According to Patrick Bernard, an urban neighbourhood doesn't have to be unfriendly or anonymous at all. Together with his fellow 'super neighbours', he aims to bring the conviviality of a village to the streets of Paris.
Open-Air Dinners on the Street
Along with a number of other people from his neighbourhood, Bernard is one of the driving forces behind the so-called République des Hyper-Voisins (Republic of Super Neighbours). This initiative of committed residents works to strengthen the social character of their neighbourhood in the French capital’s 14th arrondissement. It all started with a successful outdoor dinner in 2017, where 700 residents met at a 200-metre-long table that ran right through the neighbourhood. Since then, these popular dinners have been taking place with some regularity. They turn out to be the perfect breeding ground for new social and sustainable ideas, such as a collaboration with non-profit organisation Les Alchemistes in which former street car parks are turned into collection points for organic waste.
More Connections, Less Isolation
Sociologist Camille Arnodin examined how the ‘Hyper-Voisins’ have made their neighbourhood more resilient and social connections closer. Residents meet each other more easily and feel less socially isolated. Co-initiator Bernard hopes the project can set an example for others. He’s currently working with two universities to build and maintain networks of Super Neighbours in other neighbourhoods as well.