Culture Lab
Europe

June, 2020
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CFS:
The Participatory
Action Research

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6th July 2020No Comments

Creating common spaces in Europe without inequalities

Before I start to analyze the work of the Urban commons group, it is necessary to ask the question what is actually a common space and why is it an important topic to disscus about it?

University professor Stavrides says that common space can be defined as “a set of spatial relations produced by commoning practices” that “create forms of social life, forms of life-in-commons”. The concept of „common space“ has changed a lot throughout time and the roots of this change can be found in the privatization of common spaces, but what is more important in the carelessness of public institutions in recognising and resolving issues relating to the collective sphere. Unfortunately, it resulted with the fact that many citizens have been deprived of some fundamental rights and goods.

Our Urban commons group is an active group in CLE city, which focuses on finding solutions and options in the topic of common space and solidarity.  After group members agreed on fact that educational platforms can be a tool to include other participants to the urban commons, they started actively articulating and implementing their visions and ideas in CLE city on MIRO platform. First on the list was questioning their needs which are indispensable for achieving solidarity and equality in the common space , so here are some of them:

Urban commons group worked diligently and pointed out a few essential examples on this problematic issue. So, in order to have solidarity in European urban commons,  organisations, activists or participants must have some basic political knowledge to know with which volunteer or governmental institution can they collaborate. Also, there must be alternative culture institutions and culture/art interventions which can help in opening public spaces for others. After addressing the needs that have to be filled in order to create a solitary common space, the group started working on the mental map which is helping them to structure a hybrid platform and it's possibilities. The group worked as a united community in which knowledge, skills, experience circulated and contributed to the creation of the ultimate goal - to create a common space open to all.

 

1. WHAT KIND OF PROBLEM IS THE INITIATIVE ADRESSING?

Cities are going through a huge transformation, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-I9 crisis. Many activists are working locally. However there is little exchange between local initiatives across Europe, and activists often feel isolated and alone in their fight. Group members work in many different areas: urban resilience, education, dialogues on democracy, etc. Their task is to create a digital platform to become a knowledge hub and virtual meeting place for local activists. We can support each other and keep each other company in this work. Virtual communities are fragile though, so we would like to travel to each other and learn in local contexts – some of the participants commented.

2. WHAT ARE THE TARGET GROUPS?

Target groups are practitioners who are active or want do develop themselves to be more active or citizens who want to self-organise and start being active in their local communities. Also, focus is on independent culture initiatives.

3. WHAT IS THE EXPECTED OUTCOME/THE RESULT?

The goal is to have a safe place and a network full of support for local resilience activists. Also, they want to revive the idea of local seeds (to spread or that can be picked up for other contexts). To give an opportunity to let ideas and desires grow, to have many open air experiences, to foster resilient communities and to provide an alternative environment for learning from each other.

4. HOW WILL THEY ACHIEVE IT?

There are many ways which are required to accomplish their vision: documenting and sharing own local processes and activities, activities which are participants doing in their daily life - community work, activities that the make for the digital platform, and also a lot of mobility programmes, partners, practitioners, etc. Previous experiences have certainly helped participants in creating conceptual solutions together with their group in CLE city.

This picture from CLE city shows an example of urban common practice in Uzina (Tirana, Albania) where one of the participants has been included. This is the space of social interaction, creativity, freedom & intrapersonal growth. It is held in a community and for the community.
Video about the Uzina project : https://vimeo.com/400750259ž

There are many more interesting local practices on Miro site, including tactical urbanism, citizen participation practices, feminist urbanism, urban pedagogy, etc, which group members shared in order to educate.

To conclude,“Learning as urban commons“ group reminds us that it is extremely important to be active in the process of continuous learning from each other's practices and exchange information on an international scale. Only that way is it possible to change existing conditions, achieve solidarity in common public space and make it open for everybody.

 

CLE Media Team Author: Doria Mohorović

Cultural studies student and journalist who loves wandering, creating art and hanging out with dogs

5th July 2020No Comments

Digital workspace – new lifestyle?

This project was supposed to happen in April 2020 in European Capital of Culture Rijeka, Croatia – but nobody could expect the COVID-19 pandemic. This prevented the participants to work in person and explore the city in person, but it also offered a way to make this project work in digital environment.

Using platforms such as Zoom allowed the participants see each other daily and communicate, run meetings and presentations. Groups also worked on an app called Miro which let them write, make notes and even draw whatever they wanted. It was a way to get all the ideas out and visible so others could comment and criticize, communicate and come to conclusions which would benefit the end result. CLE city was made on Miro and it provided people with a way to enjoy a digital city and make whatever they want out of it. It even had a beach, kitchen, media room and a main square which made the hole experience even more immersive.

How did Culture Lab Europe – Spaces for solidarity groups manage to connect and work in a digital space?

Over the past few days we followed the groups work in Spaces for solidarity of the Culture Lab Europe and learned more about how they manage to work in a digital space from their home. Despite minor technology issues that occured, all of the participants found their way to communicate with others and work on the ideas they had. By observing  the groupwork, we found the working environment was very relaxing and motivating, participants were making jokes and sometimes you could even see someone's child in the screen. All of this has its pros but also cons. Some or all of the groups had some technology issues - some participants didn't have a good connection due to their remote locations (ie being on an island that only has 3G connection) and some of the participants couldn't be there for a full meeting because their obligations like their paying jobs work assignments or family duties.

Informal events weren't much different than the formal ones – for example we can take the informal event where group shared their favourite recipes, talked about food, making jokes, sharing personal stories but also important subjects concerning their work.

Even though it was quite a challenge for the participants of the groups we couldn't forget to mention the media team members. They also worked in a different environment and the only thing they had was their keyboard and recorded presentations and meetings of the group work, due to limited time participants could put aside for media content production.

CLE City members proved that anything can be done with a little bit of motivation and dedication, with knowledge and open mind.

In conclusion, digital work has its advantages and disadvantages and participants of the Culture Lab Europe – Spaces for solidarity tried their best to be on the top of stuff and try to make this project work. Maybe digital workspace isn’t that bad after all, maybe this is the future that’s waiting for all of us.

 

CLE Media Team Autors: Tihana Lukić and Antonela Rezo

29th June 2020No Comments

Ecology of care – slowing down, practicing peace and silence

Ecology of care or should we say the „Offline“ group, is really something different. It is a group with 4 participants who are practicing unusual and unique methodology of work. On the first meeting, participants started their workshop with a task to get to know each other and share their experience of a strict digitalization and lockdown caused by COVID-19 virus. They would prefer meeting in private because they aspire to connect with people and nature. However, the group is sending messages (also handwritten ones) and exchanging little things and stories throughout the whole day. Their idea is to slow down the time and to articulate the common space and find alternative spaces. And they did. The group is passionately against imposed patterns and structures, so in order to do something creative and new, they developed a platform called Zmaily. Zmaily is a place where people write letters to each others and share personal stories from everyday life. On the first sight, the platform looks really plain and not so attractive. But, as the quote says; “The beauty is on the inside, not the outside“, and just like that, the true beauty is when you start looking and reading their letters addressed to other participants, but in some way, also to themselves. The messages are intimate, they are focused on their thoughts, fears and worries but also on love, peacefulness and freedom. Sometimes, this kind of personal stories and thinking have bigger affect on the others, it can raise awareness and motivate people to do something. Main focus of the group is caring about yourself and taking it easy, in your own rhythm. They crave human interaction outside the virtual world, so images of handwritten messages are the first step towards reality.

 Main idea of the group is on practicing and experimenting solidarity, starting from themselves. So the focus is on individual practices, not only on collective ones. Group is concerned with time and how we deal with it, how we take care of it. In addition to that, they also shared personal micro stories and discussed the impact that time has on their relationships with close persons.

Their personal and political experiences and opinions shared in handwritten messages are impacting on people- making them question different topics like capitalism, ideology, manipulation, different patterns of behavior. It is making us to think critically towards mentioned, and using it as a tool for finding the truth. Also, it questions the price of our freedom, time and peace.

So, I'm leaving you down below a few of the letters to read and intepret them by yourself. How did they make you feel?

 

CLE Media Team Author: Doria Mohorović

Cultural studies student and journalist who loves wandering, creating art and hanging out with dogs

28th June 2020No Comments

Forms of solidarity for equality and raising the voices of the invisible in the European public sphere

My observation of CLE inhabitants, participants - workers for solidarity, got me imagining invisible threads of connection between them. Divided by groups, but led with a common mission, inhabitants of CLE city are working towards creating good solutions, and there are all kinds of ways this idea can come into a realization. In this blog, I will concentrate on two groups: Queering practices and Make the invisible visible. Focusing on former work I can see how they, directly and indirectly, work together. As a first step, the participants of groups addressed and located the problems which Europe's public sphere is facing. Afterward, problems got another perspective by being placed into a context with the communities they affect the most, but also, most importantly groups proposed solutions that would affect the particular problems.

 

 

The group Queering practices started from acknowledging the fact of reality which is formed in violence and hate speech against LGBTQ+ communities. They focused on the current Polish example of rightwing and conservative politicians promoting identity politics as a part of the presidential election which is happening now. This case is just one in the vast discrimination that LGBTQ + community is facing every day worldwide.

 

 

 

Making the invisible visible group, on the other hand, is facing a problem of increased polarization between small cultural organizations, or artists, and big, publicly funded institutions. The main obstacle is presented in a form of financial support. Also, as the COVID-19 world pandemic is our current situation, a battle for funding is even harder.

 

 

 

 

SOLUTIONS

Now when the problems are laid like open cards, what can we do to get over them? The groups presented various ideas as small steps towards bigger actions of solidarity. Queering practices group decided to start an investigation for artistic and cultural forms of solidarity towards LGBTQ+ communities. They used their CLE platform to map a variety of practices they found throughout Europe. Using the examples of artistic and cultural support is also in favor of promoting the need for making space in the European public sphere, where the fight against violence and discrimination need to be sharp and loud.

Tęcza (Rainbow) – artistic construction in Warsaw, Poland, 2012

Threads of connection brought me back to the group Make the invisible visible whose participants are working on the idea to set up a platform for small cultural locations, as a way of making a place for information and experience exchange. It would also be a place where culture workers and artists can share tips on alternative financial supports (crowdfunding, digital currency). One participant of the group, Michael Gimpel shared an example of his work in Community theatre in Amsterdam. Before the theatre, the neighborhood was known for its violence and dissidence between the people. He pointed out that the theatre helped to create a sense of community and togetherness, it made peace in the neighborhood.

Badhuis Theatre - a Community Theatre, East Amsterdam

This platform includes goals to make the voices of the small independent cultural organizations loud and to raise the awareness of the impact their work has on society. The main point here is to reflect that in every stressful situation people are turning towards art as a way to heal. In this way, the group stands behind the words – art makes peace. Common point of the work process for both groups is situated in a strong will to develop space for solidarity actions in the European public sphere. The work on solutions of these two groups complements each other in a way they see art and culture actions. The lack of support and questionable future of small cultural locations indirectly threatens to make the space in the public sphere for the fight towards equal and peaceful  Europe. The example of artistic practices that brings peace in communities can also serve not only as a part of a platform for exchanging experiences between artistic co-workers but also as a stage for sharing love, empathy, and the importance of every human being. It is, in a way the solidarity from which the symbiosis emerges.

 

 

CLE Media Team Author: Tina Perić

Cultural studies student, a lover of performing arts, words, and sea

 

 

28th June 2020No Comments

On the meaning of social justice

Social justice is the view that EVERYONE deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social justice means EQUALITY, it means HUMAN RIGHTS - no matter the skin colour, sexuality, nationality or else. Social justice makes a society wholesome and harmonious. Everyone contributes to the society and that contribution should be respected. All members of the society should have equal rights and protection.
Having more diversity and equality in a society means more opportunities, growth and social well being - happier world.

CLE city group Intersectionality and social justice was working exactly on the topic of social justice and tried to come to the solution how we, as a community, can improve and make changes?
They first started with defining what social justice and intersectionality is and that led them to debate about diversity in the sense of languages, distinct forms of life etc. To further explain the unfairness in the community the group discussed the common diagnosis of polarization which is a problem all around Europe. While talking about xenophobia, lack of access, homophobia, systemic racism, transphobia, suppression of media freedom and border politics a new question came up: How do we create welcoming places that break open our silos, create an experience that is representative, caring, safe, participatory, and connected?

 

NEED FOR NEW ENGAGING NARRATIVES

The group's conclusion was that there's a need for new engaing narratives, positive narratives to envision new futures and common spaces in a local and European level. We have to practice solidarity first and foremost among OURSELVES – we have to share our own practices and urgent needs, create bridges, allocate urgencies and re-distribute according to those urgencies.

In this picture we can see that the group also mentioned examples of the projects already happening in some countries in Europe – practicing social justice.

CALL FOR ACTION

In order to change the community we have to think about solidarity, fostering safe spaces and cooperating. The groups idea was to focus on building a renewed horizon of justice, resist oppression and create new narratives for a future Europe. EUROPE IS FRAGMENTING – intersectionality is a new vision for a future Europe that is dynamic, open and inclusive so that it can welcome change: changing narratives, growing communities and transforming borders.

CONCLUSION
When talking about social justice and intersectionality we have to remember that all people are valuable and that we should be capable of welcoming the experiences of those who have been structurally and systematically overlooked and neglected – we have to build a better future for those people. Participants of Intersectionality and social justice group couldn't tackle all the important questions and find all the solutions, but their main focus was on highlighting the idea of better Europe, Europe of solidarity and justice. To build better Europe, as a place of peace, freedom, equality, social justice and sustainability, we should practice narratives that focus on solidarity in common spaces – we should focus on making not just a safe space, but a safer space. Space for all people to have the same rights, and most important: FREEDOM. 

 

CLE Media Team: Tihana Lukić

Croatian language and literature student, journalist and a lover of nature.

 

 

27th June 2020No Comments

Sharing stories as a way of creating collective intelligence

When talking about the ways of creating new forms of solidarity, and also actions that already took place in reality of the European public sphere, it is very important to put the lights on individual stories and practices that lead to the development of collective intelligence and sharing peer-to-peer knowledge. This blog will serve as a platform for introducing and sharing the perspectives and personal experiences of Queering practices group participants: Fabiola Reyna, Roberto Perez, and Edvinas Grinkevicius. ''The stories'', as I like to call it, were documented in conversations between the participants and the facilitator of the group Igor Stokfiszewski, who motivated the talk by asking  questions about the ideas of Europe, culture, solidarity, and the public sphere.


FABIOLA' S STORY

Fabiola was born in Peru, Latin America, and is currently living in Barcelona, Spain. The perception about Europe during her life in Peru was shaped around the ideas created in films and music she consumed. Those ideas usually brought the image of Europe as a classy, developing, fashionable space, with a lot of cultural contents. But there is also another perspective on European culture based on colonization context. She noticed the presence of European influence in Peru, but not always as something positive. Colonization in Latin America has left a lot of scars that communities continued to deal with. The phrase that Latin America is ''the backyard of US'' can also be applied to Europe. Everything that she knows in her country is crossed with colonialism, in the everyday life experiences she can, to this day, recognize how her culture is seen from others' perspectives not always in a good way. That is, in a fact the evidence of never-ending colonialism. The construction built around the identity of Latin American people, as exotic makes the real communities invisible. The possible solution for fighting against the past of European colonization, as Fabiola says, can be laying in the disappearing of the immigration system. Immigration processes are the reason why it is difficult to develop culturally in Europe, especially if you are coming from Latin America. As one of the founders of the film festival in Peru which puts the lights on a woman in the film, Fabiola pointed out that making films can be used as a tool to make common space and values in European public sphere, but we all need to ask ourselves who are the people who create these films. The idea of Latin American people in films is a privileged person's view, but although that is often the case, it is important to acknowledge that not only economically wealthy people can create films, but also marginalized communities can, and need to tell their stories.

 

ROBERTO'S STORY 

Roberto was born in Spain, and currently is living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He moved because he wanted to be exposed to other cultures and different ways of living. Comparing Spain and the Netherlands there is a presence of a different set of values. Having the experience of Queer body growing up in Spain where the communities are mostly driven by catholic and traditional values splits with the experience of living in the Netherlands where the approach of tolerance is like a norm. The difference continues in the most basic ways of not being afraid that ''my body would be a target for violence'', as Roberto pointed out. But the problem of discrimination also exists in the Netherlands as the presence of discrimination and homophobia is used against migrants, etc. There is a general idea that Dutch people are tolerant, but when there is a survey of the public opinion you can see the real side of the situation. Compared to Spain, you have two options, or to assimilate to the traditional culture and values, or to live in a bubble of tolerance. Roberto pointed out that revising the idea of inclusion in National policies and the European public sphere needs to be done. Inclusion is overly focused on employment and productivity, and it is mostly connected to access. There is the opinion that everything not included in the labor market is not important to society, which is not true. Inclusion through the lens of representation that is happening in the cultural sphere can be tricky because by including marginalized bodies you are also activating, and capitalizing them. For example, museums are training people to do queer programs, but nobody is queer – it is the attempt to capitalize on diversity. Roberto underlined the importance of bringing back the critique, not as a way to start a rhetorical battle, but as a tool for nurturing and building ourselves.

 

EDVINAS'S STORY

Edvinas was born in Kaunas, Lithuania. After he finished his studies in Vilnius (seven years ago) he came back to Kaunas where he was trying to find organizations and initiatives to join. After some time he met politically radical people, and through them, he understood the importance of participating and acting in political movements. This encounter motivated Edivas to rediscover his connection with the city, and it also created a welcoming space for him. He recalls the feeling of lacking spaces for his queer identity. Together with the group of people he met during his work he understood the sense of relaxing spaces, and the need to create spaces people are missing. Edvinas pointed out that we, as the citizens, usually forget our right to the city and public spaces. He is currently working in Art house in Kaunas where he used all of his knowledge and will to create needing spaces for people. They, as a working collective created everything from a blank page, motivating new people to get together.  As he was the one to propose a new framework for developing in the future, he needed to explain himself what are the reasons for not working like usual culture institutions – and the answer is in a way they operate things (closed and elitist). Being aware of that brings reflecting space for future work because it is positioned as a reminder of openness. Edvinas is currently working on the project ''Unlearning Eastern Europe'' which started as an experiment. While in the making, the interest was focused on achieving benefits for communities. Working on this project also included a different set of questions about art, the way we perceive art, and the role of the artist in the art production. The working model he is trying to implement can also benefit the artist in a way of creating networks, but it can also serve as a concrete starting point for developing future projects based on the same model. When talking about the European public sphere, Edvinas pointed out that we should be aware that we are not equal, we can be equal but we live in different social, geopolitical, and economical areas, so we are not. European Union and Europe have certain important values, but people from Eastern Europe can learn from their own experiences. There is a constant presence of the question of representation and the way Eastern European countries are represented. Edvinas told the example of possible solutions for creating common space through initiatives. The idea of just putting tables and chairs on the street and squares can create common spaces for people. By not knowing the right for a commonplace, people are forgetting that they are the ones who create a city, and that needs to change.

 

Author: Tina Perić

Cultural studies student, a lover of performing arts, words, and sea

 

 

26th June 2020No Comments

Commentary: act or think?

These days we are dealing with working in a digital space which means we have to respect social distancing measures. COVID-19 brought the state of misery to us, but that is not the reason to stop spreading positivity and solidarity. That is exactly what the CLE City is teaching us about. This virtual city is product of the work of 50 people across the world who formed 7 groups with different goals. You can read about it in two latest blogs, so now I want to introduce you the work of group called Right to move, right to act, right to do through their conclusions and my thoughts.

 

I got interested in their idea of borders. For the participants of that group border has different meanings, such as language, culture, nationality, race, etc. We have to ask ourselves why would a person of another nationality  or color skin be less valuable? I will remind you of a murder of an Afro American George Floyd. He was killed on American streets by policeman just because his skin is black. Police officers, who were supposed to bring justice and punish criminals, became criminals because they actually are racists. Because of that cruel act, they exposed themselves to danger. They made it clear in the public that 'everyone' can kill another man with no reason. It is really important to mention that we are all born on this planet and we all have the same rights for moving on this ground. No one has right to take someone else's opportunity to live and enjoying in goods that our planet is giving to us.

Also, I want to say something about the behavior of individuals in a public place. Again, we can ask ourselves one question: what if someone hurt another person right in front of us and run away? Would we (me, you or any other person) really act trying to help or would we stay calm and think about what is the color of a person's skin, is she member of some community etc. There are so many racists all over the world who believe that black people don't deserve to live. We should have on our minds that helping other person will encourage us and maybe inspire others to spread solidarity among us. Besides, it is expected of us to ask some provocative questions. It will result in a decrease of social injustice and borders between us. We are all individuals and our mission is to create a harmonious society as much as possible.

 

CLE Media Team Author:

Antonela Rezo

24th June 2020No Comments

Pondering solidarity in Europe

Why is it important to ask (the right) questions?

During the past few days a group of participants called the Fellowship of questions showed some very interesting approaches to the question of solidarity in European public sphere.. Members of the group, all respected in their fields, are Adrian Sinclair, Diana Filimon, Ines Marques, Vanja Ristić and Nina Martin, who are all working together on their notion of contribution to solidarity in European public sphere. The main question might be: what is even solidarity in Europe?

 

It all started with a question, and that became the main axis of further idea development. If looked more precisely, various forms of questions are asked daily, from simple ones like “What should  I eat for lunch?” to, in the spirit of CLE, “What is solidarity?”.

The group questioned one thing that’s very much true, and that is is it more interesting to hear one real question than pretend to know all the answers? We as humans, particularly adults, tend to insist more to giving answers than to asking questions. Real questions are the ones which challenge our truths, points of view, daily life and concepts of it. One right question, if there is no answer, can indeed disrupt even the greatest concepts of ‘true’. 

As seen from this small paragraph, simple question, when put the right way raises even more questions: who can answer our questions, in what way do we ask them, which language do we use, what does that mean, what is the right way? 

Questions are like an egg in a cake - sort of gathering material that joins all the other ingredients. Questions in their vision can truly connect people from all over Europe through their own uncertainties. If we think about it, Europe is so different in terms of cultures, people, perspectives, and they all have questions. Establishing some sort of platform where they can join and ask questions together, questions that spark conversations and critical thinking and at the end challenge our beliefs is the purpose the conceptual platform holds.

It all comes down to learning, to broadening views on things. Group pointed out that various forms of inquiry are great tools for learning. And expanding our knowledge consecutively leads to a greater sense of solidarity in Europe, which, after all, is the silver lining. We challenge you to ask questions, to learn, to broaden your views, to expand horizons, and to do so, Europe will become a true place of solidarity.

24th June 2020No Comments

How Europe is better from practicing rights

Right to move, right to act, right to do is one of the seven groups included in the Culture Lab Europe, where cultural activist from all over the continent are exploring ways to collaborate on initiatives to strengthen European Public Space. Due to the Corona virus, the event couldn't take place physically, in Rijeka, so the participants had to find new and creative ways of connecting, such as Zoom, but also miro, where a virtual city has been made exclusively for the event, and for the participants and facilitators who can wander all over the city, within each others groups and public spaces. In that way, they are able to communicate and exchange ideas at any time.

It's been three days since the event began, and the work of all groups is developing in very intriguing and inovative directions.

Group that goes by the name Right to move, right to act, right to do began it's work by defining the central issues in Europe today, such as polarisation, racism, ecological crisis, wealth difference, freedom of media and in the end, border politics, which are all subjects of their former work. But the group did not limit itself on the physical concepts of borders, but on all the borders that restrict people's freedoms. In that case, borders are being placed in the areas of speech, movement, resistance and expression in general. This group is trying to find ways how to overcome those borders. Their former work has produced ideas that include creatin of new spaces - all in consideration of current pandemic in whicih most of Europe was switched from physical to virtual –spaces for different marginalised groups, spaces for minorities, spaces for freedom of expresison, spaces for sharing visions of new, solidary Europe. To conclude, the group is focused on how the concept of space is redefining, especially in times like time of pandemic, and how we think about it. It is expolring the ways of democratising public space.

We are looking forward to see what the group will come up with by the end of our digital gathering!

CLE Media Team Autor: Ana Šumanović

Cultural studies student, trying to become a journalist

24th June 2020No Comments

The CLE City: new digital frontier for solidarity in Europe

Term “CLE City” is something often heard and buzzed about in this project. One might ask what exactly that is, and luckily, all puzzles will come to place with this text, so make sure you keep on reading!

As you probably know, Culture Lab Europe (hence the name CLE) was supposed to be a physical event located in the beautiful European Capital of Culture Rijeka 2020, but pandemic had different plans so we had to adapt and go digital. Since the main focus from the start was to highlight the notion of Europe and all of its citizens, in this context the idea of online city was born: a city (which we can interpret as Europe) and all of its inhabitants (Europeans) in which all are creating spaces and where generating solidarity is all that matters. Culture is the thing that glues everything and everyone together, it is something common to all Europeans, and in that notion it can be used as a tool for building solidarity in Europe. Europe is facing numerous challenges in that particular area, and CLE is the perfect place to create initiatives, building connections across Europe and making contributions to European space in a way that fosters solidarity.

Project indeed went completely online, with the great help of two online tools, well known Zoom, and less known, but greatly awesome: MIRO!

What is MIRO and why did we choose it?

In the most simple way, any city must be constructed in some sort of working site. Our construction site is MIRO platform. MIRO is an online collaborative whiteboard platform (in short: infinite blank canvas)! Which showed itself to be ideal for this event because it offers blank space for our participants to constantly be in touch, to research and design ideas of solidarity, to have constantly changing real time workflows and to make planning and diagramming strategies and projects easy and accessible.  

What does CLE look like (right now)?

Our online city of CLE in the beginning looked like any other city: it had a main square, where all of CLE inhabitants can come together, and it's kind of a joint space for joint actions. This is also the place where public presentations and initiatives for solidarity and European public space are being held and presented. If there is a hiccup, or participants find themselves just creatively stuck, there is a coach office available for giving advice. All of the daily news are summed up in our daily report called “Voice of solidarity” which inhabitants can read in the Media room each day, fresh as a bagel!

Speaking of bagels, from all this hard work, stomachs are growling, and CLE has a kitchen to share recipes and casual hanging out. There is also a library, which  is super cool because participants can share their reading material with others, and that is a perfect way to start a conversation about solidarity!

Of course, we know how to party so CLE also has its very own karaoke bar, a place where inhabitants can share their favorite songs that spark imagination and spark up the ideas of solidarity! We also have the beach, to relax by the fire on those chilly summer evenings, where participants can share stories of solidarity.

Neighbourhoods of solidarity

Like any other city, ours is also growing daily, expanding with the constant work of our busy bees. Our virtual neighbourhoods are basically participants gathered in working groups where they are creating their own vision boards, sharing ideas of solidarity and working on their projects. 

So we have an Urban commons that deals with articulating the ideas of common spaces. Their focus is building a common learning space, or to put it more precisely, escaping from traditional learning spaces like libraries and universities and thinking about making an alternative common space for learning, like a garden of solidarity where everyone can “plant“ their knowledge, practices, skills, methods and actions.

Next we have Making the invisible visible whose participants discussed a big issue of small cultural locations in Europe that are vulnerable, and they point out the need for supporting and creating a sense of solidarity by communicating and creating stories about the “invisible”. 

One way is the usage of art and artistic practices, and their observation was that there are very few small locations that are actively using art as a way of making common ground for communities. That is a big problem the European public sphere is facing today, so the group insisted on thinking about alternative economic models for sustainable small cultural and artistic ideas, and some of them are based on crowdfunding and digital currency.

Queering practices articulate the reality of violence towards LGBTQ. Solidarity is crucial, and in their vision, various forms of art can serve as a departure point for thinking about raising the awareness and finally, building space for solidarity and equality of the LGBTQ community.

Group Fellowship of questions is all about questions, but the right kind of ones. Group started to spark questions on solidarity simply by asking is it more interesting to hear one real question than pretend to know all the answers

In that sense, participants established the idea of a platform that will serve as a tool for asking questions and offering solutions for complex problems, by offering facts, truths and answers, and the main goal is to motivate people to think and to act in real life, which leads up to higher solidarity amongst them.

Group of participants called Right to move, right to act, right to do made aware the issue of polarisation in their societies and the causes of it. They also pointed out the changed ways of looking at the right-left division. Main focus is the freedom of speech and the safety in public spaces.

Ecology of care sees solidarity in a way of connecting people with nature. Main focus of the group is on practicing and experimenting solidarity, starting from themselves. They are also focused on practising and articulating common space and alternative spaces.

Finally, we have Intersectionality and social justice, whose participants actively discuss diversity in the sense of diverse languages, distinct forms of life etc. The group raised the question how to achieve inclusive space without being in physical space and  why do we even need to convince people refugees are human? 

These were just some of the questions participants asked themselves in order of  identifying the issues in today's society and politics as well as trying to find the solution to the challenges they face. The group put feminist theory, refugees, care and culture in the spotlight and tackled the biggest question of all: Who are the ones establishing what social justice is or isn't? 

So as we can see, solidarity is needed in different ways, shapes and forms, and we give it voice through all sorts of practices! Follow up and see where this journey of solidarity takes us!

 

 

CLE Media Team Author: Lucija Sučić

A wife, a cultural studies student, a queen.