As a European Capital of Culture, you have a double responsibility. You must invite the world to enjoy and indulge in your city, to offer them the best of cultural shows. And you must offer your city to Europe and through this to the world so that every European Capital of Culture becomes a living proof of the value of European culture and cohesion.
Both roles have become all the more important in the later years, as economic crises and political unrest threaten from within, and climate change and refugee and migrant flows pressurize the continent.
What can a cultural capital do in this situation? It can invite the world to join and develop ideas with it, and it can strengthen the way its agents stimulate and grow pathways in a local context.
The European Capital of Culture for 2018 is Valletta, the capital of Malta. Valletta is the second southernmost capital in Europe and represents the potential to be the bridge between Europe and Africa across the Mediterranean. Valletta’s minor size with only 5710 inhabitants, makes its experiences relevant to many smaller urban areas in Europe. And albeit the old city is a challenge to any sustainability-oriented urban designer, its local communities often have strong ties and deep roots.
Cities and community spaces – the conference
“We live in an age in which everything is about culture. Listen to the debates on how, why, where and when we should deal with climate change, the role of economic growth, the reactions to refugee flows […]; it is all about the world in which we want to live. About ‘what we are fighting for.’ Culture is being recognized as the necessary lever for transformation, as the world that must be protected, and as the haven of a name- and faceless future.” (Ref: Koefoed, 2016: “From Mapping to Urban Cultural Ecosystems: The Legacy of Cultural Work,” forthcoming)
For Growing Pathways, Valletta as European Capital speaks to our vision of bringing together Nordic, European, and African change givers through innovation of urban commons and sustainable entrepreneurship. Valletta’s journey is about learning to work with life-enhancing places and the networks and communities that can be knitted around them. Therefore, we are thrilled to have held the Maltese capital as one of our first and most loyal clients. We were also delighted to be invited to another round of collaboration in November this year.
Since this time last year, Oleg Koefoed has been a member of the scientific committee for the conference held by Valletta18 in November, alongside prominent figures like Pier Luigi Sacco of the Free University of Milano. The conference will focus on “Cities and Community Spaces”, a theme highly relevant to our field of expertise in Growing Pathways. The conference will explore the connections between places, communities, spaces, cultures, economies, and ecologies, across more than 20 different urban cases. We hope to return very wise!
Learning to grow with places and people
Prior to the conference, GP will run a workshop for regional cultural coordinators, focused on acquiring tools and methods for facilitation and connecting strategies and practices across the island and region. The workshop will build on methodological resources developed from thoughts mentioned in the paper quoted above (to be published by the Valletta18 foundation this year).
Growing Pathways will focus on growing life-enhancing sites and communities, and how to grow and nurture a strong network community around sites and strategic commons. Working for a common future across the European-African divide, as well as making the world understand Malta as a crucial site for a living Europe, is a task that demands high ambitions and embracing boldness. We look forward to returning once again to the beauty and warmth of Malta!
Are you interested in learning more about our tools for European Capitals of Culture? Or would you like to know more about how to build and grow situated and living networks? Get in touch with us and hear what we can do for you!