This mapping project aims to reflect the current state of the European municipalist movement identifying established and emerging municipalist initiatives in different parts of Europe. The process will develop a transversal analysis of each organisation’s challenges and propose alternatives to find commons threads and possible collaborations. The outcomes will provide access to information and documentation about their goals and activities. At the same time, the process will help to coordinate communication strategies. This mapping focuses on collective learning and community building. We aim to engage local actors in the mapping activities through a decentralised organisation of the process. We see it as a supporting structure that gives visibility to different initiatives and articulates a common voice able to scale up the political discourse by identifying the different actors in each specific territory as part of a trans/local/national space.
From Belgrade to Paris – from Lisbon to Helsinki, this project aims to map the Municipalist ecosystem in Europe. This attempt to visualise the state of the proliferation of (proto)municipalist practices is part of a process leading to create a European Municipalist Network.
We understand this mapping as a process that seeks to trace and pin down a “present state of affairs” and strategically seeks to incorporate potential future partners in the EMN. We will present the results of this first iteration in the frame of the Cities for Change Forum. Nonetheless, this exercise will further develop as a discursive project on municipalism.
The mapping project orients itself as a practice-oriented research project. It seeks to support single actors – social and electoral – in their endeavour to promote the municipalist idea. Critical mapping serves here as a self-empowering tool to democratise access to knowledge.
Because maps are not neutral representations of a given reality, but interpretations of it, by defining the framework, criteria and methodology of this tactical cartography exercise, we describe and – at the same time – re-produce the Municipalist ecosystem we want to support.
The project perceives Critical Mapping thus as an ‘act of power’ to visualise the ongoing socio-political mobilisation of urban actors and institutions.
For the facilitation of this exercise, we have created a group of five coordinators responsible for distinctive regions (Spain, France, Italy, South-Eastern and North-Central Europe). To identify the actors, these coordinators have gathered the available knowledge on the ground, through their own experience as part of Municipalist movements and through information provided by other actors present in the various networks and relationships established through the international and regional Fearless Cities events and numerous encounters after and beyond those. Each coordinator has researched in their respective regions for further contacts, practitioners and researchers that have either worked in Municipalist movements or have attempted to spread the narrative.
As a result, we created a list of potential organisations that could fit the criteria defined for the mapping. As a second step, we contacted the different organisations to self-assess their principles, aims and practices in a descriptive way which we presented to the whole Coordination Group for validation.
We are acutely aware that the discussion on the criteria to map the (proto-)municipalist ecosystem is as tricky and full of controversies as the attempt to define “Municipalism” as such. The following principles guided the criteria for inserting organisations into a first list of organisations:
- Linked to the territory at the local scale
- Based on the collaboration and aggregation of different actors
- Aims to transform existing institutional structures
- Interested in an international network
The organisations have to follow at least two of the following aims:
- Promote self-government and the autonomy of the local scale
- Defend social rights (or justice)
- Establish (radical) democracy and participatory procedures
- Works towards a de-commodification of life
- Ascribe to feminist, ecological and decolonial values
We are aware that the selection of the organisations is inevitably biased and based on subjective evaluation of both the coordinators and the actors that have provided further information form-the-ground. Despite our intention to apply verifiable criteria to validate the selection by mirroring the decisions to the whole group, the eventual list of organisations and practices will be necessary – and hopefully – incomplete. We look forward to having the opportunity to complete and widen it in the future.