In the 90’s, Pasqual Maragall put Barcelona on the international stage by organizing the first international congress of “educating cities & rdquor;. A new, powerful and utopian signifier. Therefore, attractive because it outlined education as the first priority of the city and this, in turn, was committed to reorganizing itself as an agent and a complementary educational context and ally of the school. An exciting challenge for teachers, families and civil society that acted in alliance for a common good: the educating city as ecosystem of cohesion, innovation and local democracy.

In those times the last splendor of classical social democracy with Jacques Delors in Brussels and without neoliberal hawks demanding austerity and cuts from the welfare state. That was what came next. Instead of the cohesive and warm educating city, the new paradigm that won the game was the city ​​of business, finance and precariousness: the global city or metropolis with no soul or hardly any heart. Education ceased to be a community articulator to become just another business and the educating city began to be championed only by resistant and courageous medium-sized municipalities and they must be vindicated. Surely TV-3 will commission a documentary in ‘prime time’ to make them visible.

The educating city is championed by resistant and courageous medium-sized municipalities and they must be vindicated

These last decades of neoliberal reign have led to a severe territorial and ecological imbalance, emptying rural environments and, at the same time, unraveling the once compact city into a diffuse and segregated city whose icons of servitude are the mortgage, the car and carbon emissions. Where the nerve center is no longer the main square and its surroundings. Now they are the big shopping centers, authentic cathedrals of consumption that have sucked up small businesses and neighborhood life itself.

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The post-pandemic and the urgent ecological transition force us to rethink which city we want and we are going to leave to future generations. Apart from being a sustainable city, yes or yes (and we are already taking time) we must ask ourselves what paradigm of a city we want: if it has to be inclusive, educational, creative, entrepreneurial, with a gender and childhood perspective, socially sustainable, community-based and collaborative or nothing like that. Let’s be clear. Instead of complaining so much Let’s discuss the costs and benefits of a more humanized city model and intergenerationally fair and sustainable and what would be its alternative counter-models.

In any case, the city of the future will either be educational and collaborative or it will not be a city, but rather a dystopian city polarized by the rise of the far right and intolerance. Authentic metastases of democracy that feed on the frustration and despair of forgotten neighborhoods, without community structure and poor public services of well-being that, by the way, do not usually depend on the city councils.

The city as a historical agora of freedoms and democracy is being played today in how the peripheries are reconnected and empowered to stop being and feeling subordinate and treated without respect. In how we design urban governance without watertight compartments or paralyzing bureaucracy. In how we activate redistributive networks of cognitive, civic and cultural wealth so that the strongest parts of the city help, accompany and revitalize the weakest and most vulnerable extremes. On how to create a flow of trust and mutual proximity overcoming the multibubbles that separate us and they shrink in fear of the different.

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In this objective, social and public innovation are great allies when it comes to turning the city into a laboratory of new, more horizontal social relationships and less alienating. And the foundations of such a collaborative and reciprocal city are provided by the educating city as a dense mesh of crossed learning circuits and of social and cultural bond for all ages.

Schools, universities, museums, libraries, associations, athenaeums, business networks, theaters and civic centers organized in a network and collaborating so that learning is universal, flexible and in multiple accessible formats. A metaverso more authentic and enriching than the one proposed by Mark Zuckerberg. Almost nothing. On November 30, the International Day of Educating Cities was celebrated and they deserve all our support.

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