ECA in Madrid

October 25-27, 2017

In Madrid, we continue to build the ECA as a trans-local European coalition for solidarity in commoning. We will focus on themes relating to the urban commons through visits, workshops, and activities with local groups in Madrid, and feature joint programming with the Transeuropa Festival (October 25-29, 2017).

Why Madrid?

Madrid is a city where the discourse and practice of the commons is very present on the ground. Bringing activists and commoners from across Europe to Madrid will expose them to this rich context while amplifying the experiences and lessons learned there. Across Europe, many bottom-up commons initiatives are grappling with how to interact with the political sphere. In cities like Madrid, there is an important degree of sympathy with grassroots citizen initiatives. As in 5 other major Spanish cities led by political majorities with strong citizen platforms, Madrid’s local government has been run by Ahora Madrid for the last 2 years. Debates about new forms of city governance and local alternatives to centralized policy making are being considered in Madrid and by transnational citizen networks like the Commons Assembly. Madrid is a logical place to meet to reflect on both the motivating and disappointing experiences between the commons and local politics. It also allows us to open the Assembly to a wider participation, through collaboration with Transeuropa Festival that will be simultaneously held in Madrid. Transeuropa is a political, cultural and artistic event that will examine Europe as a territory for experimentation with commons. It will be cross-sectorial, including a wide range of actors from civil society to city government, from journalists to artists and urban gardeners to scientists.

Progamming

The point of departure for ECA programming will be local urban commons initiatives. This will allow commoners to investigate experiences on a variety of themes relevant to the city, including housing, municipal government relationships, the right to the city, reclaimed or occupied public spaces, water management, and others. Of course, there will be space for ECA members to continue collaborating in the ECA Working Groups, and to discuss issues of governance and the future direction of the ECA. The main goal is to take this opportunity to learn from local commons experiences in Madrid (and Spain), and see what commonalities these struggles have with others across Europe. It is therefore important that we continue our current trajectory of inviting new actors into the ECA process and working closely with initiatives on the ground. What are the problems and successes of these initiatives? Which tools and strategies have been developed in response, and what do they teach us about supporting and scaling commons? Processes, workshops, and actions will aim to initiate ‘production’, leading to documented and shareable findings, developments, ideas and practices. This will allow us to augment the toolbox of the ECA and continue as a trans-local platform for knowledge, building a European political agenda for the commons.

Working together

To that end, ECA members have found a main partner, MediaLabPrado, to be the physical host for activities. Their Laboratorio de Procomun has been very active in commons workshops and hackathons, facilitating the development and spread of commons ideas and practice. In addition, a group meeting was convened in May with various local commons initiatives that will participate in the ECA process. Others (so far) include: Fundacion de las Communes, Goteo, Traficantes de Suenos , Intermediae (Matadero), Campo de Cebada, Ahora Madrid, and more. Finally, with Transeuropa, the ECA will host an open panel and discussion entitled: “Urban Commons and citizen-led politics on the city level: a place of convergence?” as an official side event at the Fearless Cities conference of Barcelona en Comú on June 9, 2017. This is a way to continue the process of inclusion and develop the urban commons agenda along with municipalist social movements, in Spain and across Europe. It is a key part of preparing the work to be done during the October Assembly in Madrid.

How to participate

At the event, we aim to convene thematic groups, each with a mix of local Madrid commoners and other commoners from around Europe on a certain urban common theme (e.g. health in the city, public space, housing, etc). From here we can investigate and see what we learn from the local initiative and what it has in common (or not) with similar urban commons projects around Europe. If you are interested to share a local experience from Madrid and participate in the preparation of a session, please get in touch as soon as possible and we can have a conversation to share ideas. You can also contact us even if you’re not from Madrid but still interested to participate in preparation around a specific theme of urban commons.

For more information, please contact Nicole Leonard nicole.leonard@sciencespo.fr and see http://europeancommonsassembly.eu/how-to-participate/