As part of the European Municipalist Network we worked on a series of projects around the themes of ‘Cultures and Practices of Care’ and ‘Ecological transition’, together with organisations all over Europe.
Alongside Commonspolis, Transnational Institute and Research for Action, Commons Network worked on coordinating the European Municipalist Network. EMN is an informal network of organisations, projects, and individuals that aims to strengthen the emerging municipalist ecosystem in Europe and its capacity for social and political advocacy. Within the network, we are interested in supporting the municipalist hypothesis: the belief that communities, cities and regions, rather than nation-states, represent the future of Europe. Many of the radical changes envisioned with democratic economies, community wealth building, and local cooperative ecosystems, for example, are designed to be as local as possible, being rooted in actual neighbourhoods, villages, provinces, and municipalities. That is why Commons Network sees cities, towns, and regions as pockets of transformation, where real alternatives are being explored and put into practice.
Late 2022 we came together with over 20 people from across Europe for two full days to kickstart our work. This gave the opportunity to define issues and topics, which have been taken up by different members of the EMN network. As these projects come to an end, we are excited to look back on the transformative work of EMN and share the multimedia tools that were produced!
Transnational Institute led on the creation of an interactive journey into repository knowledge and power about municipalism, or rather, a tool for those interested in local transformations, but overwhelmed by the huge amount of information already available online. According to your interests, you will be guided through different paths, where you can follow certain recommendations selected by a group of activists, scholars and public policy experts. This will help you to decide what is worth spending your time on. What you will find here is not everything that is out there, but rather different paths designed to offer you essential information, organised in different topics and context, always having in mind the different interests of the diverse actors involved in local political transformations. Curious? Go and try it out!
The social ecological transition needs local power, but what are the different ways in which we can build strong local networks? As part of EMN’s meeting in Berlin of October 2022, we filmed an interview series with grassroots organisations, using municipalist practices to promote local democracy, citizen’s participation and equity. Together with organisations such as Nantes en Commun, Circles UBI, Transformation Haus und Feld, we discussed a diversity of strategies and tactics. In the second chronicle, we posed the question: with or without city hall? Here, participants from Berlin, Nantes and Glasgow explained how they are building municipal power in relation to institutions.
Between October 2020 and June 2021, EMN conducted a mapping of municipalist actors in Europe. The aim of this project was to identify electoral platforms, social organisations and translocal groups. The result of this mapping exercise has been transferred into an online map, an impressive tool to identify commonalities and generate collaborations between organisations that recognise themselves in municipalism at the European level. The collective mapping process developed an analytical logic to provide a multidimensional understanding of the values and practices of each organisation. This collaboration also resulted in a graphic representation of the ‘Municipalist Ecosystem’ drawn by architect and designer Maria Garcia. In this text, we analyse the geographical distribution and nature of the practices included in these two representations.
Graphic representation of the Municipalist Ecosystem
After a kickoff session in Berlin in the autumn of 2022, Commons Network together with EMN organised a series of online skills-share sessions. These aimed to reinforce peer-to-peer learning among municipalist actors facilitating exchange and learning on practices, methodologies, experiences and strategies that we need to transform the system. We all have useful skills for municipalist activism and organising, either through our work in local communities, political activism, advocacy, journalism, communications, coalition building or you name it. These are valuable skills that we do not always share with our peers. Skill sharing is accessible and empowering and allows for spreading experiences and knowledge with your community. The events can be practical and useful, whilst bringing people together and building networks.
We settled on four major topics: building a local democratic economy, storytelling and political education, feminist politics and housing. All of the skill share sessions started off with inspiring examples, then opening up a space for participants to exchange their experiences, ask questions and delve deeper. This podcast series is a way to share the skills with even more people and kicks off with a brief introduction.
EMN launched an Open Call for proposals to develop debates, campaigns, research or exchange activities related to the municipalist concerns and principles. With the aim of supporting municipalist actors and institutional organisations interested in the promotion of municipalist values in their work, the open call sought to foster development of narratives of municipalism, implementation of non-state based policies, and the strengthening of local and translocal networks. After much deliberation, we awarded 12 exciting projects with financial support! See the bold municipalist projects that were awarded here. During October, the participants of the Open Call met in Naples to share strategies, strengthen connections, and build collaborations.
Commons Network has been delighted working with the European Municipalist Network towards radical social-ecological transformations at the municipalist level. This series of projects has given the opportunity for the actors within the municipalist ecosystem to connect, discuss different strategies, and collaborate with one another. We are keen to continue collaborating and foster genuine transformation at the local level!