John Robinson Mistra Urban Futures


Conference Limericks by John Robinson

Some write notes, some use mind-maps, some take pictures and save speakers' presentations - and Prof John Robinson, keynote speaker at the Realising Just Cities conference in Gothenburg, writes limericks. These are some of his memories from the conference, which he has kindly shared with us.

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Overall impressions from Day 1

What do we mean by “just city”?
It should be more than just a new ditty.
Knowledge production is local,
But in the end must be focal.
The process, we find, is quite gritty.


With apologies to Debrah

If motorcycles are to be fixed
The process itself must be mixed
Its messy, complex,
Let’s dig into the specs,
But Romantics I hope won’t be nixed


Session I: Contextualizing Just Cities

The Platforms indeed have been active,
In trying to escape the reactive.
Linking gowns with the towns,
Without causing frowns,
Can give rise to results quite attractive


Session II: Why Co-Production Matters

Maybe co-production itself is emergent.
Engagement might then be convergent.
But this means no prediction
And acceptance of friction.
So learning is really quite urgent.


A Random Thought

Co-production’s the goal we all seek.
But what underlies the mystique?
Is it ethos or compound
And do we all sound
Rather abstract whenever we speak?


Session III: Learning from Co-Production

Is ambiguity really constructive?
Or instead a route that’s destructive
We have lots of visions
But who makes the decisions?
Is co-production itself interruptive?


Another reflection

Co-production includes consultations
But also invokes alterations
In relations of power.
Shared decisions must flower,
To truly create just relations.


Wed, Sept 21


Nazem’s challenge

“Just city” is perhaps just a label,
Or even a pernicious fable.
Lots of policy action,
Without any real traction.
Just who do we find at the table?


Session IV: Re-thinking urban governance

We think there exists a strong tension,
Which is rather important to mention,
Between more consultations
And altered relations
Of power (which cause apprehension).


Session V: Re-thinking urban knowledge

Is knowledge a neutral resource,
Or a heavily loaded source
Of value relations
That support operations
Which powers-that-be then enforce?


Session VI: Supporting Urban Change

Co-production’s described as our mission
But who gets to make the decision?
Beyond consultation
Or participation
Lies a rather ambiguous condition.


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