We are amidst an emergency. We still don’t know what’s going to happen, but it is very likely that its aftermath will have permanent consequences on our cities and how we plan, design and govern them. On economies and services. On citizenship, communities and the way we frame development.
It is already happening, it is already here.
Since drastic measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 were enforced, the international press has highlighted some unexpected (rather fascinating) consequences of locking down entire regions. Fresh air blows in some of the most polluted areas of the planet. Astonishing (though scary) images of ghost cities circulate on the web.
New organizational and relational resources rise, as physical contacts between people are being limited, and virtual relationships flourish thanks to a pervasive digital infrastructure. Communities are being re-designed beyond the boundaries of physical space and of time.
On the other hand, the crisis is contributing to show the many limits and contradictions of growth as a paradigm, putting into question neoliberal deregulated capitalism as a model. The staggering inequalities are more evident than ever, and the inability of the free market economy to respond to these challenges is remarkable.
While calls for stronger governmental actions go mostly undisputed, some corporations step in to address the crisis committing to purpose as well as profit. The current situation is also showing the fragility and the critical importance of public services (healthcare being the clearest example), putting institutions under pressure, and challenging the capacity of national states, democracies and alternative models of governance to proactively work together.
The lockdown, the curtailing of the freedoms of movement, the slowing down of economic activities and the isolation, are also offering opportunities for a pause for reflection and reconfiguration to a fragmented, individualistic society affected by the speed addition and fleeting superficial thrill of multiple experiences. In other words, a society where quantity has often substituted quality, even in terms of personal experiences.
To take advantage of these opportunities and to practice the notion of “collective intelligence” experimenting new forms of exchange, mutual learning and networking we decided to activate this space for discussion and argumentation. It is dedicated to all who care about the strategic process of building our cities and our common living spaces, to citizens, scholars, practitioners, professionals, policy makers and decision makers, city thinkers, philosophers, strategists, economists, visionaries, business owners.
It is dedicated to all our fellows who feel like contributing to the early blue sky stages of an open, no-holds barred debate on how to rethink together the spaces we share, co-build, in which we build our lives and love. We hope this debate will expand over the next months, to ferry us through the troubled waters of these difficult times giving us new instruments for when this situation will be finally over.
Now we said what it is, it probably also time to say what it is not: it is not the place for long complex scientific articles; for rants, for nostalgia of the golden age or for positions that are not looking to the co-development of the common good.