Forty Frequently Unanswered Questions

Below you will find a number of frequently asked questions for which we have already formulated an answer. Contact us if you have other questions or require additional information.

01. What is Citymine(d)?

A non-profit organisation that creates interventions in public spaces and supports other people or initiatives who have a similar vision of the city. City Mine(d) has developed over 70 urban interventions in European cities, focussing on issues of citizenship, democracy and the city. We create projects with and for the people who use the city for their work, to play or in their daily life.

02. Who is City Mine(d)?

A professional staff of 7 people form the core of a larger group of temporary workers, volunteers and a network of organizations who use the infrastructure to develop own projects.

03. Where is City Mine(d)?

City Mine(d) has its head office in Brussels, with registered offices in Barcelona and London. See also the contact page.

04. Is City Mine(d) the International Red Cross for cities?

City Mine(d)s ambition is to make cities more just, it is an arts organisation, not a humanitarian organisation. There is no City Mine(d) Geneva as yet.

05. Isn't City Mine(d) really just a bunch of anarchists?

City Mine(d) prides itself in following only its own ideas, which are those of urban art interventions as a positive way to empower diverse groups and individuals in the city. These ideas are constantly scrutinized and updated through action-research, as is currently the case in Generalized Empowerment.

06. Situationists, then?

Same answer.

07. What does City Mine(d) want to achieve?

Our ultimate objective is to realize an international urban movement.

08. Will City Mine(d) cease to exist when all cities are fair and just?

Cities are dynamic entities, what is fair and just from one perspective will look wrong and unjust from another. Raising awareness about this dynamic character is higher on the agenda than saving cities.

09. Where does the money come from ?

City Mine(d) is a publicly funded non-profit organisation, which receives support from regional, national, metropolitan and local authorities. It occasionally works together with private partners and foundations, but it does not allow its initiatives to become vehicles for the promotion of private or profit making activities.

10. When was City Mine(d) started?

City Mine(d) was born on 1997 in the Rue de Gretry in Brussels. However, pre-natal activity was noticeable since 1995 in the Rue August Orts.

11. Does City Mine(d) have any siblings?

Similar organisations exist in many other cities, 'family albums' have been published by City Mine(d) in Brussels, under the name of Repertorium, and London, Networkbook, showcasing similar groups and their work. L-Atlas currently maps out the whole family tree.

12. Where does the name City Mine(d) originate from?

The name tries to capture the re-appropriation of the city -city mine -; the city as a creative resource like a goldmine–city mine -; interventions placed as explosives that blast away obstacles to change - city mined-; and action research about cities -city mind.

13. Why cities?

Cities are most sustainable way of living in economic, ecological, social and cultural sense, and are therefore the natural habitat of the human being. Ten years after the creation of City Mine(d), 50% of the world population will live in cities, (contact us if you can see any relation).

14. How many cities are there in the world?

250.

15. Any new City Mine(d) cities planned?

City Mine(d) is a grass-roots organisation, and it takes time to take root in a new city, and to carve out a space that allows it to do what it does best. But time will tell.

16. Which books should I read as an introduction to City Mine(d)?

Try "Chacun son tour" (describing the dynamic character of cities) "Vive le progress" or "Pas de Quartier", all staring Quick and Flupke, all by Hergé. But taking part in projects is more important than reading.

17. What is an urban intervention?

An ephemeral work of art work in public space that brings together disparate users of that space and in doing so empowers the disenfranchised among them.

18. Beg your pardon!?

A temporary work of art in a square, street, park or terrain vague as an opportunity to bring people together and to introduce creativity and new perspectives into otherwise polarised urban discussions.

19. Aha, public art!

The development agenda makes it different from traditional public art, it wants to make a change in physical and social space.

20. Where can I find urban interventions?

They work best in in-between spaces, what City Mine(d) terms "cracks in the city" or "krax". They are the places that are ignored or used as dumps, and are ideal to bring different groups and individuals together and play the role of neutral body.

21. Can I call up City Mine(d) if I have a crack in my neighbourhood?

You might. If its in Brussels, Barcelona and London and you don't expect a ready-to-go solution to your crack, then you can.

22. What does City Mine(d) mean by "process-based"?

City Mine(d) does not apply an intervention like you would fill a crack in the wall with filler. The crack provides an opportunity to bring people together, this new group gets a say in where the project then goes; this obviously is impossible to predict in advance. We also use the word path-dependent for it.

23. Why does City Mine(d) always end up in challenged neighbourhoods?

Because that is where the inequality of cities is expressed in the strongest way, and where the ownership of public space is most contested.

24. Why does City Mine(d) only do temporary work?

If we would propose permanent work, we would not be able to work in Krax, because we would have to position towards the landscape that is 'cracked'; secondly, we don’t think it is up to us to come up with a long term solution, we just provide the dynamic that should empower people to have a say in a long term solution. And maybe the elusiveness is the only antidote to co-opting.

25. Who came up with the idea for City Mine(d)?

City Mine(d) is the result of the coming together of different ambitions in Brussels. Artists, activists, academics, social organisations, innovators and politicians found each other in the iconic actions around the derelict building of Hotel Central in 1995. A core group of about a dozen people decided two years and several activities later to create an NGO that would combine City, Art and Politics.

26. Does City Mine(d) have a motto?

City air makes you free.

27. What about a battle cry too?

Dats ni doon!

28. What does City Mine(d) consider as its highest achievement?

Tom being invited to the Royal Palace in Brussels and wearing his bright orange T-shirt.

29. And the lowest?

Jim being invited to the Royal Palace in Brussels and NOT wearing his bright orange T-shirt. Sissy!

30. Is it true that you are all close relatives?

Sure. Most of us even in the biological sense.

31. Why work in other countries?

It adds the international scale to the work. The first projects, like Van Schoor were on a very local, neighbourhood scale. We saw how the metropolitan scale could give local work a bigger impact and make it more interesting, so we experimented with connecting local places like in Hugo and Ball. In Bruxxel during the Laeken summit for the first time we successfully experimented with "jumping scales", where the international (political summits) is harnessed to make a local difference (Leopold neighbourhood) and to set a metropolitan agenda (the Luxemburg station as revealing for the cities urban planning policy). The idea grew to set up local organisations in Europe's most iconic cities. Barcelona, with sun and sea the alleged urban utopia, and London, capital of capitalism and therefore for some the urban dystopia.

32. Jumping scales, you said?

Yes. It stems from the idea that cities are places of diversity, and bring sometimes conflicting ambitions together. To mediate between these different ambitions, various institutions are set up or have emerged. Local, metropolitan, regional and other authorities, police forces, but also informal institutions like residents associations or even street gangs and even private companies. They all work on a particular scale in the city: neighbourhood, borough, metropolis, and so on. A characteristic of urban interventions is that they involve actors from all these levels. In doing so, they provide those involved the opportunity to address a neighbourhood issue at metropolitan level, a borough issue at national level and so on, thereby putting pressure on the intermediate levels.

35. A bit academic, isn't it?

True, but it describes the process very well. Take Bruxxel. Talks between residents associations and the metropolitan authorities reaches a stalemate, but by bringing in MEPs and national politicians, the metropolitan authority had to hear the local concerns.

36. Aha, it's political?

Not necessarily. Take Bubblicious in Kings Cross, London. A group of young ladies with an R&B dance act had no local place to show their creation, so we offered them our bubble. Playing the international card we could invite the international dance centre based in the area to see the act. Next thing you know, the girls get the opportunity to do a dance workshop in the centre.

37. Did City Mine(d) make this up?

No it has been used in various other situations, like resistance to building of large dams in India, but we use it in an urban context and in with urban themes.

38. What are the City Mine(d) themes?

City, Art and Politics (or citizenship).

39. How do I take part in a project?

You can come to one of the City Mine(d) offices with your own project, and we will see if we can make it happen. You can also just email us or come by to do some volunteering. Or you can just come to an event and speak the magic words: "Can I help?"

40. Can I hire things out at City Mine(d)?

We're not a hire out service, though we have things we call tools that people occasionally borrow to raise an issue about their public space. They are ball, tricycle, ...

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Ongoing Projects:

London - Euler
Brussels - PUM
Brussels - ProperWater|EauPropre

Publications:

Eau Propre|Proper Water :: Brussels, July 2013, (Eng, Fr and Nl): available at the City Mine(d) boutique .

Small Initiatives for the European Quarter. From MAP-it to PUM :: Brussels, April 2012: Read here (Eng, Fr or Nl) or at the City Mine(d) boutique

Urban Platform Booklets #1-5: a series of 5 micro-publications, Brussels 2010 Each booklet accompanied an activity that was a step in the preparation of the Urban Platform, an open and inclusive gathering of small initiatives in Brussels. Read here (Eng, Fr or Nl) or available at the City Mine(d) boutique

Networkbook for Urban P/Arts. 42 initiatives capturing London's Public Space, 2004: available at the City Mine(d) boutique .

Bunker Souple Repertorium 1998 & 2000: available at the City Mine(d) boutique .

MapRAC. Plannen voor het RijksAdministratief Centrum. La Cité Administrative de l'Etat en cartes & en question, 2004: available at City Mine(d) offices.

Towards. Cartes Subjectives d'interventions Urbaines à Bruxelles // Subjectieve Kaarten van Stedelijke Interventies in Brussel: available at City Mine(d) offices.

Generalized Empowerment. Uneven Development and Urban Interventions, 2006. Download here.

Micronomics scanning 2006: watch and read the content of the dvd here.

Recent Projects:

Urban Platform 2010
Micronomics 2008-10

Video's:

micronomics on dailymotion


City Mine(d) is kindly supported by:

VGC

BHG

VGC

VGC