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Parisians Want to Bring Their Neighbors Closer Together. But First, Cheese.

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A series about how cities change, and the impact this has on everyday life.


As the sky turned lemon-yellow one evening last month, 50 or more Parisians marched to Rue de l’Aude in the city’s south and gathered in a nautical-themed loft space filled with chairs.

Some of the attendees were already close friends or acquaintances; Some people had spied on each other on the street on a few occasions. For others it was the first time they had met. Yet everyone had fulfilled their entry requirement: to bring cheese.

“I took a wheel of epoise Because my wife is from that region,” said one attendee, Benjamin Dard, in reference to a famously tart and off-flavored cow’s milk variety from Burgundy.

“Everyone bought something else that belonged to them, in a way paying tribute to the diversity of France,” Mr Dard said. Referring to a former French president, he said, “It’s like de Gaulle said: ‘How can you govern a country where there are 300 different kinds of cheese?’

The meet-up, known as Talking Cheese – which combines a smorgasbord of dairy goods with talks from local residents on topics of expertise – is one of a dizzying galaxy of activities run by republic of super neighborsA grassroots initiative whose area spans approximately 50 streets in the 14th arrondissement, a largely residential district on the Left Bank of the Seine.

More than 1,200 of these so-called Super Neighbors communicate through 40 WhatsApp groups devoted to questions such as finding a cat sitter or asking for help fixing broken appliances. They hold weekly brunches, after-work drinks and community gatherings in which older residents share memories with younger generations. With much fanfare, the group also organizes an annual banquet for the residents – La Table d’Aude – which takes place on a table 400 meters long, some 440 yards, in the middle of the street.

Launched in 2017, the hyperlocal experiment is the brainchild of Patrick Bernard, a local resident and former journalist who argues that the functioning of cities would be radically improved if urban policy were limited to “the most local entity in a city”. Could

“Urban strategy must focus on these micro-neighborhoods, or three-minute villages as I like to call them,” said Mr. Bernard, who estimates that Paris has 150 of these based on its population and geography. Can settle urban villages. “Warmness is a richness that is asleep. When we rekindle a sense of place and community, the civic and urban fabric transforms.

Paris’ project, which aims to replace neighbors who talk five times a day with those who do so 50 times a day, is at the forefront of what urban planners say is the most promising way to lift cities from the ground up and rebuild urban space. It is a rapidly expanding movement. Living through the prism of a sense of close contact, mutual cooperation and neighborliness.

Proponents argue that our immediate neighborhoods are the most effective platform by which people can build resilience and potentially reduce the growing number of crises facing urban populations, including loneliness, food insecurity, extreme heat and inequality. social unrest associated with it – as seen in the riots that rocked Paris and other French cities this summer. In other words, he says, the cities of the future should be cities of villages, public spaces and neighborhoods.

In Paris, where minority residents often say they are marginalized socially and geographically, Mr Bernard said he intended to leave no one out. Super Neighbors has Black, Muslim and East Asian members. Participation is free. In the past, neighbors got together to pay the rent for a Malian refugee who had joined them.

“Community must be at the heart of urban development,” said Ramon Marades, director of the . placemaking europe, a network of European organizations aiming to revitalize public spaces. “An appropriately inclusive policy allows residents to become actors in the community, have a sense of connectedness and become emotionally invested.”

Much has been made about the 15-minute city, a hugely popular urban design concept focused on providing residents with all their basic needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. But the challenge is how to implement this grand vision locally. While the 15 Minute City provides critical physical infrastructure, the Three Minute City is about shaping it according to the needs and characteristics of the community.

“We need to develop a process to link the two,” said Mr. Marades, who is in the midst of two years cooperation With 15 European cities including Helsinki, Finland, and Cork, Ireland, to incorporate hyperlocality and community-building at the core of urban policies.

Many cities around the world are considering this theme of hyperlocality. Barcelona is scoring 503 runs superblock – Micro-neighborhoods of 400 by 400 meters throughout the city focused on community projects, green space and mobility. Across Sweden, a plan for One-Minute Cities aims to make all streets “healthy, sustainable and livable” by 2030, deploying things like movable street furniture, In pilot phases, this resulted in people spending 400 percent more time outdoors in cities including Stockholm.

Other cities, such as Vancouver, which has been built around a streetcar grid since 1886, already have a perfect canvas for fostering neighborliness. “Hyperlocal is the solution to social resilience,” said scott hein, professor at the University of British Columbia and former urban planner for Vancouver’s City Hall. Mr Hein envisions the city being made up of 120 “community catchment areas”, each area containing a school, mixed housing and a commercial area with shops and jobs.

Policy makers around the world are increasingly supporting the hyperlocal approach. In June, UN Habitat, which focuses on sustainable urban development, launched Global Observatory of Perpetual Proximity To promote this urban planning model, which it describes as “a key enabler capable of promoting human well-being and effective climate action”.

In Paris, officials voted in a new vote in June local urbanization plan A number of measures aimed at strengthening neighborhoods, making it easier for local businesses to open, adding higher limits on short-term vacation rentals, and banning “dark stores”, closed delivery centers for e-commerce, as the critics say Don’t give any benefit to local residents. City Resilience Strategy reports It said last year that encouraging “neighbourhoods to occupy and enliven public spaces” could help “turn the challenges of the century into opportunities”.

“Paris has idealized proximity, even though the mayor has changed,” said carlos morenoThe Paris-based professor is behind the 15-minute city concept, having advised cities as diverse as Medellin, Colombia and Dakar, Senegal. “This will allow it to regenerate on three levels: ecological, economic and social.”

Republic of Super Neighbors’ Talking Cheese program highlights the surprising wealth of knowledge that can be found in neighborhoods. Mr Dard, a fact-checking and verification specialist working for the French TV channel TF1, spoke about the fake news phenomenon on a programme, and had previously been told by a neighbor about working as a magistrate in a criminal court. Had talked. Soon, an astrophysicist will be talking about black holes.

“It’s absolutely wonderful here,” said Mr Dard, whose neighbors recently took care of his cats and watered his plants while he was on holiday. “The atmosphere is unique.”

Marie-Benedict Loes, 37, a charity worker who moved to the area last year, lost her purse a few months ago – but a neighbor returned it in full. “The togetherness in this neighborhood is beautiful,” he said. “That’s not always the case in a city.”

But the group has larger objectives, which include health, mobility and climate. Mr. Bernard argues that by encouraging residents to invest emotionally and physically in public spaces, they will be less likely to leave trash or cigarettes behind, cutting cleanup costs.

“Hospitality is an economic actor,” he said.

Collaborating with a Nonprofit les alchemistes, the group has set up several compost bins in the neighbourhood. Used by 800 superneighbours, they process 60 tonnes of organic waste a year, of which an unusually high 98 per cent is correctly deposited. Such is the success of the project that City Hall has agreed to spend 31,000 euros, or about $34,000, to install eight more.

supported by the city participatory budgeting, which allows citizens to vote at municipal expense, the Republic of Super Neighbors has already revitalized a forgotten public square into a vibrant event venue, and it is using communal e-rickshaws to transport residents. Applying for funding to purchase a bike charger and an electric cargo bike. goods locally. In the future, the group hopes to open a medical center tailored to local needs.

Looking ahead, the group is exploring ways to The image of cities is etched, and imagery driven by the relationships between their inhabitants can be replicated and enhanced. It believes the answer is the creation of trained and paid roles – so-called neighborhood buddies – to coordinate each district.

“People are starting to listen,” Mr. Bernard said. “Everyone wants his neighborhood to be like ours. Now we need to figure out how to make our approach more systematic and adapt it to the different challenges and contexts of every city in the world.

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