Why focusing on the questions leads to empowered urban residents
Since the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, urban dwellers have struggled to make sense on how urban development practice is useful for the reality of post-socialist cities. Urban INC – Urban Insights Center- embarked in 2016 upon the mission of creating meaningful insights that can help decode the reality of cities in Romania and the CEE region for empowering their most valuable asset- their residents’ voice and creativity.
Urban INC stands for Urban Insights Centre and is an action-research NGO established in 2010 in Bucharest, Romania. Its mission revolves around formulating meaningful insights on urban dynamics in transitional cities and bringing together stakeholders and citizens to experiment, learn and scale new solutions. Urban INC is both an online platform gathering experimental work in the field of participatory planning and global urban challenges, as well as a co-working space based in a former industrial space at Industria Bumbacului (Cotton Industry), Splaiul Unirii 160, Bucharest, Romania.
In 2016 Urban INC created the Urban Talks program, which work as a mobile lab for testing and sampling change making, through expert presentations and testimonials, research, site visits, mapping and informal information exchange. By building a series of interlinked conversations on healthy development patterns of cities it is meant to empower the audience to see themselves as designers - not just of objects, but also of ideas, strategies and solutions that improve our daily lives. In 2016 Urban Talks focused on urban festivals and city-making, social innovation, urban regeneration and community-led local development, metropolitan governance and circular economy and welcomed speakers from the London School of Economics, the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, Metabolic, reSITE, Jazz in the Park, ARC, Planwerk, the Romanian Federation of Metropolitan Areas and the Romanian Ministry of Finance.
Urban Talks managed to gather an audience interested in urban culture, entrepreneurs with projects that influence the dynamics of cities, architecture and urbanism students, and members of organizations that contribute to urban dynamics. As noticed by Dr. Nancy Holman, Director of Planning Studies, Department of Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science, “the most impressive part of these events for me was the diversity of the participants involved and the innovative way this enabled ideas and discussions to flourish and follow new and interesting paths. From the first talk on Urban Regeneration in Bucharest where the audience ranged from government ministries and academics to even one actress to the roundtable discussion on metropolitan governance in Cluj; I found myself constantly challenged and stimulated by the ideas and concepts we discussed. The way to bring about innovation is through joining together diverse groups of people around a common theme. It is clear to me that Urban INC is doing just this”.
In fall 2017 Urban Talks will tackle the many shapes innovation takes for rethinking city life, especially for dealing with collective action conundrums. We welcome expert support on various fields connected to urban transformations, from urban mobility to tech aficionados that can guide us in developing better and bolder programs. Be sure to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit us at http://urbaninc.ro/.