May 3, 2014, 6:05 p.m.
Place mapping in Lille (TBC)

Alternatiba - Le futur commence ici

I entered the old Lille station of "Gare Saint Sauveur" thinking that this was a deja-vu, that I'd been here before. But I was visioning myself back at the old Colchester bus station, in the "Waiting Room". 

Like with the space in Essex with its Camera Obscura, where you could spy on people in the garden from within a repurposed shed, in Lille, there was a hidden garden.

And like in Norwich with the Common Soup, in Lille there is Disco Soup, reminding us that some basic recipes have travelled the world over.

As we co-design our Transeuropa Village, we visited Alternatiba - the preparation of another "village of alternatives" which will organised on a much more village-wide scale than our very Gulliver-scale village.

The vision of Alternatiba is about building a "societe de la sobriete heureuse", akin to building a "society of civic kindness" which we uncovered earlier in our trip. 

But "sobriete heureuse" actually means "happy soberness", which reminds me of Paulo Gerbado's reflections on how soberness put the spotlight on of the the 15 M Movement's unseen principles. 
People didn't want their senses to be weakened by getting drunk "botellon-style", when the fight for demmocracy was so important. So they all agreed to not drink alcohol and be sober to save their energy to organise people.

We design festivals as platforms to rehearse the future. Alternatiba's invitation to people to reclaim public spaces to create conviviality - from creating spaces for children to play to cooking communal meals - illustrates the new activism, which practices what it preaches, where the values speak for themselves.

As they explain, the scale of the wicked systemic issues that society faces can overwhelm people about what they can practically do in their day to day lives, with their friends, relatives & neighbours.

What I've noticed across the tour, which is symbolised in Alternatiba's "village of alternatives" is that the best civic initiatives are "human scale", that people can feel and take ownership over the impact that they create. 

We often talk about scaling as if we should just copy and paste what other people have developed in their environments and contexts.

Thinking of scaling in terms of principles rather than in terms of projects can help rethink how initiatives can learn from each other and for investors, how they can provide the infrastructure that focuses on supporting people rather than projects. 

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