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Influence of grassroots initiatives on forming urban resilience within communities
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1  Institute of Environmental Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Sciences, Leibniz University of Hannover


Grassroots initiatives are nowadays gaining importance as defenders of widely-understood aspects of humanity and leading critics of neoliberal, nationalist or austerity policies. This paper reviews and examines the impacts of grassroots initiatives – more specifically solidarity movements – on forming urban resilience within urban communities in Germany and Greece.

Therefore, the paper addresses the following questions:

  1. What role do initiatives play in the political-administrative system and what influence do they have?
  2. What contribution can initiatives make through their commitment to the resilience of a city?
  3. How and to what extent do the undertaken activities contribute to strengthening urban and in particular community resilience?

By combining literature research, field studies and qualitative interviews with representatives from solidarity movements, politicians and public actors in the field of urban development in selected German and Greek cities are conducted. It aims to analyse the influence of urban communities and grassroots initiatives on urban resilience.

Based on a comparative research approach, the paper shows that initiatives in German cities tend to criticise socio-political grievances whereas initiatives in Greece are inclined to an active struggle to reduce the occurrence of socio-economic and political difficulties. The actions of German initiatives have risen significantly in the last years and are mainly reflected in severe criticism of political ventures, a fight for human equality, as well as in inclusion of the vulnerable society. Conversely, the Greek solidarity movements aim to diminish post-crisis austerity symptoms and combat the ubiquitous non-respect of the human rights of Greek citizens by politicians.

Keywords: austerity policy; community resilience; grassroots initiatives; urban resilience