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This case study features a series of workshops, assemblies, and information sessions to promote civic engagement in the renewal of a municipal square in Italy. After the participant selection process, which paid special attention to children, three phases of participation took place. The project ultimately fostered community discussion and understanding before the renovation of the square.
The Alternative University Project (AltU) grew out of the frustration felt by a group of McGill and Concordia University students about the growing inaccessibility of the Quebec higher education system. The AltU is a collection of classes taught by professors, students, community members, or through innovative communal formats on subjects which range from “Knitting” and “Programming” to “Introduction to Anarchism” and “New Materials Writing Workshop and Discussion.”
Since 2002, the city of Grenoble, France, has engaged citizens in public decision-making through participatory committees and town meetings. Residents have been able to express their opinions and make recommendations on city planning, education, cultural life, and other municipal issues. Over the years, this program has strengthened local democracy and empowered public participation in important civic projects.
The financial and economic crisis, of which we have heard so much discussion since 2007-8, is only one aspect of a whole series of underlying political trends which have been apparent for much longer: a crisis of (in)equality and of increased precarity of the workforce, a human rights crisis, a demographic crisis, an ecological crisis, a crisis in civil liberties, and above all a crisis in democracy.