PROCESS FOR THE TRANSFORMATIVE CITIES
This award is a process through which we aim to highlight political practices that can serve as an inspiration for others. We aspire to create a new model of awards, one which is participatory, inspirational, and rooted in exchange and learning. A process with no winners and losers, but rather one that leads to an atlas of political practices, whose inspiring stories speed up a process of systemic transformation towards a more democratic, equal and peaceful world.
What this award is not
This award is not a process where we are going to judge social movements, civil society organizations, citizens platforms or other groups. We are in a process of experimentation, looking at how to systematize local political practices, so we can identify what is working to help accelerate the process of transformation.
We want cooperation not competition.
Awards are usually about competing between each other. We understand our award as a type of coopetition. We believe that gathering experiences under a frame that compares them in order to extract lessons can bring unique insights about how to set up transformative political practices, from the strategic to the tactical level. Transformative recognizes that these struggles have succeeded in articulating a social majority that has been able to transform their city or defined environment.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY TRANSFORMATIVE?
What is a transformative city? We do not have definitive answers, and we expect to solve these questions collectively and through this process, however we see democracy, equity, social and ecological justice as essential ingredients. Through our work with public water enterprises, we have initially identified eight categories for measuring transformation: Equity and participation, Efficiency and quality, Accountability and transparency, Sustainability, Solidarity and Public Ethos, Transferability, Labour/Working conditions and Impact.
Transformative recognises that these struggles and initiatives have succeeded in articulating a social majority that has been able to transform a city or defined environment. These practices will have measurable results since they have been implemented successfully, and finally and very importantly, they will be practices that can be replicated in other regions and places.
WHO CAN APPLY?
This initiative is open to collectives not individuals. A collective can have the form of social movement with recognizable structure and goals, a legally existing civil society organization, a political candidacy seeking to gain institutional power at municipal and/or city level, a city council, or other forms of collective action that centre their practices in a specific location.
If you are not sure about your eligibility, please do contact us.
We understand that for those challenging corporate power, authoritarian regimes, environmental degradation, inequality and injustice in all its forms, it is very hard to sit down and reflect on your political practices.
However we hope that by participating in this award you will amplify your local efforts into a global one, by helping others understand what is effective in challenging and transforming the unjust status quo. The world needs inspiring stories, and you might have one that triggers transformation practices in other regions and places.
If you have limited capacity to fill in the form, we have some capacity to assist you in the process. That way we hope to help those at the frontlines with a lot to share but little time to spend on reflection.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS AFTER APPLYING?
Transformative Cities Atlas
If you pass the criteria to be eligible as a candidate, we will start sharing your story of political practice with our extensive global networks. Your experience will also be analysed, alongside the others, by expert evaluators in different fields to draw out both the strengths and potential of your collective work. The result will be a Transformative Cities Atlas, which will systematize your story and seek to provide opportunities for mutual learning.
Telling the story
Three key experiences related to each issue focused on in the 2018 award (Water/Energy/Housing) will be chosen for public promotion as we want to share the most inspiring stories with as wide a public as possible. The Transformative Cities Initiative will commission a local journalist to get a fuller story, to dig deep and pull out the inspiration, colour, dynamics and people behind your collective action. This will help you to tell your story to others, which can both strengthen your cause and inspire others to follow your example.
To engage the public, we are proposing that these top nine stories will be voted on by the global community that we are creating. Although the popular vote will technically identify a series of ‘winners’, our goal is not to create competition between different political practices, but rather to put a spotlight on transformative practices and encourage their spread internationally.
Ongoing mutual learning
The Transformative Cities Initiative is not just focused on the award, but wants to build a network that allows participants to learn from each other. One of those opportunities for mutual learning will be the annual New Politics Conference organised by TNI and its partners to which we will invite cities – both those starting out and those with consolidated practices to exchange and learn. All results and lessons will be published under Creative Commons licence.
IS IT JUST FOR CITIES?
The concept of “city” is a highly contested one, scientifically or politically. For the purpose of the award, we see cities in very broad terms as the location for place-based struggles for basic rights. This will encompass transformative practices happening in urban and rural areas and in areas that could be described as both.
We are deeply aware that struggles in cities can not be divorced from the rural, as the whole political economy of cities is deeply dependent on processes of production and extraction from rural areas. These interconnections must be better understood and analysed if we are to see how transformative these practices really are.
However, we also believe cities have emerged as a significant location for movements challenging the privatisation of the commons and the corporate capture of politics. TNI has catalogued this shift in our reports, drawing attention to the hundreds of water remunicipalisations worldwide as well as the many community-led efforts to develop new models of energy democracy. These struggles for "the defence of the commons" have fueled fascinating new municipalist movements that are not only questioning the corporate capture of our political structures, but also seizing institutional power.
We recognise that struggles in the city or within other localities have certain strategic advantages to advance social, environmental and gender justice - in terms of combining critical masses of people as well as potential for more accountable governance. However, it does not mean that we focus only on practices within cities, nor does it discount the limitations of these movements. Transformation must be local, national and global, but we also believe that transformative efforts within 'cities' are increasingly reflecting these interconnections within their very work and we hope to reflect that in this initiative.