Reflections: Rediscovering 2013 at CITIES

2014 is gearing up to be an exciting new year at CITIES! But before jumping ahead, we thought it would be great to share a ‘highlight reel’ of events, workshops, lectures and happenings that CITIES involved with in 2013. Keep reading to discover our 2013 urban explorations!

2013 was a busy year at CITIES. Looking back, from the Urban Agriculture Summit in Linköping, Sweden, all the way to Prototyping a Food Council at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam, we learned, shared and moved forward in our pursuit of pushing the boundaries of urban living and exploration. As the weather warms and spring moves into the New Year, we would like to share a ‘highlight reel’, showcasing some of our past adventures.

While the urban habitat is dominated by buildings, roads and material structures, it can be difficult to connect to the roots of food systems; however, a simple fact remains: food is an essential part of living, and moreover, learning to embrace sustainable ways of inhabiting the urban in relation to the food produced, distributed and consumed is also essential. Beyond that, it opens up innovative avenues to re-discover and engage with each other, community and the environment within the city. Therefore, CITIES initiated and participated in many food-related initiatives last year.

FOOD EVENTS

The Urban Agriculture Summit in Linköping, Sweden kicked off the year in January 2013 with a three-day event linking local issues with a global audience, as local food systems experience growing attention globally, and duly so. With this outlook, CITIES was happy to participate with the UA Summit as a communications partner, facilitating the knowledge share and collaborative learning potential of localities in light of constructing better practices on a more global scale. With these intentions, the Plantagon hosted the event, as an international leader in global urban agriculture innovation, and welcomed professionals from the USA, Holland, China, Singapore, Japan and the United Arab Emirates among the diverse crowd. Blending knowledges, the Summit proceeded to explore vertical farming and identify the needs for new forms of cooperation and developing new business and organizational models that incorporate diversification, localization and ‘humanification’ of the future of food systems and shared values of both small scale and industrial agricultural and commercial processes.

Edible Stavenger East Workshop followed in February in Stavenger East, Norway. This workshop embraced the idea of food knowledge share, as well, where the support and shared vision from Urban Sjøfront welcomed CITIES to give a workshop on food as a tool for waterfront redevelopment. More specifically, CITIES shared an inspiring presentation on the development of Farming the City in Amsterdam to begin. With greater aims to share possibilities for innovation, ideas were shared incorporating citizen, organizational, government and business actors in the food system. Through these idea, the workshop explored food in the urban realm as not only a product, but as part of a networked process that is tightly bound to urban development and infrastructure. In this light, Stavenger East was able to gain a new perspective on solving local issues by recognizing the many innovative possibilities this new vision of food offers. Also, highlighting the role of civil society as co-producers and co-managers in this process elevated the innovative capacity to forward ideas linking the relationship between food, urban development and civil society.

Old Amsterdam Food Tour was busy in 2013, but 2014 will be featuring a newly developed and expanded Food Tour program we are excited to introduce (more to come soon!). For now, it is nice to think back to February 2013 when organized our third Tour to two groups of 30 students from Wageningen University. The students were taking a course in Food Culture with Petra Derkzen, and were excited to explore the old city centre with us, as well as finish the tour at local brewery De Prael for some local craft brew. Following, in a chilly March, we had a great special edition Tour organized in collaboration with the Food Film Festival to honor Carolyn Steel, architect and writer of Hungry City, who joined us on the tour. Striking up good conversation during the experience, the tour itself was a big success and ended with a bike ride to the Food Film Festival and a warming bowl of spicy soup. August featured two tours organized with groups of students from the USA and the Food Academy/Hogeschool in Holland. Shortly following in September, we had a special bike-led tour with students from the Hotelschool The Hague that spanned from the city to an aquaponics systems lesson at Mediamatic, visit to Tostifabriek and a nice lunch at Roest. Later, in November, we hosted a tour to experts in the field of soil and waste, sharing the Amsterdam’s food history. 2013 was a dynamic year for the Old Amsterdam Food Tour. The soon-to-launch program for 2014 will bring it to a whole new level. Stay tuned.

Food Tour: Oslo’s Think Tank was organized to inspire Oslo’s Food Think Tank, comprised of public, private and creative professionals in the food field, in their preparation of a report for the national Norwegian Government. The tour itself took place in Amsterdam, as Norway saw the benefit of seeking to learn from Amsterdam in introducing urban agricultural frameworks into food policy and supporting government programs. The tour explored the city and spotlighted two projects. First, I Can Change the World With My Two Hands allotment garden. Second, Zuidpark’s urban farming rooftop seated atop a recently renovated modern office building. Further, we lunched at MOES and engaged in illuminating discussions. See this link for more.

Farming the City Book Launch Lecture was a two-hour event hosted by the Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. Starting the evening, we covering CITIES work in the framework of Farming the City, which launched in 2011, one year after CITIES. The night proceeded to focus on sharing a wealth of knowledge collected in the publication regarding how to use food as a tool for urban development. International examples and ideas were showcased to inspire participants in light of Amsterdam’s ongoing local food policy development. In light of this, we had three international local food initiative representatives present via Skype. Following, we had a debate discussing people’s most prominent concerns for the Food Policy that featured Pim Vermeulen of the Municipality of Amsterdam asking the audience what five themes attendees perceive to be most pertinent to consider for the Food Policy to focus on. We also had a book launch in Stockholm that was more casual, hosted as a debate during the HållBar på Arkitektur, a special night of informal chit chats and serious updates about urban trends organized by the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

Food Fresh Workshop, organized in participation with Metabolic and Alastair Faud-Luke and featured at Amsterdam’s Pakhuis de Zwijger, situated in a circular city program and featured three leading thinkers in the field of community based sustainable design. The focus was on three questions: What does a circular or sustainable city look like? How do we get there? Which design steps take us from here to there? The experiential workshop design set out to map the food habits of attending guests. Based on the results, a discussion about fresh and local food consumption kicked off and the event ended with the design of a fresh, local meal for a guest of choosing.

Taste This: The Future of Farming Workshop was a casual meet up on info-exchange exploring where and what we will be farming in the future. Presented speakers included Francesca Miazzo of Farming the City and CITIES, together with Allison Guy of the Next Nature Network, Natascha Hagenbeek from I Can Change the World with my Two Hands and Martin Kullik of Steinbeisser Experimental Gastronomy. In exploring new visions, discussion points focused on why and how we need to re think the relationship between people, nature and technology, and new innovative patterns of cooperation among local actors to promote effective re-localization of food in urban areas that can survive and breakdown mainstream, monopolized, unsustainable systems.

ICLEI Urban Mobility Congress, in Suwon, South Korea, featured a report on CITIES’ Foodlogica program. This international congress focusing on the hard-pressed issues concerning urban environment and mobility that are highly open to innovative solutions was a great platform to share the idea of Foodlogica, which focuses on sustainably delivering food in urban areas by bicycle, and much more – we are excited to develop and implement more robustly in 2014! For more on the report and congress, follow this link.
 
Food Mash! Getting closer to 2014, CITIES collaborated with Metabolic and BiteMe to kick off this food-focused knowledge transfer and networking series aimed at developing actionable ideas in pursuit of one primary goal: producing a more resilient food system in Amsterdam. As the series will spotlight different actors central in a functioning local food system, the event kicked off at OpenCoop in Noord with a focus on farmers, producers and growers. For an overview report, click here.

Prototyping a Food Council, hosted at Pakhuis de Zwijger in December, was CITIES experiment using food as a tool in democratic innovation, prototyping a citizen-inclusive food council. Opening with a Skype video introduction from Wayne Roberts, founder of Toronto, Canada’s, Food Policy Council, the event proceeded to discuss a series of themes facilitated by a group of 25 local experts and professionals in Amsterdam’s food field, while interactively participating with attendees. The event was enjoyed and a big success. For more, click here.

Besides food, CITIES has also been quite busy and enthusiastic in the world of urban development. More specifically, about the development process of the We Own the City project, which extended from its roots in Amsterdam into a global research project culminating in CITIES’ new and upcoming We Own the City publication (book launch at Pakhuis de Zwijger May 27th!). The book is primarily about flipping the perspective, discourse and approach to urban development from disparate top-down and bottom-up to collaborative integration from the bottom to the top. More below.

WE OWN THE CITY

Symposium and Exhibition in Hong Kong, co-organized by CITIES and the Hong Kong University to explore community practice in urban planning and architecture. At the event, CITIES contributed by sharing experiences and knowledge learned from the We Own the City project that had started just one year prior. This event played a key role in the development of We Own the City as a project that grew into the upcoming publication. We Own the City: Enabling Community Practice in Urban Planning and Architecture, featuring case study research in Amsterdam, New York, Hong Kong, Moscow and Taipei. Read more about recent book updates and upcoming book launch here! For more on the symposium in Hong Kong, click here.

MORE EVENTS
 
City in Bankruptcy: An Evening on Detroit took place in Stockholm, where CITIES organized the finale film screening closing the Architecture and Design Centre in Stockholm’s three-day film festival. Focusing on how a city can go bankrupt, what this means and how urban planners and architects are working with ‘shrinking cities’, our screening of the documentary Detropia was sold out. Following the film, there was a panel discussion on stage, a Skype with Dan Kinkhead of Detroit Works Project and a transition into the bar for further discussion with drinks, music and a projection of photos.
 
Borders to Cross at Pakhuis de Zwijger was a multi-day international conference focused on democratic innovation and civic driven change. More specifically, it brought together civil servants, citizens, social entrepreneurs, and scientists to reflect on the innovative ways in which democracy is being practiced, and how civil society, markets and governments are working together to address shared problems in Europe. CITIES participated to gain and explore new understandings and opportunities for urban development and innovation.

ONWARDS: 2014

CITIES is moving full steam into 2014, with new additions to old projects and fresh initiatives heating up for implementation! For instance, expect big developments to the Old Amsterdam Food Tour and Foodlogica, and get ready for WASTED! Stay tuned for updates as we share the news in the near future. And one more thing to remember: We Own the City’s book launch will be here in Amsterdam at Pakhuis de Zwijger May 27th – we are excited for this event, and hope to see you there! More info soon.

Happy 2014.

Created on 14 March 2014

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Research into urban waste management
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Research into urban agriculture projects and farming within cities ( www.farmingthecity.net )
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