MAZI and Nethood projects present a panel at 2016 IASC European Regional Conference. Bern, May 10-13th 2016

Networking, Comparing, and Integrating Urban Commons Initiatives in Research and Action

Presenters: Panayotis Antoniadis, Ileana Apostol, Philipp Klaus, Jens Martignoni Special guest: Hans Widmer (aka P.M.)

The key question addressed in this panel regards the characteristics of technology that can support and interconnect various urban commoning activities. We address four different areas of collective action in the city: community networks, social infrastructure, cooperative housing, and community currencies. Every paper introduces one of the above areas of commoning and explores different possibilities for linkages between them as currently explored in two new EU Horizon2020 projects, MAZI, and netCommons. A long-term vision of these research consortia is to collaborate toward promoting a spirit of sustainable living, while advancing the rich European democratic heritage through research and action. They wish to do this within specific cultures that shape their current and future collective living in the midst of diversity. More specifically, the first paper by Antoniadis, Dulong de Rosnay, and Tréguer, reflects on the understanding of (wireless) community networks “as a commons” for equitable and affordable access to the Internet, but also for the deployment of local services, possibly supporting other commoning activities. Using the example of Guifi.net in Barcelona, it highlights the potential of communication networks to be owned and managed by citizens themselves, and identifies important legal, social, and technical challenges that need to be addressed in this context.

In the next paper, Apostol, Gaved and Unteidig discuss the role of ICTs, and DIY networking solutions in particular, for the small scale social infrastructures of urban spaces for collective life, touching upon the role of technology in creating alternative materializations of social space, and in facilitating social learning processes.

As an example of grass-roots social infrastructures at the neighborhood level, the third paper by Philipp Klaus presents the “young” cooperative housing and living projects in Zurich, through the example of Kraftwerk1, the first of a multitude of projects of this sort. The last paper presented by Jens Martignoni introduces the concept of complementary currencies and discusses its potential for supporting small-scale commoning activities such as cooperative housing and living projects similar to Kraftwerk1 in Zurich, or as community networks like Guifi.net that are discussed in the previous presentations. In this manner, rather than a series of individual presentations, this panel offers multiple dialogues that aim to network and integrate the specific facets of urban communing by reflecting on potential interconnections. We are proud to have with us, as a special guest, Hans Widmer (aka P.M.) whose book bolo’bolo was one of the main inspirations for the Kraftwerk1 project, and who is active in the development of a new initiative in Zurich by the name of NeNa1, which encompasses many of the ideas discussed in this panel.

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