New Humanity Movement

Social Harmony and Art

The shape of the city
The city that shapes

Ideas and proposals to help us know better where we live
(Forth part)



1.    The city: does it still exist?
2.    Cityfest: focusing on the city
3.    Knowing and loving one’s city
4. Describing, exploring and imagining one’s city

4. Describing, exploring and imagining the city


There are many ways to urge those taking part in Cityfest to know and understand the place in which they live. We are here limiting ourselves to three possible options.

Describing the city.
One way to help the citizens take a closer look at the place in which they live is to organise cultural meetings during which the different aspects of city life could be scrutinised.

This could take the form of a talk or an exhibition. One can make use of films, videos, posters, talks (or some combination of these) aided by printed material that explains and illustrates further a particular topic.

All these can be used in order to come to know better the city
-    as a whole;
-    some part of it;
-    under some aspect (e.g. where the poor people live, the public spaces, the transformation of the city centre).
The active participation of the participants could be urged after such presentations. This could be in the form of a group discussion, drawings, proposals and written texts.

The active participation could go beyond the Cityfest. It could become a discussion group that keeps on meeting even after Cityfest.

Another way to get persons interested is to involve them in the preparation and the presentation of the projects that will eventually be exhibited during Cityfest.

Exploring the city.
A second way is to ‘experience’ together certain parts of the city: to explore unknown places, or places linked to culture, politics and social structures. In this way the citizens could have a first-hand experience of the place in which they live.

In practical terms, this could include:
-    trails across the city, interspersed with stages or events;
-    city itineraries (bus or on foot) that makes them interesting;
-    stopping in different places which have some important historical significance.

Even in this case, oral explanations could be further enhanced by short pamphlets (or other means).
- allowing a site to come alive through some activity (e.g. artistic, musical, cultural): to live in a place to come to know it better.

In the above examples, the participants could be invited to take an active part by giving their feed-back, either during or after the activity. They could do this orally, through drawings or writings (prose or poetry). In doing so they contribute towards the better understanding of, and the rekindling of the spirit of that particular site; they could also propose further development of the sites visited.

Imagining the city. A third way to explore a city is through creativity and imagination. The participants are asked to imagine the future of their city (in a global or partial way, or in some particular aspect) and to visually express their vision.

The starting point could be anywhere: a particular site (e.g. a square, an intersection, recreational grounds); or a system that operates in the city or part of it (e.g. bus service, neighbourhood kindergarten); or a thorny question (e.g. housing, migrants, night security).

Questions that could be formulated: What would I like to see in my city? How would I like my city to be? What could I do for my city?
-    ‘workshops’ during which people reflect upon their city;
-    ‘workshops’ during which people produce objects or activities in favour of the city;
-    competitions about the future of the city.

Those taking part in these activities could follow the exploration of the city, as described above.

The active participation of those taking part is fundamental: the proposals will be presented during Cityfest, and will thus give voice to the public’s feed-back.

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