Self-Governance Characteristics of Generative Urban Commons in Europe

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GeCo Living Labs:


- Self-organization by one or more groups of citizens, resulting in formal or informal structures (e.g. Hotel Pasteur is now organized in an association, but at the beginning it was an informal occupation; the community land trust of Brussels is legally structured in a foundation and an association etc.).

Participation in Decision-making

- A certain degree of participation and democracy within the decision-making processes of the organization (eg: the general assembly of Hotel Pasteur is open to all and the occupants follow specific democratic rules for taking decisions; the model of governance of the community land trust is a well-known best practice of democracy and participation, resting on an open assembly and on a board of directors which composition allows the participation of all the stakeholders of the trust).

Institutional Innovation

- A certain degree of institutional innovation and creation of new institutional structures. With this respect, an example could be, again, the one of the community land trust. Through a very innovative mechanism of dissociation between the property of the land and the one of the improvements insisting on it, the CLT is in fact capable of distributing (home-buyer after home-buyer) the plusvalue acquired over time by the estate, ensuring, by this, perpetual affordable housing. Another example is to be found in the French experience of Plateau Urbain. Plateau Urbain is a French organization which helps to revitalize urban voids undergoing processes of redevelopment. Since such processes may last many years, Plateau Urbain cooperates with the owners of the buildings (often public entities) and with local social entrepreneurs, in order to create temporary uses of such spaces for the time needed for their renovation. This way, such buildings do not remain abandoned for a long time, and are made available for satisfying temporary needs of local social enterprises. Something similar is done in Brussels by a very active network: Communa.

Needs Orientation

- The community, organized through participatory processes, enacts activities aimed at satisfying individual and collective needs (going back to our examples: right to housing and inclusive urban governance for the CLT; access to culture and art, free spaces of working for young artists with respect to Hotel Pasteur; inclusion of migrants and gender equality for Melissa etc.).

Regenerative Orientation

- These activities result in the regeneration of both specific buildings and urban voids, often abandoned and unused (think of Hotel Pasteur, but also to the temporary uses implemented by Plateau Urbain and Communa) or even of entire urban areas (many evidence exist on the role these experiences have on the area where they are located, increasing the sense of community, enhancing the quality of life of the neighborhood, promoting inclusion, avoiding gentrification etc).