Photo: Panos Georgiou
Photo: Panos Georgiou

Why CitizensLab?

The current dominant models of how we organise society and how we interact with each other are not capable to provide solutions to contemporary challenges. A clear sign for that are the multiple crises - economic, ecological, democratic, social, as well as spiritual – we are facing today. Our current ways of life will also make life for future generations more and more difficult. Therefore, this time is the right time to change the system from the root level and not just tweak symptoms of what is not working.

This systemic change is highly complex and cannot be predicted or planned. Instead innovating, experimenting, constant learning and adapting will let the new emerge.

Many local actors of change all over Europe are already not only questioning the status quo, but through their experimental and unconventional practices provide alternative ways to deal with social, political and ecological challenges. In the CitizensLab we co-create conditions for systemic change by connecting those local pioneers to share, experiment and influence on a European level.

What is CitizensLab?

CitizensLab is a European network of local actors/practitioners of change. Born in 2016, this network has been experimenting, prototyping and inventing with citizens new forms of expression, shared narratives, commonalities, shared spaces, real or symbolic. Since November 2020 CitizensLab has become a registered NGO in Berlin, aiming at working locally as well as internationally.

CitizensLab´s actors are active in different sectors and contexts across wider-Europe.
Community organisers, curators of spaces for active citizens, artists and performers of new societies, urban public space re-inventors, activists, disturbers, societal innovators, participatory leaders – people who are able to break out of our own bubbles and hierarchies in a non-violent way and who want to create alternative European encounters that speak to all people.

Its members consider themselves a community of practice committed to changing the society in which we live to co-create a more participatory, diverse, transparent, inclusive, democratic and accountable Europe. We collectively explore ‘How our diverse practices can create more meaningful quality of life in Europe‘.

In the CitizensLab active citizens co-create cross-sectoral spaces to share experiences and knowledge, but also to together experiment and prototype in our local contexts. By connecting a wide variety of civil society actors CitizensLab can also become a new system of influence. Seeking eye-to-eye communication with the European institutional ecosystem we foster a more inclusive political participation of citizens in shaping our societies.

In its incipit phase (2016-2018) it was coordinated by MitOst e.V. with the support of Stiftung Mercator, Robert Bosch Stiftung and the European Cultural Foundation. And in 2019 and 2020 it was operating as a self-organised platform hosted by the French NGO Cricao.

Why is the CitizensLab needed?

Our diverse practices will make Europe a better place to live. A place where everybody regardless of their origin and social status has a voice in decision-making. A place where schools turn into homes of community actions that nurture active citizens of tomorrow. A place where art and culture become a catalyst for social change and where everyone is an artist. A place where urban transformation is ecologically and economically sustainable.

Collectively we want to create a Europe of communities and neighborhoods where citizens (residents, immigrants, refugees) have the right, power, and opportunity to self-organise, participate and co-create situated and adapted solutions to issues that affect their lives.
A Europe where a culture of care, solidarity, power within, inclusion, diversity and justice is nurtured and practiced.

We want to collectively explore “How our diverse practices create the conditions for citizens to self-organise and co-create new ways of living, working and deciding together for the common good?”

What is the change we want to create?

Through a Lab Approach, hosting and activating a network of active people and communities across Europe, we aim to:
– self-organise, collaborate, co-create and take action to address local and global challenges for the good of all;
– demonstrate that these new ways of understanding and practicing democracy should be part of our future political ecology
– deeply question our ways of thinking, our worldviews, and value system activating transformational processes at individual, collective and planetary levels to radically reinvent ourselves, our way of being and seeing.

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