Laboratory for Urban Commons

2016-2017

LUC & Foundation for Arts Initiatives

The Laboratory for the Urban Common (LUC) is a non-for profit organization that brings together scholars, activists, artists and cultural producers with the aim of a post-capitalist society starting from the valorization and coordination of already existing practices of commoning, solidarity and self-management. Situated in Athens, LUC looks towards the Mediterranean and Europe’s ‘south’ – intended as a political space with cultural, political and economic traditions that differ from capitalism in the north – with solidarity and a sense of common future.

The main goal of LUC is to bring international scholars, activists and ‘experts’ in touch with grassroots social movements and groups and to facilitate their collaboration on various urban research-interventions through a long-term, participatory and process-based methodology. At the centre of this methodology is the belief that cultural and artistic experimentation are key to open up non-hierarchic spaces for political imagination and prefiguration.

Among the activities already started by LUC are (1) the documentation, archiving and narration of histories of popular struggles and of key political and artistic movements; (2) the mapping of existing practices of solidarity, commoning and cooperation; (3) the development of new institutional and legal frameworks for sustainable and self-organised cultural and economic production and distribution; (4) the setting up of art residencies, exhibitions and a pilot ‘free school’ that bring together international artists and curators with the activist community in Athens.

LUC, so far, has organized two rounds of international meetings in the process of identifying, developing and maturing the above mentioned project, testing its participatory process and forming its network of collaborations. The first such meeting was held in November 2016 and the second one in March 2017, with over 50 collectives and dozen individuals, from Greece and nine more countries taking part.

 

Open Calls

 

LUC Meetings Round 2

Friday 10 – Saturday 11 March, Athens (Building of the Architect’s Association, 15 Vrisakiou str., Monastiraki) 

Based on the themes and projects that were formed in the first round of LUC meetings in November 2016, we hold a second round of meetings in the form of three workshops.

The workshops are perceived as informal conversations to share practices, test drive ideas and receive feedback based on similar experiences and endeavours. In this way we hope to create from the very beginning, the ground for potential collaborations with an expanded group of colleagues in the region. Your contribution on all three thematic premises (Space, Archiving/Mapping and Education) would be significant in identifying the best methodologies as well as potential projects.

The workshops will host the presentation of some of the best practices on each field we have identified so far. Our intention is to learn from these, to bring them in contact with the experience and needs of everyone invited and to test their use in the specific local context.

From the dialogue between “experts” and those active on the ground we expect the emergence of the best mix of practices and outcome of this project.

 

 Workshops’ schedule

FRIDAY 10 MARCH

5.30 – 20.30 The Archiving/Mapping Project: Documentation and mapping of practices and of grassroots movements and networks

Producing knowledge and/through documenting practices of solidarity and commoning that have been developed in Greece within the last years of crisis and resistance, is one of the main aims of LUC. This workshop explores different methodologies and approaches to archive and mapping, delivered by groups already active on the field. The experience and histories of the solidarity movement and of practices of commons in Greece will inform the formulation of the proper mix of methodologies and tools for this project.

Initial contributions by:

Jan Gerber & Sebastian Luetgert (Pad.ma - Public Access Digital Media Archive, Berlin - India)

Stavros Stavridis (Professor at the Architectural School of the Technical University of Athens)

Socrates Stratis (Architect, Urbanist, Associate Professor, Head, Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus)

Respondent: Didem Pekun (Artist/ Academic, Beyond Istanbul: Center for Spatial Justice Foundation, Turkey)

 

SATURDAY 11 MARCH

10.00 – 13.00 The “Space” project / LUC’s Space: Functions, Operation, Community, Practices of self-governance

As LUC we imagine our “Space” as an infrastructure integrated in the dynamics of its Athenian neighborhood’s profile and of already existing networks. As a space of cohabitation that enables and facilitates synergies between various groups across fields. Members of some of the most active socio-cultural spaces have been invited to present their valuable for LUC experiences. This workshop aims at discussing with the invited groups various options regarding the location of LUC, the possible political implications of these, the functionality of LUC’s space, its practices of governance, ways of building relations with the community and other collectives.

Initial contributions by:

Margherita D'Andrea & Sabrina Merolla (Working Women and Men of Arts, Culture and Entertainment in the Self-governed 'Ex Asilo Filangieri of Naples, Italy)

William Wells (Founder and director of Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Egypt)

Tonia Katerini (President of the Architect’s Association, «Open Roads» group)

14.00 – 17.00 The Education/Research project: Open School – Practices of participatory and interdisciplinary pedagogy

As LUC we are interested in setting the framework for a participatory pedagogical practice, research and knowledge production. This may take variable forms such as: tuition-free educational and alternative university programs, educational workshops between cultural practitioners and grassroots initiatives, development of collective research and knowledge production. This workshop focuses on exploring methodologies,

Initial contributions by:

Christos Korolis (Teacher – member of the Solidarity School of Mesopotamia)

Margherita D'Andrea & Sabrina Merolla (Working Women and Men of Arts, Culture and Entertainment in the Self-governed 'Ex Asilo Filangieri of Naples, Italy)

Respondent: Ida Susser (Anthropologist in Hunter College & CUNY Graduate Center, USA)

 

Open call for collaboration in the foundation of a Lab for Urban Commons / Athens - October 2016

Komvos (Hub) for Social Econony, Empowerment and Innovation launches a collaborative process for the creation of a Lab for the Urban Commons. Putting forward such a project Komvos invites individuals, initiatives, co-ops, social organizations and groups, collectives and other social agents in various thematic areas for the creation of collaborative networks. We want to bring together agents which are active in similar sectors and join forces in order to:

- establish resilient networks and efficient modes of collaboration

- connect with international networks and upgrade domestic operational capacities

- collectively design and mature joint projects

Indicatively - and open to modifications – we have shaped the following thematic areas:

- Digital commons (including financial and monetary commons)

- Cultural Commons

- Urban Commons (public space, buildings, resources and infrastructures: energy, water, waste)

- Food chains

- Social reproduction and solidarity (housing, medical care, refugees, education).

- Workers’ Run Factories and Cooperatives.

Hopefully, through this process of collaboration in various domains and on specific projects we aim at creating the necessary functional “components” of the Lab for the Urban Commons. The Lab will be a place of co-existence, cross-sectional collaboration and exchange of know-how.

We firmly believe that the empowerment of the existing collective activities in a variety of fields passes through building new institutions which are designed in such a way that:

- facilitates and systematizes operationally the existing practices,

- nurtures the conditions for their expansion and scaling-up,

- increases their resilience through deepening connectivity and coordination,

- upgrades their objectives by supporting processes of integration.

With these in mind the Lab will develop activities such as:

- foster a culture of the commons and increase the visibility of already existing practices of urban commoning,

- promote alternative forms of academic research, knowledge production and training,

- create a system of valorization of practices of social solidarity, reproduction and care,

- develop a common narrative and prefigurative forms of social transformation.

Komvos invites you to actively participate in this process with your expertise, experience, ideas and proposals for the promotion of this goal. We begin by organizing preparatory meetings in the above thematic areas within the first week of November in which we invite you to participate.

Participants

 

Cultural Commons (Friday 4 November)

Nikos Arvanitis, Bhive - Gerasimos Avlamis, Campus Novel, Enterprise Projects - Danai Giannoglou and Vasilis Papageorgiou, Fokidos - Sofia Stevi, Hyle - Georgia Sagri, Lo and Behold, Open Show studio - Sofia Touboura, Snehta Residency - Augoustos Veinoglou, Studio Benaki - Sofia Simaki, Tinos Quarry Platform - Petros Touloudis, Urban Dig - George Sachinis.

Urban Commons and Social Reproduction and Solidarity (Friday 4 November)

Kostas Karras - Solidarity Piraeus, Stamatis Stefanakos - Solidarity Club of Koukaki, Tonia Katerini - Anoihtoi Dromoi (Open Routes) and Architects' Association, Babis Dinakis - Open Assembly of Perama, Myrto Bolota - Anoihtoi Dromoi - Open Routes, Christos Korolis - Mesopotamia Solidarity School, Fereniki Vatavali - Encounter Athens, Panagiotis Oikonomidis - SPAME tous Mesazontes, Natalia Avllona - DOCK for SSE, Olga Lafazani - City Plaza.

Digital Commons (Sunday 6 November)

George Papanikolaou – P2P Foundation, George Klisiaris – Sarantaporo.gr (NPO), Vasilis Vlachokyriakos – Open Lab: Athens, Manolis Levedianos – MakerHub, Eleni Mougiakou – CPD, Natalia Avlona – P2P Foundation and DOCK for SSE, Dimitris Mouzakis – DOCK for SSE, Manolis Britzolakis - Commonslab (Heraklion), Dimitris Koukoulakis - Commonslab (Heraklion), Spyros Tzortzis – Sociality, Dimitris Kostinos – Point Blank (Thessaloniki), Jim Ntosas – Barikat.gr, Konstantinos Stamou – Barikat.gr, Vasilis Linardos – Barikat.gr, Vassilis Kostakis P2P Lab (Ioannina)

Projects

 

1. The “Space” project

An experimental process of localisation of a living space for the laboratory. The group will explore the city taking into account various perspectives such as constituencies, socio-economic profiles and historical background etc. The “Space” project is conceived as a “building infrastructure” project which is going to try out the horizontal support of all potential projects.

2. Neos Kosmos project

One of the aims and methods we aspire in LUC is to build open and interactive relationship with the actual communities of our residency and enhance processes of commoning through cultural, educational and other means. Thus we have identified Neos Kosmos as such an area.

Yet, this area’s ‘research phase’ will be part of LUC’s core activities under ‘Neos Kosmos project’ which will be initiated right after the upcoming March workshops. Our aim is to facilitate a working group, continuing the “Space project” of LUC, in collaboration with core team members, Stavros Stavridis (professor in the School of Architecture of the Technical University of Athens, with expertise on “space as commons”) and Tonia Katerini (president of the Architects’ Association and “right to the city” activist), as well as collectives active in the area throughout the years.

3. The People’s history project

Mapping Project. An on-going mapping and visualization research project of people's autonomous activities and initiatives in various areas, taking into consideration the accumulated experience of similar domestic and international projects. The aim would be to build a visual network of existing practices and assets, and go beyond our initial sectoral approach.

“People's History” project: a research agenda of documenting movements and people's activities and struggles in the last years, bringing researchers, artists, cultural producers and activists together. This project will put together a documentation of practices of activism and struggle in Athens since 2010. Oral history, digital archives and local exhibitions.

4. Digital Commons group