Issues: Encounters | Neighborhood initiatives and public events | Commons and services | Sharing culture and experiences | Exchange of knowledge and skills
Peuplade (“Tribe” in French) is an experience launched in Paris in 2003 in the Epinettes (XVII°) district.
Thanks to the enthusiastic involvement of its first partners, Peuplade gained popularity and success, and is nowadays used all over France, Belgium and Switzerland. It is a social project founded by “Les Ingénieurs Sociaux” (“social engineers”), an enterprise which deals with the development of tools intended to offer people, associations, enterprises and institutions the means to give a more human face to interpersonal relationships, to society and to economy.
Peuplade is a space for encounters, exchanges, innovation and initiatives, offered to inhabitants of a same street, neighbourhood or city.
Peuplade has a manifesto, la Charte Peuplade, whose main objective is to provide the inhabitants of a territory with the means to live together in a spirit of openness, freedom, responsibility and justice. Other values expressed in the Charte Peuplade are actuality, cohesion and cooperation, universality, non-selectivity, collective dynamic and active participation, mutualization of skills, independence of people from organizations and causes.
Although communities play an important role in Peuplade, the manifesto claims for the importance for people to participate as individual inhabitants of a neighborhood rather than as representatives of a specific community and a particular ideology, in order to avoid exclusion from any proposed project or initiative.
The actors involved in Peuplade project are the cofounders, collaborators, a community activator and all citizens who participate at different degrees with their ideas, suggestions and resources.
How does Peuplade work?
The use of Peuplade is free. It is funded by partners, cities, associations, enterprises. The website in available only in French, but today one can sign up and create a Peuplade for one’s neighborhood in any place in the world.
When signing up, you are asked to provide some data describing yourself : your location, your interests, your expectations and the values you can offer to your community, along with some questions about your relationship with your neighborhood. What kind of citizen are you?
The participation of a territory’s actors consists of actions of social life, initiatives for gathering inhabitants around public events, commons or services. Citizens are invited to favor and foster neighborhood’s encounters and projects. Once you log in, you have access to different areas of the website: events, announcements, ideas, professionals, urban ‘tribes’ or collectives, associations, forums, albums… all of them being complementary ways of engaging with your neighbors.
Participants should always act with respect, attention and sensitivity towards the other participants. A moderation committee will facilitate communication and negotiation among neighbors and initiatives.
The platform works at a local level in order to foster neighborhood relationships: every participant can sign up indicating his/her residence location and will be able to operate and interact with neighbors and initiatives within a range of 40km from the place of residence.
What is so good about this project? What could be improved?
We really like the focus on neighborhoods, as a very good scale for the connection between digital and physical to happen and succeed. By joining around all kind of social initiatives, neighbors become more and more self-aware as active citizens, which is one of the main basis of empowerment. We also like the way it shows all the different ‘cities’ that live together: you can see yourself as an individual, but also join any of the ‘peuplades’ or urban ‘tribes’ you identify yourself with.
We do feel that the website could be improved in some areas (as, well, any service out there does). It feels a bit too closed for the casual visitor, not allowing you to peek inside the contents (and thus see the value of the platform) until you sign up. Also, having such an extensive and active user base, we think that combining it with other channels like a mobile version or a specific application could drive interactions to the next level, making them even more localized, fluid and close to real time. I could improve the ‘discoverability’ and interactivity of any neighborhood. Or not. But it seems worth trying. Also, the platform does look kind of outdated, not showing many signs of having been improved lately. Only the lively social exchange that is happening inside it tells us that it’s a working service with a lot of future… as long as they keep improving and innovating by learning from their users.
Not being French users ourselves, we are curious how this platform behaves in real life. What are the added values it gives to users? Is it just a localized bulletin board used for self promotion, or do real conversations and exchanges happen there? What we have seen so far makes us believe that this platform has facilitated encounters and interactions that have most probably contributed to improve many people’s life in a very tangible way. We feel it can support the self-development of better citizens somehow. And that is a lot to say about a social platform.
Curious? Check it here: www.peuplade.fr