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Guest Urban Critic 2023: Mark Cridge

How can we collaborate on huge transitions? At the end of a packed day filled with various programmes, the City Makers Congres wraps up collectively with the annual Guest Urban Critic. For the fifteenth time, AIR and the Van der Leeuwkring invite an international guest to open up new perspectives on urban challenges and opportunities for the city.

This year’s Guest Urban Critic is Mark Cridge, director of National Park City London, advisor for DemocracyNext and former chief executive of mySociety. In these roles, Mark consistently challenges and explores the relationship between the physical environment and democratization, with National Park City London as one of the key examples. 

National Park City London began as a movement in 2013; driven by a simple idea: what if we reimagined our urban lifestyles by applying the principles and mission of National Parks to our cities? This resulted in London becoming the world’s first National Park City in 2019, supported by the Mayor of London and 260 launch partners and organizations. It represents a unique long-term grassroots movement for everyone making London greener, healthier and wilder. 

In his talk, Mark Cridge will elaborate on why we desperately need a new story. One that envisions how to live in the future, re-establishes our connection with nature, and redefines how we think of ourselves: as consumers or as citizens? A new story is a vision on how to re-organize our society, with National Park City London as being one of the prime examples of embracing such a new story. 

About Mark Cridge 

Mark Cridge was previously Chief Executive of the civic technology charity mySociety, and enjoyed a diverse career in digital communications and campaigning as COO of design consultancy BERG, a senior advisor at political campaigners Blue State Digital, and an elected volunteer on the national executive of the Green Party of England & Wales for five years.

Originally studying Architecture at Strathclyde University, he started his commercial career in 1996 working for a small web design agency in Birmingham. Throughout his involvement in and work for various projects and platforms, his practice has consistently evolved around democratization processes and collaborative transitions.