Sunday, November 25, 2012


Tromsø: A City as a Garden

“I dream of a recyclable city.”
– Gilles Clément*

The project Tromsø: A City as a Garden looks at the Norwegian city of Tromsø through the eyes of a gardener. In a garden, nothing is wasted. The gardener’s tasks rotate through a cycle: preparations, cultivation, consumption and reuse. And as we know from the example of Sami gardens, a garden is not only about growing food – it is place to live, to share, to gather with friends, and to store materials, such as wooden boards. It is a place rich in resources, even when their use is not immediately visible, like an old car with parts that can be reused in the future.

Tromsø: A City as a Garden seeks to understand the city as just such a sustainable organism, created and cultivated by the people who live there. As they prepare themselves for the dramatic climate change they expect to affect their city, what natural resources do the people of Tromsø rely on? Who are their friends and who will soon be their guests? During our research visit to the city in October, we were shown an enormous number of maps used by local researchers as tools for redefining the city’s position in the Arctic region as well as its relation to the surrounding local area. We learned that the lines on maps are not borders but connections and that surviving is about dependence and adaptability.

The project Tromsø: A City as a Garden is, fundamentally, a mapping process that will lead to a new understanding of the city. Over a period of four days, March 4th-8th, 2013, the students of the Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art, HFBK students from Hamburg, and participants in the UniGrowCity project will join Tromsø residents in an exploration of their city. We plan to work on eight tasks, each of which will generate a new map – and a new understanding of the living environment: gathering (in the “boat-house”), growing (at the HOLT greenhouse), harvesting (“dumpster diving”), preparing resources and materials (at Remiks), improvising (the construction of a houseboat with Kåre Grundvåg
, and other workshops), exploring (spaces of living and coexistence), mapping (for example, available spaces with Rakel Fredrikson), and storytelling (sharing strategies at the Troms County House).

Though small, Tromsø is a bustling city proud of its strong universities and global research centres. The city aspires to be a leading force in shaping new power relationships in the Arctic; recently, it became the seat of the Secretariat of the international Arctic Council. How will Tromsø residents negotiate their existence between sustainability and the over-exploitation of the “new” North? (The New North, Laurence Smith)

The UniGrowCity project, working with partners in a number of European cities, explores local conditions with the goal of developing a network for exchanging knowledge and practices about sustainable living. For its part, Tromsø: A City as a Garden seeks to share the experiences and knowledge of the extreme environmental conditions in which the people of Tromsø find themselves in these precarious times.

*“Conversation between Gilles Clément, Marjetica Potrč and Gillain Roussel” (Oct. 4, 2011),; Gilles Clément is a landscape architect, gardener and writer, known for such concepts as “Gardens of Resistance”, “The Garden in Motion”, “The Planetary Garden”, and “The Third Landscape” (


UniGrowCity Tromsø, March 4-8, 2013 

During the UniGrowCity gathering, March 4-8, 2013, participants will enter a world of do-it-yourself building, reusing materials, and growing and harvesting vegetables. Here water is seen as a precious natural resource and a territory that is less regulated than land. We will revisit the concept of the commons at a time when public space is increasingly being privatized, and we will rethink the relationship between city residents and nature in an age we call the Anthropocene. 

We will take a houseboat project by Kåre Grundvaag, an art student at the Tromsø Art Academy as a case study that articulates out-of-the box ideas relating to existence and co-existence in the city, as well as the possibilities to move the world through artistic practice.  Housing is one of most pressing problems for Tromsø residents, as it is extremely expensive and scarce. Viewing the problem as an opportunity for re-imagining the housing problem, Kåre has designed the houseboat, which will be constructed from recycled materials, as a family house on a floating platform by the Tromsø shoreline. During the UniGrowCity gathering we will work with him on the construction of the houseboat. 

UniGrowCity Tromsø is hosted by Tromsø Art Academy (partner in the Unigrow City Network) programmed and organised in collaboration between Veronica Wiman (Professor Tromsø Art Academy) with Margrethe Pettersen (Artist based in Tromsø) and Marjetica Potrč (Professor the University of Fine Arts/HFBK) with students 
of Design for the Living World,  HFBK Hamburg. The program will take place at the Tromsø Art Academy as well as off sites in the city. 

The program of Unigrow City Tromsø is based on meetings with local partners as well as thematical conversations related to the chosen focus. Students of HfBK invites us to be part of their research and life in Tromsø based on their interaction and exchange with residents: among other things, we will harvest vegetables and share leftover food, exchange skills and knowledge, practice time-banking, through living with local residents. 

On March 7, UniGrowCity Tromsø participants will meet with Tromsø residents to discuss and articulate recommendations to the mayor for more sustainable living based on citizen participation and community building. Focused discussions on food, construction, water, space, and residents' rights and responsibilities will be organized as the World Café at the Troms County House, where we will also present our recommendations to the public.

Guiding Principles for sustainable Communities

Design principles – guiding principles  

- The Transition Handbook (Transition Towns) gives set of rules, not  

- Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Prize in Economics 2009, the commons. 
Design Principles for CPR Institutions 
Ostrom identified eight "design principles" of stable local common pool resource management: 
    1. Clearly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties); 
    2. Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions; 
    3. Collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process; 
    4. Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators; 
    5. A scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules; 
    6. Mechanisms of conflict resolution that are cheap and of easy access; 
    7. Self-determination of the community recognized by higher-level authorities; 
8. In the case of larger common-pool resources,organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level. 

- Permaculture Principles 
12 Principles of Permaculture by David Holmgren 
    1. Observe and Interact – “Beauty is in the mind of the beholder”
    By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular           situation. 
    2. Catch and Store Energy – “Make hay while the sun shines” 
    By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need. 
    3. Obtain a yield – “You can’t work on an empty stomach” 
    Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the working you are doing. 
    4. Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback – “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation” 
    We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well. Negative feedback is often slow to emerge. 
    5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services – “Let nature take its course” 
    Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources. 
    6. Produce No Waste – “Waste not, want not” or “A stitch in time saves nine” 
    By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste. 
    7. Design From Patterns to Details – “Can’t see the forest for the trees” 
    By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go. 
    8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate – “Many hands make light work” 
    By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other. 
    9. Use Small and Slow Solutions – “Slow and steady wins the race” or “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” 
    Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes. 
    10. Use and Value Diversity – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” 
    Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides. 
    11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal – “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it’s a well-beaten path” 
    The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system. 
12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change – “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be” 
    We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing and then intervening at the right time. 



- Serge Latouche Declaration of Degrowth 

This Declaration is the product of a workshop held at the Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity held in Paris on 18-19 April 2008. It reflects the points of view of the conference participants and articulates the vision of the Decroissance movement. 
Paris, 19 April 2008 

We, participants in the Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and 
Social Equity held in Paris on 18-19 April 2008, make the following declaration: 

   1. Economic growth (as indicated by increasing real GDP or GNP) represents an increase in 
production, consumption and investment in the pursuit of economic surplus, inevitably leading to 
increased use of materials, energy and land. 
   2. Despite improvements in the ecological efficiency of the production and consumption of goods and services, global economic growth has resulted in increased extraction of natural resources and 
increased waste and emissions. 
   3. Global economic growth has not succeeded in reducing poverty substantially, due to unequal 
exchange in trade and financial markets, which has increased inequality between countries. 
4. As the established principles of physics and ecology demonstrate, there is an eventual limit to the 
scale of global production and consumption, and to the scale national economies can attain without imposing environmental and social costs on others elsewhere or future generations. 
   5. The best available scientific evidence indicates that the global economy has grown beyond 
ecologically sustainable limits, as have many national economies, especially those of the wealthiest 
countries (primarily industrialised countries in the global North). 
   6. There is also mounting evidence that global growth in production and consumption is socially 
unsustainable and uneconomic (in the sense that its costs outweigh its benefits). 
   7. By using more than their legitimate share of global environmental resources, the wealthiest nations are effectively reducing the environmental space available to poorer nations, and imposing adverse environmental impacts on them. 
   8. If we do not respond to this situation by bringing global economic activity into line with the 
capacity of our ecosystems, and redistributing wealth and income globally so that they meet our 
societal needs, the result will be a process of involuntary and uncontrolled economic decline or 
collapse, with potentially serious social impacts, especially for the most disadvantaged. 

We therefore call for a paradigm shift from the general and unlimited pursuit of economic 
growth to a concept of "right-sizing" the global and national economies. 

   1. At the global level, "right-sizing" means reducing the global ecological footprint (including the 
 carbon footprint) to a sustainable level. 
   2. In countries where the per capita footprint is greater than the sustainable global level, right-sizing implies a reduction to this level within a reasonable timeframe. 
   3. In countries where severe poverty remains, right-sizing implies increasing consumption by those in poverty as quickly as possible, in a sustainable way, to a level adequate for a decent life, following locally determined poverty-reduction paths rather than externally imposed development policies. 
   4. This will require increasing economic activity in some cases;but redistribution of income and wealth both within and between countries is a more essential part of this process. 

The paradigm shift involves degrowth in wealthy parts of the world. 

   1. The process by which right-sizing may be achieved in the wealthiest countries, and in the globaleconomy as a whole, is "degrowth". 
   2. We define degrowth as a voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically 
 sustainable society. 
   3. The objectives of degrowth are to meet basic human needs and ensure a high quality of life, while reducing the ecological impact of the global economy to a sustainable level, equitably distributed between nations. This will not be achieved by involuntary economic contraction. 
   4. Degrowth requires a transformation of the global economic system and of the policies promoted and pursued at the national level, to allow the reduction and ultimate eradication of absolute poverty to proceed as the global economy and unsustainable national economies degrow. 
   5. Once right-sizing has been achieved through the process of degrowth, the aim should be to maintain a "steady state economy" with a relatively stable, mildly fluctuating level of consumption. 
 6. In general, the process of degrowth is characterised by: 
  - an emphasis on quality of life rather than quantity of consumption; 
  - the fulfilment of basic human needs for all; 
  - societal change based on a range of diverse individual and collective actions and policies; 
  - substantially reduced dependence on economic activity, and an increase in free time, 
 unremunerated activity, conviviality, sense of community, and individual and collective health; 
  - encouragement of self-reflection, balance, creativity, flexibility, diversity, good citizenship, generosity, and non-materialism; 
   - observation of the principles of equity, participatory democracy, respect for human
rights, and respect for cultural differences. 

     7. Progress towards degrowth requires immediate steps towards efforts to mainstream the concept of degrowth into parliamentary and public debate and economic institutions; the development of policies and tools for the practical implementation of degrowth; and the development of new, non-monetary indicators (including subjective indicators) to identify, measure and compare the benefits and costs of economic activity, in order top assess whether changes in economic activity contribute to or undermine the fulfilment of social and environmental objectives. 

- Gilles Clement 
Gardens of Resistance - new governance 

Key words as they appear in the text: 

- the common good 
- planetary stirring 
- emergent ecosystems 
- delocalization of production and distribution systems 
- natural and cultural hybridization 
- emergent economy 
- evolution 
- dependence 
- self-sufficiency 
- non-vital exchanges 
- vital exchanges 
- atomization 
- networking 
- planetary garden 
- symbiotic man 
  A Dream in Seven Points for Gardens of Resistance  1.     •    A garden of resistance is an area, public or private, where the art of gardening – for sustenance, pleasure, parks or other programs of accompaniment,    urban or rural –is practiced in harmony with nature and man, free of market domination. Diversity, both biological and cultural, as well as the   preservation of water, soil and air is encouraged for the common good.  2.     •    A garden of resistance is part of  a life style that, in a larger sense,  reflects the relationship between man and his socio-biological environment . As in the Garden in Motion,   this relationship, or the economy of life , does as much for and as little against existing energies. This applies to daily acts in all domains and is relevant at all levels. However, a constant state of alert must be maintained in order to avoid confusing consumerist values with ecology.  3.     •    Environment friendly practices emerge from gardens of resistance. They propose a way of life that is not wasteful of the common good as a basis for a new economy. This economy is the confrontation of two processes: - One is the  planetary stirring of all living things  and of distant exchange systems, leading to a series of biological and social readjustments : emergent ecosystems.  - The other, delocalization of exchange and distribution systems, minimizes global production and management costs, hence controlling pollution and carbon balance.  Planetary stirring multiplies exchanges and encounters between beings and cultures traditionally apart.  These encounters produce the natural and cultural hybridization involved in the global process of evolution. 
 The delocalisation of exchange and distribution systems resulting from planetary stirring is an important aspect of the emergent economy, composed of  new patterns of exchange (emerging ecosystems) and of new priorities: spend less and better, consume less and better, establish a dynamic sharing process.   4.     •    The emergent economy of gardens of resistance consolidates two opposing forces:                    •    One is connected to distant exchanges, generating dependence               
                    The second , connected to local exchanges, allows self-sufficiency                 The emergent economy of gardens of resistance does not favor one or the other with      regard to bulk exchange but establishes the frontier between dependency and self-sufficiency affirming that :                   •    Non-vital exchanges are tied to distance and dependence. A distant accident would only have an incidental impact upon the emerging economy and would not place it in danger.                 •    Vital (or highly necessary) exchanges are linked to proximity, hence to self-sufficiency.  A distant accident would not modify performance.                •    None of the exchanges that could occur in gardens of resistance should, in principle,   contribute to the deterioration of the biological or social balance 

5.     •     Gardens of resistance already exist on the planet in dispersed form. This dispersion    (“atomization”) is the logical consequence of self sufficiency but does not necessarily require a network.  A policy favorable to the emergent economy, originating from gardens of resistance and in a larger  sense from the Planetary Garden, should federate a system with no legislative curbs  in order to:                 •    establish fair exchanges                •    establish forums for high level artistic and scientific exchanges                 •     encourage the exchange of immaterial goods derived from planetary cultural diversity 

Dispersion  (“atomization”), difficult to apprehend, operates in favor of resistance   
6.     •    As long as the belief persists that capitalism is the only possible model, its destructive presence must be energetically challenged by multiplying “resistances” on the planet, forming a Milky Way that gains in force and intensity with time. The substitution of one system by another is not necessarily a deflagration but an implosion, an  irreversible shift from unjust to fairer distribution of imposition , from unjust to fairer  distribution of goods – at least statistically – and from the privatization of the common good towards their municipalization. It then becomes possible to federate a dispersed “(atomized”) system and establish a political project in harmony with the planetary garden.  7.     •    The Planetary Garden merges the Gardens of Resistance into a single concept. When resistance operates on a planetary level, a plan for humanistic ecology becomes possible. 
 The Planetary Garden is based upon the notion of diversity, underlining humanity’s dependence  upon biological and non biological heterogeneity  and hence its vulnerability. A key question is “How to capitalize from diversity without destroying it?” Indeed, any modification of the ecological balance through human behavior, causing the disappearance of non human species, ultimately condemns mankind. A scientistic vision of the future, substituting technology for circumspect management of natural resources, could only precipitate the “garden” towards destruction.           The Planetary Garden must federate comprehension of the living with intelligent use of technological assistance. It presumes a level of knowledge sufficient to run the garden by offsetting  removal and return to the  milieu. Symbiotic man is in a key position to maintain this balance while biotic potential continues to obey the evolutionary process. 
 Theoretically, these seven points open the way to new governance and, implicitly, prepare a new political program leading to the establishment of a novel government, complete with ministries and their responsibilities. As in a dream, the outline of a Constitution whose introductory articles establish the foundation for a society in which sharing and growth of knowledge supplant competition emerges. 

- Charte, Theatre Evolutif, Bordeaux, 2011 

- The Right to Right, The Partial Declaration of Human Wrongs; by Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson, 7th Liverpool Biennial, 2012 

- The Manifesto of Urban Cannibalism (  
an ongoing project by Wietske Maas and Matteo Pasquinelli, 2012