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Towards new Recipes for Urban Ecosystems

Cities in crisis are the result of a loss of diversity. The urban ecosystem has become too dependent on a limited set of capabilities and interactions. Focus needs to be on understanding the capabilities and interactions in order to find a new recipe

Photo of Peter de Ruijter
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Towards new Recipes for Urban Ecosystems

Cities can be regarded as a man made urban ecosystem. Cities are the outcome of a complex process of interaction between it’s cultural, social, economical, ecological, technological and political/institutional capabilities. All cities have a unique set of capabilities and interactions between them (chemistry if you will).

Cities in crisis are the result of a loss of diversity. The urban ecosystem has become too dependent on a limited set of capabilities and interactions. Changes within these will result in the urban ecosystem to drift towards a new equilibrium or ‘modus operandi’.

When reviving a city the focus needs to be on understanding the capabilities and interactions in order to find a new recipe for a viable urban ecosystem. Viability and resilience of the urban ecosystem depends on the diversity of the capabilities the interactions between them.

The key in reviving is awareness and action with the stakeholders of the city. Reviving an urban ecosystem is about understanding the city at different scale levels, identifying capabilities and nurturing new interaction at every city level. This can be at street-, neighborhood-, municipal-, regional- and even bigger levels.

The introduction of the Guggenheim in Bilbao, as a big gesture to combine cultural, economical and institutional capabilities can be regarded as a successful attempt to revive the city. Question here is what will happen if the Guggenheim leaves Bilbao, as the automobile industry left Detroit.

On a smaller scale the ‘noppes’ system is a Dutch example of a LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) with the aim of achieving societal goals and local prosperity (‘noppes’ meaning ‘nothing’). This complementary money system forges local social networks where people perform work/services for other people in their community and are paid a certain number of ‘noppes’. These can in turn be used to ‘purchase’ other products or services, thereby benefiting local economies and urban ecosystems.

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Photo of AnaMaría

Peter, do you think the "noppes" system could be adapted to other services like "The Hubs"? One of the main problems if not first, for the entrepreneurs and/or innovators is to find a space to work in... a free space, at least when you are starting. What if you could get a working space for certain number of "noppes"?

Photo of Peter

Hi Ana, thanks for your reply. It is a funny idea actually. For sure this could work, for instance if a building owner is willing to rent out space, not for 'hard' EURO's, but for 'noppes'. The creative starter would pay with 'noppes', the building owner receives 'noppes', and is able to spend it again with another person within the LETS system. It could be a way to stimulate starters. They could even pay a % in EUR and a % in 'noppes'.

Only problem might be the tax authority, at least the 'Dutch' one. Let me find out some more about this tonight and get back to you.

I hope this helps you!

Photo of Peter

Hi Ana, ok. For tax purposes in Holland noppes are regarded as income, and should be treated and reported as such. So, yes, possible provided... . The noppes organization is currently investigating how commercial activities could enter this system. For the moment the system works mainly between individuals/groups and are usually smaller in value.

Similar (LETS) systems can be found a.o. in Germany, UK, Canada, US, and I heard last week someone talking about pilots being set-up in some countries in Latin America.