Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

7. Recommendations


7.1 The lessons of categories

7.2 The need for urban philosophy and world citizenship

7.3 European identity and the crisis of the multi-culturalism as model of integration

The European identity of a city depends upon letting an interplay between small and large shape the city. If dominated by only mega projects, then this attentivity to small details would be lost. Equally details can play only a role when the overall vision gives to the city that grand splendor of people happy to live there. Naturally there are also things lost which some retain in their memories and regret that these things exist no more e.g. Milano used to be a city of the river but now that waterway is almost covered up completely whereas in the past people would travel by boat from one end to another. Since the way people move about, it has a lot to do with how identities are either gained or lost e.g. in Venice people tend to run through the narrow streets, over bridges and along the channels without ever resorting to taking the gondolos usually reserved for the tourists. Quite different is the identification with the city by the commuter who drives every day throughout the week in and out of the city and thus sees more freeways and overhead passes, toll gates and long lines of cars waiting for the traffic light to change. Through such motorised equally individual traffic the city becomes a forgotten entity and like climbing the stairs, once in the apartment all that ordeal is forgotten. That has contributed a great deal to making cities remote places with people having only some concrete maps, that is where they go on foot and not take the car to cover within a relative short time great distances.

Along with the growing anonymity the city will intensify huge discrepancies between poor and rich districts. Already Andre Loeckx spoke in his speech he held at the Fifth Seminar 'Cultural Action for Europe' in 1994 about the fragmented city. This trend has continued with certain hot spots attracting both the restless and the unemployed, the illegal migrants and the drug dealer. They compound upon that part of the city since conduicive for being elusive. It is a way of retaining not so much a distance from the law and from the police, as staying in close range to law enforcements in order to know when the next swoop is going to happen. This staying in touch with hard and harsh reality follows its own laws and shows what happens when people begin to fear the uncontrolled, the un-aesthetical and the un-predictable. When migrants begin to sell things on the pavement, the shop owners inside are mad as this will keep away potential customers and at the same time while they pay taxes, those out front do not. It is a conflict programmed to explode if not handled in time.

Here a successful cultural planning strategy would in anticipation of things to come avert the creation of such hot spots by ensuring that a mixture of control is maintained. For no police force can do the job alone. It requires open citizenship.

7.4 Cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue – letting cultural identities challenge each other

In the declaration by the United Nations about 'culture and development', there is stated the following:

(Source: 66th session, Agenda item 21, General Assembly of the United Nations, 12.3.2012)

it means that any city has to ascribe to this declaration in support of a world governance as described by Jürgen Habermas and which departs from a moral impulse to respect and to preserve human dignity, freedom and artistic creativity.

(see Bart Verschaffel, Public Truth and Public Space)

7.5 Towards a new role for museums – recognizing contributions to community life

Two weeks after bombs exploded on the London Tube and on one double decker in 2005, a report about the state of affairs in British museums was published. It attested to the fact that while the staff was predominantly male, white and over 55 years of age, the museums had neither in their collections items created by the diverse communities nor on their staff experts which could have interpreted items in case they were a part of the official collection. By contribution to making possible life in the community is meant everything ranging from constructing a church to telling stories about the grandparents. For life in a city depends upon the continuity of how memory works, or rather how different conflicts and tendencies to forget are worked through, in order to let the memory flow like the river through the city. If people state that without a river they have no sense of direction in such a city, the same applies to everyone. Without this consistent work on memory to tell stories there would be no continuity and not sense of direction in what life is shaped due to being in that city. All the more of importance is the role of museums, namely to safeguard this diversity and what stories are told out of different perspectives.

Memory base

Once actions are undertaken and experiences are made, culture shows different ways of organizing memory. From people keeping diaries to documentaries depicting what took place, different cultural and political significances are worked out. Some of them may have become turning points in history. Other actions have given the place a real name. Still some may provide insights into what potentiality the place has. All in all, the linkage between individual and various collective memory levels tend to show mediation between past, present and future is continuing. Since memory is an abstraction alone on the basis that not all can be recounted, to remain as memory alive it will require cultural terms which preserve and keep alive these memories. In various countries this can translate itself into official holidays or even into a specific policy e.g. in Israel never to forget the Holocaust and which is linked to Jerusalem lest this holy city is forgotten then the hand will fall off – a sort of draconic measure reminding of the Middle Ages. Naturally it is absurd to try to frighten people into remembering something. A closer look may reveal instead some deep scars left behind by those who have invaded and left such traces that the inhabitants should keep in mind if they try again to resist the occupying authority e.g. Israel in the Gaza strip.

City museum

A city museum is all the more crucial if such a memory base is to be accessible to all inhabitants of the city. The work with memory allows fore mostly people to reflect changes and insofar as they become knowledgable as to what has been achieved in the meantime, they can refine the measures to applied for the tasks ahead. Recalling what it used to be like is setting against modern urban development some notion coming close to sentimentality but which is in fact a consistent sentiment for a city and its people performing so well that the scope of activities find affirmation in the enjoyment of life.

7.6 Public openness and public spaces

7.7 From civic duties to volunteer work

7.8 Conclusion – Application of the HERMES Project

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