Five days in May, 500 City Makers will come together in Athens and work together on innovative solutions for the urban future. Our journey to Athens begins with stories from City Makers that will join us for the ride.
The frontier spirit of the pioneering days of American counterculture. That, in a sentence, is what Kerouac’s On the Road is all about. At the same time, what stands out from his novel, is the idealised depiction of the ‘journey’. A contemporary version of Huckleberry Finn’s search for ‘the light out of the territory’, On the Road underlines the beauty of moments, the unexpected nature of the road, the alluring fragments of discovery which guide you towards your destination.
On the Road [to Athens] proposes a similar journey of discovery, as we make our way towards the second City Makers Summit (17th-21st of May) which takes place in Athens. Following the first City Makers Summit (27th – 30th May 2016) in Amsterdam, it became obvious that we are witnessing a new movement taking off in Europe. City Makers from 150 countries came together to share ideas and experiences that shape a new path to democratic urban innovation.
Similar with the concept of ‘counterculture’, the City Makers movement comes as an alternative that mends the dissatisfaction with governing structures and top-down decision making. City Makers are the pioneers exploring, shaping and defining the new transformations happening in cities. They are Kerouac’s Salvatore Paradise or Dean Moriarty, restless and ambitious in their search for redefining existing systems.
Setting up the summit in Athens as our destination, we take you on a journey of discovering the ‘urban counterculture’. Our story has many characters. They are active citizens that enhance liveability and create communities in their own neighbourhood, setting up cooperatives, starting communal gardens, and organising self-sustaining facilities. They are architects and developers starting their design process by building a community in collaboration with end users. They are civil servants and political decision makers who base their policies on participative practices, transparency, open data, and so on, based upon trust. They are the alliances of residents, entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, municipalities, and knowledge institutions, sharing circular ambitions and working together.
The stories we encounter on the road will offer new perspectives on the challenges of our time (housing, inequality, poverty) from City Makers that join our ride to Athens. The journey matters as much as the arrival.