Conviviality on Living Streets
Conviviality on Living Streets
To triggernew narratives, the Lab of Thought develops innovations and radical interventions in the field. This helps us to actively look for ways to become cognitively lenient in our thinking about mobility. One interesting group of interventions are temporary street take-overs. State-run and large-scale versions are for instance the Ciclovia’s, when cyclists take over the streets once a month or even once a week.
What in many ways is even more exciting are citizen-led and local street take-overs.Started in Ghent, Belgium, the LEEFSTRAAT concept gives residents the opportunity to experiment with their street over the course of a few weeks. By removing car traffic and parked cars, the space can be creatively designed and used for other purposes. As such it kickstarts a conversation “about living together, mobility, isolation or poverty into new ways of doing, thinking and organizing.Citizens can visualize the future by creating their dream street.”
The VAKANTIESTRAAT of Holiday Street, residents of a streetuse it to organise a range of activities during school holidays. This startedin Rotterdam when during the COVID lockdown people could not go anywhere andthey reconnected with their own neighbourhood. Experiences show that peoplereconnect also with their neighbours in the process.
One of the coolest versions is the ‘Republic of Super Neighbours’ in the city of Paris. It started five years ago with a 215 meterlong table, 648 chairs and self-cooked food. By now the weekly brunches are a tradition attended by over 2.000 neighbours. But it also became part of a bigger movement for more conviviality: cultural outings, memory exchanges, mutual aid schemes and voluntary skill-sharing. “City living doesn’t have to be unpleasant and anonymous. We want to create the atmosphere of a village in an urban space” said one of the local organizers. Participants recognized that conviviality is not only a good feeling, but a powerful asset and valuable resource to fix the shortcomings of the modern city. “It felt like the street belonged to me, to all of us’, said a café owner.
More to explore
The lab of thought recommends
- Follow and engage with social media accounts that question the language we use to talk about streets, such as those of Tom Flood (who is also flipping the script on road violence), Strong Towns, Jan Kamensky. Follow Marco te Brömmelstroet as Cycling Professor on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tiktok, Reddit.
- Share information on the website roaddanger.org by adding news items on crashes and other traffic accidents that you come across in the media. By doing so, you can help raise awareness of how people write and talk about such events — often in a dehumanised way, despite the long-term, deep, and wide-ranging impact they have.
- More inspiring accounts: Playing Out, Modacity, Monkey Wrench Gang and The War on Cars.
- Read Marco te Brömmelstroet's free e-book, which forms the academic basis for The Movement.
- Take a look at the Groningen Guideline for Public Space, which refers to nine other dimensions in addition to that of mobility: accessibility, safety, human perception, health, social interaction, ecology, climate adaptation, economy, and cultural history. Learn to identify these various dimensions and to look at them as a whole.
- Read Metaphors We Live By (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson), Thinking in Systems (Donella H. Meadows), Fighting Traffic: the dawn of the motor age in the American city and Autonorama: the illusory promise of high-tech driving (Peter Norton), and New Power: how power works in our hyper-connected world (Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms).
- Watch the Ted Talk How language shapes the way we think (Lera Boroditsky).
- Follow one or more of the MOOCs offered by the University of Amsterdam: Unravelling the Cycling City, Alternative Mobility Narratives, and Reclaiming the Street for Liveable Urban Spaces or Getting Smart about Cycling Futures.
BECOME A THINKER OF TOMORROW
There is an urgent need to rethink our thinking about mobility. The current expectations on mobility innovations are often rooted in the advances in digital technology and are generally greeted with eager optimism. Unfortunately what is often overlooked are the unmet needs of humans and our planet. The Lab of Thought attempts to explain mobility from this standpoint, so we as individuals and as societies lessen our impact on the planet, now and in the future.