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cities and urban change. It seeks to promote awareness and stronger partnership, building and strengthening civil society into a force for change, with common goals and sets of action. During the opening speech, Somsook Boonyabancha, chairperson of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, turned the slogan into ‘Another City is Needed!’. She advocated that we should talk less and act more. Although USF is an open space for discussions, debates and talking, it is a stage to showcase concrete examples of actions. The presented and debated initiatives throughout the event were committed to improving conditions for minorities and marginalized within the city - dealing with environmental impact, exclusion from urban and political decision-making processes or exclusion from design. Tough seemingly small and of little impact, together these projects show a movement that poses a counterforce to the status quo. Verena Lenna states the following about the contemporary non-institutional practices of city making: “More than punctual alternatives, these initiatives […] should be understood as the beginning of a different society. […] what if the language of this new society imposed itself as a new form of contractual power? ” (Lenna, 2015). An organization with designers and planners who can be seen as part of the ‘contractual power’, and that is promoting the ideology and principles of the Right to the City is Kota Kita Foundation, an Indonesian Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) carrying out a series of participatory and hands-on projects closely linked with local communities. Working together with the office of Kota Kita and encountering other professionals within Indonesia, has provided tangible insights: Another city is possible!

ANOTHER CITY IS POSSIBLE 5 local lessons the challenges Public space is not just about nice benches, but also about ownership of land. Strolling around a neighbourhood of the city of Solo, the few vacant plots are being used by the community for drying laundry, playing and working. These plots are not real public spaces, but private-owned land. A new design of the public space could improve the neighbourhood’s liveability. But in the case of lack of true and legal access to the land, a designer is designing a temporary solution. A quality public space needs to aim to be a long-term plan. In case a plot has a huge value for a neighbourhood, it is essential to guarantee legal access and ownership over it. One might come across issues outside their work field. Urban projects hold a high level of complexity and they touch many disciplines. One does not need to have all knowledge by oneself, but it highlights the need for different stakeholders to collaborate. According to Somsook, finance is the key to change: she points to a need for a new money system, highlighting participatory budgeting as one way to go. “Don’t say, that it is up to the economics.” This quote illustrates how, while working towards social change, different areas of expertise are interrelated. Making use of curiosity and creativity, and reaching out to those able to help can widen and improve solutions. You are responsible to tackle issues within your work field.


Bima Pratama Putra, Kota Kita’s Lead Designer stresses the value and responsibility of using one’s set of skills: by collecting data, analysing the urban context and showing citizens and other stakeholders the physical opportunities. Corroborating this, IJsbrand Heeringa’s 19

statement, written in previous Atlantis Magazine (oct. 2017), sums up the importance of being consistent to one’s area of expertise in order to continue to be relevant and able to bring about change: “Whatever discipline draws us in, we must never forget what it is that we do, which is to design and plan the physical spaces where people live. The less spatial things our work is, the less capable and therefore less relevant we become.’’ Always work with a correct representative of the population. In case you want to work towards an inclusive design with a people-centred approach, aim to have the proper representation of the group you are designing for. Participation can attract a one-sided group of society (Geus, Sigaloff, 2016) – or during the process some will have a louder voice. It is your task to keep an eye on a balanced present participation group. You are not a neutral mediator Within participatory-related projects, urban planners and designers can have a tendency of self-proclaiming themselves as ‘neutral’ mediators and facilitators, navigating amongst all stakeholders. Often, as an urban planner, you are not neutral, but you have an interest and concern within the project as well. Having an agenda is not negative, but it is important to always be transparent about it. It is a lesson that Kota Kita learned during executing a participatory design project. ‘’ It was important that we had been honest about the values of the team. After all, we had our own agenda: we had a design concept in mind and also wanted to do something about water – which were not necessarily priorities of the project beforehand. Rather than assume the role of objective, expert outsiders, we took the position that we were stakeholders in the process as well.’’ (Haggerty, Kennedy, Shay, 2013).



A Political Landscape The international movement of Right to the City, the national gathering of The Urban Social Forum and the lessons learned from Solo-based organisation Kota Kita are executed by politically-oriented professionals within cities. Is it possible to not walk through this political landscape? “I believe that there are no purely valuefree or only technical solutions to urban problems and all decisions in development are political decisions and they involve negotiation, choice-making, agitation and agreement to take shape.” This statement of Paulista Bunga Surjadi, Communications Coordinator at Kota Kita Foundation, emphasizes a context in which urban professionals are not able to even attempt to make an apolitical decision in urban planning and designing - there is no such thing as neutrality, and that is a good thing. Paulista sets an environment in which you are always part of the political context. Paul Davidoff, formulator of Advocacy Planning in the 1960s, describes a similar context: “Appropriate planning action cannot be prescribed from a position of value neutrality, for prescriptions are based on desired objectives. [...] Here I will say that the planner should do more than explicate the values underlying his prescriptions for courses of action; he should affirm them; he should be an advocate for what he deems proper’’ (Davidoff, 1965). Here, it is arguable that even if you are not fully dedicated to advocating for a subject, you will not be able to escape from a political landscape.

The quote of the introduction: ‘This is not how the world works’, highlights the gap between (political) ideological ambition and (political) reality. One should always keep an eye on this gap during and after graduation. Future careers for many may still not be clear, and instead of a cultural shock, recent graduates will probably experience a ‘professional shock’. Good intentions might stumble into a world of complexities. The article positioning examples of and lessons from those that are bridging the gap draws forward the potential of “Another city is possible”. Talks on inclusive and exclusive cities is not only a debate within Indonesia, the discussion is also visible within the Netherlands. This global discussion is a perfect topic for the Urbanism master - a gathering of students from all over the world. The University can play a role as well - facilitating reality checks as an interplay between academia and the professional world. Once we have overstepped the gap between the University and the work field, let’s discuss how big the bridge should be. • References Davidoff, P. (1965) Advocacy and pluralism in planning. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 31, 4 Geus, T. van., Sigaloff, C. (2016). De Slimme Stad: van en voor wie?. Kennisland, retrieved 31 Jan. 2018 from Haggerty, M., Kennedy, S., Shay, A., (2013) Social Design Field Guide – A handbook from experiences in participatory design in Indonesia. Firm Foundation, Hong Kong,


p. 48 Heeringa, IJ. (2017) Editorial Note, Atlantis Magazine for Urbanism & Landscape Architecture, 28, 2 Kota Kita, retrieved 9 Feb. 2018 from Lenna, V. (2015). Learning from Advocacy Planning – for a critical reading of contemporary non-institutional practices of city making. MONU Magazine, Participatory Urbanism (23), 28-35 Polis Institute and Habitat International Coalition, Global Platform for the right to the city (2016), The Right to the City, building another possible world - Guidelines for its understanding and operationalization. Tegenlicht (2017), City for Sale?, retrieved 31 Jan. 2018 from Urban Social Forum, retrieved 9 Feb. 2018 from Kim, M. (2015, July 28). Welcome to Astana, Kazakhstan: one of the strangest capital cities on Earth. The Guardian. Retrieved from

1. 5th Edition of Urban Social Forum Somsook Boonyabancha - chairperson of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights - guest opening speaker 2 . 5th Edition of Urban Social Forum - a gathering of inclusive thinkers 3. 5th Edition of Urban Social Forum - brainstorm during one of the organized workshps 4. 5th Edition of Urban Social Forum - a gathering of inclusive thinkers

'Designing a Political Landscape: Call for a New City'  

This is an article written by Kota Kita's summer intern of 2017, Oukje Van Merle with her co-author Kaori Cabrera. Oukje is a MSc in Urbanis...

'Designing a Political Landscape: Call for a New City'  

This is an article written by Kota Kita's summer intern of 2017, Oukje Van Merle with her co-author Kaori Cabrera. Oukje is a MSc in Urbanis...