Commoning Democracy and Citizen Peer Production in Brisbane

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* Article: Urban Imaginaries of Co-creating the City: Local Activism Meets Citizen Peer-Production. By Carlos Estrada-Grajales, Marcus Foth, Peta Mitchell. Journal of Peer Production, Issue #11: City, March 2018



"Urban activist groups challenge the status quo in city governance and demand their ‘right to the city’ as city co-producers. The specific forms in which such movements engage, plan and activate different participation mechanisms to contest local dominant power structures and governance practices are, as yet, not well understood. Scholarship on the topic has mostly gravitated around the structural influence of private corporations and governments, as well as their role in the global urban crisis as the rationale for socio-economic interventions in urban governance. Yet, the dominant belief remains for local governments to retain sole control of city futures. The aim of this study is to examine citizen demands for new dynamics of engagement and participation in decision-making mechanisms that co-produce the city. We present Right to the City – Brisbane as a case study activist organisation aligned to these citizen-led demands for more agency in local governance. An ethnographic approach involving participant observations, in-depth interviews and analysis of social media and printed media identified the urban imaginaries produced by Right to the City – Brisbane. The objective was to understand how group members construct a narrative of their struggles against exclusion practiced by government agencies and private developers, as well as of their visions and desires for shaping the future of Brisbane. We found that this activist group engages with the city and residents through playful practices, envisions a fair and sustainable city, and crafts a future of Brisbane privileging a DIY activist approach. This study concludes that a citizen-led peer-produced urbanism, based on methodologies that relate directly to citizen needs and desires, constitutes a valuable contribution for expanding and reshaping urban governance policies and practices in modern cities."