There is little doubt about the fact that we are facing some of the biggest structural changes the society has experienced in the last few decades; the exhaustion of the current system has pushed policy makers to solutions that can affect irretrievably the welfare of our futures: xenophobic politics, economic austerity measures, dismantling social and public services, etc. And we, the common people, have got used to living in shifting sands. But not all is bad news around: there are some small villages of indomitable Gauls still holding out against the extreme right wing policies all across Europe. Culture, the City and the Commons was an encounter to gather some of these “Gauls” in the struggle to build from scratch a common culture in a European frame to guide us out of the labyrinth we are getting into.

Culture is a crucial factor, as it sets the rules of the ground where societies live; it determines what can be seen, what can be experienced, even what can be thought within a certain community of diverse people. Culture, in a broad sense, shapes a hegemony with certain values, behaviours and beliefs. And that’s the notion which was in the spotlight during the three days of the encounter. A varied group of agents joined around a tablecloth to discuss the role, needs, possibilities and limits of culture in the development of the cities we live in across Europe. Yep, it was around a tablecloth.

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The tablecloth was the device that made come together some agents working in different fields: around it, a cross-sectoral conversation was settled and kept alive during the first two days. Each of the four tables took one of the projects present in it as case study. The projects selected were Academia Cidadã (Portugal), Solidarity Clinics (Greece), Ministry of Space (Serbia) and the Area of Participation and Innovation from A Coruña council (Spain). Starting from the particularities, the general aim of the methodology was to build bridges between the practices and get, by the end of the encounter, a general frame of the purposes, goals and future prospects of the communities involved. By the third day the tablecloth was ended and all of the participants walked into one of the most enlightening exciting projects taking place in Sevilla: el Huerto del Rey Moro.

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This idyllic place in the city centre helped the participants recover and relax from the great efforts put into the previous days of the encounter. And there, sitting in a semicircle we summed up the learnings, doubts, experiences, hopes and concerns about the future coming in a recorded assembly. Some of the questions posed were: is it possible to settle a model for the commons abroad Europe in order to create a collective culture? What are our specificities linked to the different territories we work into? How can be find sustainable economic models for culture and arts all together, joining forces? How to enlarge the ground we all are living on? How to scale up particular experiences to develop a new culture of participation and transformation of the cities? How, in the end, make the world more livable?

Culture, the City and the Commons was a place to deepen in the idea of culture and arts as important factors in the development of our future cities, to think the conditions of possibility of the merging of different fields of knowledge into the opportunity of the commons, a river draining into a better world in which we all manage the rules and regulations of our own communities.

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We worked during the encounter with some local artists to create contents for the online publication which will be available at September 1st:

The contents in the webpage will be:

  • Democratising Democracy: the Role of Open Culture in Recent Political Change. A theoretical introduction for setting the basics of the encounter.

  • A Graphic Record summarizing the thoughts and reflections aroused during the three days.

  • A set of pictures of the participants and the activities. 1, 2, 3.

  • The design and resources of the board game we printed for the occasion: Commonspoly.

  • An Audiovisual Assembly recorded by a couple of prominent filmmakers from Sevilla.

  • The recordings of the public presentations that took place in the afternoons of the encounter.

  • Video Interviews with some of the agents involved in the encounter.

  • Four articles produced by some of the participants in relation to the contents of the encounter.

The whole program can be consulted in this link.



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