'It's a beautiful thing': how one Paris district rediscovered conviviality
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: August 7th, 2023
A 215-metre-long banquet table, lined with 648 chairs and laden with a home cooked produce, was set up along the Rue de l'Aude and those in attendance were urged to openly utter the most subversive of words: bonjour. For some, that greeting led to the first meaningful exchange between neighbours. "I'd never seen anything like it before," says Benjamin Zhong who runs a cafe in the area. "It felt like the street belonged to me, to all of us." The revolutionaries pledged their allegiance that September day in 2017 to the self-styled R©publique des Hyper Voisins, or Republic of Super Neighbours, a stretch of the 14th arrondissement on the Left Bank, encompassing roughly 50 streets and 15,000 residents. In the five years since, the republic – a "laboratory for social experimentation" – has attempted to address the shortcomings of modern city living, which can be transactional, fast-paced, and lonely. The experiment encourages people ... to interact daily through mutual aid schemes, voluntary skills-sharing and organised meet ups. A recent event at the Place des Droits de l'Enfant allowed neighbours to celebrate reclaiming the public space. A lifeless road junction ... no longer performed its role as an "urban square" – a place for life, interaction and meetings. But after residents were consulted about what they thought the square should become, it was cleaned, pedestrianised, planted and had street clutter removed with a grant of nearly 200,000 euros from the City of Paris.
Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.