City as Commons: lecture and workshop in Prague

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As part of our ongoing research and strategy agenda around the theme “The city as commons”, I’d like to invite you to join a free day-long program consisting of a public workshop, public lecture and public evening discussion salon on 11th of December in the beautiful city of Prague. Frank Kresin from Waag Society (Amsterdam) and myself will be sharing examples of bottom-up technology interventions that have enabled new forms of participation and resulted in the development of commons. This event is possible thanks to a kind invitation from Martin Barry, director of reSite.

reSITE 2015: Shared City Event

11 December 2015

Mara Balestrini with the Waag Society / Institute for Art, Science and Technology

reSITE, in cooperation with IPR Prague and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Prague will be hosting a free day-long program consisting of a public workshop, public lecture and public evening discussion salon for designers, city creative strategy planners or researchers involved and interested in the collaborative economy to map current creative research, activities and projects related to relevant social and urban developments, and build a network for future collaboration.

The reSITE organized “City as Commons” lecture, workshop and salon seeks to establish a forum for discussing practices, theories and methods for continuing to study new approaches and frameworks for citizen engagement in urban planning and city development with a focus on new technologies to negotiate the divide between communities, developers and municipal agencies and authorities. The lecture and workshop will expand upon the theme of the “shared city” which was pioneered at reSITE 2015 in June. The topic studies and presents the collaborative economy’ in the broadest sense of the term (see, for example reSITE 2015: Shared City), with researchers and practiioners contributing from a diverse range of disciplines spanning architecture, design, citizen participation, urban planning, the sharing economy, open data, shared consumption, makers movement, P2P finance, distributed and collaborative governance and block-chain applications.

Public-private cooperation in the 21st century should utilize digital tools to create a commons for public life and public participation. These events will explain how. There is a growing need for cooperation across sectors, especially between the public and private sector with community input. Some models of public engagement that worked in the pre-2008 economic climate are dated or nonexistent and new technologies have made it possible for broader forms of communicating with the public about urban development. However, few governments and municipalities have acted simply because they don’t have the tools. This salon will discuss the new tools available and how cities like Bristol, England are utilizing the digital tools to create a civic commons.

Workshop: The City as Commons 11 December 2015

  • Time: 14:00-16:30
  • Potential Venue: Hall of Architects, Staroměstské náměstí
  • Workshop leaders: Mara Balestrini (Ideas for Change); Frank Kresin (WAAG Society)
  • Co-organization: IPR
  • Sponsor: Embassy of the Netherlands in Prague
  • Workshop participants: actors in collaborative and shared economy, creative culture and economy
  • strategy for Prague team, city administration, tech startups, community activists

The “City as Commons” workshop will precede a lecture on the topic. In this workshop participants will be able to delve into the case studies around citizen engagement with technologies enabling mapping, sensing, sharing, making and funding. This corpus of knowledge will spark discussions on how digital tools, collaborative strategies and open licenses can create new engagement opportunities and develop urban commons. Working in groups participants will share and map local issues, resources, communities and networks. Applying design methods we will ideate participatory interventions than can spark open solutions for local issues. Finally, we will storyboard/prototype design fictions to discuss the scenarios resulting from these imaginary interventions.

Lecture: The City as Commons 

  • Time: 18:15-19:15
  • 30 minute lecturers: Mara Balestrini (Ideas for Change); Frank Kresin (WAAG Society)
  • Potential Venue: Czech Centers gallery, Rytířská 31
  • Co-organization: IPR
  • Sponsor: Embassy of the Netherlands in Prague
  • Participants: actors in collaborative and shared economy, creative culture and economy strategy for Prague team, researchers, students, public

Historically, the city has been regarded as a space filled with opportunities. This assumption is based on three phenomena that are profoundly urban: cities attract a critical mass of people and resources, they provide spaces for the emergence of fortuitous encounters between strangers, and they offer a wide range of infrastructures. In this seminar we will discuss how new technologies, citizen-driven collaborative modes of production, and open licenses can generate new infrastructure in cities and with them new opportunities for their inhabitants. We will identify different types of technologies that have enabled new forms of participation and resulted in the development of commons (e.g. Wikipedia, Safecast, Creative Commons, Guifi.net): from mapping to sensing, sharing, making and funding. How are these tools being appropriated at the grassroots level to effect positive change? What can we learn from previous experiences in this subject? What’s the role of public and private institutions in a context of commons-based peer production? By discussing different case studies that reveal how citizens are harnessing the potential of digital technologies to collectively transform their environments we aim to inspire novel initiatives to rethink Prague from the bottom-up.

Salon Discussion

  • Time: 21:00-22:00
  • Place / Coorganization: Hotel Emblem
  • Participants: Mara Balestrini (Ideas for Change); Frank Kresin (WAAG Society); Moderator (TBD)

Recently, global economic turmoil has led to the rise of many grass-roots movements and communities that share a strong sustainable design agenda and the desire for political, economic and societal change starting in cities. There is a growing need for cooperation across sectors, especially between the public and private sector with community input. Some models of public engagement that worked in the pre-2008 economic climate are dated or non-existent and new technologies have made it possible for broader forms of communicating with the public about urban development.

However, few governments and municipalities have acted simply because they don’t have the tools. This salon will discuss the new tools available and how cities like Bristol, England are utilizing the digital tools to create a civic commons. reSITE will be hosting a free public lecture and salon discussion with European innovators and researchers Mara Balestrini (Ideas for Change, Barcelona & London) and Frank Kresin (WAAG Society, Amsterdam). Public-private cooperation in the 21st century should utilize digital tools to create a commons for public life and public participation. These events will explain how.

If you want to join us RSVP here: https://goo.gl/IAS0xW

Download the report: reSITE_City as Commons_Outcomes Summary

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About Mara Balestrini

Mara Balestrini is Human Computer Interaction (HCI) expert and technology strategist.

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