participating European cities
pairs of participating institutions
Europe is going through a period of change. Parties described as populist and/or nationalist are strengthening their positions in many nations. A sceptical stance towards the EU, best reflected in the result of Great Britain’s referendum on leaving the EU, is not a rare sight these days. Countries like Portugal, Spain, and Greece had to resort to introducing drastic austerity measures. The European integration process proceeds at varying speeds across different countries; EU members, like Romania and Bulgaria, are unlikely to play a more than marginal role in that process in the near future. In short, Europe faces challenges on various levels and is searching for answers.
The 38 Goethe Institutes and their partners (including theatres, art centres, non-profit organisations, universities, civic associations and citizens’ initiatives) have decided to step up to the challenge. Together, they will try to conceptualise questions around the theme of freedom, focusing on specific topics that constitute local points of contention, and transforming these thoughts into relevant projects.
The Freiraum project (German for open, or free, space) was launched at a meeting in Warsaw in early December 2017. Through meetings, round-table debates, and some luck, all 38 participating organisations formed up into 19 pairs. Individual pairs of cities now have a year and a half to exchange opinions and experiences, and to understand the issues facing the given partner city.
Our partners from the city of Marseille, the publishing house Hors d’Atteinte, have asked an important question: “How do socio-cultural processes like gentrification and suburbanisation change the possibilities and experiences of city living?” Our contributing question can be expressed as: “Can we strengthen inclusive dialogue in an environment of closed communities and social bubbles, free from hate-speech, and based on credible information?” Both questions are closely related, and we will strive to find an answer to them during our cooperative project, asking ourselves “what are the possibilities of reclaiming public space through better and wider citizen participation in the urban context?”