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Thinking, feeling, and doing in the post-growth city

Postwachsstumsstadt Sense the City

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With its conference “Post-Growth City”, the Bauhaus University-Weimar demonstrates how sensory approaches can find their way into sustainability research. At the two-day event, more than 300 people from science, civil society, and politics drew up a manifesto on how to design urban spaces and societies beyond the imperative of growth. Dr Friederike Landau explains to us what role sense and emotion played in the process.


Why did you make “feeling” a central component of your conference?


In the preparatory meeting for the Conference on the Post-Growth City, we discussed what will stick with the participants the day after the conference. What do people think and feel after spending a day and a half contemplating new practices for living, working, housing? Are they motivated and eager to act? Do they feel discouraged, completely unsure of where to begin with the necessary yet fundamental changes in behavior? In order to capture this mood at the end of the conference, we developed three pillars of the manifesto for the post-growth city: thinking, feeling, and doing. On the whole, for us the idea and the term “manifesto” were about doing something proclamatory, about putting down a foundation for urban cities and making demands for how cities could look and feel in a post-growth society.


The thinking component was supposed to combine scientific arguments and activist practices in order to make tangible abstract concepts like solidarity, sufficiency (i.e. low consumption of resources and energy), community, or responsibility. In the doing category, we wanted to collect concrete instructions for action and tips for everyday life. In this way we hoped to create a toolbox for the creation of post-growth cities, in order to build these futures together.