UrbanA side events

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UrbanA side events are a part of the UrbanA Community of Practice (CoP). They started out as special events before each of the main UrbanA arenas, but soon evolved into diverse investigations of UrbanA findings with local communities in consortium member cities. Originally they were planned to be physical, but with COVID some were purely online, some were blended. Some side events happened before Arenas as official UrbanA Community Conversations, some were public, some were just for guests of the upcoming Arena. Other side events happened as fully public Open Webinars, within an Arena. Later side events developed relationships formed in the CoP to further expand CoP activities, there were film night and urban walking tours. Others were "nested events", where UrbanA invited the CoP to participate in wider conferences, festivals and movements, thereby diversifying both the community and themes being explored.

UrbanA Side Events

Local Arena Mouraria (Lisbon)

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The event happened in one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, which is also considered the most multi-cultural neighbourhood in the country, Mouraria.

A central question to UrbanA´s implementation in Lisbon was “How might an urban CoP help manifest the dream of a Sustainable and Just Lisbon?” (PDF presentation available here). The day was divided into two parts, a walking tour during the morning around the streets including Rua Dos Lagares, considered to be the epicentre of current evictions, followed by an afternoon at Mouraria Creative Hub, with more than 30 representatives from 24 different groups, or projects, active in the city. A Graphic register captured insights from the day and noted 5 main conclusions:

  1. Many solutions exist, but complex problems persist
  2. Tailor solutions to reality and local participation
  3. Need for articulation to better connect people and projects
  4. Continuity and cross-pollination is essential.
  5. Inform about citizen intervention starting points

November 12, 2019. Participants walking tour, 15. Workshop 30. More infos here)

How governance arrangements foster both urban sustainability and justice (Freiburg)

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(NOTE: This event was a CoCo and also appears on the UrbanA Community Conversations list)

Building on the momentum and enthusiasm generated by UrbanA’s online ‘Barcelona’ Arena earlier in the month, 44 people joined the fifth UrbanA Community Conversation on June 23rd. This digital gathering marked the beginning of a new stage in the project — which has so far journeyed from approaches for just and sustainable cities at the Rotterdam Arena, to drivers of injustice in urban sustainability at the second, recent Arena, and now to questions of governance and how to learn between cities for just sustainability.

The Freiburg team has also begun crafting very brief scenarios designed to catch the attention of city-makers in order to lead them to further relevant information. If you are interested, check out the new (and evolving!) Database of governance scenarios on the UrbanA wiki. The Freiburg University team used examples to illustrate four broader governance ambitions that have potential to avoid injustice in a more durable, long-term way:

  1. Policy integration,
  2. Bridging institutional logics,
  3. Engaging inhabitants, and
  4. Alternative metrics.

(June 23rd, 44 participants - Blog post - Slides - Video - Event Post)

UrbanA Open Webinars

Covid19, justice and sustainability in city (Barcelona)


Can COVID-19 be a turning point on how we imagine and plan our cities? This session will include a short lecture followed by an online conversation on how the COVID-19 has exacerbated urban environmental and health inequalities and how it can be a unique chance to create more just and sustainable urban futures.

The following questions were discussed:

  1. What are the main manifestations of health and environmental inequalities and related, emergent questions around urban justice in times of pandemic and social confinement?
  2. To what extent (and where) are such inequalities being addressed in bold, radical ways that can redefine urban futures?
  3. How does COVID-19 redefine and force us to rethink urban infrastructure (housing, transit, and public space) need, use, and inequalities?
  4. What lessons can we draw from a crisis such as COVID-19 to build more just and sustainable cities, especially so in the context of a changing climate?

(June 5, 2020. Participants (online, watching on youtube). More infos here)

UrbanA Movie Nights

“PUSH – The Film” (Rotterdam)

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The covid-19 crisis has exposed several inequities in our cities and at its core is the issue of access to adequate and affordable housing. Long before the shocks of covid-19 crisis, the commodification of the housing market has threatened our right to housing, and constantly changed the very nature and rules of living in cities. PUSH – The Film captures the complexity of this global housing crisis and makes the invisible power relations more tangible. The event will begin with a short introduction to the general theme of Sustainable and Just Cities. After the movie there is an interactive World Café to explore the intersection of the housing crisis with wider challenges of social and ecological (in)justice and the resulting challenges, tensions, possibilities and opportunities for the future.

June 17, 2020. More infos at: Movie Night on #SustainableJustCities: The Right to Housing with “PUSH – The Film”

“Tomorrow” (Rotterdam)

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The second online “Movie Night on #SustainableJustCities” was organized on the 1st of December 2020 with the “TomorrowOpens external” documentary, which focuses on creative solutions from sustainable communities across the world. It was organized as part of the Vital Cities & Citizens (VCC) initiative of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, in collaboration with the UrbanA project and DRIFT.

The movie night event consisted of three main sections spread over 3.5 hours:

  1. Dr. Flor Avelino gave a a short introduction on sustainable and just cities
  2. Participants watched the documentary individually on Vimeo. This was followed by
  3. an interactive World Café discussion, using break-out groups with 3-5 people over two rounds of 15 minutes each. The discussion was self-organized and allowed the participants to share the learnings from the documentary and their engagement with justice and sustainability. This was followed by a short plenary session. Ideas were harvested.

A total of 220 people registered for the event, of which 125 people attended the introduction and movie, and 40 people attended the World Café discussion afterwards. About 30% of these participants were from the Netherlands while others joined from both European and non-European countries including USA, UK, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, India and Hungary. Most of these participants were researchers and/or teachers, students, activists, entrepreneurs and others.

December 1, 2020. 125 Participants - More infos here and here

UrbanA walking tours

From Green to Blue. An UrbanA walking tour (Lisbon)

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An Urban walking tour from Lisbon's green heart, Gulbenkian Park, along the Alcantara valley to the river Tejo. Stops included visits to urban projects on the route: The Bela Flor community are using urban permaculture for both ecological and social change. The Alvito community explore how culture can transform the city, working with the cities communities past and future visions. The new Alcantara valley is one of the highlight projects for Lisbon, Europe's 2020 Green Capital, the old river was remembered. The tour finished at the Alcantara river docks to explore the idea of rivers as organising tools for a fractal form of community led planning process to respond to climate breakdown.

This walking tour led into the later UMUNDU festival, described below. COVID rules were respected. The tour acted as a playful, celebrational activity to stitch the city and its communities.

(October 10, 2020. 5 Participants. More infos here)

Nested Events

Eco City Open Campus

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UrbanA participated in the Ecocity Builders event "Eco City Open Campus". Friends and colleagues from the UrbanA CoP were invited to attend, to share their insights on creating ecocities, #SustainableJustCities, eco projects & communities. It has a “Pay What You Want” register fee, to allow for greater accessibility.who are also involved in creating ecocities. It was an experimental forum, using the VirBELA platform (like an avatar game) to try to connect with other city makers. Groups participated from outside Europe, including many from South East Asia. The main Bangladesh partners were the Institute of Wellbeing and Work for a Better Bangladesh.

(September 8, 2020. Further infos here & Photo Album on UrbanA facebook page & UrbanA twitter thread)

UMUNDU festival Lisbon


Creating Sustainable and Just Cities – The UrbanA experiment: Followed a walking tour in the city, this discussion explored what UrbanA issues might mean in urban transformations happening in the changing city of Lisbon today. The event built on earlier discussions about Lisbon with local city makers and the UrbanA community, whether Europe´s 2020 Green Capital is helping transform Lisbon into a Sustainable and Just City. This event was part of the Umundu eco festival in Lisbon (9-17 October). It was a “Blended event”, an experimental hybrid space, connecting both participants in a physical location, with others online through new communication technologies. Physical event was limited to 20 places, due to COVID restrictions.

(October 10, 2020. Links coming soon, further infos here)

Communities for Future

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The third “Communities for Future” online session explored what is a Community of Practice (CoP) and what can be their role in strengthening community-led responses to societal challenges. Three CoPs from the ECOLISE network at different stages of their evolution were represented; BLAST (Blended Adult Learning for the Social-ecological Transition), Municipalities in Transition (MiT) and UrbanA (Urban Arenas for Sustainable and Just Cities). Davie Phillip outlined how BLAST is establishing processes for their group and assessing best practice and insights from different CoPs within the ECOLISE ecosystem. Together guests explored the shared idea of an eco-social just transition.

(December 02, 2020. 55 Participants. - Blog post - Event Post - Video - Social Media: (Twitter)

The Nature of Cities Festival (TNOC)

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UrbanA, ECOLISE and Communities for Future joined forces to lead an experimental seed session on the first day of The Nature of Cities Festival (TNOC). About 25 people turned up from different corners of the planet, to explore the topic of “Translocal adventures in developing an Urban Systems Community of Practice”. The event was hosted by Giorgia Silvestri & Duncan Crowley from UrbanA and Sara Silva from ECOLISE. The domain that this Urban Systems Community of Practice Ecosystem supports is nothing less than full eco-social just transition, to return the scope of human activity back within the limits of planet earth. The TNOC event was an experimental step, aiming to share the story so far, maximize guest participation, allow diverse discussions to develop, harvest insights from the group and encourage wider participation in the CfF CoPs Ecosystem. The events structure was based on UrbanA’s “Community Conversation” (CoCo) format and was part of the 3rd stage development of the UrbanA Community of Practice (CoP).

(February 22, 2021. 25 participants - Blog post - Presentation slides - Video - Harvest Document - Event Post - Social Media: (Facebook Event Post Twitter Instagram) - Guests presentations (Municipalities in Transition Telheiras , Local energy transition Telheiras, Community-led Ecocity Transformation)

Cities for Change


This event is one of the “Transition Talks” that are happening as part of the “Cities for Change” summit. It is part of the “Energy and Climate” track, is fully online. Cities for Change Forum is a 2-month online program showcasing world-changing ideas in digital and interactive events for building a just, sustainable and equal society from the ground up. The “Transition Talks” are on from May 24th until May 28th.

ECOLISE invited 8 communities to respond to 4 specific questions about Regeneration; Social, Cultural, Ecology, Economy.

  1. Social: How can we bring regenerative design ideas from ecovillages to our cities, especially when urban injustice continues to grow? (Global Ecovillage Network & UrbanA)
  2. Cultural: How can we bring about a culture of resistance and regeneration that is accessible to all? (Fridays for Future + Communities for Future)
  3. Ecology: How can we bring our ecological ideas out of the academic and activist ghettos to the streets and everyday social movements? (Degrowth & Transition Network)
  4. Economy: Imagining an end to capitalism, instead of the end to the world… How best can community-led initiatives bring about territorial transformation, policy change and system change? (Doughnut Economics & Regenerative Practitioners)

(May 26, 2021. 37 Participants - Blog post - Harvest Document - Video More infos at: UrbanA events + Cities for Change + UrbanA Twitter)