InContext Final Conference & Informed Cities Forum 2013

How to create space for change? Rediscovering the power of community

6-7 June 2013, Berlin (Germany)


All presentations of the conference are available under the download section!

On 6 and 7 June 2013 the final conference of InContext, together with the Informed Cities Forum 2013 took place in Berlin. It provided a creative platform for local initiatives, policymakers and researchers to exchange insights, ideas and experiences on transition processes. At the core of the conference programme was the question of how to create space for change and move towards better places, stronger communities and resilient societies.

Throughout the InContext research project the InContext team initiated three pilot community arenas and observed four existing initiatives for alternative living in local communities across Europe. It combined action orientated interventions with conceptual thinking about sustainable behaviour. During this three-year process, the team has gained insights in change towards sustainability. These insights were discussed with the participants and mutual experiences with transition initiatives were exchanged.

The initiatives’ representatives, policy makers and researchers taking part in the conference agreed that transition processes require a redefinition of the roles or the actors involved. From the initiatives’ side this spirit was captured by Grace Lee Boggs famous statement “We are the leaders we have been waiting for”. While all actors have to re-invent their role, special importance was given to the role of action research to facilitate local transition initiatives. The participants exchanged their experiences with new tools and methods for engagement and participatory governance. These discussions were built around “transition management”, the governance tool applied in the InContext pilot projects.

The conference took place in the tak, a theater venue in the heart of Berlin (Germany). Brimming with bottom-up initiatives and grassroots creativity, Berlin has come to symbolize change and urban transformation. The city and served as a lively platform for the participants from all over Europe. In particular, the tak theater, as a transforming and creative space provided a dynamic environment for discussion, allowing alternation of conference modules with live theater pieces by the Freiburg Scientific Theatre, reflecting the conference themes.

Beside presentations and a series of panel discussions, which were held in the first part of the day, a World Café’ and a poster exhibition were organized to allow for interaction among participants. Those who wished to, could develop a poster on their initiatives and have it displayed in an open exhibition in a separate room of the theater. Among them, a number of initiatives were selected for presentation and discussion in smaller round tables in a World Café format.

Day one of the conference ended with a dinner hosted by ZKU – Center for Art and Urbanistics - a laboratory for inter- and trans-disciplinary, activities centered on the phenomenon of “the city”. The center brings together critical minds at the cutting-edge of artistic production and urban research in Berlin. At this former railway depot, participants were invited to enjoy a 100% vegetarian BBQ in a relaxing atmosphere.

To offer participants a hands-on experience, some of the key initiatives undertaken in Berlin were visited by the participants during five study visits organized on the second conference day. For more information please visit the sub-section of this website.