civic spaces

Can a city offer its citizens different ways of gathering around shared visions, common questions and collective imaginations?

Agenda track: 3 Civic imagination
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Possible to have audio only
Day: Friday 24 September at 10-11.30 UTC | 13-14.30 EEST

We are living through a long political crisis that takes the form of rising authoritarian and racists ideologies as well as the short-termism of so-called “progressive” parties. This crisis makes a good case for the need to reimagine and expand opportunities for participation in collective life. Yet this crisis can hardly be solved by adding more top-down-participation or by trying to renew electoral systems, unless the very infrastructures of democracy and imagination are rebuilt. We need new ways for people to come together to engage, understand, form opinions, and dream. 

The answer might lie in moulding public spaces, one of the few places that algorithms do not control yet, into civic spaces. Civic spaces are spaces that help create a sense of agency, empower people and explore how to release civic capital and public assets. But, most importantly as a process of diversifying urban experience, these spaces can also add a spirit of experimentation and play. Simultaneously, they can develop micropolitics and social action, allowing for the collective development of people’s will in a way that current political structures do not.

We invite civil servants responsible for participation and the built environment as well as urbanists and artists capable of fostering social interaction and civic imagination to join the session, to discuss a new model for organising spatial life in cities. 

This session aims to lead into a meaningful dialogue with cities willing to research and implement the shift from public to civic. 

Gabriella Gómez-Mont is the founder and director of Experimentalista, a novel type of nomadic and creative office specializing in cities, with high-level, transdisciplinary collaborations across the world.  She is the former chief creative officer of Mexico City, and founder of Laboratorio para la Ciudad (2013-2018), the award-winning experimental arm and creative think-tank of the Mexico City government.

Gabriella Gomez-Mont in Linkedin

Photo: Ryan Lash, Creative Commons