of Amsterdam Journal.
Urban Gardening, Urban
Farming or Urban Agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing,
and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city. Urban agriculture
can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry, and horticulture.
These activities also occur in peri-urban areas as well.
Join us at our next Season
future of Urban Gardening
- Thursday, June 27, 18:30 - 21:15! A
collaboration with the Museum Geelvinck.
Felix F Bopp, Founder &
Commons in Community Gardens: Urban Gardening
a Corrective for Homo Economicus
sociologist and author.
An essay in the book The
Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State
by David Bollier (Editor), Silke Helfrich (Editor)
In these times
of ever more blatant marketing of public space, the aspiration
to plant potatoes precisely there and without restricting
entry is nothing less than revolutionary, writes
Sabine Rohlf in her book review of Urban Gardening. (1)
Indeed, we can observe the return of gardens to the city everywhere
and see it as an expression of a changing relationship between
the public and the private. And it is not only this dominant differentiation
in modern society that is increasingly becoming blurred; the differences
between nature and society as well as that between city and countryside
are fading as well, at least from the perspective of urban community
In the 1960s, as the economy boomed, people in West Germany had
given up their urban vegetable gardens, not least for reasons
of social status; many wished to demonstrate, for example, that
they could purchase food and no longer had to grow and preserve
it themselves. Today, in contrast, the Generation Garden
has planted its feet firmly in vegetable patches in the midst
of hip urban neighborhoods, the young farmers of Berlin-Kreuzberg
are creating a furor, the German Federal Cultural Foundation stages
the festival Über Lebenskunst (a pun meaning
both On the art of living and spelled Überlebenskunst
The art of survival) and people need not be
ashamed of showing their fingernails, black from gardening, in
What we observe here is a shift in the symbolism and status of
post-materialistic values and lifestyles. Do-it-yourself and grow-it-yourself
also means finding ones own expression in the products of
ones labor. It means setting oneself apart from a life of
consuming objects of industrial production. Seeking individual
expression is also a quest for new forms and places of community.
If the heated general stores and craftsmens workshops were
the places where Germanys social life unfolded in the postwar
years, todays urban community gardens and open workshops
seem to be developing into hothouses of social solidarity for
a post-fossil-fuel urban society.
In recent years, people of the most varied milieus have been joining
forces and planting organic gardens in major European cities.
They keep bees, reproduce seeds, make natural cosmetics, use plants
to dye fabrics, organize open-air meals, and take over and manage
public parks. With hands-on neighborhood support, urban gardening
activists are planting flowers as they like at the bases of trees
and transforming derelict land and garbage-strewn parking decks
into places where people can meet and engage in common activities.
The new gardening
movement is young, colorful and socially heterogeneous. In Berlin,
indigenous city dwellers work side-by-side with long-time
Turkish residents to grow vegetables in neighborhood gardens and
community gardens; pick-your-own gardens and farmers gardens
are forming networks with one another. The intercultural gardening
movement is continuing to expand in striking ways, as seen on
the online platform Mundraub.org, which uses Web 2.0 technology
to tag the locations of fruit trees whose apples and other fruits
can be picked for free (Müller 2011). Such novel blending
of digital and analog worlds is creating new intermediate worlds
that combine open source practices with subsistence-oriented practices
of everyday life. (2)
Urban gardens as knowledge commons
Open source is the central guiding principle in all community
gardens; the participation and involvement of the neighborhood
are essential principles. The gardens are used and managed as
commons even if the gardeners do not personally own the land.
By encouraging people to participate, urban gardens gather and
combine a large amount of knowledge in productive ways. Since
there are usually no agricultural professionals among the gardeners,
everyone depends on whatever knowledge is available and
everyone is open to learning. They follow the maxim that everybody
benefits from sharing knowledge; after all, they can learn from
each other, relearn skills they had lost and contribute to bringing
about something new. Communal gardening confronts the limited
means of urban farmers whether in soil, materials, tools
or access to knowledge and transforms them into an economic
system of plenty through collective ingenuity, giving and reciprocity.
In urban gardens, both opportunities and the necessity for exchange
arise time and again. A vibrant atmosphere emerges where the most
varied talents meet. In workshops, for example, people can learn
to build their own freight bicycles, window farming (4)
or greening roofs; they can learn to grow plants on balconies
and the walls of buildings, and use plastic water bottles for
constant watering of topsoil. There is always a need for ingenuity
and productivity, which often come about only when knowledge is
passed along, which in turn releases additional knowledge.
Thus, the creative process in a garden never reaches an end. The
garden itself is a workshop where things are reinterpreted creatively
and placed in new relationships. One thing leads to another. It
is not only the inspiring presence of the various plants that
provides for a wealth of ideas, but also the ongoing opportunity
to engage oneself and be motivated by the objects lying around
This is how a real community that uses a garden emerges over time.
One of the most important ingredients for success is that the
place is not predefined or overly restricted by rules. Instead,
the atmosphere of untidiness and openness makes it apparent that
cooperation and creative ideas are desired and necessary.
A new policy for (public) space
When the neighborhood people of Berlin-Neukölln tend their
gardens on the site of the former Berlin-Tempelhof airport in
plant containers they crafted themselves, bringing together people
of many different backgrounds and generations and supported by
a common gardening organization, this is first of all an unusual
use of public space. The garden consists of raised beds in the
most varied styles on 5,000 square meters. Plants grow in discarded
bed frames, baby buggies, old zinc tubs and wooden containers
assembled by the gardeners themselves.
But more than an unusual public space, the Allmende-Kontor gardens
underscore an important political dimension of urban gardening.
The commons-oriented practices enable a different perspective
on the city. They both require communities and at the same time
create communities. People come together here, but not under the
banner of major events, advertising or the obligation to consume.
Instead, their self-organized, decentralized practices in the
public realm implicitly express a shared aspiration of a green
city for all. Yet no grand new societal utopia the
society of the future is being promoted. Instead,
simple social interactions slowly transform a concrete space in
the here and now, building an alternative to the dominant order
based on market fundamentalism (Werner 2011).
In other words, the policy preference for the small-scale as a
rediscovery of ones immediate environment is by no means
based on a narrowed perspective. On the contrary: the focus is
precisely on the overuse, colonization and destruction of the
global commons, and for this reason, the local commons is managed
as a place where one can raise awareness about a new concept of
publicness (5) while simultaneously demonstrating
that there are indeed alternatives common usage in place
of private property; local quality of life instead of remote-controlled
consumption, as it were; and cooperation rather than individual
Managing the internal commons
The new focus on the commons in urban community gardens is not
only a political defense of public space for its use toward the
common good. At the same time, it is also a reclaiming of peoples
internal consciousness and a rejection of the ascriptions of homo
economicus, an image of humanity that reduces us to competition-oriented
individuals whose attention is focused solely on their own advantage.
(6) This overly simplistic model has been under constructive
attack for some time, even in the field of economics. In particular,
the social neurosciences have confirmed that peoples willingness
to cooperate and need for connectedness are central elements of
human nature. For scholars of the humanities, this is surely no
new insight, yet it is still good to know that there is substantial
scientific evidence showing that the existence of a boundary between
mind and body, which is often used to justify hegemonic domination,
is artificial, and that the interrelationships between body and
mind are highly complex. For example, we know today that social
or psychological experiences leave physical traces even
in our genes, as shown by epigenetics. Joachim Bauer considers
this insight to be the decisive breakthrough regarding our concepts
of humankind (Bauer 2008).
This has two consequences for the subject at hand: for one thing,
a practice of the commons such as community gardening enables
the gardeners to discover their bodies, the experience of having
two hands and being able to create things with them. Such sensory
experiences are directly connected to ones grasp of the
world. For another, the garden is the ideal place to learn how
to cooperate. When designing a system to capture rainwater for
the beds, for example, the experience reveals an aspect of being
human namely connectedness that is just as important
as the experience of autonomy (Hüther 2011).
In this sense, commons
are a practice of life that enable even the highly individualized
subjects of the 21st century to turn their attention to one another,
and not least to slow down their lives. After all, time, too,
is a resource to be conceptualized in the community. Experiencing
time means being able to pursue an activity as one sees fit, enjoying
a moment or spending it with others. By accelerating time to an
extreme degree, digital capitalism has subjected virtually everyone
to a regime of efficiency, with the result that peoples
sense of time is determined by scarcity and by the stress people
subjectively feel to fill time with as much utility
as possible. Time is saved, leisure hours are regarded
with suspicion, and the boundaries between work and free time
are increasingly blurred.
The garden is an
antidote that can be used as a refuge by the exhausted self,
as described by French Sociologist Alain Ehrenberg. The garden
slows things down and enables experiences with temporal cycles
from a different epoch of human history, agrarian society. Small-scale
agriculture, which is being rediscovered in many urban gardens,
is cyclical in nature. Every year, the cycle begins anew with
the preparation of the soil and with sowing. People who farm are
exposed to nature, the climatic conditions, the seasons and the
cycles of day and night. For city dwellers whose virtual lives
have taught them that everything is always possible at the same
time, and above all, that everything can be managed at any time,
these dimensions of time are highly fascinating. Gardening enables
the insight that we are integrated in life cycles ourselves and
that it can have a calming effect to simply give oneself
up to the situation at hand.
In other words, managing
the commons creates not only valuable experiences, but also social
relationships with far-reaching effects. And, one might add, they
are valuable for achieving the transformation of an industrial
society based on oil and resource exploitation into a society
guided by premises of democratic participation that no longer
lives on externalizing costs but, to the extent possible,
avoids creating them in the first place. Processes of reciprocity
and an economy of symbolic goods, as Bourdieu puts
it, are just as important for highly differentiated modern societies
as for premodern ones (Adloff and Mau 2005). Old and new practices
of the commons offer inspiring options for action.
Urban agriculture: the new trends
is the title of the planning concept of a group of Munich architects
who won the Open Scale competition with a metropolitan food
strategy in 2009. The concept for an urban neighborhood
of harvesting places growing ones own food, the valuation
of regional resources and sustainable management of land at the
center of urban planning. Harvests are to become a visible part
of everyday urban life. If the city implements the model, fruit
from the commons and community institutions that exchange, store
and process the harvest could create the basis for a productive
collaboration on the part of the 20,000 inhabitants of the new
The Citizens Garden Laskerwiese
is a public park managed by the citizens themselves. A group of
35 local residents transformed the previously garbage-strewn,
derelict land in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, in Berlin, into a park.
They concluded a contract with the district authorities, agreeing
that the citizens association is responsible for services
such as tending the trees and the lawns on the site. In return,
it can use parcels of land and beds for growing vegetables free
of charge. Such new models that help cash-strapped municipalities
shoulder their financial burden and expand the opportunities for
people to shape public spaces require a lot of time and effort
for communication on both sides.
(roughly: Commons Office) is an initiative of the Berlin urban
gardening movement that has been tending community gardens on
the site of the former airport Berlin-Tempelhof together with
local residents since 2011. Raised beds of the most varied styles
are being created on 5,000 square meters. The Allmende-Kontor
considers itself as a garden for all and at the same time
as a place for storing knowledge, for learning and for consulting
and networking Berlin community gardens. The establishment of
a pool of gardening tools and a seed bank available for unrestricted
use are being planned as well.
- Adloff, Frank
and Steffen Mau, Eds. 2005. Vom Geben und Nehmen. Zur Soziologie
der Reziprozität. Frankfurt/New York. Campus.
- Bauer, Joachim.
2008. Das Gedächtnis des Körpers. Wie Beziehungen
und Lebensstile unsere Gene steuern. München. Piper.
- Hüther, Gerald.
2011. Was wir sind und was wir sein könnten. Ein neurobiologischer
Mutmacher. Frankfurt. Fischer.
- Müller, Christa,
editor. 2011. Urban Gardening. Über die Rückkehr
der Gärten in die Stadt. München. oekom.
- Werner, Karin.
2011. Eigensinnige Beheimatungen. Gemeinschaftsgärten
als Orte des Widerstandes gegen die neoliberale Ordnung.
In: Müller, Christa, ed. a.a.O.: 54-75.
Zeitung, April 5, 2011.
2. Mundraub is described in Katharina
in Part 3.
3. For more, read the conversation between Brian
Davey, Wolfgang Hoeschele, Roberto Verzola and Silke Helfrich
in Part 1.
4. Window farming is vertical gardening on a windowsill. Plants
are grown in hanging plastic bottles, which also provide greenery
for the windows.
5. See also Brigitte
Kratzwalds essay on social welfare in light of
the commons in Part 1.
6. For more detail on this topic, see Friederike
Habermanns essay in Part 1
Christa Müller (Germany) is a sociologist and author.
For many years she has been committed to research on rural and urban
subsistence. She is executive partner of the joint foundation anstiftung
& ertomis in Munich. Her most recent book (in German)
is Urban Gardening: About the Return of Gardens into the City.
She blogs at http://urban-gardening.eu.
Event: the future of Urban Gardening
future of Urban
June 27, 2013
Reception: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Geelvinck, Keizersgracht 633,
1017 DS Amsterdam
conference language is English.
30, Euro 20
(Members etc.) or Euro
The conference language
is in collaboration with the Museum
speakers and topics are
Landscape architect, Arcadis
Creating tomorrows green livable cities
leader, IVN - Institute for Nature education & sustainability
Urban farming: getting back in touch with our food
Kuypers, director of theSolidGROUNDS, knowledge brokers
for green economy
Founder & Director, Except Integrated Sustainability
Urban farming as green engine for urban redevelopment
moderator is Tarik Yousif,
Presenter at the
Dutch public broadcaster NTR
provides information on local peacebuilding organisations in areas
of conflict. Local peacebuilders already make a real impact in
conflict areas. They work to prevent violent conflicts before
they start, to reduce the impact of violence, and to bring divided
communities together in the aftermath of violence. However, their
work is often ignored either because people arent
aware of the existence and importance of local peacebuilders in
general, or because they simply havent had access to information
and contacts for local peacebuilders. We hope that Insight on
Conflict can help redress the balance by drawing attention to
the important work of local peacebuilders. On this site, youll
be able to find out who the local peacebuilders are, what they
do, and how you might get in touch with them. Over half the organisations
featured on Insight on Conflict do not have their own website.
Donors are struggling for information such as this. The
security situations in these countries mean that international
staff postings are one to two years at the most. In the case of
Pakistan, we go from crisis to crisis (floods, assassinations,
large scale terrorist attacks) and staff are usually caught up
in the reactive work that these situations generate. As a result,
we struggle with transfer of institutional memory regarding credible
local organisations and everyday conflict events (which when analysed
make sense of our bigger issues). In donor and civil society circles
we also talk increasingly about bringing our efforts together
to have a greater impact on the issues we work on. People still
struggle though, with making the connections and placing their
initiative within the larger context of social sector work taking
place. Lastly, although we admit the issues associated, due to
lack of information we struggle with the entrenched partners
phenomenon i.e. we continue to work with local organisations on
our radar, rather than branching out and taking calculated risks."
Conflict areas - some examples:
Victim of landmines in Colombia. Photo credit: Sgiraldoa
Colombia has experienced an intense intrastate conflict for
over half a century. Whilst guerrilla groups have suffered several
high-profile setbacks, they are still a powerful force and hostilities
are not expected to cease in the near future.
Paramilitary demobilisation has been successful in many but
not all areas. The armed conflict is fuelled by drug-related
violence, organised crime and tensions with neighbouring Ecuador
and Venezuela, which have been accused of supporting rebel groups.
Relations with Venezuela, in particular, have worsened over
Former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who served
since 2002 and operated a hard-line stance against the guerrilla
forces and consistently maintained one of the highest approval
ratings of any Latin American presidency, despite criticisms
from human rights groups; has been replaced with Juan Manuel
Santos, a former Defence Minister. Given his key role in the
Uribe administration, security policy continuity is anticipated.
Colombia is in the midst of an almost 50-year conflict between
the government and several guerrilla groups. The human impact
of the conflict has been enormous, with at least 50,000 lives
lost to date, and one of the worlds largest populations
of internally displaced people many of whom have disappeared.
Photo credit: United Nations
Sudan and South Sudan
The conflict in Sudan has many faces, the best known are a North-South
conflict, that problem in Darfur or an Arab-African
conflict. The reality is that Sudan is deeply complex with many
isolated but often overlapping conflicts that blur common perceptions.
The fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was reached
in 2005, in one way or another, affects almost every state in
the North and South of Sudan. Beneath that numerous tribal differences
that continue to be politicised, and bitter oil related conflicts,
exacerbate problems further. Such complexities make it almost
impossible for outsiders to fully understand, once again highlighting
just how indispensable local peacebuilders are. There are fears
that the conflicts in Sudan have the potential to trigger a
regional war, drawing in neighbouring countries.
Since the referendum
As the question of South Sudans (in)dependence is one
of the major disputes dividing North and South, a Referendum,
conducted in response to the 2005 Naivasha Agreement (Comprehensive
Peace Agreement) between the NCP and SPLM, was held on the 9th
January 2011 to decide whether South Sudan should remain part
of Sudan or become autonomous. A similar referendum was to be
held in Abyei to decide whether it joined the North or South,
but was postponed due to complications.
Significant problems predicted before the Referendum have since
surfaced. Darfur has reemerged as conflict region, with a sharp
rise in violent clashes being reported. New splinter rebel groups
have taken shape and are contesting fresh demands in the South
and East. The fate of the oil rich border states are still undecided,
with the possibility of renewed violence. Thousands of refugees
have fled conflict areas. And logistics over citizenship and
the splitting of the national debt have yet to be worked out.
These problems threaten to derail the entire process.
Yet steps are being taken towards resolving these issues facing
the creation of the worlds newest nation. Peace talks
over a planned referendum in Darfur are under way, ex-combatant
reintegration is taking a foothold and South Sudans draft
constitution has successfully been completed. It has yet to
be seen in how long and with how much difficulty the secession
is to be instated.
On 9 July 2011 Sudan split in two creating the worlds
newest nation the Republic of South Sudan. South Sudans
independence was the final stage of a 6 year peace agreement
ending decades of civil war. However, peace is not yet guaranteed.
As the South gains statehood, crucial issues such as border
demarcation, sharing of debt, and oil revenues and the use of
the Norths pipeline remain unresolved. Fighting in South
Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Abyei threatens the stability of the
peace, and there is ongoing tensions and violence on both sides
of the border.
Problems are not confined to tensions only along the border.
Less dramatic, but arguably more damaging is the serious rise
in food and water prices, the lack of medical care and infrastructure,
significant IDP flows, and poorly functioning economy of the
South. These developments daily endangering lives simply through
lack, and encourages reckless and desperate behaviour that can
lead to violence. Both countries have significant internal conflicts
to deal with. Decades of violence during the North-South civil
war followed by a fragile peace agreement mean that legacies
of violence remain and numerous localised conflicts continue.
Darfur has caught the worlds attention. While the South
is facing multiple rebel groups in the border states of Unity,
Jonglei, and Upper Nile.
of Amsterdam blog
of Amsterdam blog
The Humanities! Why STEM Shouldnt Take Precedence Over the
Rides and Robots are the Future of Space Travel
program for a sick planet
Public Brainstorm: Economic-Demographic
about the Future
Competitiveness Report 2013
The Africa Competitiveness Report 2013
comes at a time of growing international attention on Africa
as an investment destination and increasing talk of an African
economic renaissance. It is the fourth report in this series
to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the three partnering
organizations the African Development Bank, the World
Bank Group and the World Economic Forum to present a
joint policy vision for Africa. Under the theme Connecting
Africas Markets in a Sustainable Way, this years
report explores how Africa can connect its markets and communities
through increased regional integration as a key to raising competitiveness,
diversifying its economic base and creating jobs for its young,
Through a comprehensive analysis of Africas most pressing
competitiveness challenges, the report discusses the barriers
to increased trade, including the state of Africas infrastructure
and its legal and regulatory environment. It similarly considers
how innovative public-private partnerships, often anchored to
potential growth poles, can serve as incubators for self-sustaining
industrialization, more jobs, greater opportunities and more
dynamic regional integration. The report includes detailed competitiveness
profiles for 38 African countries, providing a comprehensive
summary of the drivers of productivity and competitiveness in
countries across the continent.
an urban power plant
STRAWSCRAPER is an extension of Söder
Torn on Södermalm in Stockholm with a new energy producing
shell covered in straws that can recover wind energy.
The straws of the facade consist of a composite material with
piezoelectric properties that can turn motion into electrical
energy. Piezoelectricity is created when certain crystals
deformation is transformed into electricity. The technique has
advantages when compared to traditional wind turbines since it
is quite and does not disturb wildlife. It functions at low wind
velocity since only a light breeze is sufficient for the straws
to start swaying and generate energy. The existing premise on
top of the building is replaced with a public floor with room
for a restaurant. The new extension creates, a part from the energy
producing shell, room for the citizens with the possibility to
reach a lookout platform at the very top of the tower with an
unmatched view of Stockholm.
EU: the third great European
cultural contribution to the
Huib Wursten and Fernando Lanzer, itim International
You can download
the full report:
The future of the EU and of the Euro are dominating the headlines
in all media. The cover of the Economist read: "Staring into
the Abyss: a special report on the future of Europe" some
time ago. The situation since then has changed very little.
The influence of
culture has not been part of the analyses one sees in the media.
Yet there can be no truly intelligent analysis of the situation
unless one takes into account that there are huge differences
in terms of the underlying assumptions, expectations and values
of the stakeholders involved, in Europe and abroad.
The main focus of
this paper will be to demonstrate that:
- Europe is the
most diverse cultural continent in the world.
- The diversity
in value dimensions found by empirical research has profound
influence on the way people organize themselves in the EU nation
states. These values lead to sometimes opposing views on centralization/decentralization,
the rule of law, human rights, the separation of powers in a
democracy and as a consequence the position of the Central Bank,
the definition and role of leadership, the degree of sympathy
for social cohesion, the answer to economic crisis: investing
or austerity programs, etc.
- Five of the 6
possible models of organizing a nation state are to be found
in the EU. Bridging these differences is a political and intellectual
challenge of unique proportions.
- The way Europe
is trying to bridge the value differences between nation states
without imposing one model is a laboratory for solving similar
challenges for a globalizing world.
- If the Europeans
will be successful this will be a cultural change comparable
with two previous European revolutions: the renaissance (the
discovery of the individual) and the Enlightment, the period
where individuals were empowered to think for themselves and
not to accept blindly (religious ) authorities
Professor Geert Hofstede
is nowadays widely recognized as the one who did the most fundamental
research on cultural differences. He carried out fundamental research
into the dominant values of countries and the way in which they
influence behavior in organizations. Original data were based
on an extensive IBM database for which between 1967 and 1973,
116,000 questionnaires were used in 72 countries and in 20 languages.
The results were
validated against about 40 cross-cultural studies from a variety
of disciplines. Analyzing his data, Hofstede found five value
clusters (or "dimensions") being the most fundamental
in understanding and explaining the differences in answers to
the single questions. He measured the differences and calculated
scores for 56 countries on these 5 dimensions. Later research
partly done by others have extended this to 85 countries. The
combined scores for each country explain variations in behavior
of people and organizations. The scores indicate the relative
differences between cultures.
The five dimensions
of national culture identified by Hofstede were: power distance
(PDI), individualism/collectivism (IDV), masculinity/femininity
(MAS), uncertainty avoidance (UAI) and Long Term Orientation (LTO)
See below for a definition
and short description of the five dimensions.
III. The Situation
Is one cluster more
effective than others?
Because of "culture
bias", every member of a culture tends to think that their
culture is better than all others, it's a natural phenomenon.
All international studies suffer from the same malady: they start
by defining comparison criteria and fail to realize that their
choice of criteria is influenced by the cultural values of the
Outside looking in
Whenever any analysis
of the European situation is made, we need to take into account
the cultural background of whoever is making that analysis. We
all have our own cultural bias, based on our own background.
Whenever Europe is
observed by analysts coming from a Contest culture, such as the
US and the UK, it is very likely that they will consider the European
Union to be hopelessly mired in never-ending, inconclusive discussions.
To the Americans and British observers, the European decision-making
process will always be perceived as being too slow and not action
orientated enough. These observers would like to see European
leaders behaving in a more decisive way. Subconsciously, they
hope to see a "heroic" type of leader who would cut
through the complex discussions and would quickly reach a tangible
result. They tend to underestimate the complexity of dealing with
five different culture clusters, since they, themselves, deal
with a much more homogeneous cultural reality, by comparison.
But is the UK looking
at Europe from the outside or from the inside? Is the UK not part
of Europe? Actually, it depends on who you ask: people everywhere
perceive the UK as being part of Europe, except that the people
in the UK themselves have a different opinion
One could argue that
every country in the EU faces the same dilemma: national independence
and autonomy versus European integration and belonging. The dilemma
is felt more strongly in the UK than anywhere else, due to the
Contest nature of the UK culture. And the UK has the only Contest
culture in the EU.
The eye of the beholder
will always influence the analysis and its conclusions. When Europe
matters are observed by Latin Americans and Africans (Pyramid
cultures) it is very likely that the analysts will remark that
the European Union lacks a strong, charismatic leader wielding
enough authority to decide what is better for the greater good
of the region. The only way to solve the EU's problems, according
to this perspective, is to give more authority to the European
bureaucracy in Brussels and to appoint a European President/Prime
Minister/King to run the Community. The title is not important,
but having true authority which is respected by all, is essential.
From yet another
perspective, the Germans see the EU as lacking in order and structure.
They criticize the lack of legislation and the discipline to follow
established rules. Whenever there are conflicts among European
member-states, the Germanic cultures will recommend more structure
and more discipline.
The Dutch and Scandinavians
see the EU as a complex network of relationships among different
member-states, who must all be heard and regarded as having equal
rights, regardless of the differences in the size of their economies.
They will often criticize the lack of conclusion to discussions,
but will rebel against any attempt to impose authority from the
centre or to disregard the less powerful member-states.
The French, Belgians,
Italians and Spanish (Solar-System cultures) will be split internally.
In theory, they tend to advocate greater authority from the centre;
at the same time, that goes against their own interests to maintain
autonomy. They will recommend greater central authority as the
only way to resolve issues and will engage in fierce lobbying
to defend national interests, often appearing to contradict themselves.
Finally, the perspective
of the only cluster that is not found in Europe, the "Family"
cultures. They will look puzzled at Europe. The Chinese for instance
will criticize Europeans for lacking respect for authority and
for being selfish individuals, rather than sacrificing personal
interests for the greater good. Yet, the Chinese are patient,
their culture values looking at things from a long-term perspective.
To them, what is happening in Europe is just "a hiccup"
in a long process of development, which will require another century
or so to play itself out. What is most amusing to the Chinese
is how people can expect European integration to happen so "quickly"
They would expect it to take at least a century.
IV. Europe In
Looking at the future
and making forecasts is always a daring endeavour
made by economic analysts turn out to be mistaken after just a
couple of years. This may very well be because most economists
(if not all) fail to incorporate culture factors into their analyses.
They usually fail to recognize their own culture bias, and they
proceed to analyse and predict economic behaviours in other cultures
without taking culture into account. Small wonder that people
fail to behave according to such forecasts.
If we take in consideration
the culture perspective and its influence on political, sociological
and economic aspects of our analysis, and then look at what is
likely to happen in Europe during the next decade, perhaps our
forecasts can be "less inaccurate".
The main challenge
for Europe in the next ten years will be to make further progress
towards economic and political integration, while simultaneously
recognizing different culture identities and managing them. Not
a small thing
We are talking about a completely new paradigm. A system that
can transcend nation states with different value preferences.
Nation: people sharing a certain territory and having a shared
national consciousness who in principle accept the authority,
legitimacy and power of their political administration (= state)
The inherent contradiction about the European Union is that further
integration requires relinquishing some forms of local authority,
legitimacy and power at the national level to empower a central
government of the whole region. This runs contrary to the values
of the UK, the "Machine" cultures and by the Dutch and
Scandinavians, although these latter, as "Network" cultures,
are more willing to accommodate things as long as there remains
a sense of equality among all member states and dissenting opinions
are heard (but not necessarily acted upon
The French, Belgians,
Italians, Spanish and Polish ("Solar System" cultures)
will go along with the idea, but they know very well that discipline
requires authority and frequent inspections to be enforced. The
aspects of contention will be that they will favour more power
to the central government, but will fight to exert each their
own influence in it, while avoiding that such a government would,
in practice, have authority over their own national government.
They will try to include "exemption" and "exception"
provisions (supported by the British), but these will face resistance
from the Germanic cultures.
We can expect that
Germany will continue to push for establishing a structure, a
set of processes and procedures to which all member-states will
abide. Austria and Hungary are both extremely likely to support
most German endeavours. However, the Germans will tend to emphasize
that it is up to each member-state to enforce the rules, or to
have an "automatic mechanism" which kicks in to ensure
fiscal discipline is observed. They do not like a process which
requires frequent inspections, as this goes against the values
of low Power Distance. The Germans (and the other "Machine"
cultures) take for granted that people will focus on performance,
naturally, and that everyone will do their best to avoid deviations
from established plans. They are very likely to be disappointed
in relation to these aspects.
The Portuguese and
Greek ("Pyramid" cultures) will support a strong central
government as long as they perceive it to really have authority.
Half-baked measures and "compromise" solutions will
not gain their respect, so in those cases they will pay lip service
to integration but will pursue different agendas at the local
level whenever they can get away with it. Long discussions and
compromises in Brussels will be perceived as signs of weakness
at the centre, giving them implicit endorsement to find their
own ways. This will be enhanced in the absence of frequent inspections.
The UK, of course,
will remain the last bastion of euro-scepticism. They tend to
feel comfortable with American ideas. They are comfortable operating
under a less regulated environment and maintaining "local"
autonomy. The only way Britain might agree to more integration
and a stronger European Union government is if they perceive it
as leading to better performance and higher yields for Britain.
As it stands, there is very little motivation in the UK population
to support the EU: the situation in Britain would have to get
much worse, so bad that relinquishing authority to Europe would
seem like the "lesser evil". Perhaps, if the first "European
Prime Minister" would be a British national with a ten-year
mandate, that might make a difference.
Overall, the key
issue of the political union and the monetary union is subsidiarity.
This defining principle in the Maastricht treaty needs rethinking.
Only these things should be decided on the higher that cannot
be decided on the lower level was and is a sound principle. However,
too much pressure has been on giving up autonomy and top down
regulating. In the process, the reality of value diversity has
been neglected. As a consequence the needed legitimacy of the
democratic political system is under pressure. This is dangerous
because a lot of people in the EU nation states don't recognize
their reality any more in the decisions taken by the "centre".
To be successful and to maintain the trust of the voters of the
nation states, the need to centralize further because of the pressure
of the "market" should be weighed carefully. Further
steps might be necessary in the technical/ rational reasoning.
But this is not purely technical/ rational. This is about bridging
fundamentally different values preferences. This never has been
done in the world. This is an exciting, giant new step. It is
only to be compared with the cultural impact of Renaissance and
Culture is having
a defining role in the choices people make also in the political
environment. Culture is closely linked to national identity and
individual identity. One cannot discuss political and economic
systems without considering the impact that culture has on both
This is not a matter
of development. Also in highly developed, democratic countries
one can see these differences.
In no way one can say that one economic or political or legislative
model is per definition better than others.
It is dangerous to
import systems fitting one type of culture into other value systems
without taking this into account.
For European integration
to continue making progress, a number of concessions will need
to be made, by all parties involved ,to the five different set
of expectations and values (culture clusters) existing among the
member-states. Trying to impose one set over the other four is
likely to result in a stalemate.
And yet the EU is
a fascinating experience in the social organization of mankind,
with far-reaching consequences for the whole world watching on
Is it possible to
transcend the concept of nationalism? Are we witnessing, in the
EU, the birth of a new concept, which will succeed nationalism
and predominate over the next 200 years?
If we are experiencing
a major transition in Europe towards a different form of social
organization, we must realize two things, above all else:
a) it will be traumatic;
b) it will take time
Such a transition
will not be smooth; conflicts are to be expected. Movements forward
will be followed by a couple of backward steps. Yearning for the
future will be accompanied by yearning for the past. Millions
of people will be involved in discussing the inherent dilemmas
of the situation.
Such a transition
will take decades to develop, whatever the outcomes. Perhaps historians
in 2100 will look back at this period as "The European Transition",
from 1990 to 2030
What could we do,
as leaders in Europe, to mitigate the risks and minimize the disruption
which affects millions?
A set of recommendations
1. Angela Merkel
once summarized the dilemma by asking "Do we want more Europe
or less Europe?". In considering the response to that question,
we need to go beyond the usual use of Rationality which is typically
employed by economists and most pundits. We need to look at Emotions
and Values, beyond Rationality. This is the first recommendation:
look at Values (that is where the essence of Culture resides)
and the Emotions involved, in addition to Rational arguments.
The people of Europe will not reconcile the basic dilemma based
on Rationality alone. The other two aspects (Values and Emotions)
are equally important in considering the available options to
reconcile the dilemma.
2. Think "outside the box". If we are creating a new
form of social organization, we need to develop new mechanisms
and policies touching every aspect of social life. We will not
solve 2020 problems using 1930's politics and economics. New forms
of democratic representation may be needed, not just the European
Parliament, which is nothing more than an international version
of the national parliaments, in themselves out-dated institutions
desperately needing replacement. New concepts in economics need
to govern economic discussions, such as Behavioral Economics,
Sustainable Economics and other emerging schools of economic thinking.
New regulations need to be developed to replace the old ones which
date from several decades ago.
3. People need to feel that they belong to a community sharing
similar values (similar culture, notions of what is "right"
and "wrong"). Surely it must be possible to provide
that sense of identity and belonging to the next generations without
necessarily having to say "you are German, but I am English".
Actually, this feeling of belonging and identity is often provided
more strongly by a community much smaller than a nation. People
feel "Bavarian" rather than "German" or they
feel "Scottish" rather than "British". The
point here is that it should be possible to share the same currency,
fiscal policies and broad social policies, as in a true federation,
while maintaining relative autonomy and cultural differentiation,
probably in a more fractioned sense than in the current 27 nation-states.
Perhaps cultural identity must be preserved in 54 sub-national
regions, or even more. This needs to be explored with an open
mind. The core issue is that culture needs more differentiation
while economics and politics need more integration. These things
are not mutually exclusive, but they require some creative thinking
4. Transnational and supranational discussions need to be fostered.
If we have the Germans discussing amongst themselves whether they
want "more Europe or less Europe", while the Greeks
hold the same discussion in parallel only amongst themselves,
the whole process tends to foster disintegration. Issues need
to be increasingly discussed across national borders and not restricted
by them. The EU leaders need to think like EU leaders and not
like national leaders, and they need to facilitate European discussions
rather than national discussions.
5. Huge transnational education programmes need to be put in place
to foster integration in a truly democratic and open way. This
should not be propaganda or brain-washing, but rather genuine
open discussions and sharing of information, values and emotions.
Currently, this open exchange of Rational, Emotional an Ethical
aspects is happening informally, with no planning or coordination,
through tourism, business interaction and social networks. It
should be accompanied by intelligent programmes in mass education
using a 21st Century approach.
6. Subsidiarity needs to be on the agenda again. The principle
is right: as much as possible should be decided on the lower levels.
This needs strong restraint from the bureaucrats in the centre.
This needs to be reflected in the choice of "leaders".
Individuals are not always reflecting the values of the culture
they are coming from. Still it is strange and bad for the perception
of citizens to see that so many visible leaders in the EU and
in the Monetary Union are from the high PDI, high UAI countries
(see below). Meaning from cultures like Italy, France, Spain,
Portugal and Belgium favouring centralization.
7. Next to Federal institutions like the ECB it is necessary to
develop more consistent inter-governmental forms of administration.
We believe that the culture clusters are defining the countries
that are like minded. That would create a system allowing for
the necessary social diversity in a unified Europe.
need to be developed, discussed and implemented. The huge social
transformation in Europe is more than an experiment in a certain
continent: it is a major stage in the social development of mankind.
Dismantling the European
Union will not stop the integration process of our societies all
over the world: it will merely delay it for a couple of decades.
We should be able to manage the integration process better, beginning
in Europe, which is most advanced in these matters, learning from
that process and applying the learning in other parts of the world.
The only way to do
that will be to go beyond the Rational and to look at Culture
and its emotional consequences in order to reconcile the dilemmas
Short description of the five "Hofstede" dimensions.
- Power distance
is the extent to which less powerful members of a society accept
that power is distributed unequally. In large power-distance
cultures everybody has his/her rightful place in society, there
is respect for old age, and status is important to show power.
In small power-distance cultures people try to look younger
and powerful people try to look less powerful.
It's the opinion of the author of this article that this dimension
creates about 80 percent of the problems in international organizations
that are trying to operate with multicultural teams."
People in countries
like the US, Canada and the UK score low on the power-distance
index and are more likely to accept ideas like empowerment,
matrix management and flat organizations. Business schools
around the world tend to base their teachings on low power-distance
values. Yet, most countries in the world have a high power-distance
- In individualistic
cultures people look after themselves and their immediate family
only; in collectivist cultures people belong to in-groups
who look after them in exchange for loyalty. In individualist
cultures, values are in the person, in collectivist cultures,
identity is based on the social network to which one belongs.
In individualist cultures there is more explicit, verbal communication;
in collectivist cultures communication is more implicit.
- In masculine
cultures the dominant values are achievement and success. The
dominant values in feminine cultures are caring for others
and quality of life. In masculine cultures performance and achievement
are important. Status is important to show success. Feminine
cultures have a people orientation, small is beautiful and status
is not so important.
is the extent to which people feel threatened by uncertainty
and ambiguity and try to avoid these situations. In cultures
of strong uncertainty avoidance, there is a need for rules and
formality to structure life. Competence is a strong value resulting
in belief in experts, as opposed to weak uncertainty-avoidance
cultures with belief in practitioners. In weak uncertainty-avoidance
cultures people tend to be more innovative and entrepreneurial.
- The last element
of culture is the Long Term Orientation which is the
extent to which a society exhibits a pragmatic future-orientated
perspective rather than a near term point of view. Low scoring
countries are usually those under the influence of monotheistic
religious systems, such as the Christian, Islamic or Jewish
systems. People in these countries believe there is an absolute
truth. In high scoring countries, for example those practicing
Buddhism, Shintoism or Hinduism, people believe truth depends
on time and context.
is showing that these values and the scores of countries are not,
or very slowly, changing over time.
- A Danish scholar, M. Søndergaard, found 60 (sometimes
small scale) replications of Hofstede's research. A Meta analyses
confirmed the five dimensions and the scores of countries.
- A recent replication, showing the same result was carried out
by including Hofstede's questions in the EMS, the European Media
& Marketing Survey.
Consequences, International Differences in Work-Related Values
(Cross Cultural Research and Methodology)
Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations
Across Nations by
and Femininity: The Taboo Dimension of National Cultures (Cross
Cultural Psychology) by
Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart
of the City
By Kelly Coyne (Author), Erik Knutzen (Author)
celebrated, essential handbook for the urban homesteading movement
shows how to grow and preserve your own food, clean your house
without toxins, raise chickens, gain energy independence, and
more. Step-by-step projects, tips, and anecdotes will help get
you started homesteading immediately. The Urban Homestead
is also a guidebook to the larger movement and will point you
to the best books and internet resources on self-sufficiency topics.
Written by city dwellers for city dwellers, this copiously illustrated,
two-color instruction book proposes a paradigm shift that will
improve our lives, our community, and our planet. By growing our
own food and harnessing natural energy, we are planting seeds
for the future of our cities.
(LUA) was created in 2012 by SOA,
an architectural practice, Le
a consultancy specialised in environmental engineering in architecture
Bureau d'Etudes de Gally,
specialised in landscape and plant and agricultural innovation.
LUA is a platform for reflection and exchanges aimed at promoting
and developing agricultural urbanism, and defines itself as a
collaborative structure bringing together its members competences
and efforts for innovative projects. Regarding the city as a sustainable
environment in the fullest sense, the Agricultural Urbanism Laboratory
places man at the heart of its reflection.
The Agricultural Urbanism Lab is a collective, multi-disciplinary
project drawing on comprehensive, wide-ranging analyses. Estimating
the limits of compatibility between intensive farming and the
urban environment involves a variety of different disciplines:
- the choice of
plant species, growing methods, productivity and quality: agriculture
- health and energy
exchanges with the city: environmental engineering
- the future of
an endangered profession and the prospects of dynamizing it
in an urban context: sociology and economics and the rural world.
- the reduction
of transport, distribution methods: economics and regional development
- the long-term
evolution of the concepts of verticality and locality, the aesthetics
of the urban environment, traceability in the food industry
and taste: philosophy
- the questions
of real estate, the creation of urban and peri-urban areas,
the advantages of a mixed urban environment and the image of
industry within it: urbanism and demography.
of farms in urban areas on very different scales will introduce
de facto a diversity hitherto almost inexistent in peri-urban
zones and in the country.
Our studies show in what proportions this form of agriculture
can complement rural production and perhaps contribute to improving
the quality of production en general.
The HEQ (High Environmental Quality) label sets fourteen environmental
optimisation targets, but there should also be a "HHQ"
(High Human Quality) label. Because the city is first and foremost
a human environment, whose functioning and richness depends on
the cohesion of its multiple social groups.
The urban farm can only have real legitimacy if it represents
a social entity, on the scale of an individual producer, cooperative
or company, and engages in a direct, local exchange with the population.
One could thus envisage a dynamic comparable to the organisation
of the "green belts," surpassing merely mercantile concerns
and redefining the role of the farmer.
Agricultural progress once consisted in freeing a proportion of
the population from agricultural tasks for employment in industries
and services, and reducing physical effort by mechanisation and
the use of chemicals. The urban farm will in turn promote the
farmer's profession and restore its responsibilities, both in
its production choices and in its role in passing on knowledge
and skills. The aim of our studies is to prioritise movement of
people rather than the transport of merchandise.
Finally, the prospect of agriculture in the city enables one to
imagine a new urban landscape capable of satisfying our social
need for nature.
Projects by members:
Centre commercial Atlantis à Nantes. Le Bureau d'Etudes
La Galerie. Le Sommer Environnement
La Tour Vivante. SOA
The Living Tower is a high-rise office and apartment building
with its own market gardening units. It therefore combines food
production and consumption and living spaces. The interweaving
of these programmes entails their respective adaptation and creates
various types of exchanges. Their interlacing rather than mere
superimposition expresses the fusion of the tower's programmes
(housing units/offices and crops) but the arrangement of the housing
units is complexified and the light exposure of the agricultural
units isn't optimised. Each programme adapts to the other: the
housing units enable the integration of the growing areas, and
the farm recycles the building's waste and feeds its inhabitants.
The Living Tower has a 900 m2 footprint, thirty storeys and an
agricultural surface of 7,000 m2 deployed along a continuous 875-metre
Urbanana is a farm producing a wide variety of bananas currently
unavailable on the European market due to ripening and transport
constraints. It has its own research laboratory and exhibition
space promoting awareness of the banana industry. Using grow lights
rather than natural lighting, its implantation in the city has
few constraints and it can discreetly adopt the scale and format
of the surrounding urban fabric. When housed between residential
buildings, it is primarily a façade project.
Portrait: Stuart Candy
Candy - Foresight and Innovation Leader at Arup
Australasia, Adjunct Professor at California
College of the Arts,
and Research Fellow of The
Long Now Foundation.
Dr Stuart Candy is
Foresight + Innovation Leader for Arup Australasia. Currently
based in Melbourne, he has brought his unique take on futures
to diverse subjects and settings. Internally these have included
a collaborative research project on the Food-Energy-Water resource
nexus; a briefing to the UKMEA Board on Britains economic
outlook; advice on process design for the biennial Australasia
Regional Forum; and strategic conversation around the organisations
Ecological Age vision.
His experience also includes client-facing engagements with national,
state and municipal governments; the Sydney Opera House, General
Electric, and IDEO; lectures at UC Berkeley, New York University,
and the Royal College of Art; workshops at Yale, Singularity University,
and the TED Conference; and an installation
at the California Academy of Sciences for Jacques Cousteaus
Stuart works at the intersection of design and foresight, and
has an international reputation in the collaborative design of
experiential futures translating scenarios into immersive
situations and tangible artifacts. He was an advisor to the Future
project for the United Nations Rio+20 summit, held in June 2012,
and to the inaugural Festival
of Transitional Architecture
(FESTA), staged in Christchurch in October 2012.
He holds degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Melbourne,
and a PhD from the Alternative Futures program of the University
of Hawaii at Manoa, where he was twice awarded the East-West Centers
Graduate Degree Fellowship. As Adjunct Professor at California
College of the Arts, Stuart created the Strategic Foresight course
for CCAs groundbreaking MBA in Design Strategy. He blogs
and is @futuryst
"In my view the 'product' of foresight done properly is what
could be called (echoing Antonio Gramsci), optimism of the will.
This can be contrasted with optimism of expectation. Doing futures
work cultivates in oneself, and ideally in one's companions, an
awareness of how things could be different, and with that, a sense
of one's increment of responsibility." - from an interview
by Heath Killen, Desktop
future of Urban Gardening
June 27, 2013, 18:30 - 21:15
Location: Geelvinck Museum, Keizersgracht 633, 1017 DS
Supported by Geelvinck Museum
comments, ideas, articles are welcome!
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