Tuesday evening we accompanied the Brussels-based NGO WeForest, which we introduced to you earlier this week, to the final award ceremony at the smart urban stage in Frankfurt – a contest that aims to put forward innovative and creative ideas dealing with the challenges of urban life.
What will our cities look like in the future? Where are our metropolises heading to? These are the questions that the 11 finalists from all over Europe addressed with their projects. Despite their variety – ranging from cultivating urban wastelands to the development of a non-polluting heat-pump – they had one thing in common: all of them were about reinventing society and creating a greener and more sustainable lifestyle. “I think we can see from all these ideas that the city will become more rural. The neighbourhood you live in will play a bigger role and we are moving to a new form of human ecology“, concludes trend forecaster and jury member Lidewij Edelkoort.
And who is the lucky winner? In the end the jury gave the smart future minds award to The Peoples Supermarket in London. “We chose something that we would like to see more in the future“, Edelkoort states, to explain the jury’s decision with Graham Hill, founder of the worldwide leading website on green news treehugger.com adding: “Practicality was also an issue. We wanted to dedicate the award to an idea that will really make a difference.“
The Peoples Supermarket concept is as simple as it is convincing: A sustainable food cooperative that provides healthy, local food at reasonable prices – a supermarket for the people by the people connecting the urban community with the local farming community. An important difference to many other cooperatives: Everyone can come shop, not only members. “This way we can reach more people and now have up to 6000 customers a week”, co-founder Kate Bull proudly tells us. Another plus: the project also fights food waste by cooking meals with ingredients that otherwise would have ended up in the garbage.
Even if the Belgian candidates from WeForest didn’t collect the first prize, they still see themselves as winners: “The attention and publicity alone that our project has been getting is already a big success”, says CEO Marie-Noelle Keijzer.
Creative and innovative ideas to make our cities a better place are plenty, the solutions seem to be there – they just have to be put into practice. Graham Hill is even convinced that cities are the living concept of the future: „That living in the countryside is more nature-friendly is a myth. Cities are generally much more efficient, also in terms of energy use and especially regarding the use of space.“
If you want to make your city and your world a greener place, why not start by donating to the Belgian participants WeForest: Planting one tree will cost you only about a euro – think about it the next time you spend it on that infamous 1-euro-cheeseburger, for example.