stavros stavrides – city/commons/public

stavros stavrides bw

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Venessa Miemis (@VenessaMiemis)
11/25/12 7:55 AM
RT @ehooge: Designing a city based on the Commons: pooled resources + community + #commons
potentially liberating city can be conceived not as an agglomerate of liberated spaces but as a network of passages, as a network of spaces belonging to nobody and everybody at the same time, which are not defined by a fixed-power geometry but are open to a constant process of (re)definition.
The community refers to an entity, mainly to a homogeneous group of people, whereas the idea of the public puts an emphasis on the relation between different communities. The public realm can be considered as the actual or virtual space where strangers and different people or groups with diverging forms of life can meet. – Stavros Starvides

The notion of the public urges our thinking about the commons to become more complex. The possibility of encounter in the realm of the public has an effect on how we conceptualize commoning and sharing. We have to acknowledge the difficulties of sharing as well as the contests and negotiations that are necessarily connected with the prospect of sharing. This is why I favor the idea of providing ground to build a public realm and give opportunities for discussing and negotiating what is good for all, rather than the idea of strengthening communities in their struggle to define their own commons. Relating commons to groups of “similar” people bears the danger of eventually creating closed communities. People may thus define themselves as commoners by excluding others from their milieu, from their own privileged commons. Conceptualizing commons on the basis of the public, however, does not focus on similarities or commonalities but on the very differences between people that can possibly meet on a purposefully instituted common ground.  Stavros Starvides

a ground of negotiation rather than a ground of affirmation of what is shared. We don’t simply have to raise the moral issues about what it means to share, but to discover procedures through which we can find out what and how to share. Who is this we? Who defines this sharing and decides how to share? What about those who don’t want to share with us or with whom we do not want to share? How can these relations with those “others” be regulated? For me, this aspect of negotiation and contest is crucial, and the ambiguous project of emancipation has to do with regulating relationships between differences rather than affirming commonalities based on similarities.

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Dougald Hine



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“Stavrides calls it a movement, a new form of commons in which public-spirited individuals reclaim public space; others an informal urbanism born of a spirit of solidarity that has taken hold since Europe’s economic crisis erupted in Greece in 2009. For in Navarinou – a place run by neighbourhood committee – citizens have sought new ways of overcoming the trauma of economic collapse. And they have done so by creating a place where, self-contained and seemingly beyond the reach of authority, they can meet, converse, play and produce food.

Bereft of civic protection and the great umbrella of the welfare state, grassroots groups across Athens have followed suit.”

“What we are witnessing is an explosion of social networks born of bottom-up initiatives,” says Stavrides, who was among the activists whose spontaneous efforts stopped the lot being turned into a parking space in late 2009. “Navarinou heralded this new culture, this new spirit of people taking their lives into their own hands. They know that they can no longer expect the state to support them and through this process, they are discovering how important it is to share.


giving shape to new concepts of co-existence, and in so doing, reshaping public space.


“There are initiatives scattered throughout the city that show it is not paralysed by the crisis,” Stavrides says. “And they are happening when most of us feel powerless in front of policies and decisions taken in our name.”


Misery ends where solidarity begins.

“It’s our answer to the crisis. We don’t care about politics. There are leftists here, trade unionists, people from all the parties, who have united for the common good.”


common space – 2016