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?
sixcs produly supporting the cooperative cities manifesto for planning post covid-cities
Europian and Cooperative City advocate to build cooperative cities in the post-Covid phase to make sure no one is left behind. As editors of this blog we decided to join their Manifesto, contributing to advocate for Europe to support the social and solidarity economy as an opportunity to ensure economic sustainability to all those people who are at high risk of poverty.
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.
One week ago, in the midst of what we’ve learned to think as the beginning of something enormous, I received a letter from a journal, asking me to send the review of a paper that was due that day. The paper was (is?) on mass tourism in touristic sites and on unwelcomed side-effects. The paper, as of today, might be published on a journal of history of modern Europe. What we thought was ‘contemporary’ it is no longer here. It’s gone. “All that is solid, melts into air” as Marx famously wrote.
I don’t have words to interpret what is currently happening, because I don’t have the thoughts to process the ongoing transformations. Time is crucial, here. Stuck in my apartment, time is even more troublesome than space. Spatial segregation, seclusion and confinement are easy to grasp, even when they entail the loss of rights and liberties. Precisely because we are losing these rights, we are fully aware of the occurring spatial transformation. We have lost something, we get what was that and we long for it. Space has freezed.
Many already recognized CO-VID 19 crisis will permanently change the way we will live our lifes in the future (already has actually). Making sense of the current situation is not an easy task: how can we contribute as we #stayhome and wait for the storm to pass?
As dramatic images are reported from cities in the world, many of us experience common feelings of confusion, anxiety, fear and bewildering. After initial disorientation some sort of “new normal” routines are conditioning the way we organize our lifes. We seat and wait (or we stand and try to puzzle daily tasks and duties), while the media monopolize our attention with datas and numbers on the epidemic.
Unexpectedly, some fascinating (and rather scary) wide range consequences of locking down entire regions are also shown. During the last weeks, interesting perspectives and interpretations of these new facts, spread out on social networks and debate, presenting the current situation as an opportunity to more decisevely rethink our societies, the paradigms, development models and frames we use to think and plan our cities and territories.