(Written by Ezio Manzini, DESIS Network President)
On the 28th of October, at the Los Andes University, in Bogota, one hundred people had a lively articulated discussion at the crossroad of three main keywords: cities, collaboration. It was “Collaborative people in challenging places”: a seminar that has been a further step into the Thematic Cluster “Design for Collaborative Cities”.
The DxCC program had been started exactly a year earlier, on the 28th of October 2018 in Shanghai. Since then, the program progressed with different initiatives, with different focuses. After this Bogota event, the program will continue with two other DxCC initiatives, both related to collaborative city making and food production: in Beijing, the 29th November, at Tsinghua University, with the conference Food systems and sustainable city making, (co-organized by TSU and FAO China, in collaboration with DESIS Network).
And then, less than two weeks later, in Bangkok, the 11the December, at Chulalongkorn University, with the seminar Cultivating communities in sustainable and healthy city making (co-organized by DESIS Network with the Institute of Asian Studies – IAS, Chulalongkorn University and INI – Innovation Network International, with the support of National Innovation Agency – NIA, and Thai Health Promotion Foundation).
Given these basic information on the DxCC state of arts, let’s go back to Bogota. And then to Beijing and Bangkok.
The DxCC Seminar in Bogota focused on a very precise question: can we have collaborative solutions in highly challenging places? In short, the seminar answer has been: “Yes, but …”. Where the “but” refers to the difficulties in collaborating when the environment is particularly challenging.
This theme has been discussed in three parallel threads: 1. Collaborative living and poverty challenges, 2. Collaborative work and conflict reconciliation challenges, and 3. Collaborative care for the commons and environmental crisis challenges. These discussions permitted to make some steps forwards in understanding this complex issue. But it also appeared that other, more in depth discussions are needed.
At the moment, to summarize the seminar results we can adopt the Amartya Sen’s words “poverty is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being”, to say that those who live in challenging places are poor because they are also deprived of the very human capability to collaborate. It comes that what frequently appears as a difficulty to do it, in reality, is one of the several expressions of poverty.
As anticipated in the introduction, after this Bogota event, two more DxCC events will take place in 2019. The both will deal with the issue of the collaborative city making and food production.
In Beijing, the 29th November, at Tsinghua University, there will be a DxCC conference on Food systems and sustainable city making. This conference will discuss strategies for re-orientating agricultural activities in and around the city. The main questions will be: can new forms of urban and sub-urban agriculture improve the urban (social and physical) ecosystem? Can they become building blocks of a sustainable, resilient city making?
In Bangkok, the 11the December, at Chulalongkorn University, will be held the seminar Cultivating communities in sustainable and healthy city making. The seminar will focus on food and new forms of collaboration in the city. The main questions will be: how can citizens be enabled to participate in urban farming? Can the common interest for cultivating their own food become the driver of a new form of urban community (the urban “cultivating communities”)?
After these Beijing and Bangkok initiatives, several new ones will happen in the 2020.