A #ConnectingCities global digital storytelling experiment by asking better questions:

Building trust and collaboration by initiating a conversation among global networked citizens

I am a city lover and city walker. Walking and thinking taking randomly city streets, is precious and valuable ritual. It helps me to organize my thinking, to shape new questions, to come up with new ideas, to question myself if I “walk the talk” and get prepared to re-connect, share and collaborate with other people.

I developed my Athenian and global citizenship mindset, values and actions based on readings, research, traveling, walking and observing the pulse of city life, meeting and initiating conversations with friends, colleagues around the world, as well as with strangers, locals or visitors of a city, curious to hear their stories, to share views, learn from their point of view, get in touch with their emotions and diverse cultural triggers of their perspectives.

This is part of my everyday being and sense making, as a “slow hunch” of emerging new and good ideas that flourish and tested in our booming urban spaces with a new challenge to re-imagine and shape our cities, to be able to address the 21c challenges, finding inclusive, just, creative, innovative, shareable and sustainable solutions by citizens along with public, civil and private, accountable organizations and institutions.

By asking questions I would like to explore with our ConnectingCities teams from Athens, Kampala, Quito, Santiago, Shanghai:

In what ways our city lives and experiences bring out and enhance or limit our capacity for showing humanity and empathy, while we are getting more connected and challenged by the global diversity of different perspectives on ideas, values, and critical issues to address in a just and sustainable way?

How can we provide a space -digital and physical- as to sustain an open and honest multi-cities conversation? Can acts of conversation and storytelling provide a richer context and city platforms for a thoughtful discussion, mutual respect and acceptance? Shall we build a community and ignite curiosity and enthusiasm to start seeing and discovering through the eyes of our global peers different perspectives, priorities and evaluations of cities global stakes and shared future at hand?

How can we keep faith in our cities and in ourselves as conscious citizens in our capacity to co-shape and have a positive impact on the course of our lives in times of crisis, transition and tremendous change?

Who are included and who are excluded in the new flows of always mobile citizens across cities and continents for seemingly different, still interconnected, reasons? How all connected mobile citi-zens, both on mobile platforms as well as, hitting the roads, from city to city, in search for better life prospects and future, will be viewed and accepted by our peer citizens in their new cities-homes? How can we become valuable contributors in the 21C reshaping times in all aspects of our lives, institutional architecture and governance?

As storytellers, being in conversation, shall we live up to our vision to experience our extended connected-selves to meet and create bridges and connections, innovating by introducing new unthinkable joined perspectives at the points where our familiar credos might collide? Shall we persist into connecting? Or, shall we step back into our own comfort zones?

So many different world views, angles, expectations, hopes, fears, challenges, ambitions and still so many in common in our shared planet, shared resources and our exponential opportunities for investing in abundance based on our creative, collaborating and social minds ability to invent, to innovate and find and agree common solutions in education, water, energy, health care, cities as inclusive, just and creative spaces, making optimism a radical choice for our future.

I have been working with the Cities theme the last five years in the context or sharing economy and collaborative consumption. I have much faith and being inspired by the shareable cities vision and potential to hack old models and feverishly prototype and experiment with new models for sustainable hyper-local solutions and coexistence.

Open and distributed conversation is that starting point for me as self-proclaimed city-diplomat

This is a journey and a discovery that has just started.

Ready to start my new cities walks, reflection and conversations

More about me on Linkedin and on twitter: @tsakarestou

Photo credits to Sylvia Diamantopoulou