For the past five years, two projects have been a constant presence in my life: The Copenhagen Food Co-op and Borgerlyst – the laboratory for civic agency that I co-founded with Nadja Pass in 2010. Both projects have been the source of a lot of learning, good experiences and good friends.
But over the past few months, I’ve been preparing to step down from my responsibilities in both of these projects to make room for something new.
In April, I stepped down from the board of the food co-op. I gave a status report at the annual General Assembly, describing how the community has grown and developed over the past five years. It’s been quite a journey, with lots of ups and downs. And I’m very happy to pass on the reins to the new board. They’re all good people with lots of drive, hope and vision. And I’m certain they will help the food co-op become an even better community for organic veggie enthusiasts all over Copenhagen.
And on June 5th, on Borgerlyst’s fifth anniversary, I stepped down from Borgerlyst. We had a big party to celebrate and look back on all that we have achieved together. Nadja will continue to develop the project in a new direction, and I will focus on working on a new project that has been in the works for a while now.
The project focuses on working with community organising as a method and approach to develop the power and agency of ordinary citizens and create new trustful relationships in the local communities where they work and live. This short film gives a good introduction to community organising:
The project’s working title is “the civil society alliance” – because the goal is to build a broad-based community organisation that brings together many of the diverse communities and institutions of Danish civil society – from churches, mosques and synagogues to labour unions, schools and student organisations. Bringing all of these communities together to build their political power and ability to work for the common good – not in spite of but through their diversity.
One of my main sources of inspiration for this work is the UK-based community organising charity Citizens UK. I attended their six-day training in Cardiff last autumn, and I’ve been very impressed with the efficacy and professionalism of their organisation. In my view, their approach is exactly the kind of thing we need to revitalise Danish politics and participatory democracy. As one organiser at the Citizens UK General Election Accountability Assembly on May 3rd put it: “This is how politics used to be done, and we wish it could be done like this more.”
I’m really excited to be able to focus on this work. And I’m fortunate to be working together with a group of excellent and dedicated people from across Danish civil society. In the coming months, we will be writing grant proposals for a pilot project, meeting people, listening to their needs, interests and worries and get people engaged.
More to come …