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
European Cultural Foundation