co.governance

Being part of a network or group of people that is responsible and in charge for a project or a process is always a learning field for co.governance. While the activities of co.culture, co.designing and co.building all are already addressing aspects of co.governance, this focus area is also about the institutional level of collaboration and commoning. Who is in charge for what, what are the established processes of decision-making and how get people involved in that decision making? The research of the public law professor Christian Iaone, who coined the term Co-City, is clearly aiming at rethinking the structures of urban governance, calling for new cooperations between the public, private and common sector. Innovation in the urban can not be achieved just by one of these actors but should always be thought as a common process between the different stakeholder groups.

Establishing mechanisms and processes that enable multiple stakeholders to interact and share responsibilities and decisions is maybe one of the most challenging activities in creating the Co.City. It also implies to collaborate with the local administration, with local politicians and other established institutions with certain ways of deciding and acting. Establishing new ways of co.governing across these established structures could sometimes feel like fighting against windmills and clearly will take a long breath and the consequent change also of the established structures and institutions.

Still – as a necessary step of creating the Co.City, co-governing is build through every single smaller activity that is opening up its decision making processes. And, on the other hand, every single smaller step will always at some pint interfere with existing governing structures, challenging both the established structures and being challenged by it.

The challenge of co.governance is to both the need for as well as the closure of established hierarchies. As projects start to establish and evolve into long term realities, they will have to establish some kind of governing structure. On the other side, most of these projects are always in need for new people to drive the activities. The question remains how co.governing structures could be established while still keeping the projects open and attractive for new people to participate and get involved. This is not only a challenge for projects sand associations but also for politics institutions. Collaborating with the established institutions and taking up the challenge of renewing democratic institutions through new models of co.governance should not be seen as  the unreachable goal of the whole process, but as something that has to be achieved and build up through every small step along the way.