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Bernd Fesel

Deputy Director, European Centre for Creative Economy - ECCE


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Your Future: Cities - Maker or Solution of Crisis?

City and urbanism is at the heart of the founding myth of democracy: of course they provide freedom of social control and space for individualism and at the same time breeding ground for economic growth. But of course they account also for the major problems and frictions in democracy - from poverty ranging to social war and climate pollution. Cities produce also dangers to our future.

While city and urban planning was the domain of policy makers and specialists for decades, the digital shift leads in the last two years to a power drift in the city - in advantage to the residents and locals. This reaches from bike sharing models via facebook to voter protest against large infrastructure investment like railroad-renewals in Germany – also via facebook. Apps for Democracy shows the new digital city evolving - www.appsfordemocracy.org.


So it is time to ask the user what they want from a city attractive to them in the future, from a city being of daily support in bettering our lives. Please PARTICIPATE and
1. name three services and benefits that are most important to you.
2. name three disadvantages that are most important to you.

Your answers will add to a GLOBAL DEBATE about the future of cities - see for example:
- PICNIC 2011, Amsterdam - www.picnicnetwork.org
- Forum Avignon 2011, Avignon - www.forum-avignon.org
- Expo Shanghai 2010, Shanghai - Columne by Charles Landry on "Better City - Better Life" - http://bit.ly/nuNFEe

Only when cities generate more value than crisis, only when they are a model for YOUR AND OUR FUTURE, they will survive as the spacial model of our lives.

Let us build our future cities starting at TED !


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  • Oct 9 2011: Yes it is true, familiarity breeds contempt. While change is constant it is not always welcome. Cultural differences go against the comfort we constantly seek, our familiarity and traditions are changed by new and different ideas. In the concept of cities we have to look at neighbourhoods. I remember, was witness to the changing of the fiber of industrial cities in Germany. "Die Fremd Arbeiter" of the sevnties became the outcast of the eighties, the influx of east Germans again created controversial sentiments and divided a nation with one language. In Paris, new laws preventing Muslims from prayin in the streets, the Buqua and Niquab are banned in a very controversial law. Europe has at this time more than 20 million Muslim, a tremendous cultural block. And we force the changes. Nations and their individuals loose identity, the Turkish Ghettos were condemned, now in Paris west end, in London Northend, minorities have gathered in enclaves they control. In London, in Naples, in many cities in the west trouble is started by minorities, claiming discrimination. While we try to educate the different faction, strong religious beliefs rule a large number of these enclaves. Religion has always been a factor in society, the thirty years war, Protestants against Catholics, the Crusades and in the last four decades Northern Ireland. If we allow such segregation of neighbourhoods, we will never learn to live togee.ther. I have seen civil wars, ethnic fighting, ethnic genocide, Serbs against Bosniacs, Croats against Serbs, Kosovians against both. Can we survive any such enmity? It took a Tito, a Saddam, even a Mubarak to keep the lid on a potential disaster. Democracy has very little to do with it, the question is are the Germans willing to be dominated by other ideas? Are the French willing to forego their independence in favour of Islamic culture, are the Americans willing to incorporate Mexican culture? Many of the cities already have more foreigns language signs than nativ
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      Oct 10 2011: Brilliant to read so many national developments in a larger perspective! I like most your question "willing to be incorporate another culture?" This question leads to our future and it show their is no necessity. We have the choice.
      But others do not have: many third world countries have no alternative to the domination of the "west" or in the future "china". There seems to be an asymmetry of choice? While the west can choose to incorporate and be less nationalistic, the non-west can choose to be more nationalistc and less dominated? Are both sides moving from different ends to meet?

      An Example: When Germany in 2011 for the first time ever starts an education at state university for imans, it will change the islam in Germany as well as the German state. And it is about time - how can we ignore imans so long and wounder about them being radical?

      So the cities are the places where all these meta-changes are negotiated and are lived in real - agreed !

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