The Ghent pioneering

Dreaming of a sustainable and social future

Thanks to Living Street, hundreds of Ghent citizens could work together to create a street of their own. After dreaming and coming up with ideas, the residents rolled up their sleeves, unrolled the turf, setted up barbecues, created meeting places and so much more. By creating their own Living Street, these citizens were experimenting with the sustainable mobility of the future, creating a new approach to urban space and reinforcing social links by multiplying interactions among citizens

New ways of co-creation

The Living Streets explored and developed new ways of collaboration among the Ghent citizens, municipal services, companies and many more city stakeholders. They were doing this by challenging each other in a smart way in terms of thinking, acting, understanding one another and learning.

The Ghent Living Streets demonstrated how to put co-creation into practice to find creative solutions for social challenges. All parties involved have always seen the Living Street as an experiment: successes and failures provide lessons for anyone keen to continue building Living Streets.

For the citizens, a Living Street functions as a common project and as such an impulse for dialogue and dynamics with their neighbours, other street users and the city. During the experiment, they look for answers and solutions to problems that arise while organising the Living Street. Knowledge, experience and concepts are tested in a learning-by-doing approach that will make life easier in the unfolding sustainable and sociable city.

 

Pussemierstraat Ghent, one of the two first Livingstreet-experiment (spring 2013 © www.livingstreet.org

It all started in Ghent

The Living Street is the result of a project initiated by the City of Ghent. In 2012 the City asked a group of citizens, entrepreneurs and civil servants to imagine a sustainable future for their city. Their vision can be found in their agenda for the future “The Trojan bike”. A network of car-free zones built around central squares, with rapid transit bike lanes, public transit, and neighbors talking in the street. The group realized that only a vision by itself would not change the world. To make it really happen, they launched concrete experiments, such as the Living Street (“Leefstraat”) and tried to make their dreams of the city of tomorrow visible today.

The power of a temporary network

The front-runners of the first hour organised themselves for a couple of years in a temporary network: The Trojan Lab. The Lab connects collaborating citizens, businesses, city services and organisations in Ghent to bring about a new way of city governance. The Lab -through its unique approach- demonstrates that structural changes are possible and that experimenting and envisioning are solutions which can take away humans’ innate resistance to change. This approach can help to achieve sustainable, sociable and climate-neutral cities in a better, faster and co-creative way.