Alone we go fast. Together we go further!

Retrospective on 3 years of Connected Action for the Commons


It’s like most of the encounters in private life. An acquaintance invites you to a dinner party and presents you to like-minded friends of his, guessing or knowing that you surely have things in common or may even do things together in the future. Human encounters are always at the very beginning and stay at the heart of projects and initiatives. Somehow one has to be mutually inspired to be able to develop a common vision and to take action together.

The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) made this dinner invitation to us in 2014 and curious as we are, we accepted. Back then, ECF surely had its idea about the aim of bringing together 6 so called grass roots organizations or hubs* active in the field of arts and culture on operational and political level. A new program was born and its name was:


Connecting, Culture, Community and Democracy

Major learnings

3 years is short and long at the same time, especially if the group of people is based in different local contexts and engaged in various combats. Because what linked us in our experience and engagement is the fact that democracy is constantly put in danger in our neoliberal model of society. Art and culture still has to be defended and its impact on people and communities to authorities and funders. By getting to know the other 5 hubs, based in Sweden, Croatia, Moldova, Spain and Poland, we learned a lot about Europe’s challenges today and the potentials of collective action taking. And we found allies, if not of our local combats, but perhaps to feel a little less alone and stranded.

We exchanged and co-developed expertise about how to engage local communities into the work we do, aiming to create a more inclusive society. We also wanted to scale up our activities, combine our influence, highlight and connect new practices with European policy makers and gain knowledge from each other.

We appreciated a lot the fact what we were able to do a lot of concrete work together and that we applied the philosophy of “Learning by doing”, which made us more self-reflective and helped us to improve our methods. We were encouraged to be mostly self-organization and make the best of our collective intelligence to bring new ideas up. Confidence is one of the key factors for fruitful collaboration in our experience.

We believe that we can go a lot further if we join pour potential and strengths.


Major achievements

One of the highlights of our collaboration took place at the very beginning and had probably the effect of an icebreaker. The first edition of Idea Camp took place in Marseille hosted by Les Têtes de l’Art. The hubs have developed the concept of the “Idea Camp” together, aiming at supporting innovative ideas for initiatives and project to be carried out on a local level by citizens. In 3 editions we were able to support more than 150 idea makers and foster a network of small scale actors in Europe and in the Mediterranean area.


We have launched a website in 2016, which tells the stories of the hubs and illustrates topics linked with the commons such as public space, culture and democracy.

We have published many resources we have built online, amongst others a Statement of Culture and the Commons for the Magazine Build the City with a collection of evidence-based practices.

ECF has developed a Visualisation tool which shows how the network has grown over the past three years, who the people behind the network are, and what are the projects and issues they work on and find in common.


What’s next?

The pilot experience is now over, but the learnings are tangible and will influence us in our future tasks. Thanks to ECF and Connected Action for the Commons, our association has made a great step forward on its way to become a recognized operator on international level. The hubs have become reliable collaborators and supporters, and seeds for new common projects are already planted.


We are most grateful to ECF and the hubs for their confidence and support.


* Connected Action for the Commons, that’s: European Cultural Foundation (The Netherlands), Culture 2 Commons  – Alliance Operation CityClubture NetworkRight to the City – (Croatia), Les Têtes de l’Art (France), Krytyka Polityczna (Poland), Oberliht (Moldova), Platoniq – Goteo (Spain), and Subtopia (Sweden)

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