how
and theexperimentation in
this field.6 We will seek tounderstand theconditions for
theemergence ofinnovation,
aswell asits feasibility and
There is adouble level
tothis research. Firstly, it is
aclassic, qualitative analysis
based onimportant documentation (such asminutes,
surveys, emails, website) and
20 semi-structured interviews with all stakeholders.
Secondly, it is adialogue between theDirector oftheassociation and aresearcher
around theinstitutional
process described hereafter

tohighlight its major stages

and limits. Afirst draft was
prepared by theresearcher
ondata collected during
thequalitative analysis
approach. It was proofread and
commented onby theDirector
oftheassociation. Following
adiscussion between him
and theresearcher, asecond
version was produced, which
was read by two members
oftheBoard ofDirectors.
Theircomments led tofurther
discussion. Theresearcher
conducted interviews with
members oftheBoard
ofDirectors, during which
debates took place and athird
version was written. This
version is thefinal one.

From participatory art

toparticipatory governance
Les Ttes delArt (TDA) association can be thus defined:
Les Ttes delArt, an artistic
mediation association created in 1996, is an interface
giving technical guidance
for artistic and collective
participatory project management, with complementary
activities ofnetworking and


1 Juan-Louis Klein

& Denis Harrison,

LInnovation so
ciale: mergence
et effets sur la
des socits http:/
13February 2012.
2 Jean-Louis Laville,

Lassociation: Soci
ologie et conomie
(Paris: Pluriel, 2013).
3 Jean-Louis Laville

& C. Hoarau,
des associations
(Paris diffusion:, 2010).
4 Juan-Louis Klein,

Jean-Louis Laville
& Frank Moulaert,
L innovation so
ciale (Toulouse:
res editions, 2014).
5 Louise Dandurand,

Rflexion autour du concept

sociale, approche
historique et
Revue franaise
publique, 2005,
6 Consequently, we

will not restrict ourselves only toacademic partners.


Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

pooling/sharing ofresources.
dedicated toexchanges and
Fromthestart, we have
servicessuch asguidance,
always meant tomake art
networking, our technical reaccessible toall, standing
source platform, our cultural
atthecrossroads between culproject management cooperature, informal education and
tivecomplete and contri
social economy. Our vision
bute toproject management
ofculture is one ofmaking
and enable our members tobe
with rather than for people,
part ofaproject which is comand our action can be divided
mon and shared beyond their
into three types oftransverown, respective actions. 9
Asearly as1996, thememsal ones: amultidisciplinary
bers oftheassociation set out
approach, atrans-sector
aproject taking into account:
action and one from thelocal
thedifficult reconciliation betotheinternational level. 7
We can see TDAs project
tween thelogics ofterritorial
atthecrossroads between difattractiveness through culture
ferent worlds: informal educaand that ofproximity cultural
tion and culture, economy and
action involving theresidents;
solidarity, project management thenecessary coordination
and networking and thelocal
ofamyriad ofmicro-cultural
and international dimensions.
organisations throughout
Theassociations ambitions are
thus transversal. It must find ahyper-density ofcultural
abalance between representorganisations in thecity cen8
ing and mobilising theactors.
tre ofMarseille, which leads
Which leads tothedifficult
topoor visibility, legibility and,
question ofhow it solves
paradoxically enough isolatheinherent contradictions
tion. These organisations are
oftheproject. How can colboth in cooperation and comlective action be coherent:
petition with each other.
Ouroriginality lies in that our
TDA sees in thesocial
cultural mediation approach is
economy sector an opportudependent neither onthedisnity tobring together cultural
cipline itself, nor onthevenue
actors despite their differen
or type ofaudience. Times
ces. This is one ofthereasons

7 Excerpt from

aworking document entitled En

jeux et pratiques
delESS, presented
by TDAs Director
before theCRESS
Board ofDirectors
(17 February 2014).
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

why they have seized the

opportunity towork with
theCRESS 10 onestablishing
bridges toprovide guidance
(and tovalorise) collective
approaches, and toensure
thelegitimacy and sustainability ofcultural, citizen action. Inso doing, TDA benefits
from numerous individual
and collective Dispositif
Local dAccompagnement
(DLA, alocal support measure),
onvarious aspects (budgetary
and accounting management,
project structuring, communication tools and data management, strategic and provisional
job and skill management
Atthesame time,
theDirector followed acombined work/training scheme
attheCNAM (National
Conservatory ofArts and
Crafts) in Paris.11 This twoyear training period gave him
theopportunity toconduct an
action research project under
thedirection ofresearcher
Jean-Franois Draperi.12 TDAs
Director tried tomodel some
principles ofhis association,
and include them in those
ofthesocial economy sector. Indeed, he could see that

thecultural sector considered 10

thegovernance mechanisms
asfar too formal. From
thestart, he considered his
Board ofDirectors asbeing too
complacent. There was alack 11
ofbalance ofpower, and it was
areal hindrance. His training
attheCNAM seemed tobe for
him theplace where he could 12
get inspiration from conceptual and pragmatic tools tomeet
thedemands ofTDAs project.
After this two-year period, he
launched aprocess that aimed
totransform theuses in his
Putting theory into practice, he laid thefoundations
ofhis association onfive
cross-sectoral approaches
tofoster real and active participation: Information
Share Co-construction
Thus, amethodology took
shape with:
comprehensive information
decision-making spaces
training spaces.
This methodology was
implemented both in aformal way (Board ofDirectors,
General Assembly) and in an
informal one (festive events).


Regional Chamber ofSocial and

Solidarity Economy
dAzur Region.
ofsocial and
cultural organisations1st level.
Lecturer atCNAM
and Chief E

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

Asafounding director, TDAs

Director was faced with the
following question: Ihave
been afounder ofthis association, Imean tosay collective,
but atthesame time Iwould
like tokeep control oftheevolution oftheassociation.
How can Igo onwith such
By giving greater powers
totheBoard ofDirectors, he
found he could sometimes
disagree with theme.g.
when he suggested including
theMarseille office ofSMartfr13
in theassociation. TheBoard
ofDirectors refused and aconsensus was only reached after
several weeks negotiations.
Another clash arose when
aloss-making financial year
required taking corrective action. TheBoard ofDirectors
wanted toreduce thewage
bill. TheDirector was against
this and eventually succee
ded. According toamember
oftheBoard ofDirectors,
Hedefinitely has aglobal vision ofand analysis ontheassociations great development
and strategic axes which,
Ithink, no one else has in
theassociation, because he
has managed this organisation

for 17 years. He still is
Attheend of2008, he
started working onparticipatory governance. He had
toovercome thecultural actors reluctance. TDAs Director:
Our members and partners
did not want tobe part ofit.
They often said: Why did you
ask for our opinion onfigures
or planned activities? It was
no easy trick and they misunderstood our intentions.
Ittook us three or four years
toget there. Inorder toconvince them, he put forward
thefollowing argument:
theassociation has grown so
that its needs have changed.
According toTDAs
Director, it was high time
tomove from acomplacent
Board ofDirectors toaqualified one[] thePresident, for
example, was my wife. It could
not go onlike this. What rules
could we find, which would
give more power totheBoard
ofDirectors and, atthesame
time, recognise my specific
role and my engagement?
To do so, he pushed forward
thecreation ofan artists committee, in order toinvolve
theartists in thegovernance.


SMart, Socit
Mutuelle pour
society for artists,
was set upin 1998
in Belgium. It aims
togive guidance
technicians and
temporary workers who face
administrative realities oftheartistic
sector. Its French
counterpart was
created in 2008.

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

One must add that theassociation had about 10 member artists when it was first created,
but there were 120 in 2008
and some ofthem wanted
tomove forward.
TDAs Director commented: Our social purpose
was participatory art. How
could we move forward
without participatory governance? Participatory art
was our starting point. And
we have acollective artistic
participatory practice, i.e., we
seek debates and confrontations between individuals.
Participatory governance is
aprocess that goes beyond
statutory, legal frameworks
and intends toinvolve stakeholders in acommon project
in both vision and decisionmaking processes. It leads
toacollective project where
each and everyone finds their
place and personal development in thelong run.
Aresearcher, participating in areflection workshop
atTDA, said thesame thing:
Asfar asIam concerned,
Ithink thebest possible
framework is human rights.
Because it is rational enough
tolegitimise these practices

we awkwardly call participa- 14

tory arts. If we agree onthis
reference, it is, Ithink, logical
toconclude that participatory
arts wrongly call themselves
participatory arts. They
should rather put forward
thedeliberation capacity
ofthepeople (and not residents participation) and assert
theuniversality ofthefreedom
ofartistic expression.14
This is how TDAs artistic
approach made sense: Acollective work is when, in fact,
there is already acompetence.
Everyone knows Everyone
is an artist, so tospeak. And
so, in acollective, you know
where youre going, there is
asort ofcharter. It is acollective. While, in participatory
works, you are really free.
Anyone can get involved,
give something personal
during aproject they did not
even know anything about,
(Sbastien Zanello, artist).

Comparing ones own

participatory governance with
that ofother associations
In2009, TDA set upan
engineering platform for


Notes onaworkshop by JeanMichel Lucas, aka

Doc Kasimir Bisou,
lecturer atRennes
2 University.

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

small-sized cultural associations located inthesame territory. By developing this new

pool ofactivity, TDA was looking for diversification but also
for thedevelopment ofnew
competences (qualifications,
debate, information, decision making) tomake its own
artistic project stronger. Two
years later, TDA heard ofaprogramme launched by La Claie15
onthePACA Region towork
with associations (ofall sectors) ontheissue ofparticipatory governance. Theproject
consisted in organising three
working seminars with our
Swedish partner, Basta social
enterprise, which is asocial
and professional rehabilitation organisation for ex-drug
addicts, and who, among
other things, gives them ajob,
(aproject manager atLa Claie).
Inits application form,
TDA insisted onboth thework
already done in this field,
and their will todisseminate theresults ofthecommon work and collaboration
with La Claie and other
We still have experien
ces we want tobuild and
share, nonetheless we think

we could put forward concrete initiatives that we have
already tested. It is with this
balance between what we can
offer and what we expect from
other experiences that we apply, because it is well in line
with our current preoccupations and thespirit ofyour
project[] Besides, we have
an engineering and mutualisation platform, which enables
us toparticipate in adissemination phase towards operators onour territory so that all
can benefit from this project. 16
Basta acts asatrigger for
theTDA team. We realised
that, most ofthetime, peoples opinions are solicited
along theprocess, but nothing
follows really after that.
Bastas case is an exemplary
one in this respect, because
this cooperative works with
populations who are apriori
not rehabilitable. What Ifind 16
fascinating is that these people working there have full
access toall sorts ofpositions
within their governance.
Indeed, Bastas leaders are exdrug addicts who have been
employed, (TDAs Director).
Asaresult, Bastas example
motivates TDA even more


La Claie (Coopration Locale et Appui aux Initiatives

sociale et solidairelocal cooperation and support
tosocial economy
initiatives) is an
association (under
the1901 Law),
which was created
in 1995. Its social
object is togive
guidance toorganisations within
thesocial economy
sector through various plans/tools (local support measures, micro-project
funding, training,
etc.). Theassociation receives
support and funding from theEuropean Social Fund,
theFrench State,
theCaisse des
Dpts (Deposits
and Consignments
Fund), theRegional
Council and local authorities.
Excerpt from
TDAs application
form toLa Claie.

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

togo further in their process ofbuilding participatory governance.

Meeting nine associations with
thesame concern ofimproving their
participatory approaches, even though
they were not cultural organisations,
stimulated theteam members atTDA
even further. With La Claie, we are
in an on-going formalisation process
ofour governance, (TDAs Director).
Itis what thepartner, La Claie, hoped
for. And what Ifind interesting is
that we are drafting apractical guide
onparticipatory governanceavalorisation tool for theproject and theten
experimentations, (aproject manager
atLa Claie). Thewhole approach was an
incentive within theTDA team. Thesalaried employees involved themselves
more in operational decision making,
asis usually thecase in cooperatives.
Asfor strategic decision making,
everyone contributedtheDirector,
theBoard ofDirectors and theemployees. All this process took place
while, atthesame time, thefinancial
situation oftheassociation deteriorated and endangered theconsolidation policy for permanent staff. TDA
were aware ofthenecessity torestore
afinancial balance toachieve their
This did not stop TDA from en
larging thebasis oftheir participatory
governance. They considered involving stakeholders through an artists


committee, ausers committee who

benefited from thematerial resource
platform and, onawider scale, they
wanted toinvolve all members. The
users committee was difficult tomobilise. These members tended toact more
like consumers ofservices and did
not feel involved, even though there
were many ofthem. Problems toreach
aquorum arose regularly. Moreover,
and in spite ofalarge number ofartists
who were members ofTDA (about 180),
theartists committee did not find its
place easily.
Thecollaboration with La Claie
helped tospeed uptheelaboration
ofnew statutes atTDA. This change was
theresult ofaneed toformalise and
clarify how members were involved
inthestatutory life oftheassociation.

Proposing ones participatory

governance asamodel tofollow
In2013, TDA was contacted by
theEuropean Cultural Foundation
(ECF) 17 aspart ofits Connecting
Culture, Communities and Democracy
Networked Programme. Theidea behind this programme is toreflect upon
democratic communities inspired by
artistic approaches onaEuropean
level. TDA is one ofthesix selected
European hub organisations. It is no
longer about participatory governance

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

guidanceaswas thecase
with La Claiebut rather
pushing for directions for
others. For us, thefact that
ECF chose us is very important. They expect that WE carry out objectives. We said we
wished that all stakeholders
ofTDA, aswell asall cultural
organisations ontheterritory
be part ofit onthis theme.
Inso doing, theprogramme
will be abasis for reflection
onour relationship with
theterritory, (TDAsDirector).
Then everything progressed quicklyfinancial
help tohost and co-organise
an international meeting in
Marseille: theIdea Camp.18
InOctober 2014, TDA welcomed 50 project leaders from
23 countries. It gave theassociation theopportunity atlast
togather together agreat
number ofpartners around
its project. ECFs programme
is stretching over athreeyear period, which gives TDA
time tovalorise theactivities launched atalocal level,
after this meeting. Over 60
local organisations attended
tocollect information onthis
programme. After being recognised asamediator by ECF,

TDA has strengthened its le- 17

gitimacy atalocal level.
TDA is mature enough too
tore-open debates onideas
around its project. InApril
2013, they invited researchers
(Jean Caune, Philippe Henri,
Jean-Michel Lucas19) foratwoday debate onparticipatory
arts with their different
stakeholders (employees,
Board ofDirectors, artists,
residents, partners). In2014,
they organised aworkshop
with two other researchers,
Claude Paquin and Genevive
Goutouly-Paquin, from
Agency Tertius, onthefollowing theme: Beyond
aRelationship Policy. The
purpose ofthis workshop was
tofurther examine theissue
ofparticipation from theassociations perspective. Wetry 19
tomultiply action-research
approaches. We draw agreat
benefit from this work with
researchers, (TDAsDirector)
Thewhole effort eventually bore fruit in terms
ofparticipatory governance.
InSeptember 2014, meeting themember artists
for arentre session was
an encouraging success.


The European Cultural Foundation

(ECF) inspires and
involves people
in a shared vision
of citizenship
throughout Europe.
It shares and connects knowledge
between the European cultural sectors and engages
in arts at every
level in political
TheIdea Camp is
part ofConnected
Action for the Commons, athree-year
initiative launched
by ECF that
aims toconnect
amyriad ofchangemakers offering
new perspectives
oncultures role
in democratic
practices all over
Jean Caune is
Professor Emeritus
at Stendhal University in Grenoble.
His work covers
aesthetic practices
such as cultural
mediation processes. Philippe
Henri is Lecturer
and accredited
research director
at the Theatre Department of Paris 8
Denis. Jean-Michel

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

Therewere many people for

this occasion: around50
many old members and
many new ones. Wehave
people who still find it
meaningful tostay with us,
and atthesame time we do
not procrastinate since we
still attract new members[]
Iproposed that theartists
committee should have areal
budget and arole in our networking activities. This will be
proportional with thenumber
ofmembers it has. Inow
expect them tobe in charge,
(TDAs Director).
Inconclusion, this research shows how theassociations strength was tobuild
its action onaspecific artistic
artAND onwhat Philippe
Henri calls thesecond pillar. It is still usually set
aside by theartistic realms
themselves and public cultural p
olicies[] it is built
onamore symmetrical relationship between arts professionals and non professionals
and constantly tackles interculturality issues. It positions
cultural action attheheart
oftheartistic project and
does not consider it asamere

complement toapre-existing
artistic work. 20
This major idea is atthe
heart ofTDAs innovation
approach. Indeed, social innovation comes from theconnection made between two
issuesparticipatory art and
its supportive cultural action.
Reflexivity onand around this
idea only strengthens this
initial intuition. Interestingly
enough, thethree steps
oftheformalisation process we have described were
not planned by TDA, but each
ofthese steps made it possible for thenext. When TDAs
Director chose tobe trained
attheCNAM, he had no prior,
well-defined purpose in mind
except todevelop his theoretical and technical competences
in thefield ofassociations.
Yet he felt aneed tostructure
his action through knowledge
ofsomething larger than
his initial field ofactivity
culture. This first collaboration with academics opened
theway for areflexivity that
he never ceased todevelop and
expand. During thesecond
phase, two TDA employees
met and shared with other associations onexperimentation


Lucas is Lecturer
at Rennes 2 Universityaka Doc
Kasimir Bisou.
Philippe Henri,
Dmarches artis
tiques partages
# 1: des processus
culturels plus d
mocratiques? (under Creative Commons), 2011 (http://

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

approaches, thanks toastakeholder

with specific knowledge who acted
asakind ofmatch-maker (La Claie).
Itwas acrucial step because it allowed
for an open, permanent r eflexivity
approach totake shape within TDA
and this will have deep impacts
onthepractices in theassociation.
Thethird step legitimises de facto
theprogress made so far by TDA, which
can be seen asapromoter ofideas and
an inspiring example for others. Inside
TDA, theactors have been validated in
theefforts already made. Astooutside actors, they find TDAs position
reinforced asacultural mediator
atthelocal territory level.
We can see that theconditions
for theprocess toemerge are essentially due totheprojects nature and
theconvergence oftwo problematics:
culture and cultural policy. Itsfeasibility depends ontheDirectors
reflection and engagement ontheone
hand, and onhis concern todevelop
TDAs transversal mission through
dialogue and exchange ontheother
hand. Thisresults in TDAs stronger
legitimacy ontwo levels. Inside TDA,
thechoices made in governance methods have been formalised, tested and
perpetuated (steps 1 and 2). Outside
ofTDA, there is astronger relationship
based ontrust with thelocal actors
beneficiaries, partners or funders
andagreater influence network


(step3). Igive praise for [TDAs

Director] Sams professionalism[]
Theproject is still evolving and is
amature one; theposition is amature
one. Inhis relationship with institutions, there are few mistakes made[]
For us local authorities, technicians,
elected officials [], receiving aform
from TDA is apleasure. Inthis neighbourhood, TDA is well established
Without relinquishing its innovation process, TDA has succeeded in
capitalising onits relationship with
theactors from thelocal area.
We can conclude by giving afew
facts onhow this article has been coconstructed and therole it has played
in TDAs reflexivity process.
Following amid-term version,
feedback from members oftheBoard of
Directors were three-fold. First, details
were given that contributed to impro
ving thefacts ofthetexts chronology
and background. Then comments and
changes were made toqualify both
TDAs presentation and success story.
From theinside, you can better judge
what really works and what does not
work, (an employee atTDA). Second,
analyses allowed for aricher reflection
space. This text did not bring anything
new tome, yet reading it enabled me
toconnect things together[] Before
that, there was no global narrative,
(anemployee atTDA)

Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative Governance Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi

Theinterviews brought adetail

tolight: equipment made for theIdea
Camp was used toimprove thedesign ofthevenue for thelast internal
meeting. It had never been done
before. We always did so for outside
events, but never inside[] Reading
thearticle helped me toconnect
things together. It seemed obvious


tome then, (an employee atTDA).

We thus see astronger coherence
between thefirst and second pillars, asdescribed by Philippe Henri.
This will lead us toafourth step,
Ithinkand we will get there with
researchers: we need tocross-fertilise
skills and vision in order tomove on,
(an employee atTDA).

Les Ttes delartPlace lart

Place lart is aproject that

involves participatory artistic interventions in urban
space. It is an alternative
analytical process thataims
toinspire new ways
ofperceiving and relating
tothesurrounding area.
toquestion, involve, share:
presenting, imagining,

desiring public space in

aalternative way through
temporary participatory
artistic projects
tosupport on-going artistic
endeavors in public space
toengage along-term collaboration with thesurrounding area
toinitiate cross-sectoral

Place lArt 2012
(Belsunce district,
Marseille): Hall
Puget square.
Photo credit:
LesTtes delart.

Place lArt
2014 (Noailles
district, Marseille):
thepublic listening
tothetown crier.
Photo credit: Les
Ttes delart.

Place lArt
2015 (Belsunce
district, Marseille):
example ofa of
urban furniture with
theinhabitant and
kids ofthedistrict,
construction by
local inhabitants.
Photo credit: Les
Ttes de together
with thecollective

Les Ttes delartPlace lart


Les Ttes delartPlace lart


Les Ttes delartPlace lart


New Models ofGovernance

by Katarina Pavi

Theopinions expressed in this

work are theresponsibility
oftheauthor and do not necessarily reflect theofficial policy
oftheCouncil ofEurope.

Thedemocratic deficit
is amatter ofculture
Thecrisis has had numerous
negative effects in many vital
sectors ofEuropean societies,
but it has simultaneously
revealed theexistence ofaserious democratic deficit in
todays European societies.
This deficit is not acompletely
new discovery, but therecent
developments in thepolitical
arena and their repercussions
onthestreets ofvarious
European cities point toreal
reasons tofear that thegap between thedecision-makers and
thecitizens is liable togrow
even wider in thenear future.

Art and culture are not,

and cannot be, excluded
from theoverall context
oftheaforementioned issues,
not only because theresults
ofthecrisis (often represented solely asred figures) are
having negative effects ondifferent aspects ofcultural and
artistic production, but also
because ultimately, theculture crisis directly deprives
themost vulnerable groups
oftheir fundamental cultural
rights. These groups embrace
arange ofartists and cultural
operators, aswell asmany
other citizens affected by
policies that restrict their
participation in cultural and
social life. Thethreatened closure of20% ofpublic libraries
in theUnited Kingdom is
only one highly publicised
example ofthecurrent state
ofart in this respect,1 and
throughout thecontinent and

Katarina Pavi
is amember ofCulture 2 Commons
(Alliance Operation
City: operacijagrad.
net; Clubture Network:;
Right tothecity:,
one ofthehubs in
theEuropean Cultural Foundations
Networked ProgrammeCon
nected Action for

New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi


Croatian highways Referendum

campaign (October
2014). Official Campaign Leaflet.

theworld there are probably

even more dramatic cases
ofcultural deprivation ofcitizens ofwhich we may not be
aware, aswell asexamples
ofimprovements in terms
ofnew governance models
deriving from civil engagement. Alook attheapproach
adopted in Croatia and other
countries oftheregion can
serve asaparadigm for the
development ofcultural policy-making under thepressure
ofapermanent, structural

crisis, atthesame time

providing an encouraging
example ofpractice in organising citizens for the purposes
ofdemocratising thepublic
cultural sphere 2 and closing
thegap between institutions
and non-institutional cultural

Theregional view
Where cultural policy-
making in theformer

1 Sources: http://,
2 For further read-

ing onthecultural
public sphere and
thechallenges determining relationships in this field,
see Jim McGuigan,
Cultural Policy
(Open University
Press, 2004).

New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

Yugoslav countries is concerned, thecurrent crisis has

exacerbated theongoing deficiencies in cultural systems,
which had been changing
very slowly over thepast
20years, since thedissolution ofthecommon State and
theviolent conflicts that have
marked theregions recent
history. Apart from financing
independent o
programmes with amodest
shares oftheState budgets, 3
themain instruments
ofcultural policies inall
thecountries oftheregion
are still predominantly
based onservicing themany
traditional public cultural
institutions, most ofwhich
are deemed remote from
thecitizens and closed tospecific groups ofartists, aswell
aslacking in public participation and transparency in
governance. New ideas and
demands for reforms and new
cultural policy measures have
begun toemerge in some
countries in theregion, and
themain protagonists for
change are usually theorga
nisations and individuals
working in theindependent

Most oftheorganisations
forming todays independent cultural scene emerged
attheend ofthe1990s
ontheback ofthedemocratisation movements that were
sweeping across theregion,
perpetuating thetradition
ofthealternative cultural
and artistic movements in
theprevious decades. Very
broadly, this scene includes
anumber ofdifferent organisations and initiatives operating across all contemporary
artistic and cultural forms
ofexpression. Their work is
based ontheinterdisciplinary
approach and experimentation
attheintersection ofcontemporary art and popular culture,
and onactive engagement
in thelocal communities.
Attheturn ofthemillennium, independent cultural
organisations began tospring
upall over theregion. They
multiplied not only in quantity
but also asregards thediversity oftheir activities and
geographical dispersion, especially after most oftheregions
countries adopted new laws
or significantly liberalised
existing legislation oncitizens associations. This was


3 Thesituation varies

significantly among
thedifferent countries oftheregion,
with instruments
ofcultural policies
being most highly
developed in Slovenia and Croatia.
All thecountries
offormer Yugoslavia still have many
similarities in their
main characteristics, including
theoverall organisation ofcultural
policy systems.

New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

when these organisations

took their first steps towards
building strategic partnerships in order tobecome
relevant actors in thecultural
policy field, endeavouring
toredefine thecultural systems by promoting theparticipatory approach tocultural

Independents united
Inaddition todemanding
new cultural policy reforms,
theindependent cultural scene
initiated anumber ofmeasures geared towards bridging
thegap between independent and institutional cultural
production, aswell asthat
between theperceptions
ofproducers and consumers
ofarts and culture. Thefoundation oftheClubture network5 in Croatia was one
ofthemajor steps in this
direction. Established in 2002
asaplatform for direct cooperation between organisations
and theformulation ofjoint
programmes, Clubture has
achieved significant results
in terms ofdemocratising
culture and decentralising

cultural production in Croatia.

Over theten years in which it
has continuously run its key
programme Clubture-HR: programme exchange and cooperation, which is based onjoint
decision-making and peerto-peer cooperation between
organisations, over 1,300
different cultural and artistic
events have been organised in
almost all thecities, towns and
villages nationwide, directly
involving over 100 organisations and actively engaging
thousands ofcitizens.6
Theliving, active and
heterogeneous structure
oftheorganisations in
theplatform have made
Clubture acatalyst for cooperation and afocal point
for bringing in independent
cultural organisations from
beyond theCroatian borders.
Over theyears, Clubture has
developed other programmes
aimed atstrengthening
capacities, public visibility
and theinfluence oftheindependent cultural scene in
Croatia, including arange
ofmeticulously designed
educational programmes that
aim toimprove theorganisations c apacities for strategic


4 Further reading:

Emina Vini,
proach tocultural
policy-making, In
dependent culture
and new collabora
tion practices in
Croatia (Ecumest/
Network, 2008).
6 Further reading:

Dea Vidovi atal.,

asthe process
Network, 2008).

New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

management and public promotion ofcultural policies.

Atthesame time,
theClubture network has
pioneered thepromotion
ofregional cooperation by
involving independent organisations from across theregion
in an informal cooperation
platform. Clubture has also
gained international recognition with thefirst ever coordinated action by regional actors
and theEuropean cultural
policy-making institutions,
involving apublic consultation procedure for over 70
organisations from d
countries in theregion.
Theaction led totheadoption
ofaseries ofmutual policy
recommendations calling for
theimplementation ofconcrete measures tohelp develop
regional cooperation and build
partnerships between cultural
organisations from theregion
and therest ofEurope.7

Towards new models

ofcultural institutions
Agradual process ofnetworking, mutual sharing
ofvalues, knowledge and

skills and joint programme

production by independent
cultural organisations was
followed by adrive tocreate
partnerships with strategic
civil society organisations
active in other important
spheres ofsocial life (youth
rights, environmental conservation and good governance) and with experts in
cultural and other relevant
public policies. These major
efforts toorganise atactical model for change were
also accompanied by awhole
range ofawareness-raising
activities involving active
engagement with thepublic, in terms ofboth participants and audiences and
ofdecision-makers and public
cultural administration.
Using tactical networking
bringing together independent cultural organisations,
artists and experts, and later
ondeveloping partnerships
with other important societal
cultural scene developed
aholistic approach tothepublic cultural sphere, which, far
from being isolated from its
social context, constitutes
its most dynamic part, with


7 Further reading:

Katarina Pavi and

Milica Peki, Exit
EuropeNew Ge
ographies ofCul
ture (TheClubture
Network, 2011)
and www.exit

New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

Zagreb Center for
Independent Culture and Youth
Exhibition: Sybille
Neumeyer: past
presence, present
urban aspects.
factory, February
16, 2013.
Photos by:
&Barbara ari.


New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

thepotential toeffect atangible societal transformation.

Thanks tothese methods,
theindependent cultural organisations have demonstrated that theeffort todemocratise thepublic cultural sphere
is part ofabroader struggle
for thecommon weal, primarily fighting corrupt practices in public governance. 8
Inthis connection, they have
launched along-term campaign in Zagreb opposing
thealliance between thecity
authorities and investors,
which has devastated thecity
centre pedestrian zone. After
almost six years ofconstant
endeavours tobring about
genuine changes in thesystemduring which time
theindependent cultural
organisations have been penalised or otherwise put under pressure because oftheir
engagement, mainly through
budgetary cuts in financing
their programmes, but also
by means ofintimidation
and negative media campaignsreforms and major
steps towards developing
new models ofgovernance
and cultural policies have
now begun.

Time for transformation

Themost useful changes
in this field took place in
Croatia with theintroduction ofthefirst hybrid cultural institution POGON
theZagreb Centre for
Independent Culture and
Youth9 which is thefirst
ever cultural institution
based onanew model of
public-civil partnership
established and managed
jointly by thelocal association ofcultural and youth
Alliance Operation
City10 and theCity ofZagreb.
POGON was established
attheend of2009, and has
gained agreat deal ofinfluence in thelocal Zagreb
context, where agreat many
organisations have regular
recourse toits material resources for various activities
involving thelocal citizens.
Thearrival ofPOGON in
Zagreb has also raised
thequestion oftherequisite
role ofthepublic cultural institutions in thecommunity,
aswell asthat oftheir openness tochanges in governance and programming.11


8 In2006, independ-

ent cultural organisations in Croatia

initiated theRight
totheCity initiative,
one ofthemost
publicly visible civil
initiatives in Croatia
and theregion,
which is active
combating against
corrupt practices
and promoting
preservation and
good governance
ofpublic spaces
in Croatia. For
further infomation, see www.
9 For more about

POGONZagreb Centre for

Culture and Youth,
see http://www.
10 See http://savezza-

11 Further reading:

Celakoski et al.,
Open Institu
tional imagination
and Cultural
Public Sphere
(Alliance Operation City, 2011) and


New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

Another cultural
policy reform measure
initiated by theindepen
dent cultural actors has
been thenewly established
Foundation Kultura Nova,12
anovel institutional format
geared towards promoting
thedevelopment ofcultural civil society in Croatia.
TheFoundation will support cooperation projects
between organisations in
Croatia, atthenational level
and ontheregional front,
itwill help develop cooperation between different sectors and provide operational
support tofoster organisational development.

Conclusions and
thedeficit is not just
aproblem for others
Thecooperation and mutual
advocacy practices developed
by theindependent cultural
scene in theformer Yugoslav
countries have shown that
reforming policy measures
via bottom-upprocesses can
achieve positive results in
terms ofnarrowing thegap

between institutions and

non-institutional actors and
directly influencing peoples
sense ofownership ofcultural and other common goods.
Atthesame time, these joint
actions help develop dialogue
and partnerships between all
thestakeholders in culture,
thus reducing thedemocratic deficit by emphasising
theactive role played by
citizens in decision making.
Even though theabovementioned experiences are
peculiar totheindependent
cultural scene and its specific
practices, their repercussions
are felt in other vital spheres
ofcultural and political life,
asthepotential for reform
are transposable beyond both
thefield ofcultural and artistic production and theborders ofany specific region.
We would accordingly
encourage decision-makers
and all other relevant stakeholders, especially those
from countries in theregion
offormer Yugoslavia, tostrive
toincrease cultural participation by citizens, primarily by
supporting critical art and
culture produced by indepen
dent groups ofartists and

12 TheCroatian

adopted thelaw
Kultura Nova in
July 2011; theFoundation is currently
making thefinal
tobegin operations.

New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

cultural workers, targeting

active engagement with citizens asparticipants, experts,
decision-makers and others.
Inorder tobridge thegap
between isolated cultural institutions, artist and citizens
it is also important tosecure
thegenuine, meaningful involvement ofcultural civil
society in cultural policymaking, especially by suppor
ting bottom-upinitiatives
with transformative potential for cultural systems, for
thebenefit ofall.
Furthermore, it is necessary tosupport, jointly develop and implement policy
measures conducive tothe
realisation oftheaforementioned aims, asinitiated by
civil s ocietyactors:

Bridging measures and structural solutions tofacilitate

thedecentralisation ofcultural production and democratisation ofculture by means
ofcooperation among cultural
organisations affecting citizens
in different communities;
New types ofcultural institutions based onpubliccivil partnership, applying
theprinciples ofco-management open todifferent groups
ofartists and citizens;
New types ofcultural
policy instruments conducive tofurther development
oftheindependent cultural
scene and ofcooperation
among cultural organisations, but also between cultural organisations and other
important stakeholders in


Zagreb Center for
Independent Culture and Youth
Jedinstveno Jedinstvo/Unique Jedinstvo: Celebration
on the occasion of
painting the facade
of Jedinstvo factory, September21,
2013. Photo by
POGON Zagreb.

New Models ofGovernance ofCulture Katarina Pavi

thesocial, political and cultural sphere.

Inthis light, it is especially important toemphasise theneed tosupport
cultural cooperation within
theregions independent
cultural scene and between
theregion and therest
ofEurope. Joint work,
transfers ofexperience,

knowledge and practices,

and theinvolvement ofmore
citizens and other relevant
stakeholders in thevarious
countries oftheregion can
ensure aknock-oneffect
and themultiplication ofthe
beneficial effects oncultural
policy development that are
already emerging in some
oftheregions countries.


Zagreb Center
Culture and Youth
Corners of Europe
Chassis by: Ivana
Ivkovi and Rita
Marcalo, incollaboration with Stewart
Gibb-Lodge, Andy
Plant, and Lucy
Barker. Zagreb,
Savica Market.

TheTransition Will Not Be

Michel Bauwens in conversation with Arthur de Grave

de Grave


Michel, Save theWorld,1 your last book, is

thetranslation ofaseries oftalks with Jean
Lievens published 2013. What happened between then? Do you have theimpression that
thetransition you talk about has accelerated?
Inthis regard, one should make haste slowly.
It is clear that thetransition toapost-capitalist, sustainable economy will not happen
overnight, or even in afew years. It is along
process. Some projects that seemed towork
well according toapeer-to-peer logic one
or two years ago have since become purely
capitalistic. This enables them togrow faster.
Itcontrasts with other more open and truly
collaborative projects that have chosen
togrow more slowly.
When one has no money, one takes onsolidarity dynamics. So yes, it can give an impression ofrelative stagnation, but Ido not worry
too much. For this is amajor crisis, ecological,
social and economic, looming onthehorizon.
Thechallenge is tobe ready when it breaks out,
probably around 2030. FairCoop, WikiSpeed
These kinds ofprojects are still small and yes,
too few. Inthecoming years, those who are
still only theseeds ofthis transition will have

Arthur de Grave
is Editor-in-Chief
Michel Bauwens
is atheorist, author
and researcher.
He is thecreator
for Peer-to-Peer
Alternatives, and
one ofthekeynote speakers
Cultural Foundations Idea Camp

TheTransition Will Not Be SmoothSailing Michel Bauwens and Arthur de Grave

todevelop astable ecosystem, in order toinitiate areal movement.

de Grave

Inan interview with us in 2013, you stated that

capitalism and peer-to-peer were still interdependent. Isnt that thereal problem? Is this
astable relationship?


No, ofcourse not, how could it be? Thevalue

generated by thecommons is still largely
captured by capital: by adopting extractive
models, large platforms ofthesharing economy are engaged in aform ofparasitic commercial activity. Intheold days, capitalism
was away ofallocating resources in asituation ofscarcity, but now it is an engineered
scarcity system. Our system is completely
mad: we pretend that natural resources are
endless, and we set artificial barriers around
what is abundant in nature, i.e., creativity
and human intelligence. This is aprofound
moral issue.
Inher book Owning Our Future:
TheEmerging Ownership Revolution,2 Marjorie
Kelly aptly defines thechallenge that awaits
us: moving from extractive capital togenerative capital. Thegood news is that this process
has already started. First ofall, because it is
impossible tohide thefact that civil society
has now become avalue creator. This is an
important point, ascivil society was mostly
absent from theclassic capitalist equation.
Inaddition, we are beginning towitness
achange in market structures: commercial
spheres ofanew kind are developing around
theCommons. Enspiral [acollaborative


1 Michel Bauwens,

Sauver le monde:
Vers une socit
avec le peerto-peer [Saving
theWorld: Towards
society with apeerto-peer approach]
(Paris: ditions
Les Liens Qui
Librent, 2015).
2 Marjorie Kelly, Own

ing Our Future:

Ownership Revolu
tion (Oakland, CA:
Publishers, 2012).

TheTransition Will Not Be SmoothSailing Michel Bauwens and Arthur de Grave


network ofsocial entrepreneurs], in New Zealand, is theperfect

example ofthis type ofentrepreneurial coalition.
de Grave

Inyour opinion, how could thepeer-to-peer model free itself

from capitalism in practical terms?


For astart, we should choose theright strategy. Ithink that

despite all thegood intentions, projects that aspire tocompete
head-to-head with Google or Facebook are doomed tofail. Ibelieve much more in targeted approaches like Loomio [an online
tool for collaborative decision-making]. Thetransition will be
asum ofsuch small victories that will connect with each other.
This also requires thecreation ofnew legal tools. We have completely forgotten thetradition ofcommons and this is really
obvious in our legal tradition. We must make room for legal innovation. Inthis regard, aprinciple like thecopyleft, or theopposite, thecopysol [alicense that prohibits any interaction
with thetraditional commercial market] are interesting but
imperfect asthey are too radical (in their implications). Iwant
tofind athird way, one that would provide abalance between
thecommercial sphere and thecommons. This is thegoal
ofthework we began around thenotion ofPeer Production
License, which balances out contribution tothecommons and
use ofthese.

de Grave

Will that be enough? Those in whose hands capital is concentrated today have no interest in theemergence ofadistributed
and fair model


No revolution ever happened without afraction oftheruling

elite taking theside ofprogress! This means that acultural shift
is needed. Today, Joe Justice [founder oftheWikispeed community] struggles toraise funds, including from ethical finance
funds, asWikispeed does not file patents. Theworld ofresponsible finance cannot continue tosupport models that create
artificial scarcity.

TheTransition Will Not Be SmoothSailing Michel Bauwens and Arthur de Grave


AsIwas saying earlier, when one lacks resources, one works

with other people. For initiatives ofthecommons economy, building anetwork is an absolute necessity. To get an idea ofwhat this
kind ofecosystem might look like, go toMadison, Wisconsin:
there, food cooperatives, cooperative credit systems between
companies, time banks, etc., gathered tocreate theMutual Aid
Network. InMadison, thealternative economy can be seen and felt
in thestreets and took less than two years tohappen! Thesame
kind ofambition drove an initiative like Faircoop in Spain.
For now, themain transformative ideas that are penetrating
theeconomyopen economy, solidarity economy and ecologyare applied independently from each other. But when
these ideas converge, we will witness thebirth ofan open source
and circular economy. This concept ofOpen Source Circular
Economy is attheheart ofthedebate we are conducting within
theP2P Foundation.
de Grave

Ihave thefeeling that, by focusing oneconomy and leaving aside

thepolitical processes, we have given in tothecalls oftechnological solutionism criticised by Evgeny Morozov. What do you
think? Should we relearn how todo politics?


Yes, in some ways, but what matters is that politics ended up

re-imposing itself through collective learning. TheCommons
Transition Platform, in which Iam very involved, gathers and
details thepolitical transformation plans necessary for theimplementation ofapost-capitalist society. This is also theidea
oftheapproach we applied with theFLOK project in Ecuador.
Thedevised political transition plan, which included civil society
atthecentre ofpublic- value creation, amarket sphere integrating external factors and aState that serves asafacilitator.
FLOK was apartial failure, due toalack ofpolitical will and lack
ofsocial base onwhich tolean for support. However, thepolitical vision we have outlined is making its way toEurope (some
proposals have been included within theeconomic programme
ofSyriza in Greece).

TheTransition Will Not Be SmoothSailing Michel Bauwens and Arthur de Grave


de Grave

Occupy Wall Street and theIndignados eventually lost momentum. TheArab Spring was, for themost part, led astray. InSpain,
thePodemos movement attempts tomaintain abalance between
bottom-upand vertical power, but attheexpense ofpermanent
tensions. How can one overcome thecontradiction between
theinstitutional logic intertwined with political practices and
horizontality, aconcept cherished by social movements?


To transfer aconcept in real-life conditions over thelong

term following apure horizontal logic is very complicated, if
not downright impossible. Atone time or another, acollective entity has tointervene totranscend individual interests.
Thisalso forms part ofthecollective learning ofpolitics that
we had todo. This is also thegoal ofPodemos experience in
Spain. Afully horizontal organisation system causes too much
energy loss; conversely, thevertical system should be confined
toareas where it guarantees agreater degree ofautonomy for
everyone. Abit like theDomain Name System when theinternet appeared.

de Grave

Are thecommons aleft-wing idea?

Politically, theP2P Foundation is apluralistic organisation, simply because thelogic underlying theCommons spans theentire
political spectrum. Solidarity also exists within right-wing parties, some ideas in theideology oftheFront National [French
extreme right-wing party] could even be considered asmore
socialist than what theParti Socialiste [French Socialist Party]
offers today. But thereal question is: who benefits from this solidarity? Right-wing parties only show real solidarity with their
supporters! So its ontheissue ofinclusion that thereal fault
line between right and left comes tolight.
Personally, Ihave left-wing ideas, and Ithink that thetransition toacommons economy has tobenefit everyone. Thereal
challenge is togo beyond theprogressivism inherited from
theworld ofwork ofthelast century. Inthis context, it is not

TheTransition Will Not Be SmoothSailing Michel Bauwens and Arthur de Grave


surprising that European socialism is going through aprofound

identity crisis.
de Grave

It is true that none ofthepartisan parties really seized this idea

ofcommons. Was it amistake? Can we really make this apolitical
topic? Theconcept ofcommons remains somewhat abstruse.


Thejargon ofthecommons may atfirst seem technical and hard

todigest, which is true. But in themid-2000s, when Icreated
theP2P Foundation, Idecided tocompletely give uptheold political lexicon oftheleft. Atthat time, thepublic did not really
know what was hidden behind theconcept ofpeer-to-peer. But
associal and cultural practices started evolving, asnetworks
started being used onadaily basis, more and more people adopted this new language. Thesame will most likely happen with
theterminology ofthecommons.
All will depend onthesocial movements that will defend
this original conceptual arsenal. However, Ifind you rather pessimistic: thePirate Party, theEuropean Greens, Podemos or Syriza
have largely embraced this concept ofcommons. It is indeed
atthecore ofanew progressive thinking.
Politicising thecommons is researching their roots and
genealogy. If thelaw leaves so little room for thecommons
today, it is because we forgot where they came from. Yet, this
type oforganisation and management ofresources existed long
before modern industrial capitalism practices. We must reconnect with this tradition and rewrite this forgotten chapter in our
economic history. Politicising thecommons is also researching
their roots and genealogy. Its thecondition tolay thefoundation
ofanew narrative onprogress. Changing theworld for thebetter will require considerable efforts onthepart ofeveryone,
but Ithink that peer-to-peer is avision ofsociety that is worth

Lefebvre was right

toinsist that the
revolution has tobe
urban, in thebroadest
sense ofthat term,
or nothing atall.
David Harvey, TheRight totheCity

Contributors and Sources

Agnieszka Winiewska, Culture with people,
notjust for people
Originally published in Gazeta Wyborcza. Translated
from Polish byMikoaj Denderski.
Reprinted with thekind permission oftheauthor.
Charlie Tims, ARough Guide totheCommons:
WhoLikes It and Who Doesnt
This text is based on a research briefing originally
prepared by the author for the Doc Next Network as an
introduction to the Commons and an outline of some
ofthe threats it faces and the movements that support it.
Dougald Hine, Friendship is aCommons
This essay is based onatalk given attheCommoning
theCity conference in Stockholm in 2014.
It is republished with thekind permission oftheauthor.
El Buen Vivir and theCommons:
aconversation between GustavoSoto
Santiesteban and Silke Helfrich
Originally published in TheWealth oftheCommons,
David Bollier and Silke Helfrich eds. (Levellers
Press, 2012). This interview is published under
aCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 license (http://
Ugo Mattei, TheState, theMarket and Some
Preliminary Questions About theCommons
Ugo Matteis talk was originally given attheDu Public au
Commun conference on6 April 2011

Michel Bauwens, Understanding

PeertoPeer asaRelational Dynamics
Orignally published in theInternational Review
ofInformation Ethics, Vol.15 (Ethics ofSharing)
Christian Siefkes, TheBoom ofCommonsbased Peer Production (excerpts)
Originally published in TheWealth oftheCommons,
David Bollier and Silke Helfrich eds. (Levellers
Press, 2012). This interview is published under
aCreativeCommons Attribution 3.0 license
Nicos Trimikliniotis, Dimitris Parsanoglou,
Vassilis Tsianos, Mobile Commons,
MigrantDigitalities and theRight totheCity
Republished with thepermission ofPalgrave Macmillan.
See asample ofthebook on
James Bridle, All Cameras are Polica Cameras
All Cameras Are Police Cameras is thefirst in aseries
ofessays by James Bridle entitled TheNor, and
commissioned by theHayward Gallery in 20142015.
These essays are accompanied by photographs
and amap, and additional content can be found
throughout this site:
Carlos Delcls, Class Discourse in theMetropolis
Originally published in Polish translation in MOCAK
Forum magazine, issue 1 2015, Museum ofContemporary
Art in Krakow


Contributors and Sources

Dan Hancox, How to Stop Gentrification

in London: What We Can Learn from
Spains New Rebel Mayors
This article was first published on, May 27,
2015 -
(c)2015 Vice Media LLC republished by permission. @danhancox
Charlie Tims, Watching Radical Democracy
For more information about videos in theRadical
Democracy Video Challenge, see and https://vimeo.
Dougald Hine, Commoning in theCity
This article was originally published in STIR magazine,
Summer issue 2013:
Republished with thekind permission oftheauthor.
Adrien Krauz, Transition towns,
orthedesire for an urban alternative
Published onMetropolitics, 15 May 2015.
Transition-towns-or-the-desire- for.html

Laboratory for theGovernance

oftheCommons: ADiscussion between
Michel Bauwens and Christian Iaione
Posted blog on17 February 2015:
Neal Gorenflo, Bologna Celebrates One Year
ofaBold Experiment in Urban Commoning
This article was originally posted
on8June 2015 under aCreative Commons 3.0
ShareAlike license

Doina Petrescu and Constantin Petcou,

R-URBAN or How toCo-Produce
aResilient City
This essay was originally published in theEphemera
Journal, 15 (1), 2015, pp. 249262
It is republished with thekind permission

Nikos A. Salingaros and Federico Mena-Quintero,

AHistory ofP2P Urbanism (excerpts)
This article was originally published under
aCreative Commons 3.0 ShareAlike license at:

Noel Hatch, From Lamp Posts

toPhone Booths
This article was posted in theBuild theCity
Lab onECFLabs, theonline community space
oftheEuropean Cultural Foundation:

Richard Sennett, Stimulating Dissonances

Originally published in Europe: Closed
Doors or Open Arms? (EUNIC, Institut fur
Auslandsbeiziehungen e.V. and theEuropean
Cultural Foundation: Amsterdam, 2015).

Pelin Tan, TheCivic asaConstellation

This article was commissioned and published first by
architect/writer/curator Jose Esparza for thebook
ofCivic Publics for the3rd Lisbon Architectural
Triennale, September 2013.

Tessy Britton, Creative and Collaborative

Originally published under
aCreative Commons 3.0 ShareAlike license

Vitalie Sprinceana, TheCity Belongs toEverybody:

Claiming Public Spaces in Chisinau
Aversion ofthis text was published in Nataa
Bodrozic and Nici Palavandishvili (eds.), SPACES:
Cultural Public Sphere in Armenia, Georgia,
Moldova and Ukraine, (Vienna: Verlag Bibliothek
derProvinz, 2014), pp.154169. Published with
thekind permission oftheauthor.


Contributors and Sources

Vladimir Us, Chisinau Civic Center

Thefull version ofthis text was published in Nataa
Bodrozic and Nici Palavandishvili (eds.), SPACES:
Cultural Public Sphere in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova
and Ukraine, (Vienna: Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz,
2014), pp.154169. Published with thekind permission

Carmen Lozano-Bright, Between Random

and Democratic Practices: TheCommons
Board Game
This article was originally published onthe
17ZEMOS98 Reclaiming theCommons blog

Igor Stokfiszewski, Culture for Democracy:

ACentral European Perspective
Originally published in Another Europe15 Years
ofCapacity Building with Cultural Initiatives in theEU
Neighbourhood (Amsterdam: European Cultural
Foundation, 2015).

VariousCommonspoly board and cards:

Commonspoly was devised and created by agroup
ofartists and change-makers atthe17ZEMOS98
hack campReclaim theCommonsin Seville
between 15and 18 April 2015. Thegroups members
are: Guillermo Zapata (facilitator), Virginia Benvenuti,
Carla Boserman, Vassilis Chryssos, Francisco Jurado,
Jos Laulh, Carmen Lozano-Bright, Rubn Martnez,
Peter Matjai, Mario Munera, Maria G Perulero, Natxo
Rodriguez, Igor Stokfiszewski andMenno Weijs.
Since then, members ofthegroup have continued
towork ontherules and dynamics ofthegame
withsessions atCommons Fest in Athens between
15to17 May. They have designed boards and cards with
which toplay thegame, and aprovisional set ofrules
that are being refined through an ongoing process
TheCommonspoly board and cards are published under
aPeer Production License:

Rob Hopkins, Isabelle Frmeaux, John Jordan

and therise oftheInsurrectionary Imagination
Published on2 April 2015 by Rob Hopkins
ontheTransition Network blog:
Theinterview is an edited version ofalonger con
versation posted online on:
Nataa Petrein-Bachelez, Not Sustainable
Development but Sustainable Co-living
Originally published in U3, The7th Triennial
ofContemporary Art in SloveniaResilience,
exhibition catalogue (Museum ofContemporary Art
Metelkova (MSUM), Ljubljana: 2013)
Excerpt from aspeech given by Madjigune
Ciss ontheoccasion ofher receipt
oftheWilhelmine vonBayreuth Prize 2011
Carmen Lozano-Bright, Kicking Off aYear
ofP2P Plazas Research and Cartography
This article was originally posted
blog on17 February 2015 under aCreative Commons
AttributionShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Claudia Ciobanu, From Public

Space toCommon Good: Polands
Urban Political Activism
This article was orginally published onthewebsite
Precarious Europe with thetitle Poland: Theleft is
Sophie Bloemen, ACommons Intergroup
Takes Off in theEU Parliament (excerpt)
This excerpt is taken from alonger article originally
published ontheEuropean Alternatives website

Contributors and Sources

Julie Ward, MEP, Reclaiming theCommons

through Culture and Arts
This text is based on a speech given at the Radical
Democracy Media Showcase event at the European
Parliament on June 16 2015. It has not been
Tinni Ernsjoo Rappe, Culture Hunters
Originally published in Subtopia magazine,
n8, May2015.
Philippe Eynaud and Sam Khebizi,
Participatory Art asaVector ofInnovative
Governance: Reflexivity attheHeart
This report is a working paper originally written
in French and translated by Sam Khebizi.
Ithas not been published previously.


TheTransition will not be

inconversation with Arthur de Grave
This version was originally posted ontheCommons
Transition blog under aPeer Production License
English translation oftheoriginal interview
inFrench between Michel Bauwens and
Arthur deGrave. Cross-posted from OuiShare.

Katarina Pavi, New models

ofgovernance ofculture
Thearticle was written within theframework ofCouncil
ofEuropes Culture Watch Europe Programme. Originally
published onCOEs website:
Council ofEurope
Republished with thekind permission oftheauthor
and theCouncil ofEurope.

Think Like a
Forest workshop
in art activism and
of Insurrectionary
Imagination, la
r.O.n.c.e, Brittany,
Autumn 2011. Photo:
John Jorda

Contributors and Sources David Harvey


Contributors and Sources David Harvey


Further Reading
and other interesting links
TheDigital Library oftheCommonsincluding
anumber ofessays onthecity and towns:
Library oftheCentre de Cultura
Contempornia de Barcelona
TheCreation oftheUrban
Commons by David Harvey:
Project for Public Spaces
Barcelona, Market Cities
Introduction: Open Source Public
Space DevicesPaco Gonzalez
(recipientofan ECF R&D grant, 2014)
TheCity Belongs toAll ofUsPhillip Cryan
Quiet Innovationinterview with Christian Iaione
Center for Research Architecture

Volume journal/Archis:
Ephemera JournalVol 15, issue 1
Saving thecity: collective low budget
organizing and urban practice
Paisaje Transversal (Spanish):
reflexin urbana para la imaginacin colectiva
Commons Bibliographyproposed by David Bollier



Charles Beckett, LoreGablier,

Vivian Paulissen, IgorStokfiszewski,
Joanna Tokarz-Haertig
Jakub Boek
from French toEnglish (AdrienKrauz):
Oliver Waine; from Polish toEnglish
(Agnieszka Winiewska): Mikoaj Denderski;
from Polish toEnglish (Igor Stokfiszewski):
Anna Zaranko; from Spanish toEnglish
(Carmen Lozano-Bright): Camilo Bosso Cox;
from German toEnglish (Madjigune Ciss):
Achim von Oppen

Copy editing

Vicky Anning, Angela Burton

Design &DTP

Marcin Hernas |

Image processing

GT Sectra, Founders Grotesk & Geomanist

With thanks toall theauthors

Michel Bauwens, Sophie Bloemen,
JamesBridle, Tessy Britton, Claudia
Ciobanu, Madjigune Ciss, Carlos Delcls,
Philippe Eynaud, Isabelle Frmeaux,
NealGorenflo, DanHancox, Noel Hatch,
Silke Helfrich, Dougald Hine, Rob Hopkins,
Christian Iaione, John Jordan, Sam Khebizi,
Adrien Krauz, Carmen Lozano-Bright,
UgoMattei, Federico Mena-Quintero,
Dimitris Parsanoglou, Vivian Paulissen,
Katarina Pavi, Constantin Petcou, Doina
Petrescu, Nataa Petrein-Bachelez, Tinni
Ernsjoo Rappe, Nikos A. Salingaros, Gustavo
Soto Santiesteban, Richard Sennett,
Christian Siefkes, Vitalie Sprinceana,
IgorStokfiszewski, Pelin Tan, Charlie Tims,
Joanna Tokarz-Haertig, Nicos Trimikliniotis,
Vassilis Tsianos, Vladimir Us, Julie Ward
MEP, Agnieszka Winiewska

Pawe Wjcik |

With special thanks to

Printed by
Edited by


Read Me, ul. Olechowska 83, 90-403 d

TheEuropean Cultural Foundation
(Amsterdam) and Krytyka Polityczna
(Warsaw), August 2015
Unless otherwise stated, all contents are
thecopyright oftheauthors and may not be
re-published or reproduced without their
permission or that oftheoriginal publisher.
Several ofthearticles and essays are
published under Creative Commons
Licenses or Peer Production Licenses
and may be re-published or adapted
with thecorrect attribution(s) and links
totheoriginal source and license. Formore
information, please see therelevant

Carlos Delcls, Charlie Tims,

thehubs ofECFs Networked
ProgrammeConnected Action
fortheCommons: Subtopia (Sweden),
Les Ttes delArt (France), Oberliht
(Moldova), Culture 2 Commons (Croatia),
Platoniq (Spain), Krytyka Polityczna (Poland)

Connected Action
for the Commons