This is an excerpt extracted from the article “Sharing Power: the Crucial Challenge for Sharing Cities” by Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman originally published on Shareable.net.
In the new book ” Sharing Cities” , Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman argue that cities face both challenges and great opportunities to guide and direct this shift toward the public good. The nature of sharing in the modern world is changingas describe the sharable article . Traditional, evolved, interpersonal sharing within communities and families is declining as social capital erodes and community bonds fragment. Yet web-based sharing between relative strangers is booming, typically intermediated by commercial platforms. In this new book, Sharing Cities, they explore how a genuine Sharing City might, amongst other things: •enable communal sharing through civic-, charitable-, and community-based intermediaries like tool banks, repair cafés, and community centres; •regulate commercial sharing companies like Uber and Airbnb to enhance environmental efficiency and ensure social inclusion; •provide shared public services like libraries and public transport, and make its own resources (buildings, vehicles, etc) shareable by communities; and •help build the underlying commons and infrastructures for sharing in real and virtual spaces — including an open and accessible web, and safe but not sanitized public spaces. But to do all these things is crucial the public participation and that means sharing one more city resource: power. Citizens need to have the capacity not only to decide whether and how much to participate in sharing ventures, but a role in determining their rules and shaping their design. Genuine Sharing Cities must share power and authority with their citizens. There are plenty of cities experimenting with increased citizen participation in diverse ways. Participatory budgeting gives citizens an increased voice in how their taxes are spent, and is increasingly widespread, from Paris to Boston to Seoul, as well as in Latin America where cities like Porto Allegre have led the way. But even in its most developed forms, it’s still a limited step, rarely steering more than the tiny proportion of overall budgets and having little impact on broader questions of policy. The cities are experiencing the sharing between citizens and the participation of citizens in different ways. But very often the authorities do not deal with efficiently manage on these initiatives and leave the self-management of these initiatives to the citizens. The first point on which we must reflect in order to have a real share is the importance of treating citizens as citizens rather than consumers. Empowered civic engagement not only encourages greater involvement in sharing, it helps sharing rebuild social capital and,even more importantly , reinforces the ways that sharing can shift public norms, identity, and values away from consumerism. When it comes to the crunch, this potential for changing values is one of the fundamental reasons sharing is so exciting. As Michael Sandel highlights, many of our shared public institutions are not just a safety net for the poor, but also “sites for the cultivation of a common citizenship, so that people from different walks of life encounter one another and so acquire enough of a shared … sense of a shared life that we can meaningfully think of one another as citizens in a common venture.” The commercial interests are the biggest risks to the sense of community and sharing. The real way to begin to think of us as citizens is be active on city’s power .We should reverse the dominance of commerce and money in politics. Cities should start to involving citizens in co-producing governance through, for example, genuinely open consultations, open government initiatives, commons governance regulations, map-jams, and other ways of opening and utilizing the digital realm for citizen participation. Sharing must take place first and foremost in cities, where it must become the main source of collaboration and sharing ground intercultural comparison, hub for public policy and civil society. This is why the authors suggest that squatting is more important to Sharing Cities than couchsurfing, for example: The rules and norms that the city establishes for squatting offer far greater scope to enable or constrain cultural change, than those around couchsurfing. Physical and virtual space should be managed both by the public and by the authorities to have a valid form of democracy-oriented to the commons. Many are the examples of cities that share. Cities must be the platform where they could compete on values and cultivating freedom, they must find their origins and adapt them to new cultures, must enhance common platforms and conquer the virtual spaces remaining in the democratic framework. Sharing Cities need to seize the moment; they must grasp the potential of participatory politics and make real the Right to the City — not just as an entitlement to share in the life, facilities, and resources of the city; but also as a right to collectively change and reinvent the city, its citizens’ identities, and their politics. ——————————————————————————————— Nel loro nuovo libro ”Sharing City” Duncan McLaren e Julian Agyeman sottolineano l’importanza di condividere una risorsa usata , spesso, unicamente dalle autorità : il potere . I cittadini non devono essere considerati come consumatori ma prima di tutto come cittadini , come cittadini attivi e il primo modo per farlo è usare il loro potere in chiave collaborativa con le autorità, in una cornice democratica. Le città devono diventare terreno di condivisione dei beni comuni anche attraverso strumenti virtuali. Gli autori ci spiegano quante iniziative potrebbero esserci in delle genuine città che condividono. Per realizzarle è fondamentale l’attiva partecipazione pubblica e la condivisione di un’ altra risorsa della città: il potere.