In CiTyBee we believe that the city has a lot of possibilities, driven by the ideas and networks that benefit from many people living or working in the same community.
Often barriers block local interaction that turn these possibilities into action. The barriers can be spatial such as big roads and functional or social ghettos. The barriers can also be cultural when people feel excluded by abstract urban plans or too much talk and too little action.
CiTyBee makes the discussion about the city more concrete and close to everyday life and makes the design of the city more open for discussion and self organisation.
So how do we do that? the process has three phases. First Phase is an open mapping of local stories. Second phase is an open dialogue on the possibilities and third phase focus on producing offshoots.
In the first phase we get around town with our Street Kitchen so we can offer a drink or a bite – thats always a good way to make people stop and talk.
We write keywords on temporary signs and start to make the dialogue about space more visible and part of space.
If there is a market or a public event we set up the street kitchen along with a map of the city. This usually encourages people to talk about memories, local conflicts and favorite places. We print out stickers with keywords and stick them on the map. This documents the previous stories and make people comment on these.
The second phase starts with a public meeting where the map shows often conflicting interests or different views on the same place. this is our way of making the discussion more constructive – to make people know about other peoples views and disagreeing in a civilised way – thus creating a dialogue.
We work out the important issues of the community and start seeing some patterns of possibilities. The dialogue and further stories are also taken to the streets in curated walks. People are free to join in and it usually leads to new stories.
A second public meeting is set in a place central to the local community – here it is a garden that used to belong to a old factory. We opened the garden for experiments before the meeting – inviting people to come with their ideas. Being, building and discussing it in the actual space makes the dialogue about space more concrete.
For the actual meeting people would exchange new ideas and form networks around these – Or just build something themselves – for themselves.
Out of this second public meeting evolves a number of new localised networks and ideas.
In the third phase we facilitate concrete actions based on the new localised ideas and networks. In this case the idea was to make an incubator for local projects in the empty train station. One of our actions was to design and build a module for the old train station that had a number functions. A bench, a stage and a table.
The flexibility of this design makes it less finished and more open for new ideas and discussions. In the third phase we also work with the langauge that is used to talk about the local community. In this case we discovered the word offshoots which was used to describe a number of actions in the community like:
The many additions to the self build houses or how you appropriate and inhabit an existing old factory building.
A new curated walk was organised to discuss the offshoots in the community and formalising the use of that word. We also choose to use the word offshoots to describe the third phase in the CiTyBee process:
Concrete spatial actions: either building and taking space in a visual and functional way but also changing the way we talk about space. Offshoots are ongoing changes to what is already there. Always leaving little seeds of imperfection that makes it open to new stories, dialogue and offshoots. Which means that the process can begin again – making it less linear
So Citybee is about making the dialogue about space more spatial and designing space to be more open for discussion. CiTyBee is a community tool box for people to create the city together.