"For commons-style thinking to take hold, we would need to engage in systemic restructuring.

The question is whether the commons, with its potent political dimension, can transcend extreme need and symbolic resistance on the one hand and harmless local initiatives on the other. And there are encouraging examples. One commons project that is beginning to achieve an ambitious scale and complexity is in Colombes, in the suburbs of Paris. Since 2012, the Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée has been developing what its co-director, Doina Petrescou, calls “a bottom-up strategy of resilient regeneration” – and it goes beyond your average urban agriculture initiative. It’s true that there is a micro-farm for collective use but that is only one of three hubs, the others being a mini recycling plant and cooperative eco-housing.

The project now has 400 citizens co-managing 5000 square metres of land, producing food, energy and housing, while actively reducing waste and water usage. Already, by European standards, it is a fairly large-scale experiment in alternative urban living. But the aim is to add five more hubs over the next five years and to grow into a commons-based civic movement.

This is just one case study in how hundreds of ordinary citizens, not activists, can create an alternative urban economy."

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JUSTIN MCGUIRK, THE GUARDIAN