Newcastle hosts global conversation on cities

A small band of Great Debate aficionados gathered at Culture Lab last week to participate in an engaging conversation on cities with a twist: it was virtual and global. 

During the debate, which was more of an informal conversation, film and live panel discussions were shown via a live feed from Miami and Sykpe portals around the world. The aim was to stimulate debate on the past present and future of cities via social media. Twitter proved to be the media of choice and Newcastle participants were astonished to see their tweets appear on a screens in Miami, NewYork, and countries including India, Brazil, Tobago, Ecuador and Germany.

The film, by award winning Miami based film maker Sanjeev Chatterjee, was 'a non-verbal visual meditation on the past, present and future of Cities' and had included sequences from Mumbai, Sao Paulo, and an eco city in Dubai. Discussions ranged from issues of food supply and architecture, to crime.

Lalya Gaye, a researcher at Culture Lab, tweeted that there were no female voices in the film or discussion panels. The tweet was almost instantly read out in Miami  to loud cheers in Newcastle and twitter responses from NewYork. Ben Holden, of Sentient Cities, got a shout out when posed the question: "what happens to the human condition when we are marinated in a culture of speed?"  and received the response : "a loss of humanity" from Columbia University. North-east participants clearly enjoyed the global interactivity of the debate and were interested to see how similar use of technology could be employed in future. 

Launching the event in Austria this summer Mr Chatterjee said he wanted: 
"To engage viewers in cities around the world in conversations about the future of life in cities and to launch a multilingual film contest that will incentivise digital filmmakers to tell stories about life in cities where they live." The event clearly marked an interesting start to his project.The cast of USA participants -an eminent line up of planners, architects, film makers and academics- included Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of TED talks; Rahul Mehrotra, Chair of Urban planning, Harvard University and Andres Duany, Architect and father of New Urbanism.

More information on the ongoing project and film competition can be found:here. 


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