Cities, justice, sustainability and covid-19

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Summary

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019, and was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020.[1] Since February 2020 the problem worsened in Europe and on March 13th the WHO declared Europe the new epicentre of the pandemic.[2] Quickly states of emergency were declared and European cities, regions and countries began to go into lockdown. Especially hit was firstly Italy[3], where its death toll was likened to a war,[4] then Spain, [5] where 514 people died on a single day from the virus.[6] Daily statistics of confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance are available on Worldometer.[7] As the situation worsens, more communities are beginning to beginning to self organise, support each other, understand what can be done to alleviate the impact of the virus, thereby "flattening the curve"[8], so as emergency services are not pushed beyond their capacity and can best respond to those that need assistance. Arising from this new reality, UrbanA partners began to identify helpful resources to assist themselves and their wider UrbanA community of practice. Many solutions were identified in responses to George Monbiot[9]'s tweet[10] from March 26th:

Advice please.
I'm looking for the best examples of citizens' initiatives on the Covid19 crisis, pre-empting government action, from around the world. 
In other words, people working together to contain the  pandemic and support each other through it.  
Thank you in advance.

Many of the solutions are crowdsourced and rely on citizen participation to quickly grow. Without any prior experience, people can assist at whatever level they feel is appropriate. The Coronavirus Tech Handbook group are seeking translators.[11]

Coping with the crisis

COVID-19 Live updates

  • European cities respond to the coronavirus crisis / EUROCITIES
  • Available for everyone, funded by readers / The Guardian

Handbooks

  • Coronavirus Tech Handbook[12]

A crowdsourced library for technologists, civic organizations, public and private institutions, researchers, educators and specialists of all kinds to collaborate on an agile and sophisticated response to the coronavirus outbreak and sequential impacts. It is a rapidly evolving resource with thousands of active expert contributors. In 8 languages.

  • #AloneTogether Handbook: Regenerative Resources in a Time of Coronavirus[13]

The UK Extinction Rebellion (XR) community[14] have been evolving and developing resources and tools to help navigate the climate and ecological emergency which are of deep relevance as we face this planetary health crisis. The handbook has been created to offer communities support in building resilience to the crises, staying connected with each other.

Coping advice

  1. Play the long game. Your peers who are trying to work as normal right now are going to burn out fast. They're doomed. Make a plan with a longer vision.
  2. Your top priority is to stabilize and control your immediate home environment. Ensure your pantry has sensible supplies. Clean your house. Make a coordinated family plan. Feeling secure about your own emergency preparedness will free up mental space.
  3. Any work that can be simplified, minimized, and flushed: FLUSH IT. Don't design a fancy new online course. It will suck & you will burn out. Choose the simplest solution for you & your students, with min admin. Focus on getting students feeling empowered & engaged.
  4. Give yourself a proper mental adjustment window. The first few days in a disaster zone are always a write-off. But if you give yourself that essential window, your body and mind WILL adjust to the new normal. Without that mental shift, you'll fall on your face.
  5. AFTER you experience the mental shift, build a schedule. Make a routine. Put it on a weekly calendar with time blocks. Wake up early. Put the most important parts first: food, family, fitness. Priority 1 is a stable home. Then add windows for achievable work goals.
  6. Cooperate with your brain. For me, I need to ease into heavy-duty academic writing. So I do admin in the morning, and then dip my toe into papers and book projects around noon. Tick off accomplishments, no matter how small. Trust and support your mental shift.
  7. It's unreasonable to demand your body & brain do the same things under higher stress conditions. Some people can write in a war zone. I cannot. I wait until I get back. But I can do other really useful things under high stress conditions. Support your continuing mental shift.
  8. This phenomenon should change how we understand the world. So let this distract you from your work. Because the world is supposed to be our work. May this crisis dismantle all our faulty assumptions and force us into new terrain.
  9. And finally, we can check on our neighbours, reach out to isolated people, and volunteer or donate as we can. Because at the end of the day, our papers can wait.
  • How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus / New York Times
  • Feeling overwhelmed? Top tips for staying positive online during the coronavirus crisis / CNN
  • "A few recommendations for the moment, a Coronavirus Care Package, as it were", from SocMedAnthro's Anthropology of Mental Health Interest Group / This is *Not Fine. It’s OK If You’re *Not Fine Tweet

Community responses

  • Resources for civil society in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic[15]. From CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.
Defending civil society, democratic rights, and our fundamental freedoms can be challenging, let alone having to do it while under “lockdown” practicing social distancing in the midst of a global health crisis spreading rapidly across the world. In times like these, solidarity and social compassion play the most important role. To help connect and inform the alliance and civil society during this time, we will be collecting information, resources, and support to share.
  • City of Barcelona has organised a space for sharing local neighborhood cultural, educational, or care-based initiatives, and make confinement more bearable. / decidim.barcelona
  • ITF Public Transport updates: Working people in public transport, through their unions, have been taking action to keep passengers and workers safe, and to keep networks running for everyone / International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Updates
  • Wemunity.org: Open source project exploring how immunized citizens can be utilized strategically in response to viral epidemics / Wemunity.org
  • Belgrade Anti-Corona Zone, volunteers offer virtual coffee meetups, crisis counselling, yoga, etc / Belgrade Anti-Corona Zone
  • Solidarity in times of corona in Belgium. VUB uses questionnaire to map how citizens are helping each other / Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Databases and lists

  • COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid groups: list / Freedom News
  • Directory of wonderful country initiatives in and around Dublin (Ireland) / Dublin Inquirer
  • Help With Covid: Projects looking for volunteers. New or established projects helping with the COVID-19 crisis that need help / Help With Covid
  • Kitajaga: “One stop shop” (Malaysia). Malaysians Helping Malaysians Fight Covid19. Citizen initiatives to help vulnerable communities, frontliners and civil society / Kitajaga
  • Cities for Global Health. Platform co-led by Metropolis and the Euro-Latin-American Alliance of Cooperation among Cities, AL-LAs, developed by UCLG and supported by UN-Habitat / Cities for Global Health
  • COVID-19 Resources for Providers / Coalition for the homeless
  • SEADS Database of COVID-19 Technologies. Directory to identify existing tech projects, best #DIY designs and technology innovations during the #COVID19 pandemic. Manuals to make personal protective equipment (PPE) / SEADS COVID-19 Database
  • Give Back (Ireland) - Directory of free products / services available during COVID-19 / Give Back

Community communications

  • (Waipu, New Zealnad) Door stuck to a street sign where people can post messages of support, or request help or offer help / Rory (SwitcherNZ) on Twitter
  • Ticks and crosses: Village’s novel way of tackling Covid-19 (Ballachulish, Highlands, Scotland, UK) / STV Scottish News

Deliveries

Feeding ourselves

  • Neighbours group purchasing (Bath, UK). Reaching out to local producers and organising weekly bulk orders for 50+ homes to minimise essential travel / Adam Reynolds on Twitter:
  1. Get neighbours on WhatsApp.
  2. Have one house happy to sort house deliveries and handle money.
  3. Reach out to wholesalers/producers for delivered price.
  4. Copy this spreadsheet and fill in item prices & share in group. Googe Docs example
  5. Order & distribute.
  • Feed the Heroes (Ireland). Raising money and sourcing suppliers to send food to the hardworking teams in the HSE (national health system) and hospitals around Ireland / Feed The Heroes

Educating

  • Teachers everywhere are doing things to support vulnerable children and families / Teach For All

Staying at home with kids and family

Campaigns

  • Emergency basic income for the EU. Petition / Universal Basic Income Europe
  • Principles for a just recovery from covid-19. Petition (Global) / 350.org and more
  • The Debt Collective (US) leverages collective power by offering debtors a shared platform for direct action / The Debt Collective
  • Generation Rent (UK) is calling for a temporary halt to all section 21 “no fault” evictions and section 8 evictions for rent arrears. It wants the five-week wait for housing benefit removed, and for rents to be frozen for a year / Source Generation Rent
  • The Leap (US). To advance systemic change in the face of the intersecting crises of climate change, racism & inequality. Founded by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis / The Leap
  • Citizens Advice (UK) proposed a “crisis minimum income” of at least £180 a week so everyone has enough money “to protect their own health and the health of others” / Citizens Advice
  • Suspend Rents and relocate people evicted and / or those sleeping in the street (Portugal) #SuspenderAsRendas / Petition Tweet
  • Stop Evictions - The Netherlands Petition
  • Uplift petition for a Universal Basic Income (Ireland) Uplift

Tek solutions

Online events

A major consequence of the virus is that while people are under self isolation, groups are having to use online communication tools for conferences, music festivals, family calls, quizzes, choral singing... For many, this is experimental territory, much learning by praxis. Urban Future identify various online tools[16], ECOLISE's Nenad explains the details of "Blended Arenas"[17] (which is a core of the UrbanA process) and DRIFT[18] share 7 social innovation insights insights for the art of connecting online (for online team meetings of 5-30 people):

  1. Be fully present.
  2. Treat it like a face to face meeting.
  3. Check-in & check-out.
  4. Share responsibilities.
  5. Share your screen/ slides/ notes.
  6. Be flexible and trust human creativity.
  7. Go offline.

Here is a list of upcoming and past online streamed events and conferences. After the stream, an archive is normally kept at the same link. Events ordered by date.

  • 1st UrbanA online Community Conversation, 7 April 15h-16h30 CET. UrbanA Fellow João Dinis: Accelerating Urban Transition Division, Cascais Ambiente, Portugal / UrbanA
  • VIRAL OPEN SPACE. Online Social Forum on the Corona Crisis. Let's make solidarity more contagious than the virus! 29-30 March 2020 / VIRAL OPEN SPACE
  • Covid-19 Special Online Workshop: Regenerative Community Design – Responding to the Planetary Emergency. 27-29 March / Global Ecovillage Network
  • Fridays4future #TalksForFuture #1: 27 March 2020, 14h GMT: Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein + WHO climate change & health leader Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum / video Tweet
  • Coronavirus Capitalism — and How to Beat It. Naomi Klein, Astra Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Thursday, March 26, 2020 21h GMT. / video haymarket booksRelated Article
  • #UrbanLunchTalks, Mar 20: Urban Dilemmas + Governance / JPIUrbanEurope
  • Cooperative City special event: Collaborative and solidarity practices in European cities during COVID-19 outbreak. Friday 20.03.2020 at 17:00 CET / Video

Mapping Tools

  • COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK. Map of local groups / Mutual Aid UK
  • Flatten The Curve: Maps all citizen initiatives in Spain / Flatten The Curve
  • Crowdfight COVID-19: initiative from the scientific community to put all available resources at the service of the fight against COVID-19 / Crowdfight COVID-19
  • Safecast Testing Map. Citizens network based in SF and Japan (building on Fukushima experience) / Safecast Testing Map
  • Taiwan’s app to track local mask supplies amid coronavirus pandemic / South China Morning Post
  • ESRI COVID19 Maps, resources, and insights, GIS solutions. / ESRI

Making things

  • OxVent: Could this prototype ventilator save thousands of lives? / OxVent
  • Scientists in Bangladesh develop $3 virus testing kit / Arab News
  • Uruguay: Mechanical artificial respirator that can be quickly manufactured with Uruguayan electronics and supplies / Montevideo Portal (in Spanish) Related Tweet
  • Pantibar's door (Ireland's Queen places washing station on outside of closed bar door) / PantiBliss
  • Online sewing community. Organising themselves to sew and deliver masks and scrubs to any healthworkers / Pattern Review
  • Covid-19 crisis shows governments must open eyes to our 3D future (Scotland) / The National

Hackathons, hacker solutions

  • The Corona Virus Hackathon, 18—19 April 2020 (Global) How do we make the world better after COVID-19? / The Corona Virus Hackathon
  • HACK THE CRISIS: Virtual hackathon organised by volunteers from the Lithuanian government, corporates & startup community. (march 20-22 / HACK THE CRISIS
  • Shield 48 (Latvia): decentralized network of partners who could provide face shields for those who are in need. From a Latvian 48h Hackathon / Shield 48 Related Tweet

Blogs and Media analysis

Solidarity perspective

  • Covid-19 Mutual Aid: how to help vulnerable people near you / The Guardian
I’m worried about vulnerable people in my community who may have to self-isolate or quarantine, especially those who do not have family nearby. How can I help them?

Cities and covid-19

Gender, class, minorities perspective

  • We're about to learn a terrible lesson from coronavirus: inequality kills / Owen Jones, Guardian UK
  • As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread / New York Times
  • Domestic violence victims facing higher risks amid coronavirus quarantine / New York Post
  • Portugal to treat migrants as residents during coronavirus crisis / Reuters
  • This is how cities are helping homeless people self-isolate / World Economic Forum
  • COVID-19 lockdown hits Berlin's unemployed, homeless and refugees / Al Jazeera
  • ‘White-Collar Quarantine’ Over Virus Spotlights Class Divide / New York Times

Ecological perspective

  • Phase Shift has arrived! The Pandemic as a catalyst for transformation. COVID 19 / cooperatively redesigning the human impact on Earth / Daniel Wahl
  • 5 Ways Coronavirus Could Help Humanity Survive the Ecological Crisis / Resilience.org
  • Coronavirus and the crisis of the Anthropocene. Ashish Kothari / The Ecologist
  • Ecological Reflections on the Coronavirus. by Dr. Vandana Shiva / Post Growth Institute
  • The Coronavirus and the Climate Movement, By Bill McKibben / The New Yorker
  • Coronavirus: 'Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief / The Guardian
  • 10 Steps for Rebalancing our World in Times of Crisis / Post Growth Institute
  • Coronavirus and the Need for a Social Ecology, by E.G. Smith / Institute for Social Ecology
  • How the EU’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic could make our society more resilient / Greenpeace European Unit
  • Can the coronavirus save the planet? The corona crisis signifies a civilization that is dying. But it also shows a 'pluriverse' of other worlds rising up / Open Democracy
  • 'Tip of the iceberg': is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19? By John Vidal / The Guardian

Economic perspective

  • A degrowth perspective on the coronavirus crisis / Degrowth Network
  • Coronavirus puts degrowth on new, rapid trajectory / Green News
  • The Real Pandemic Danger Is Social Collapse. Branko Milanovic / Countercurrents
  • World will need new financial system after Covid-19. David McWilliams / Irish Times
  • The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun. Nafeez Ahmed / Vice
  • Universal basic income is the best way to help the self-employed. Owen Jones / The Guardian
  • Tourism, Degrowth, and the COVID-19 Crisis / Political Ecology Network
  • Non, le Coronavirus n’est pas notre Décroissance (French) / Decroissance (Degrowth)

Political perspective

  • Capitalism Has its Limits. Judith Butler discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, and its escalating political and social effects in America. / Verso Books
  • How coronavirus could destroy the Western multilateral order. By Paul Mason / New Statesman
  • Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus / Financial Times
  • Coronavirus Capitalism — and How to Beat It. Naomi Klein / The Intercept
  • From mutual aid to dual power in the state of emergency / ROAR magazine
  • The Coronavirus Crisis Is a Monster Fueled by Capitalism. By Mike Davis / In These Times
  • We Won’t Go Back to Normal, Because Normal Was the Problem: The Thirteenth Newsletter (2020) / Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
  • Against Agamben: Is a Democratic Biopolitics Possible? / Viewpoint Magazine
  • The Political Use of Parasites / Undisciplined Environments
  • Coronavirus beyond Coronavirus: thresholds, biopolitics and emergencies / Eco Politica Venezuela
  • Coronavírus e a luta de classes (PDF in Portuguese)[19]:
  1. Mike Davis - A crise do coronavírus é um monstro alimentado pelo capitalismo
  2. David Harvey - Política anticapitalista em tempos de COVID-19
  3. Alain Bihr - França: pela socialização do aparato de saúde
  4. Raúl Zibechi - Coronavírus: a militarização das crises
  5. Alain Badiou - Sobre a situação epidêmica
  6. Slavoj Žižek - Um golpe como “Kill Bill” no capitalismo

Podcasts

  • David McWilliams (Irish economist): Beyond money - Why livelihoods matter most. Capitalism as we know it has been suspended. The most important thing now is to minimize unemployment and see beyond the crisis. Unemployment isn’t just economical, it’s psychological and emotional. We have an economic vaccine, we explain what it is and how it can be used. But we need to move fast. Take care, stay apart, stay safe and be strong / David McWilliams Tweet
  • COVID19 - Mental health tips. (Irish radio) Drivetime, Friday 27 March / RTÉ Radio
  • Anti-Capitalist Politics in the time of Covid-19 / David Harvey's Anti-Capitalist Chronicles
  • The Corona Diaries! Audio reflections on life in the of a global pandemic. Mohira in Bishkek, about everyday life in Kyrgyzstan's capital / The Corona Diaries Tweet
  • Rádio Gabriela - Pandemónio Live - Emissão 0 (Portuguese) / Rádio Gabriela Tweet

Videos

References

  1. WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020". World Health Organization. 11 March 2020. https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---11-march-2020
  2. Europe 'now epicentre of coronavirus pandemic'. BBC News. 13 March 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51876784
  3. What towns in Italy are on lockdown because of coronavirus? Metro, 25 February 2020. https://metro.co.uk/2020/02/25/towns-italy-lockdown-coronavirus-12298246/
  4. 'This is like a war': view from Italy's coronavirus frontline. The Guardian, 17 Mar 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/17/this-is-like-a-war-view-from-italys-coronavirus-frontline
  5. Coronavirus: Spain declares state of emergency. Irish Times. March 14, 2020. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/coronavirus-spain-declares-state-of-emergency-1.4203428
  6. Coronavirus death toll in Spain overtakes China. The Guardian, 25 Mar 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-death-toll-in-spain-overtakes-china-as-lockdowns-extend-across-globe
  7. Worldometer: Confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance of the Coronavirus https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries
  8. Covid-19 outbreak: what do health experts mean by 'flattening the curve'? The Guardian. 10 Mar 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/10/covid-19-coronavirus-flattening-the-curve
  9. Monbiot, George. Covid-19 is nature's wake-up call to complacent civilisation. Wed 25 Mar 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/25/covid-19-is-natures-wake-up-call-to-complacent-civilisation
  10. George Monbiot: I'm looking for the best examples of citizens' initiatives on the Covid19 crisis https://twitter.com/GeorgeMonbiot/status/1243074115763875840
  11. Coronavirus Tech Handbook - translation https://coronavirustechhandbook.com/translation
  12. Coronavirus Tech Handbook https://coronavirustechhandbook.com/home
  13. Extinction Rebellion UK (XR). #AloneTogether Handbook: Regenerative Resources in a Time of Coronavirus. Accesssed March 26 2020 https://docs.google.com/document/d/16eLNGF-2GEUkAzZQXGNp5uy22nbXBBmGrz6MYgDBq1w/edit
  14. Extinction Rebellion UK https://rebellion.earth/
  15. Resources for civil society in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. CIVICUS https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/blog/4345-resources-for-civil-society-in-the-midst-of-the-covid-19-pandemic
  16. Urban-Future: Our favourite online communication tools. 23. March 2020. http://www.urban-future.org/2020/03/23/our-favourite-online-communication-tools
  17. Maljković, Nenad. ECOLISE Remote-ready. For a blended event, BYOD. Nov 12, 2019. https://medium.com/urban-arenas-for-sustainable-and-just-cities/for-a-blended-event-byod-b71afa91eb5
  18. DRIFT (The Dutch Research Institute For Transitions): The art of connecting online: 7 social innovation insights https://drift.eur.nl/the-art-of-connecting-online-7-social-innovation-insights/
  19. Coronavírus e a luta de classes. Artigos de Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou, Mike Davis,David Harvey, Alain Bihr e Raúl Zibechi (PDF) Accessed March 27 2020. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xPauCqawff_qcZYpmbMNlMQJLeuN4noP/view