MP3: Jogunk a Városhoz! (or The Right to the City!) @ Sirály

redjade Szo, 2010-04-03 16:53

How the European City developed as a social space in Central and Eastern Europe during the 20th century is quite different than other parts of Europe - and how to 'humanize' the City was recently publicly discussed by Hungary's 'Jogunk a Városhoz!', or 'The Right to the City!' at Sirály Café in the centre of Budapest. The 12 day forum and initiative was sparked by the Hungarian organization Artemisszió to create a dialogue between the region's young urban activists and create a dialogue for a humane democratized urban space for its residents.

{From left to right: Tessza Udvarhelyi, Peter Michalik, Jitka Molnarova, Adam Zajac and Zsuzsi Pósfai}

Tessza Udvarhelyi introduced to the packed café the concept of 'The Right of the City' - first developed in the late 1960s by French sociologist Henry Lefebvre and more recently rediscovered by the Marxist geographer David Harvey. 'It started as a very academic term' Udvarhelyi explained, 'but now it is becoming a very much of a practical thing that people are trying to use in their everyday life and activism. It is a synergy between theory and practice'

Furthermore, she emphasized, the Right of the City is 'not a traditional civil liberty because it is not an individual right - it is a collective right. It can only be exercised when people come together in community.'

The panelists leading the discussion came from Bratislava (Slovakia), Warsaw (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic) and Budapest (Hungary) - Peter Michalik from Bratislava mentioned the difficulty of the region's history using his own country as an example where Slovakia has had six different forms of governments and territories in the past 100 years.

'The general feeling about living in Bratislava is that the city is not ours. We feel somehow it is both new and lost in different ways.' even while it is now becoming the 21st century urban centre of the new country of Slovakia.

Jitka Molnarova from Prague asked the crowd: 'Do you know the names of any architects?' in your city? 'They are the people who design your environment. So, they are quite important!' Furthermore, as a social right, 'architectural design should be more humanized.'

And, Adam Zajac from Warsaw Poland described a recent off-shoot from the Critical Mass movement that includes women with baby strollers. 'This initiative presents the problems of transporting babies in a stroller through the city' due to the lack of ramps and elevators in public spaces.

While in Hungary, 'people do not feel that they have a say in what is going on,' Zsuzsi Pósfai explained to the audience. The public does not 'feel that they are involved in any level of the decision making processes.' and that 'most of the time it is only a mock participation, a kind of 'show democracy.''

Artemisszió will produce a CD-ROM and reports of the The Right to the City! by the end of the year.

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Introduction by Diana Szántó, Artemisszió Foundation

Introduction to 'Right of the City' concept, by Tessza Udvarhelyi:

Peter Michalik from Bratislava:

Jitka Molnarova from Prague:

Adam Zajac from Warsaw:

Zsuzsi Pósfai from Budapest:

Questions and Answers:

FULL unedited audio

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