Fearless Cities

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Fearless Cities is the global municipalist movement. It began in 2017 after the first conference in Barcelona to assist all global cities and communities create and / or develop local municipalist projects and political processes to allow citizens have a greater say in what type of city or community they wish to live in.

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General introduction

The citizen platform Barcelona en Comú (BeC)[1] won the 2015 Municipal elections in Barcelona.[2] Along with seven other citizen platforms, this movement subsequently got labelled as the 'Rebel Cities' of Spain.[3] The municipalist win saw the city having its first woman mayor Ada Colau (in over 2,000 years of history) and BeC declared they were developing a more 'feminised' democracy.[4] A week after elections when interviewed on Democracy Now! Colau stated: “We can prove there is another way to govern, more inclusive, working together with the people, more than just asking them to vote every four years. We´re very aware that the real change must be global, that one city alone cannot solve all the problems we´re facing”.[5]

In 2017 BeC set up the first Fearless cities(FC) Summit in Barcelona to support other cities who wished to create similar citizen-led change. In 2018 there were four subsequent Fearless Cities Summits around the world and, despite COVID, two more in Europe in 2019. Groups are currently exploring another Summit in Amsterdam, May 28-30th 2021. According to the FC website:

In a world in which fear and inequalities are being twisted into hate, “Fearless” towns and cities are standing up to defend human rights, democracy and the common good.
This global municipalist movement met for the first time at the Fearless Cities Summit in Barcelona in June 2017, at the invitation of Barcelona En Comú, with the goal of radicalizing democracy, feminizing politics and standing up to the far right. 
Since then, these neighbourhood movements, mayors and local councilors have been collaborating to build global networks of solidarity and hope from the bottom up.[6]

Fearless Cities Summits

International Municipalist Summit

Barcelona, Spain. 9-11 June 2017.

In 2017 BeC set up the first Fearless Cities Summit in Barcelona to support other cities who wished to create similar citizen-led change. The conference and new global network had three clear goals:[7]
  • Work as a global municipalist network
Share tools, knowledge and experiences with municipalist movements from around the world
  • Feminize politics
Develop new ways of organizing based on horizontal collaboration, collective intelligence and the politics of everyday life
  • Stop the far right
Combat the politics of hate and fear with local policies to reduce inequality and promote the common good

The Event was attended by activists from all over the world, as seen from the site map. Subsequent videos from the Forum[8] and interviews[9] with guests were published on BeC's YouTube page. For people new to muncipalism, BeC made a "Municipalism for dummies"[10] video. On Social media people used the #FearlessCities hashtag.

North America

New York City, USA 27 July - 29 July 2018

Central and Eastern Europe

Warsaw, Poland. 13 July - 15 July 2018

The event[11] was hosted by Miasto Jest Nasze[12] (Polish for The City Is Ours, styled as MJN).

Brussels + Central/Western Europe

Brussels Fearless Cities.jpg

Brussels, Belgium. 22 September - 23 September 2018

The Fearless Cities Brussels event was initiated by the citizen movement We Brussels[13]. It happened at the Kaai Theater over two days, with 14 workshops to "reinvent your city in English / French / Dutch"[14]. The Brussels Express reported about the conference: "Two Days to Win Back the City"[15] and the group Commonspolis[16], who describe themselves as "Weaving networks and cultures for change", wrote a report about the event; Fearless Cities Brussels - Sept 2018 Report[17]. Their Improvement learnings found:

Being fearless is also about constantly reflecting upon one’s actions and decisions - and whether those meet previously formed expectations. in parallel to the positive takeaways and best practices, here are some learnings that may serve to inform future fearless cities events organisation. 
  • Talk together about the deeper questions
  • Allow for more capacity-making
  • Invite diversity within the core team & in the participants
  • During the event, allow for fun to take place
  • Have a plan c for political implementation
  • Plan for post-event follow up

América Latina

Latin america FC.jpg

Valparaíso, Chile. 30 November - 02 December 2018

The Latin American municipalist gathering explored how to transform territories from below, according to its Twitter[18] account (The event website is down). The poster from the event is found here[19].

Southern Europe

Naples, Italy. 15 March - 17 March 2019

The website of the event does not now work, but a facebook[20] and twitter[21] account still function.

Balkans

Belgrade, Serbia. 07 June - 09 June 2019

This International Fearless Cities conference[22] was dedicated to local political movements from Europe and the region. In the organization of the Ne davimo Beograd [23] Initiative (Don’t let Belgrade Drown), this summit gathered activists from over 20 countries who base their political activities on local, life problems of citizens. This conference was possible thanks to European endowment for democracy, Guerrilla foundation[24] and Fund action[25]. Organisers outlined:

Organizations involved with the issue of protection of public goods, social security, affordable housing, access to utility services, environmental justice, collectives, decentralization of governance and solidarity make the new political power of citizens. In a world that is changing rapidly and in which, despite all technical, scientific and technological advances, the feelings of insecurity, fear, inequality and hatred are increasingly dominating, in which populism and extremism are growing, a trend of different political organization emerges in the wave of civil strife and new political movements, that carries the hope it is not only possible to confront these negative tendencies, but also to fight for the vision of the cities and societies in which we want to live.

Fearless Cities related activity

In 2019 an academic conference happened in Lisbon, Portugal that invited FC activists to participate. From 5-9 March 2020, Transition Network's "Dive Deep and Dream Big" conference explored some FC themes in Brussels. The COVID situation affected conferences greatly. In November 2020 the Municipalize Europe event included FC participants.

Lisbon and Fearless Cities

At the URBACT City Festival in Lisbon September 2018, Deputy Mayor of the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, Paula Marques stated: “We need to fight the global system with participatory democracy at the level of cities. Going towards fearless cities is a long way and a long task”[26].

On November 29th 2019, Daniel Cruz[27] from BeC / FC was invited to the international seminar in Lisbon; "(Re)Scaling Networks in Portugal and Europe"[28]. The event was part of "Reclaim Europe!"[29], a project developed by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation[30] in Portugal with multiple local and international partners and happened in Lisbon University Institute of Social Sciences[31] (ICS) research group "Urban Transitions Hub" [32]. Other speakers included Talía Rangil from Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)[33] and Gil Penha-Lopes[34] from ECOLISE[35]. A short video section of the event is available[36].

"Dive Deep and Dream Big", Brussels

"Dive Deep and Dream Big: codesigning new transformative pathways through a social learning process" was the full title of the event that happened from 5-9 March 2020. It was organised by the [37], [38] group in Brussels and with support from Municipalities in Transition network. Pedro Macedo[39] writes[40]:

The ‘Dive Deep & Dream Big’ process started in 2019 and was set as a collaborative inquiry to support break-through change at the municipal scale. Individuals and organizations working in different contexts got together to share knowledge and develop new pathways leading to translocal empowerment.

The Next City: Fearless Cities and Deep Democracy

Solidarity Hall’s[41] third academic event in their “Eutopia Workshops” series happened on June 12th 2020. The event, which focused on a discussion of municipalism and community-based, commons-oriented democratic governance initiatives amid 2020’s widespread economic and political uncertainty, was led by Ana Margarida Esteves[42] and Alexander Kolokotronis of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale[43] and the Participatory Budgeting Project[44]. The video of the event is available from Solidarity Hall[45].

Municipalize Europe

This event happened on November 5th 2020, it's full title was "Municipalize Europe! Transformative municipalities, the corona crisis recovery and the European Green Deal". The event was hosted by The Transnational Institute[46], BeC, Catalunya en Comú[47], Corporate Europe Observatory[48] and the Greens/EFA Group[49] in the European Parliament, made up of Green, Pirate, independent MEPs & MEPs representing stateless nations and minorities.

Municipalize Europe![50] was a unique opportunity to learn about the efforts of transformative cities during the COVID-19 crisis and the solutions that they are putting on the agenda for the social and economic recovery. This one day online event on 5 November was split into four sessions. There was simultaneous translation available in English, French and Spanish.

The event was divided into 4 different sessions:

  • A short introduction to municipalism and the municipalist networks
  • Opening panel: the role of municipalist cities after the COVID-19 crisis, and the need for EU funding for cities
  • Housing crisis: cities and struggle for affordable housing for all
  • Making the European Green Deal work for cities

Link to other UrbanA Wiki-pages

Further reading

Books

Academic Articles

Blog Posts

References

  1. https://barcelonaencomu.cat/. Accessed Nov 13th 2019.
  2. Left-wing victory in Catalonia's municipal elections and increase of self-determination representatives. Accessed Nov 13th 2019. https://www.catalannews.com/politics/item/left-wing-victory-in-catalonia-s-municipal-elections-and-increase-of-self-determination-representatives
  3. Shea Baird, K., 2015. Published online in Red Pepper. Rebel cities: the citizen platforms in power. Accessed Nov 13th 2019. https://www.redpepper.org.uk/rebel-cities-the-citizen-platforms-in-power/
  4. Guardian: Barcelona mayor-elect Ada Colau calls for more 'feminised' democracy. Accessed Nov 13th 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/07/barcelona-mayor-ada-colau-feminised-democracy
  5. Democracy Now!: From Occupying Banks to City Hall: Meet Barcelona’s New Mayor Ada Colau. Accessed Nov 13th 2019. https://www.democracynow.org/2015/6/5/from_occupying_banks_to_city_hall
  6. http://fearlesscities.com/en/about-fearless-cities. Accessed Nov 13th 2019.
  7. http://2017.fearlesscities.com/. Accessed Nov 13th 2019.
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_EBKq-6xsc&list=PL63NMSaD-VgQz2nCBlrh-lwG5azp5WUOJ Barcelona en Comú, Fearless Cities Conference videos
  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_EBKq-6xsc&list=PL63NMSaD-VgQz2nCBlrh-lwG5azp5WUOJ Barcelona en Comú, Fearless Cities Interviews
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN1yPVToeTg Barcelona en Comú, Municipalism for dummies
  11. Central and Eastern Europe Fearless Cities Conference, July 2018 https://fearlesscities.waw.pl
  12. Miasto Jest Nasze https://miastojestnasze.org/
  13. http://www.webrussels.org/ We Brussels
  14. https://twitter.com/fearlessbxl Fearless Cities Brussels Twitter
  15. Brussels Express, 16 September 2018: Fearless Cities: Brussels – Two Days to Win Back the City https://brussels-express.eu/fearless-cities-brussels-two-days-to-win-back-the-city/
  16. https://commonspolis.org/en/ Commonspolis
  17. Commonspolis. Fearless Cities Brussels - Sept 2018 Report (PDF) https://commonspolis.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Fearless-cities_Report_VF.pdf
  18. Ciudades Sin Miedo Valparaíso on Twitter https://twitter.com/CSinMiedoValpo
  19. Ciudades Sin Miedo Valparaíso on Twitter; América Latina Fearless Cities Summits https://twitter.com/CSinMiedoValpo/status/1067071142039625728
  20. Fearless Cities Italy - Città senza paura - facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fcnapoli2019
  21. Fearless Cities Italy - Città senza paura - twitter page https://twitter.com/FearlessNapoli
  22. Balkans Fearless Cities Conference, June 2019 https://fearlesscities.nedavimobeograd.rs/
  23. https://nedavimobeograd.rs/. Accessed Nov 12th 2020.
  24. Guerrilla foundation https://guerrillafoundation.org/
  25. Fund action https://fundaction.eu/
  26. http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/no_cache/noticias/detalhe/article/e-arrancou-o-urbac-city-festival. E arrancou o URBAC City Festival (Original in Portuguese, English translation by wiki editor) Lisbon City Hall website. Accessed Nov 13th 2019.
  27. https://twitter.com/dcruzf Daniel Cruz
  28. https://www.facebook.com/events/850238905378056/ (Re)Scaling Networks in Portugal and Europe
  29. https://fes-portugal.org/reclaim-europe/ Reclaim Europe!
  30. https://fes-portugal.org/seminario-internacional-rescaling-networks-in-portugal-and-europe-towards-new-forms-of-decision-making-29-11-2019-ics/ Friedrich Ebert Foundation
  31. https://www.ics.ulisboa.pt/ Lisbon University Institute of Social Sciences
  32. https://urbantransitionshub.org/ Urban Transitions Hub
  33. https://iclei-europe.org/ ICLEI
  34. https://ce3c.ciencias.ulisboa.pt/member/gilpenhalopes Gil Penha-Lopes
  35. https://www.ecolise.eu/ ECOLISE
  36. https://www.facebook.com/n30and20/videos/429361721341616/ Fearless Cities video presentation, November 2019. From N30 & 20
  37. Transition Network https://transitionnetwork.org/
  38. Reseau Transition https://www.reseautransition.be/articles/appel-aux-benevoles-pour-levenement-dive-deep-dream-big/
  39. Pedro Macedo on Research Gate https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Pedro_Macedo7
  40. Pedro Macedo: Dive Deep and Dream Big: codesigning new transformative pathways through a social learning process https://zenodo.org/record/4159731#.X603WNvgqRs
  41. Solidarity Hall https://solidarityhall.org
  42. Ana Margarida Esteves: The Next City: Fearless Cities and Deep Democracy https://blog.cei.iscte-iul.pt/the-next-city-fearless-cities-and-deep-democracy/
  43. Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale https://city.yale.edu/
  44. Participatory Budgeting Project https://www.participatorybudgeting.org/
  45. Solidarity Hall, video, Jun 17, 2020: “The Next City: Fearless Cities and Deep Democracy” – A. Esteves, A. Kolokotronis – Eutopia Workshop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVg8BqbATL4
  46. The Transnational Institute https://www.tni.org/
  47. Catalunya en Comu https://catalunyaencomu.cat/
  48. Corporate Europe Observatory https://corporateeurope.org/en
  49. Greens/EFA Group https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/
  50. Municipalize Europe, The Transnational Institute https://www.tni.org/en/event/municipalize-europe

External links