How to fall back in love with your city

By Claudia Monteiro

It wasn’t until this event that I had the city itself as an additional participant in Streetwisdom.

Which is an odd thing to say, given the city and its streets are the stage upon which we play, quest and find answers to questions.

Except this time the questions tackled were about Lisbon itself – and how to fit into it.

Our participants felt in a state of flux; whether they had just relocated back to the city or felt increasingly disconnected in a place that is changing quickly. The tourism boom brings thousands of pedestrians to Lisbon city centre daily, gentrification is taking a toll on property prices, and traditional retail spaces are being replaced by an offer that is consciously geared up for global travellers.

How do you fall back in love with the place you once adored? By slowing down and paying attention, it turns out, and taking the time to look up, seeking quietude in a church or the clinical emptiness of a new building, and connecting with people.

One of our participants stopped longing for tropical fruits (she’d returned after 6 months in Asia) and rediscovered the amazing bounty of mediterranean fruit. Others felt open enough to have enjoyable conversations with strangers – and found out that the city they live in is very much a living entity, made of real stuff and jobs, despite the three-day weekend-break crowd.

I had the best day thanks to the participants, whose questions really inspired me. Being from Lisbon myself (currently living in Edinburgh), I went on my own quest, armed with their questions, and decided to connect with the people who keep the city ticking for visitors: the street cleaners, construction workers, the old ladies who are constantly chatting from their widows. It felt rewarding to acknowledge these folk, make them visible and was blessed in return with a number of  nice conversations that gave me a sense of belonging.

Until next time Lisboa.