It is now possible who donates to political parties, who is lobbying, what are the expenditures of a government and in what is the money expended, what are the e-mail accounts of our elected representatives, it is now possible to access data and registries for free. But this is not happening in Spain.
There is no word for accountability in Spanish (just approximations). And this shapes mindsets. We have to raise awareness that accountability exists as a concept. Spain is the only big country in Europe without an access to public information law. Such a law is much needed in Spain.
In 2006, a pregnant congresswoman implied that the law had to be changed so that she could vote electronically from home. There also is a right to petition to question political representatives about issues of importance.
Democracia 4.0 asks for the possibility that anyone can vote what is being discussed in the Parliament, directly, electronically, and substracting the proportion of one’s vote from the elected representative’s. Because citizens do not vote: the elect the ones that will vote in their names.
Such a system has to be open, hosted in public servers, guarantee the vote, be accompanied by discussion fora (it is not only about voting, but about discussing too), simulations should be possible, clear and sufficient information, and easy participation.
Democracia 4.0’s model corrects politics based in competition, leaks of sovereignty, is based on liberal principles. It implies the end of block politics, it allows for timing and accountability and transparency. The model shifts from dis-representation to the distribution of power, avoiding the distortions of the “man in the middle”. It also enables the veto of the citizens to certain policies.
With new methods of participation we are not substituting democracy and politics with another “thing”, but strengthening it.
Santiago Cirugeda: It would be interesting to also evaluate the citizens, especially citizen organizations: how much they have been subsidised, how much they lobby (and win), etc. On the other hand, how do we evaluate these citizen initiatives that aim at another kind of democracy?
The original idea of the HUB was born in London and then spread all over until it hit Madrid in 2010. The vision of the HUB is to share knowledge by working together. The HUB Company is like a “social franchise” that shares their knowledge when a new hub is to be created: guidelines, methodology, know how, etc. Once the hub is created after individual initiative, it operates independently — it is even free to choose the way it is incorporated (as an association, a cooperative, etc.).
The hub is fed with content from their members. Members pay low fees to be able to use the spaces, the space only being the “excuse” to connect with other people. Hosts of the hub (its staff) are specialists in knowing all the projects being carried on in the hub and trying to put different interests/people together. They also provide guidance, courses and diffusion activities in general so that knowledge spreads. The goal is empowering entrepreneurs, create a community, way beyond just co-working.
A key of the HUB is having success projects that can inspire others, not only by sharing know how but also by sharing attitudes, hopes.
Isabel Cebrián, A Zofra Grupo de Estudios Metropolitanos de Zaragoza
A Zofra is a meeting place for building cultural and political action. A Zofra is one of the fosterers of La Pantera Rossa centro social librería, a library which acts as a civic centre and knowledge hub.
The experiences of mutation in the city take place, as a trend, embedded in the dynamics of financial capital.
Most of methodologies on innovation are usually vertical and with a top-down approach. This rarely leads to participation. Indeed, some of these “participatory” processes what they really do is steal ideas from the citizens and put them into practice but with different purposes to the ones that originated those ideas. This is especially true in debates around cities and urbanism.
Is it possible to improve city infrastructures without depending on massive investments promised by macroevents?
Can we imagine forms of government open to direct participation, hacking the city? Politics should be democratized, distributing decision-making and urban management to the citizenry.
How do we sustain this social tissue? We should transfer money from other parts of the budget (e.g. saving banks from bankruptcy). There is now the hype of ‘smart cities’ that, many times, it is just replicating what is being done in social innovation initiatives (i.e. knowledge + technology). Instead of designing ‘smart cities’ without citizens, it should be considered to include them in the initial design. Again, to be able to sustain the contributions of citizens, a policy of basic income would apply.
What is the model of building a city, huge infrastructures designed top-down by politicians, or small vital experiences that happen bottom-up and in a collective way?
It is important to share how these small vital experiences, experiences of activism, take place, how they are designed, what is the “recipe” to cook discontent, participation and civic action.
Social innovation has not to forget what is the reason that there is such a need for social innovation: many times is the failure of the public sector, and activism should not only create and fix things, but point towards the ones that caused the problems that need being fixed. Indeed, social innovation can collaborate with public institutions, but also fight them back and use, with or without permission, their infrastructures — especially if they are idle.
Trust and unselfishness are the essential means for social innovation, for collectively building things.
Social innovation, though, is difficult to characterize and stereotypy. It is difficult that there are similar protocols, as they even change in the very same project or locality. The best way to learn is sharing everyone’s experiences and thus be able to try or to tell what can work or what cannot in a specific action.
Javier Creus: what should we get rid of? Cirugeda: There is too much public intervention. Governments should ask what the citizens need, and not just acting without asking. Citizens need the ability to solve their problems on their own. What is participation if there is no social mediation before? Participation is not asking for an opinion, but empowering people so that they are able to do things by themselves.
Javier Creus, Ideas for Change Community economics. Alternative, complementary or parallel?
Community economics is not about sharing a resource, but about sharing a goal. By sharing a goal, the way people organize and collaborate radically changes. Sharing is not always and necessarily less efficient than private/proprietary/non-collaboratively ways of producing.
People more important: more convergence of people and with higher added value.
More shared resources: infinite if they are digital.
Less capital needed: money is less important and there are networks of trust where money is cheaper (because you don’t have to pay for risk).
Some dichotomies in communities/corporations: shared resources/goals, the driver is conservation/conquest, the value balance is positive/equal, development comes spontaneously/planned, users are contributors/costumers, producers are entrepreneurs/employees, the scope is the system / a need, the scale is resilience/efficacy.
Three huge changes: young (world average: 28 y.o.), educated and connected population.
Increasingly, there is the possibility to create full value chains, so that it is possible to create, sell, distribute and use some goods fully in alternative ways (both in the sense of platform and kind of usage).
Common resources generate entrepreneurs. There are mix designs where part of the resources is shared but another part is reserved or kept close so that business/profit can be made out of it.
Corporations support communities to guarantee their success, which is, at the same time, the foundation of the sustainability of the corporation.
How can we make the shift from extractive organizations to contributive organizations? Strategies of contribution: what can be shared, whom can I cooperate with, what can I keep to myself.
Money is not neutral: the use we make of it determines the model of society we get.
An alternative and community system of financing: based on complementarity, an instrument for social transformation and serving the social and community economics, collectively owned, based on direct democracy.
Coop57 was born after Editorial Bruguera (a publisher) shut down business and 57 workers became unemployed. They used the money they got after being fired to fund the cooperative and help others with their own businesses. Nowadays it is a cooperative with circa 500 organizations and +2000 individuals as members. As a cooperative, it is self-managed and provides several services to their members.
Coop57 fosters community savings and ethical funding, especially in the field of the social economy. Principles: compatibility between social outcomes and economic viability, democracy and self-management, transparency, local development and social rooting.
Coop57 is a means, not a goal. Works as a network, with a unique identity but with several and quite-independent local nodes.
Enric Senabre, Goteo Towards an open standard of collective funding
Is crowdfunding compatible with crowdsourcing? The idea of Goteo is opening the projects for the benefit of everyone.
Goteo combines individual incentives with collective incentives and social outcomes: generating economic opportunities for others, creating community and social capital, sharing knowledge and fosters learning, providing access to files/technology, and fully opening projects.
Besides funding projects, the activity of Goteo has other outputs, such as sharing their knowledge in the form of workshops, helping others learn about sharing and how to license content, etc.
Goteo is beginning to create a network so that there can be local nodes, being proximity usually a good helper for building trust.
Goteo has also created a fund, Capital Riego, to foster or accelerate some strategic initiatives.
Rubén Martínez: What is the secret of scalability? Javier Creus: the secret is not more resources but the possibility to add more people with less coordination. Coordination scales very badly, so the more distribution without (added) coordination, the better.
We are living a new digital disorder. Most categories have become useless: sciences/humanities, public/private, professional/amateur, producer/consumer, work/leisure, local/cosmopolitan, expert/”ignorant”.
New ways of organizing knowledge, new frames of actuation. New ways of thinking about culture as a lab for experimentation.
New actors: there has been a revolution on who can create or who can decide what is on the cultural agenda. Culture has become a read/write culture.
New ways of culture and new actors necessarily leads to new formats: barcamps, unconferences, hackatons, living labs… all of them happening in the open and where drafts are no more something to be hidden until it is finished, but something that is quickly released.
Other issues: replicability, new mediators, new ways of participation, the raising of the local factor, etc.
Labs become mainstream in social innovation: places where exhibition and creation happen at the same time. There is a constant dialogue between the creator and the visitor, that can be informed through exhibitions and end up participating in the ongoing projects. Labs: infrastructures + communities + methodologies. Communities are build around creation, the creation of prototypes following a methodology and with the help of some given infrastructures.
Open questions: how resources are distributed, the sustainability of cultural initiatives and spaces, how is people to be paid (if they have to), can citizen empowerment end up dismantling public services.
Public infrastructures have to build public goods, have to contribute to the public domain. Public infrastructures have to be a support, but also have to accept criticism, as cultural creation in based on conflict.
It should be possible that institutions and cultural creation can cooperate, be analysed critically, agree, partner strategically, etc.
In many senses, cultural creation has been a mirage that happened in a cultural desert and that has ended in the cultural desert that it was. Despite this, people in cities (like Seville, in the case of Zemos98) have started to self-organize around cultural creation.
A community around a project is crucial, not only for creation, but for (1) being able to distribute what is being created and let it be known and (2) in order to be able to pay the artist/creator for their work.
What are the limits of thinking by creating? Doubtlessly, research has to be open, shared.
One of the risks of cultural creation is the self-imposed need to reinvent oneself continuously. This leads to short-term thinking and not deepening into the issues that are being researched. We should reflect about the life of projects and let them last as long as they require. Maybe it is not a bad idea to, while keeping the idea of the lab (thinking by doing) also sometimes separating both scenarios: the creative part from the reflective or thinking part.
Civic centres or social centres have traditionally had a very important role in community building, in reflecting about what is happening in the territory, how to improve it or how to fix what is broken.
At the end of the XXth century there is a redefinition of the social centre, moving from the “okupa”, punk, underground aesthetics to a more up-to-date discourse around the new actors and profiles of the community. This new discourse is then based in community building based on public infrastructures, in self-organization and self-management.
The Spanish Indignados or 15M movement heavily relied on these self-organized and self-managed spaces and communities and, reciprocally, these spaces and communities gained a lot of momentum thanks to social movements.
There is a big difficulty, though, in how to integrate different subjectivities. We like to think on the citizen management centres as bio-unions, as new kind of unions, unions of living projects.
It is important that criticism, cultural creation goes from the margins (of society) to its core, trying that the discourse becomes mainstream or reaches the mainstream agenda. Working on creating cultural conflict but also working on reaching citizen consensus. This consensus means that the civic centre has to speak many “languages”, many cultural registries so that no-one is excluded.
The civic centre also contributes to entrepreneurship by creating cooperatives, so that the centre is sustainable and its community can also have a worthy job.
Creation of the Fundación de los Comunes, which gathers several civic initiatives such as El Patio Maravillas, La Pantera Rossa, la Universidad Nómada, l’Ateneu Candela, X.net, Traficantes de Sueños, La Invisible, La Tabacalera de Lavapiés or La Hormiga Atómica.
Q: is there any relationship between civic centres and traditional labour unions? Is there a possibility for a new kind of union? Spuiglia: there have been several initiatives of nomad unions, flexible unions, etc. The problem is that, still, these are organizations that have different languages and the meeting points are still difficult to reach.
Q: if the commons or public goods are no more provided by the state, what do we need the state for? Freire: public goods and the commons are different things, sometimes even opposed. Indeed, the commons belong to the private sphere, that is, not the public sphere. García: we should both try to recover a policy for the commons and recover what the state provided as public goods and services.
Juan FreireBuilding a culture for social innovation
What is culture? What is social innovation?
We are heading times of destruction, and, hopefully, a creative one.
What is social innovation? Is it R+D+i? Social innovation was born in opposition to technological innovation or commercial innovation, as a marginal thing. It looks now the framework is that everything is social innovation and technological or commercial innovation are a part of this whole.
Three tiers of social innovation:
People – education.
Organizations – projects, infrastructures.
Institutions – public policies.
Social technologies: there are technologies that are developed collectively and also generate the possibility to collaborate. There are technologies that empower people so that they can create. E.g. Ushahidi.
Citizen labs: spaces where people organize as communities not to consume culture, not to discuss about something, but to create and build things. E.g. Medialab Prado.
Open data: needed for the technology to be able to work. Open data is the more powerful tool at this moment.
Reactive projects: like political activism, that begin reacting to a specific problem, it replicates, ends up building a network and then stabilizes as a platform that brings more topics, makes proposals, etc.
Some other projects try to improve a (usually failed) public policy or a public space, by proposing new uses or meanings, by hacking its original design.
Social tissue: in The Unplanned City it is stated that cities are not built by the aggregation of services provided from the outside, but built as people living in it build things and use them. There are infrastructures that are born from the demand side, from needs of the citizen that ask for a solution that becomes in the form of a new infrastructure/service. Thus the importance of generating a culture of entrepreneurship in the cities.
All these initiatives have to feedback education. That is, these initiatives have happened “outside of education” and now we find there is a need to re-educate ourselves, to change the way education happens, to think that education can happen outside of formal education institutions. We have to rethink education as a system and as a concept itself. Informal education is increasingly becoming more important. Learning more and more happens amongst peers.
We need a new educational layer where we can learn by doing. A layer of spaces/communities of innovation/entrepreneurship. And a third layer of startups/businesses. We have to foster the creation of these three layers and that they can interact one with each other.