"We hadn't met but we had the same dream": appropriation and neighbourhood management of urban public space in the city/network
Sara Sama Acedo (UNED, Grupo de Cultura Urbana)
Paper short abstract:
This paper addresses how the use and language of new technologies mediate current neighbourhood actions and claims on the use and management of urban public space, based on a case of socio-technological production of a "communitarian urban garden" in an abandoned public plot of the center of Madrid.
Paper long abstract:
From my ongoing ethnography about ICTs, public space and citizen participation, this paper analyses the claims and actions of a group of neighbours as regards the state and quality of "public space" involving a plot located in a small public square. After repeated complaints to the City Council about the abandoned state of this space, some "neighbours" decided to undertake its care, defining its use as "community-based", "self-managed". Later, it became a "communitarian urban garden" and "space for neighbourhood meeting". The very same day the clean-up of the plot started, one of the neighbours opened a Blog in which she began to narrate the story of this action together with the administrative process to legalise the urban garden project. In little over a year, the Blog became a collective creation of a group of "neighbours" who continued deploying a broad range of digital technologies, making the local "public space" a hyper-connected, continuously-monitored space: camera phones, social network apps, mailing lists, online file sharing, collaborative working environment, wikimaps, etc. In these kinds of processes, ICTs are more than a set of tools that agents use in functional and sometimes remedial ways (Bolter & Grusin 2000). In addition, they constitute, signify and are significant for the interactions and processes of creativity that make it possible to understand how current neighbourhood movements imagine themselves and concretise their "right to the city" (Lefebvre 1972), occupying, managing and using urban public space (and infrastructure) (Latour 2005; Crag, Crosbie and Graham 2007; Sádaba 2012).
Micro-utopias: exploring connections in anthropology, relationality and creativity