Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Reviving Urban Conviviality

One of two efforts to promote community identity and cohesion in urban environments took place yesterday in France.

Immeubles en fêtes hoped to bring together 3 million people to celebrate their neighborhoods by visiting and eating with one another in common. Founder Atanase Périfan got the idea when he found that an elderly woman died without being noticed by her neighbors. Wanting to combat urban disaggregation, he petitioned local and national government to promote local meals between neighbors in order to
recreate social connections [and] develop a sentiment of belonging to the same neighborhood (quartier), and to reinforce solidarity bproximityty.

(See photos from the event.)

Repas de quartier (meal for the district) will take place on June 4. The tradition of holding a larger community meal within cities began in Toulouse in 1990. The sponsoring organization, carrefour culturel Arnaud-Bernard , itself just a community organization, had convinced neighborhoods in other French cities to organize similar gatherings.

The organizers want to create new feelings of community where they had yet to be realized:
[The meals] are a prelude to other collective actions, independent of the efforts of the state and of institutional order: to battle against isolation--to create exchange between generations, communities, and people of different social, political and economic origins, all brought together by their own efforts.


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