Reclaiming the Urban Commons: An Ecological Solution – Local Code
The public spaces or ‘urban commons’ in our cities range from the hyper-manicured to the neglected. This paradigm, which accurately reflects our collective apathy towards resource management exists under the constant threat of corporate enclosure. There is now a growing movement that offers an alternative plan to re-invigorate these spaces and establish new resilient communities based around sustainable and ecological lifestyles.” In order to breathe life into these spaces, that adequately reflects the fragility of the planet, we must first acknowledge that the commons belong to everyone. If the integrity of the commons is to be protected from the ongoing threat of market forces, new systems of governance will be required. Lefebvre’s idea of the social production of space “does not only mean the right to occupy space in it, but also to decide how it is developed, managed and used.” The ‘right to the city’ now sees, a new commons regime emerging, brought about by the actions of ordinary people through their day-to-day resistance to corporate enclosure.
AAA promotes ‘urban tactics’ that encourage residents to self-manage urban spaces which have fallen into disuse, upending ‘stereotypes by proposing reversible projects which explore the potential of contemporary cities.’ Active citizens work to create networks and close the loops between production and consumption while changing their lifestyles to live in ways that are more ecological.
The R-URBAN process, outlined by Professor Katherine Gibson, from Western Sydney University involves the following steps;
1. Vacant or underutilised land is identified by AAA
2. Negotiations are undertaken with authorities to access the land.
3. AAA holds events to garner interest from local residents.
4. Consultations are undertaken with the community to determine the preferred use of space.
5. AAA propose a design for the space that reflects the resident’s preferences and ideas.
6. Plans are implemented using community volunteers, AAA staff volunteers and student volunteers.
7. Initial oversight and governance of the space is by AAA: users are given rights of access (keys).
8. Continuous development is undertaken to find new ways of occupying the space.
9. Management and governance of space is gradually ceded to the community association.
10. The need to relocate to find alternative space is taken into consideration.
Presently, the R-Urban strategy is applied to local, small-scale projects in Colombes, Ile-de-France, Bagneux et Gennevilliers in Paris and Hackney Wick in London with plans to ‘shift in scale and long term impact by establishing connections between individual urban hubs.
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