Cities for Change
Change the world, start with the city!
Building Local Solidarity and Horizontal Power
How can we as communities and social movements reimagine and reclaim our cities, towns and villages?
For many of us, the local elections in May 2021 again provided little chance to change things. Local government has been decimated by successive legislative changes and austerity. Westminster politics provides little hope, with the biggest attack on our civil rights in decades underway and Covid having shown us the consequences of inequality like never before.
Yet the pandemic has made us focus on our neighbourhoods. We have checked in on each other, shared food and started mutual aid groups. Solidarity has flourished where the state's welfare network keeps withering, and it is clear we cannot rebuild the old system that has driven us into the current crises.
Could this be the moment for a new political energy grounded in the local? What do we want our cities, towns and villages to look like? How do we build that?
Around the world, people are organising to take back their cities, towns and villages. In Amsterdam a red-green city council has rejected the aim of infinite growth in favour of an economy based on living within the planet's means. Barcelona is moving towards a feminised politics based on consensus, public assemblies and participation. Jackson, US is challenging structural racism by moving towards a solidarity economy. Naples has created urban commons, spaces managed collectively by the people.
What about the UK? What does change look like on the local level?
This event is an invitation to this conversation. We will hear from councillors that have taken over small towns and those building a new municipalism in cities. We will discuss with social movements how we can imagine and build local places that are feminist, anti-racist, open to all and built for communities rather than housing speculators. We will also ask how these social movements are organising through decentralised means.
This event is being collaboratively organised by Cities for Change, Research for Action and Municipal Enquiry. More details to follow.
Research for Action is a worker co-operative that produces research to support social, economic and environmental justice and facilitates democratic processes. Through in-depth investigations into vested interests as well as researching alternative economic models, Research for Action produces informative and accessible material to bring about long lasting change.
Municipal Enquiry is a collaborative project supported by the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust set up with the aim of developing a more widely shared understanding of what it will take to defend and expand public spaces and processes for collective discussion, community level democratic decision making, common ownership and public action for the common good. Its starting point is the recognition that in order to build more inclusive, participatory, solidaristic and equitable forms of community and municipal control there is an urgent need to collectively address the undemocratic forces, inequalities and hierarchies that have harmed so many municipalities around the UK, over many years.
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