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Eternal as it now seems, perhaps it was only then our modern concept of Paris and Parisians was born. Note the cross at the centre. Perhaps too, Paris will become more renowned for its multiculturalism: already more than 40 per cent of central Parisians have at least one foreign parent, but in its northern suburbs, this number is over 60 per cent. Ask to think of a Parisian then, while the waiters and the boulevardiers may remain, it is likely a more diverse picture will come to mind: the descendants of Algerian and Senegalese families; international business associates, footballers, and entrepreneurs.

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There is also another possibility, however: that the essence of Paris is more intractable than town planners want to believe. And for all the excited talk of synergies in the Grand Paris plans, it will prove easier to move bodies than minds.

This is not to do with a particular person-type or architecture, but something less tangible: an atmosphere, and certainty of its own value. Related Articles In defence of Image: Getty. Produced by a political elite in a state of confused panic, the election manifestos stand as a pretty good metaphor for what passes for democracy in the UK these days. Inevitably, they will miss a major trend which, if only their authors knew it, has great potential to address our deepest divisions and challenges.

In Paris, Art Confronts 2 Crises

It is a trend emerging on the frontline of cash-strapped public services. It can be found in thousands of voluntary initiatives springing up around the UK. It is there in a plethora of micro-economic enterprises. It can be read about in the writings of a handful of thinkers whose number is growing. And like all the best political visions it is remarkably simple.

So simple in fact that just two words sum it up: community power.

TAPE FIVE City of Lights

Or if you prefer a little more detail: it is the idea that local communities and networks need to take the initiative to solve their own social and economic challenges sometimes with, but just as often without, the help of the state. The instances of community power are growing so rapidly and working their way into so many different areas of life that any attempt to list them risks being woefully incomplete.

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But here goes. Within the public sector there is now a welter of initiatives designed to challenge paternalistic ways of working by handing power over to communities.


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In Morecambe Bay , key parts of the NHS such as communications and diabetes care are now run by the local community. In a new school in Doncaster networks of students are designing their own learning in close collaboration with the wider community. Cambridgeshire County Council is completely rethinking its services so that neighbourhoods get to shape how social care is delivered — an approach also transforming services in Wigan, Gateshead, Islington, Camden and others. The voluntary sector is home to one of the most radical initiatives where the Local Trust is handing out one million pounds of Big Lottery money to each of the most deprived neighbourhoods to spend as they see fit with no strings attached.

An approach that has led to hundreds of community power initiatives ranging from anti-loan shark movements to litter-picking teams. Local Trust is now seeking to go even bigger by bringing pressure on the Government to use billions of pounds in dormant assets in the same way. Community power also reaches into the economic realm.

In recent years, people have established thousands of community businesses — motivated more by the desire to meet local social challenges than to generate profit.

Paris at Night | NASA

Many have been set up with the help of local councils putting unused buildings, theatres or libraries into community hands. Many more have been launched with the help of social investment or grants and support from groups like Power to Change. This spectacular floating city of lantern buildings will be brought to life by an epic soundscape of original music, poetry and real-life stories, and will bring Liverpool communities, international artists and generations together through a breathtaking blend of community creativity, architectural artworks and family participation.

Using the simplest materials of paper, sticks and stories, City of Light, City of Sanctuary will be an inspirational public space for reflection on local and global experiences of migration, home and belonging — issues affecting many people and communities across the world today. For children from nought to ninety-nine, visitors can enjoy an illuminated animal story trail in the grounds of Sefton Park Palm House, from February 5pm-9pm.

Connected to the floating city by a short walk from the lakeside, audiences will be able to explore the trail and discover talking indigenous animal lanterns in their own habitats throughout the half term. Find out more about where our wildlife lives, and direct from the hedgehogs mouth, how we can help protect them and their natural environments!

Habitats, plus a series of community workshops will be ticketed in order to raise funds to support the City of Light, City of Sanctuary installation. To be involved in the creation of City of Light, City of Sanctuary and the chance to work with the team at Lantern Company, open community workshops will take place in venues across the city in the run up to the event.

See your own artwork become a central part of this iconic lantern cityscape! These workshops last from two-six hours. All children must be accompanied by an adult. And participants will be able to collect their lantern in the week after the event has taken place. Book on or drop in to make a mini house lantern and take it with you to view the City of Light, City of Sanctuary installation. The soundscape and voices of the city will also be an amazing experience for visitors to listen to as they wander around the lakeside.