Great question, right? And who better to answer that question than citizens themselves. Here are the ideas and thoughts from Madrid, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Bucharest on what they wish for to happen in 2019. What would be your New Years resolutions for your city?
MADRID - Is it possible to live without plastic?
Plastic free is becoming a strong movement in Madrid, and each time more people care (or at least are starting to care) about the planet, because there is no planet B. There are a few actions that we are noticing more and more each day around our society.
Citizens are replacing plastic bags with reusable bags to go shopping; they use their own cups to fill them with coffee or tea when they go for a coffee (to a cafe?), or even carry their own bottle to give away at these shops when they purchase a drink. The same happens with bottled water and the avoidance of buying plastic bottles. There are a lot of habits to promote free plastic living. But what about our cities?
A big tangible example of this mentality of citizens took form in a supermarket. Last September, the first plastic free supermarket named Unpacked Shop, was opened in Madrid. Located at number 28 Narvaez Street, very close to Retiro, it became the perfect place to buy food, beverages and hygiene and beauty products in an ecological and sustainable way. The assortment is wide and plastic is not present in any corner: the products can be packed in recycled paper bags or glass jars that you can bring from home or buy them there and reuse them later.
So the new year's resolution for our city is to continue developing these initiatives that make people more aware about the importance of taking care of our planet.
Words by Leticia Barbeito
AMSTERDAM - How can we improve our living space?
Amsterdam is a cultural place brimming with museums and great coffee. People from about a hundred and eighty different countries proudly call this place a home. If you don’t know where to look you will see a beautiful vibrant city. Filled with gorgeous historical architecture, alongside characteristic canals and relatively healthy and happy people biking pretty much everywhere.
If you do know where to look, you will find gallery openings, cool parties, yummy organic food and amazing sustainable initiatives for a better and healthier city.
However, Amsterdam is not perfect. It is a place filled with more and more people each year and it can start to feel a bit cramped. With more people in this city, Amsterdam’s resolutions should contribute to relationships and people.
The first thing that Amsterdam could become more attentive to is building and improving living space. The housing situation is pretty dreadful at the moment. The focus could be on utilising empty buildings or creating new durable homes, which would fit people in different stages in life and with different financial situations. Another option would be to make the outer parts of the city more appealing. A resolution to make more use of the space we already have and to add to it. That sounds pretty great nice, doesn’t it?
Next: the city could be more involved in its inclusivity. How amazing would it be to see places where people can come together, talk to each other and learn from each other instead of living lives next to one another?
Whether it is trying to get people to talk in places where they already are or by creating places for people to find their common ground and interact about important matters. Bonding can make this place feel more like home and strangers like friends. We could strive to increase the feeling of togetherness and understanding.
Words & imagery by Michelle Wrede
HONG KONG - How can we become more culturally inclusive?
I would like to see Hong Kong become a more culturally inclusive society and one that embraces and celebrates people from all ethnic backgrounds.
Branded as ‘Asia’s World City,’ Hong Kong prides itself as a melting pot of different cultures where ‘East meets West”. It is therefore no wonder why the city is so immensely attractive to an array of people from all over the world, whether it is for travel, to work or to live. In fact, according to the 2016 ‘Population By Census Report,’ the number of ethnic minorities residing here has increased by more than 70% in the last decade.
However despite being born and brought up in Hong Kong, I know surprisingly little about all these different ethnic groups, and find it incredibly difficult to integrate into their communities. In fact, a new study by the Education University and the University of Hong Kong, found that six out of every ten Chinese residents believe that prejudice against ethnic minorities is still very apparent in the city.
This research, coupled with my own personal experience, makes me question whether this is due to a lack of education or general knowledge about these ethnic groups. As a city that prides itself on cultural diversity, I find this quite ironic and believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently.
Similar to Berlin’s “Carnival of Cultures,’ one of my recommendations would be for Hong Kong to organise a month-long cultural carnival whereby ethnic groups would have the opportunity to showcase their unique foods, dance, music, art, customs, language and most importantly, to celebrate cultural diversity. The carnival could open with a music festival and evolve into art instalments, dance classes, cultural exchange workshops and finish with a mega food bonanza!
During this month, schools and companies would be encouraged to run initiatives around cultural inclusion, to include fundraising or volunteering at organisations that support ethnic groups. Ultimately, this carnival could act as a stepping-stone to many more long-term initiatives both public and private, which would help promote change and a more culturally inclusive landscape in our beautiful city of Hong Kong.
Words by Sarah Fowler
BUCHAREST - How can we restore the amazing art deco buildings?
Included in many lists of art deco design cities, Bucharest has a lot of architecture gems. The French influence can be seen anywhere almost in the city center (Victoriei Avenue, Magheru Boulevard, Romana Square). One of the first skyscrapers in Europe is the very New-York-ish Telephone Palace.
Sadly, many buildings are decaying or in ruins. We hope that the authorities, through programs like “B:MAD – BUCUREȘTI: MODERNISM ART DECO”, and independent initiatives like Catalog București by ARCEN will bring awareness and trigger changes in the constructions legislation in order to restore the amazing deco buildings from Bucharest.
Words & Imagery by Adriana Spulber
What’s your wish or resolution for your city? Wanna share them with us? Send us an email - firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers to a wonderful & liveable 2019!