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.
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 NGOs – Irina 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; JackieRena (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?
IrinaVasilijeva– 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.
PetraMarcinko – 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.
TomGoodridge – 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.
JackieRana – 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 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?
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. https://www.youtube.com/embed/z7UTb_YwlPQ?feature=oembed
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.
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.