Smaller cities like Dublin can learn from London. In fact, Europe’s small cities are in competition with each other not just for tourism but for people and investment. If we create an environment for the best people to come to work here, they will come. To do this we must invest and continue to spend on things that appear ephemeral like culture and the arts. These are not the pursuits of the elite. Look at what happened to Bilbao when it invested in the Guggenheim. The entire brand of the city changed and tourism took off, more than paying back the initial investment. A good arts festival can work wonders for a city — just look at Edinburgh fringe. So too can a one-off sporting event, for example the upcoming UEFA Cup Final at Aviva Stadium. The same goes for the visits of the queen and Obama — these are showcase events, which we should use to rebrand the country.
In short, we must invest in fun. I know this sounds strange in a recession but it is true. The thriving European cities of the future won’t be places of production; they will be places of consumption. Once you throw people together, they will be creative, if you encourage it. We should aim to have more people living between the canals in a city where the open public spaces are lived in and owned by all. This will be the beginning of our regeneration.
Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions. http://www.undercurrents.org