Rethinking commons, co-living, and activism for the Anthropocene City
Keywords:Anthropocene, Deep adaptation, Relinquishment, Urban commons, Urban co-living, Green activism, More-than-human urbanities, Urban design, Sweden, Germany
This paper addresses Jem Bendell’s concept of “deep adaptation” in the Anthropocene through the lens of everyday urban practices in contemporary Northern Europe. It proposes that this “deep adaptation” should be defined less in relation to a socio-ecological “collapse” and more through everyday occurrences in present-day urban environments.
Entering into a critical conversation with Bendell’s conceptual “4 Rs” framework, the paper draws on primary data from several cities in Sweden and Germany to show how, in practice, resilience can be found in the “quiet activism” of leisure gardeners; how ingrained notions of restricted land use may be relinquished through “commoning” urban space; how novel constellations of co-living restores old ideas of intragenerational urban cohabitation; and, finally, how a path to reconciliation may be articulated through an ontological shift away from an anthropocentric urban planning, towards one that recognises other-than-human beings as legitimate dwellers in the urban landscape.
Accounting for urbanities of enmeshed societal, ecological, and spatial trajectories, the paper reveals an inhibiting anthropocentrism in Bendell’s framework and ultimately points to how his “creatively constructed hope” for the future may be found, not in an impending global collapse, but in everyday adaptations and embodied acts that stretch far beyond the human.