E) Tapping into resources of existing community networks and learning

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The ambition

This is about connecting to and learning from existing community networks working on similar issues or even becoming a branch of an already existing group. Resources can mean human resources and learning from individuals of other community initiatives elsewhere, as well as learning about concept structure and organisational issues and tools. Consulting experts in the field could also be important here, especially in the beginning of a project (e.g BEB learning from re-municipalisation experts). Learning from other communities and benefiting from their resources as well as gaining expertise increases legitimacy and helps community networks and ideas gain public as well as political support.

Check out examples

Foodsharing, Berlin

Foodsharing groups tapped into the resources of the national network to develop locally, especially they used the same online platform as well as the same principles and organizational structure. Social resources were also used to gain legitimacy as Foodsharing is well known in the food sector. This helped regional groups to develop partnerships with food retailers of supermarkets or possibly to gain support from local institutional actors (e.g. that tolerate public fridges - not in Berlin!).

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Vauban neighborhood, Freiburg

Housing Cooperative Networks in Germany inspired to some extent project proponents. Specifically, they benefited from the expertise of the cooperative confederation regarding economy, law and tax policy.

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Community Land Trust, Brussels

The ability of many (15) community associations to self-organize and present a united appeal for the establishment of the CLTB was very important for the intervention’s emergence . Additionally, CLTB learned from experiences in experiments for alternative affordable housing in and outside of Brussels.

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Bürgen Energie Berlin, Berlin

BEB is supported by a large number of alliances including cooperatives, ethical banks and renewable energy companies. The cooperative expanded fast in numbers and donations through synergies with the networks established by other energy cooperatives and movements in the field of energy and politics. Schönau Cooperative has been instrumental in the success of BEB by passing on knowledge and expertise. Whereas, in order to reach out to people and inform them about the cooperative they worked together with the media, a network summit called “NetzGipfel”, and took part in demonstrations and other events to inform people about their initiative and to get more participants

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Relation to previous work in UrbanA

This enabling governance arrangement addresses the following drivers of injustice:

  • Unquestioned Neoliberal growth and austerity urbanism. It refers to processes of privatization, commercialization, budget cuts and state withdrawal from various sectors and how they can undermine urban sustainability, guided by an ideology of unfettered economic growth which often aligns with austerity policies.
  • Weak(ened) civil society. It refers to the ways in which collective civic groups that share common interests (other than the state, the market, or the family) are either not constituted and impactful enough to influence and benefit from sustainability efforts or are indeed constrained by interventions that carry sustainability objectives.
  • Lack of effective knowledge brokerage and stewardship opportunities. It refers to the ways in which (access to) useful information and know-how around sustainable urban interventions, and their benefits, is not shared effectively or equally among social groups, sectors or disciplines and thus constrain the potential for both sustainability and justice.