“Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons” is the new publication from the non-profit media outlet Shareable, which collects 137 case studies divided in 11 categories in order to demonstrate that another city governance model is possible, and is in fact, already in the making. By showcasing initiatives from all over the world, and in particular from the US and Europe, Sharing Cities unfolds as a concrete testament to the richness, creativity and diversity of the world of urban commons today. Indeed, the book is structured as a powerful storytelling and showcasing work of the best practices in the field of urban commons. Such collections represent the starting point for the work that LabGov is carrying on with the drafting of the scientific research project known as the Co-Cities Report¹.
Shareable has been one of the key initiators of the Sharing Cities movement: they organized ShareFS in 2011, the first event held under the joint theme of sharing cities, and in 2013 they launched the Sharing Cities Network to connect local sharing activists in cities around the world for mutual support and movement building.
Before presenting an overview of the wide range of urban commons projects presented in Sharing Cities, it is important to mention the introductory theoretical framework developed by Neal Gorenflo. Indeed, the co-founder of Shareable introduces the collection of case-studies by providing the theoretical background on the study of urban commons, acknowledging the analytical contribution of scholars like Christian Iaione from LabGov, Sheila Foster from georgetown University, Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation, and David Bollier of the Commons Strategies Group, among others.
Gorenflo adfirms, There are 67 case studies and 66 model policies in this book. Though the book only scratches the surface of what’s out there, the geographic and sectoral diversity of our selections will expand your view of what’s possible. Together, they are provocative in the best possible way. In terms of the case studies, I challenge you to flip through the book and not be amazed at what ordinary people can do when they commit to projects where personal interests and the common good are aligned.
In particular, citing the work of Christian Iaione and Sheila Foster, as well as the seminal urban commons initiatives like the CO-Bologna project and regulation², the book underlines the importance of urban commons initiatives in today’s context of citizens disempowerment. As the introduction argues “the importance of the urban commons to cities today is that it situates residents as the key actors – not markets, technologies, or governments, as popular narratives suggest – at a time when people feel increasingly powerless. To paraphrase commons scholars Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione, the city as a commons is a claim on the city by the people.” What is key to understand when talking about the urban commons framework is that it is not only about sharing resources, knowledge, and tools. Sharing for the sake of innovative profit making lacks the fundamental constitutive element of the commons, that is the creation of collaborative relationships between urban residents, NGOs, public institutions and businesses in order to manage resources in urban communities in a way that gives the decision-making power back to the people.
After the introduction on urban commons, the book dedicates 11 chapters to the different categories of commons, namely: Housing, mobility, food, work, energy, land, waste, water, information and communication technology, finance, and governance³. Ranging from cases of co-housing, open-data initiatives, comprehensive shared mobility projects, open access edible plots of land, networks of workers cooperatives, commons collaborative economy initiatives, community energy distribution networks, to examples of commons regulatory frameworks, this book represents an inspiring proof of the existence of new governance models that can ensure an alternative, more sustainable, way-forward. These cases and policies reveal a new model of city, where people has been put at the centre, having a primary role among market priorities, technologies or government. Moreover, it is not a simple demonstration that a city run by the people is possible, but it unveils that much of it is already here. In this perspective, the book represents a claim.
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La nuova pubblicazione di Shareable intitolata “Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons” approfondisce il tema dei commons, mostrando attraverso 133 casi studio, come il modello di governance dei commons rappresenti un’alternativa valida e realizzabile per la gestione condivisa delle risorse al livello urbano.
¹ To be released on the project platform www.commoning.city