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.
European Cultural Foundation