Photo: Panos Georgiou
Photo: Panos Georgiou

How do we work?

CitizensLab is a change process that rethinks and redoes how we live, work and learn in Europe. Taking a Lab Approach helps us to navigate the complexity of this endeavour.

Lab Approach

We create a space where active citizens from all sectors can come together and share their practices. Members bring their individual and local expertise to the collective question of ‘How can our diverse practices create a more meaningful quality of life in Europe’.

The Lab Approach invites us to connect, illuminate each other and let a new community intelligence emerge. We cultivate shared responsibilities and self-organised processes.

The following elements are crucial to a Lab Approach:
  1. A shared longer term goal
  2. A core group that co-designs and co-hosts the process and navigates the complexity of the lab
  3. Series of experiments and prototypes where the new system is enacted in real-time
  4. An action-research process to illuminate the collectively generated knowledge
  5. A community of practices for a new system of influence


CitizensLab is a change process that rethinks and redoes how we live, work and learn in Europe. We work using a Lab approach that helps us navigate the complexity of this endeavour, drawing from 5 different types of capitals:

SOCIAL CAPITAL: Relationships
We host and weave together a vibrant network made up of a diverse membership of people, places, practices, and perspectives – hosting “Labs in action” and working in self-organised ways practicing the CLab longer term goal.

The Labs aim to work together to initiate a Transformative Community of Practice where mutual relationships within the wider ecosystem (including other communities (CoPs), policymakers, funding bodies, established institutions) have been established and gained a meaningful dynamic of learning and exchange, in support of self-organized forms of citizens governance.

HUMAN CAPITAL: Competences
We build a new body of knowledge: the CLab practice.

The CLab practice is the capacity to cultivate care, share power and an embedded awareness and practice of justice in local communities across Europe, that we acquire through training, sharing stories, cases, tools, and activating collective intelligences in dedicated meetings.

This practice is meant to help new forms of self-organization to emerge and thrive within and between communities in Europe.

We are striving to build structures for the CLab that embody the changes we are striving for (horizontal organizing, internal/external communication and coordination).

CULTURAL CAPITAL: Behavioral change
We live and care for a new culture that enacts an evolved narrative of democracy, supported by a regenerative worldview, values and actions (self-organisation, mutuality, complexity, comfort with uncertainty, …).

FINANCIAL CAPITAL: Diverse economies
The CLab activities are sustained through a diverse economy comprising finance (private and institutional funding, time, in-kind resources, relationships, exchange of knowledge…).


CitizensLab’s values are guidelines that we all strive to commit to upholding.
Any action or member that resonates with these principles are welcome!

Radical Care
Diversity and Inclusion
Empowerment and participation
Vertical Transformation (Inner to outer)
Commoning and Solidarity
Beyond Eurocentrism

1. RADICAL CARE: We take responsibility for our collective and individual care and we reject internalized capitalism in our bodies and minds. We look after our mental, emotional and physical well-being and learn to honestly articulate boundaries or to ask for support when we need it. We support one another in our journey of learning to love and care for ourselves.

How? Our practices: check-ins, create a space where people can express authentically, deep listening, bring awareness to our bodies sensations and not only our minds, peer-mentoring, buddy systems, offer children friendly spaces (online and offline), empowerment.

2. DIVERSITY and INCLUSION: We are and welcome people from all walks of life. We are of many colours, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religious and spiritual beliefs. A powerful few want to divide us, but we value each other in our differences and we are united in a shared fight to make real the promise of a world that works for all of us. We are actively working for the diversity of our community through the hard work of including people with diverse experiences.

How? Our practices: storytelling, 1-to-1, pronoun explainer, diversity intro, solidarity statements, safe space rules, accessibility (venue, language, etc.)

3. EMPOWERMENT and PARTICIPATION: We believe that every person has the right and the potential to contribute to the creation of solutions to the complex challenges we are facing. We create and action-research collective spaces and processes that break the boundaries of isolation and allow collective intelligence to emerge based on mutual trust and collaboration, courage and shared responsibilities.

4. CO-CREATION: We dream, imagine, dance, and question assumptions together. We cannot build that which we cannot first imagine. We recognize the essential role of radical imagination and consciousness in building a new world and embodying alternatives to the status quo. Understanding and unleashing our innate creative capacities is also fundamental to thriving as fully expressive beings. We recognize creativity as another form of wisdom as we do with emotional and body intelligence.

How? Our practices: community of practice, art of hosting and harvesting meaningful conversations (among others: world cafe´, open space technology,..), collective purpose, process design, facilitation..

5. UNLEARNING: we want to unlearn and undo the existing structures of capitalism, neoliberalism, and colonialism that form our metrics of success, love, productions, consumption and connection. We want to move beyond the gender stigmatization, white supremacy, and binary thinking (good/bad, black/white) that these structures encourage. Once we release these structures, it will open new venues for expression, growth, passion, and creativity.

We cultivate and develop our capacities to embrace vulnerability, authenticity and the unknown as key to transform ourselves and our societies. Transformation comes from experiencing together, testing solutions on the ground, allowing each other the freedom to not get it right, learn from our experiences and try again.

We cultivate spaces and relationships that refer to the processes and principles of commoning, as an organic fabric of social structures and processes, of “relational social frameworks that imply idiosyncratic creativity, improvisation, situational choices, and dynamic evolution. Cultivate a culture of sharing, collaboration.

8. BEYOND EUROCENTRISM: Our definition of Europe is not a Europe of the Member States only, but includes people who see themselves as either European or relate to Europe in a particular way. CitizensLab co-initiators and practitioners are currently mostly based in Europe, as we want to work with a principle of proximity and be able to have in person encounters. We also believe involving other parts of the world in our reflections and activities is necessary to make new alternatives emerge.


CitizensLab is a laboratory for testing how we can improve our quality of life in Europe in meaningful ways. In translocal initiatives we prototype alternative approaches and new solutions on how we can better live, work and learn together. Those experiments scale and connect both existing and new local initiatives, activities and ideas and practice change by developing a culture of sharing, collaboration and mutual learning. With the prototypes we experiment with real life examples for the Europe we really want: vibrant, unified and diverse.

By collaborating on the European level we support each other to increase the impact of our local initiatives, which are dedicated to a wide range of issues around which citizen participation is needed. We strengthen solidarity among citizens and communities within and across borders.


In the governance of the network, we experiment with new approaches to decision-making without the burden of established rules and conventions. We empower each other and take an active stance locally and on the European level on issues and decisions that are important not only for our work, but also for the lives of the citizens with whom we are working and cooperating. Thus, we seek to connect in a joint movement for a more critical approach to political, social and civic development and the development of transnational narratives on civic engagement.

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