public life



With the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, public space was one of the most affected parts of our urban life. With the shut down of shops, parks and other gathering places, public life came to a halt in the past months, leaving scars in our social and economic life. How can we heal as a global community, how do we reorganize our streets, how will we get back to enjoying public spaces, and what do we want our cities to become in the future, so that public space can be at everyone’s disposal while contributing to economic development? How will public spaces in the post COVID-19 phase be adapting between public/community and private/commercial use and interest?

Continue reading “public life”

Cities with a “15-Minute-Plan” for the post-Covid

Cities with a “15-Minute-Plan” for the post-Covid


There is no doubt that urban residents who are going to better resist to the consequences of the lockdown are the ones who are living in neighbourhoods with a direct access to services, shops and green areas. The current crisis is showing the urgency of accelerating the implementation of the so-called “15-Minute-City”, a concept recently made famous by the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo during her campaign for municipal elections but well-known to the experts of sustainable urban development and inspired to similar experiences (such as the 20-minute neighbourhoods of Portland or the East London’s Every One Every Day plan) adopted by other cities.

Reducing the access radius to education, culture and leisure, sustainable food and transport facilities should not be just a right of who is living in the city centres, but local authorities and communities need to cooperate to ensure that this kind of accessibility is granted to all the residents.

One of the desirable revolutions which could take place in the next months should be for every city to provide its “15-Minute-Plan” as part of its strategies for recovery and resilience, which needs to be constantly updated according to the evolution of the pandemic in the next months. Collaborating with residents in defining this kind of plans and regularly checking their implementation can be crucial for reviving a community spirit based on the right to an accessible and liveable city. 

Continue reading “Cities with a “15-Minute-Plan” for the post-Covid”

Privileging the Under Privileged


A model of mutualism appears in my post-Covid-19 world perception. Confluence of the world’s greatest social security systems to detangle the informal economies in mega-cities.

Communities being reshaping through COVID-19

In the lives of the millennials, the few months of lockdown shook their entire identity. An identity of superficial connectivity and outwardly thinking disappeared. There was a dearth of commodities that were taken for granted.  This disorientation resulted in lateral thinking. I mention lateral thinking because it promotes the idea of being creative and drawing up new solutions to old problems. This thinking may be sometimes labeled as controversial but it sees a problem from different angles. 

The Neo-Liberals faced a grappling society that they themselves constructed. The traditional reasoning in the privatization of health-care, fuel, and food soon seemed to be questioned by their own tribe.

Inclusive globalization was now studied. Corporations, government, and communities working together in the midst of the pandemic to collaborate, coordinate, and cope.  Global lockdown brought the economy to its knee. The discussions of illegal immigration, war, and billionaires did not make headlines.

The connected generation of Millenials suddenly collectively opposed exclusive capitalism. It made them rethink all decisions taken by their previous generation. Lateral thinking emerged in order to survive and as an outcome of global reflection.

Global youth felt grateful to health workers, showed sympathy towards poorer communities, and they were mindful of their lifestyle choices. The youth was craving for authentic interactions with their surroundings.

The pandemic was spread by the jet-setting privileged population. Yet, the underprivileged suffered the most from it. The global lockdown meant the financial crisis hitting the daily-wage workers. Particularly, seen in the developing nations. The government was unable to provide actual social safety nets to its under-privileged. Globally, migrant workers were left without money, food, health assistance, and in some cases families. Most migrant workers were not able to return to their native homes due to the closure of the borders. 

At this point, communities took the reign and created community food camps. They fed the poorer segment of their society without questioning religion and immigration status. The imbalance of food security was witnessed. The lack of nutrition for the under-privileged was seen upfront by the leaders of tomorrow. They have learned the cost of healthcare when collective immunity comes to question.

The leaders of tomorrow along with its citizens decided to change the future. To transform into a kinder and inclusive world. A world with choices and knowledge for all. One of the first few initiatives driven by lateral thinking was the emergence of urban community farms.  

Imagining the beginning of 2021: Urban community farms

Several urban community farms emerge in the heart of mega-cities. At the farm, the members are picking their vegetables for the week.  The members of the farm are families from low-income groups with a card called “SMART RATION CARDS”. These ration cards are an improved concept inspired by  India’s PDS initiative.  These cards allow them to get access to micro-nutrient rich food at a subsidized cost. “Member-only” food workshops are hosted to address food utilization.

Covid-19: the unexpected revolution


Half of the world is in lockdown under the pandemic. Pandemic is just one of the nouns that we have attached to the situation that we have been living in. However, according to the many definitions given to this phenomenon, it could also be referred to as Covid-19, a war, a restriction of personal freedom, a social phenom, an invisible enemy, a plague, a tragedy. All these definitions define though the same isotopy, the very semantic field, characterizing communication at the time of coronavirus . No wonder then that the expression “invisible enemy” was first used by the President of USA Donald Trump.

As the Italian sociologist Antonio Maturo observed, we are experiencing a triple bias here. First, a semantic bias, because we do not have a vocabulary to refer to and define the phenomenon he prefers defining “pandemic”. Second and third, an epistemological and methodological bias, because we are trying to explain something that is happening right here, right now, something that touches us firsthand.

I prefer, though, to call it an “unexpected revolution”. The unexpectedness is crucial in my opinion, because nobody could believe it until the lockdown measures became the rule. This is my personal experience, obviously, which I think it has become a common experience all over the world. The media, governments, people from different countries, from different regions, have been blaming others and making jokes all the time: when the Covid-19, though, started involving their personal lives, they realized that it was true. According to my interpretation of the phenomenon, every revolution brings about positive and negative changes which eventually impact cultures at large.

While still wandering about what will be in the future, I would like to offer an insight of what happened in the recent past especially for the elderly and all fragile people. 

At the beginning there was a widespread belief on the part of a large part of Italian society that it was just a concern for the elderly and people with weak immune systems and the prevailing approach was  “it is not about me”. In just a few weeks , also the “selfish” people had to reconsider their position. The fact was that even if young people rarely had to be put into intensive care, they could not go to work, they had to stay home, and they could not resort to hospital emergency if not for urgent needs. The first phase of the emergency, I argue, was aggressive towards the elderly and fragile people, this thing put them in solitude and anger, it showed us the rude, insensitive, cynical face of our society. A face that immediately took a big slap, and was taught a simple and clear lesson: nobody saves itself on its own alone.

Community centres and ACTive NGOs


As we all know, the Coronavirus outbreak has changed everybody’s daily habits, and the way people live within their community and neighbourhood. What can community centres and NGOs do to continue offering their services in order to help those who benefit from them, especially during this challenging time?

On 8th April 2020, Levente Polyák (Budapest), urban planner, researcher and policy adviser at Eutropian moderated Cooperative City in Quarantine #4, a live panel on how community centres and NGOs are changing their working methods under this crisis, featuring guests from this sector scattered across Europe. Representatives and activists from five cities that are participating in the URBACT Network ACTive NGOsIrina Vasilijeva (Riga) – Active NGOs project coordinator; Petra Marcinko (Dubrovnik) – Lazareti Art Workshop, local stakeholder group coordinator; Tom Goodridge (Brighton) – Community engagement officer in  Brighton & Hove City Council; Jackie Rena  (Brighton) BELTA, Bristol Estate Leaseholders And Tenants Association; Marc Bassols (Santa Pola) – Local stakeholder group coordinator; Maria Tiilikkala (Espoo) – NGO cooperation coordinator, Espoo Municipality.

Probably all community centres in Europe have a lot in common regarding the way they work during this challenging and totally new situation. Community venues, normally serving as spaces for encounters and exchange between individuals and organisations, now cannot accommodate any activities and had to close their doors. Nevertheless, communities organised around these venues need social and cultural services now more than ever. How is the local situation in your country and city?

Irina Vasilijeva– I work for the Riga Municipality. In Latvia, the state of emergency has been prolonged until the 12th of May. However, half of the time I still work in the office. At the moment Latvia doesn’t count many cases – as of April 8th it’s 577, and as physical contact is not very rooted in our culture we are pretty good at keeping distance and at avoiding crowds.

Petra Marcinko – I work for Art Workshop Lazareti  in Dubrovnik. In Dubrovnik there are only about 60 cases, and Croatians in general are abiding by the rules. Many citizens joined the civil protection crew, patrolling the city making sure that people are alright and don’t act irresponsibly.

Tom Goodridge – I am a Community Engagement Officer in the Brighton & Hove City Council. I work from home, and I am also self-isolating. I contracted the virus myself, but luckily it was mild. In the UK there are approximately 60.000 cases and thousands of deaths. It is noted that the UK’s response was slow. However, we’ve been overwhelmed by acts of kindness coming from grassroots organizations and single citizens.

Jackie Rana – I’m one of the acting trustees of BELTA (Bristol Estate Leaseholders And Tenants Association). Many members of our community found were given relatively little warning about restrictions. So I’ve been making sure we would show a reactive approach to do what’s possible in order to serve the most vulnerable layers of society.

the challenges and potential solutions of the cultural sector


The Coronavirus pandemic is causing huge damage in both physical and psychological terms in all fields of life. At the moment, approximately eight million people are working in the cultural sector in Europe. As the COVID-19 spreads and the lockdown expands country by country, we are evermore aware of the fact that the creative sector has been greatly impacted, partly due to lack of proper funding. 

What challenges are we facing now, and what is ahead of us? How can we help the creative community that was already struggling a lot to get by, and how can we make sure that we learn something from this experience when the emergency is over and make the most of it? 

On 3rd April2020, Daniela Patti (Rome) and Bahanur Nasya (Vienna), managers and community experts at Eutropian moderated Cooperative City in Quarantine #3, a live panel on how the cultural sector is coping with this crisis, featuring guests from cultural workers scattered across Europe and beyond.

We collected video contributions showing how this new state of emergency has affected many cultural workers’ daily lives. For example, Işin Önol, lecturer, curator and art critic at Montclair University, New York, contracted the virus just before the faculty would stop activities, and even though she luckily recovered, she will now be continuing her teaching activities through distance learning. 

Unfortunately, a compromised physical health is only one of the dangers the COVID-19 pandemic exposes people to: like many others, Phil Moran from Viennese FFAB Film and TV is now facing hardships due to the fact that most assignments are now suspended. Yilmaz Vurucu, Vienna-based film director at Xsentrikarts points out that during the past weeks many cultural workers in several countries have been granted emergency funds, yet they don’t know how to immediately access them because of an unprepared, slow bureaucracy.

Andrea Kovács, founder at LET IT BE! Art Agency, Budapest believes that all kinds of cultural institutions have to rethink their whole structure, finding out how they can survive. According to her, the biggest issue is that the digital space is proving to be the new performative space, so live performers and exhibitors need new social security measures in order to survive while reinventing their jobs, as most of them immediately lost their income as soon as the lockdown began. She is convinced that the present system is not sustainable anymore, and since culture is the creative field of human activity par excellence, this is the time when cultural workers have to rethink what culture means, collaborating with one another more than ever. 

Take a seat: Trafo streaming performances online



Writing about how Coronavirus is redefining our urban condition one month after the start of the ‘lockdown’ could recall the German architect Ernst Neufert that in the summer of 1942 started design experimentations on anti-bombing housing typologies for German cities under siege. A condition considered as a ‘new normalcy’. 

Many things are being said and written these days. Some things are expressed in an opportunistic and predictable way. Perhaps it is still too early to say something sensible that does not go beyond the easy rhetoric of the need to take ‘responsible and militant’ attitudes aimed at reducing the ecological footprint of human activities.

At the moment the debate is focused on two main keywords: social distancing and density. Hypotheses are formulated around these two terms in open opposition to each other.

Many celebrate the virtues of indoor dwelling and the design possibilities linked to the multi-articulated and multifunctional dimension that the spaces of our houses should acquire. We are looking for the parameters of a new existenz-minimum whose most effective reference image could be the Moriyama House by Sanaa (the ‘house as a city’). Against them, some highlight the “uncanny”, infernal condition of domestic living, underlining the importance of the category of “public space” as a place of indispensable sociality.

Many scholars take on the category of  density (physical, spatial, functional), holding it responsible, 175 years after Engels, for new unhealthy conditions. They celebrate the virtues of ‘dilution’ offered by the ‘horizontal metropolis’, if not actually fleeing to rural contexts. These thinkers are contrasted by those who, on the one hand, distinguish between the ‘rich density’ of parts of cities where it is possible to find niches, work remotely and keep their distance and the ‘poor density’ of places where you are forced to live and earn a living by mixing with others. In these places social distancing causes its opposite: physical compression. Main streets might be empty, but many people, especially in the slums, are forced to share tight spaces. 

On the other hand, there are those who, by relating the intensity of the spread of viral pathologies and the widespread presence of micro dust in the atmosphere in the territories of urban sprawl , support the hypothesis of densification as a design paradigm capable of bringing together urban planning and public health.

Wild at Home: some observations on the imagination of nature in a time of pandemic


The covidays go by and I can’t stop thinking about the last time I went out for a stroll. It was a Sunday afternoon and although spring had almost arrived, the sky was white-greyish and the air was cold. “The cold will not stick around forever”, I said – eyes closed and head raised to the sky – “It may finally feel like spring”. The silvery sky annoyed me a bit but I soon realised that not every cloud has a silver lining, as the proverb says. That was my last stroll before Italy was put under total lockdown. Now, I would feel worse if I hadn’t gone out for a stroll, a beautiful four-hour stroll, following rivers, somewhere in the outskirts of Torino. 

Not surprisingly, this is so far what many persons miss in this dramatic moment when we are forced to stay inside: just loiter, smell changing weather, notice vegetation changes. When we feel the need to get in contact with nature we mean a set of human ideas about the natural world. Nature is often conceptualised as a place to go, a place to spend a slow time for solace, relaxation, and inspiration. But what kind of nature is this, a place for self-care or is it a refuge for the privileged? 

Over the last weeks, images of wildlife returning to the city – an imaginary which has also inspired eco-horror and cli-fi genre films – have, indeed, gone viral, although the majority of these reports were false or inaccurate. As cities become deserted amid pandemic quarantines, the urban environment appears as a ‘concrete wood’ in which the appearance (real and imaginary) of non-human animals and plants brings joy or perhaps calms our anxiety down in gloomy times. 


Food production and distribution systems


Last Friday 27th March 2020 we held our second episode of Cooperative City in Quarantine where we invited experts on food production and distributions systems from different European cities to share with us their perspectives on what are the challenges we face during COVID-19 in relation to food and what are the emerging practices we see. 

We invited Marcelline Bonneau from Bruxelles, director of Resilia Solutions and expert in various EU as well as local projects on food systems, Igor Kos from Maribor in Slovenia, part of the WCycle Institute and working on the  Urban Soil 4 Food UIA project focusing on circular economy and Francesco Paniè from Rome, part of Terra! Onlus that focus on transparency within our food system. 

What are the main challenges you see in the present moment?

Marcelline: We have been in full lockdown for ten days and there has been a rush to the supermarkets to buy most basic goods. Currently, the whole food system is being disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis and containment. Our eating and consumption patterns have been modified, e.g. an increasing number of people go and buy from the local shops, in short food supply chains (doubled or tripled in most cases). People cook (healthily) at home.  Yet, won’t this add to the mental load of women? Do they actually have time for it as in most cases will be the ones in charge of the home and education or children (in addition to working from home)? Will these become new long-lasting cooking and eating habits? At the same time, FAO underlines the risks of increased hunger and malnutrition of vulnerable groups. It can be so, for example, as the rush to food in supermarkets has concerned primarily cheap food, making it unavailable to those in need. Competition to access food surplus is fierce between charities. Discount lunches in public canteens are not available anymore, food aid has had to adjust its practices.  Those the most at risk and isolated cannot go and shop anymore. 

global and urban travelling: how will we move in the future?


Some weeks ago, I started teaching a course in Economic Geography in which to explain what globalization is and what are the mechanisms that feed this complex phenomenon. After the first face-to-face lesson, the course turned into a weekly virtual class maintaining “direct student participation”. I was lucky enough to be already used to this telematic approach. However, this technological change allowed me to explain even better what globalization means.

Starting with Harvey’s concept of space-time compression, a distinctive feature of the postmodern condition, the course explores the theories of “boundless world” (Ohmae, 1990) and “end of the story” (Fukuyama, 1992). We are not only talking about theoretical concepts and constructs, the idea is to understand how the concept of globalization has evolved since the end of World War II until the present days and its impact on our economic geographies. 

Globalization has a role in what’s going on worldwide these days. Since the 1980s, health epidemics have increased, both in the number and in the diversity of diseases, favored by the rapid improvement of international mobility, by a high population density in large urban centers and by health systems that are often lacking in some developing countries. All this promotes greater exposure to new diseases and a higher transmission potential.