Today, the will to participate, to change a situation collectively, has never been more actual. It is typical for many different contemporary movements and practices, ranging from occupied theatres to experiments with regional currencies, from Time Bank projects to Iceland’s crowd sourced constitution.These examples are the result of all sorts of of initiatives by a variety of people, associations, enterprises, and local governments who all feel the need to change an unsatisfactory situation. They do so by recombining what already exists, without waiting for a general change in the system – the economy, the institutions, the large infrastructures. Many have spontaneously appointed themselves as living prototypes aiming to generate new rules, new behaviour, new social, political,economic and cultural models for society. They have demonstrated that when facing the economic crisis, bad politics, cuts to culture, bad management and unfair laws, the best answer is not the state nor the market, but us, and this us is often the easiest,fastest and most reliable answer in providing a bottom up, long term solution created by a common action. What can design do to trigger and support this new way of thinking and doing? How can designers use their knowledge and tools to empower these grass-roots social innovations? Micro Utopias is a platform which connects people’s needs and available resources to co-generate services, a new generation of services inspired by the concept of commons and attuned to collaborative and active citizens. Micro Utopias explores existing examples, as well as my own experiments to stimulate collective participation against dissatisfaction in everyday life. Research involved collaborative experiments in the neighborhoods of Rotsoord and Hoograven in Utrecht (NL).
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