Deeply Emotional Playtime Feb06 2016, Amsterdam

City Making

As I find myself on a personal journey of discovering my civic spirit, I decided to binge on three citizen-related sessions at New Europe City Makers – Pre-Summit: Co-creation citizens and governments, Redesigning democracy, and Community Building.

There was a lot to learn from the meeting of City Makers – I watched them discuss city planning and citizen engagement, share skills and methods, and reflect on the most important issues to be added on EU’s Urban Agenda. Still, my personal moment of revelation was late in the afternoon, during the Community Building workshop led by Joana Dias from Academia Cidadã, Portugal.

The first thing we were asked to do was to say out loud all the obstacles we think stand in the path of community building and citizen engagement. With more than fifteen people in the room, the words started pouring. So many issues, shortcomings, and uncertainties. It may seem counterintuitive, but after naming them all in a quick-fire round, there was a distinct change in energy in the room: from powerlessness to determination, from hopelessness to vision, from placelessness to ownership. I felt empowered because I had finally said out loud all the things that are holding me back. Today more than ever, I feel ready to start working.

What’s holding you back?
Read this list out loud:

lack of critical mass
no motivation/ little ambition
unclear interests
“woulda, coulda, shoulda” mentality
no sense of belonging
no long-term vision
conflicting needs and interests
not understanding the underlying condition of the problem
intercultural obstacles
a sense of entitlement
lack of awareness
failure to understand other people’s values
no empathy
no sense of urgency
lack of community/ public/ safe space
lack of visibility
lack of tools for self-organizing
no common vision
lack of a shared community identity
taking comfort in top-down mechanisms
lack of safety