ENTRY #459

I NEED/I HAVE a simple tool to encourage local collective exchange by Carlos Daniel Aldana, Penelope Plaza, Tom Whittaker


I NEED/ I HAVE widens the gift economy concept into a framework for acts of commoning through direct community engagement. Designed to encourage local collective exchange of individual talents and resources, I NEED/ I HAVE will foster meaningful connections based upon solidarity and practical needs, bringing to the fore common problems, needs, talents and resources, creating the opportunity to collectivize around them and thus facilitate a self-perpetuating commoning cycle of diverse activities and exchanges.

According to the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2015, London ranks the highest in human capital, but shows its worst side in low social cohesion, below cities like Tokyo and Paris. By visualising the resources available I NEED/I HAVE seeks to advertise to inhabitants their own social, cultural and material values, while providing a means by which to capitalise upon them through collective action.

I NEED/I HAVE consists of a collapsible A-frame holding two divided blackboards on either side (“I HAVE” and “I NEED”). The key to the success of I NEED/I HAVE is its simplicity and adaptability. It can be expanded and relocated as needed. People write up what they have to share and/or what they need emphasising reciprocity.

The prototype is simple and low cost, as a catalyst for replication and adaptation (and therefore a sense of ownership) of the underlying concept in other areas on a grass-roots basis. To facilitate this process, templates of the design could be provided to groups on request. Placed within public space and with minor upkeep, legal ownership would necessarily be handed over to the community and thus left for use as needed, limiting domination of the project by particular parties. The physicality of the project also challenges questions of ownership and control so frequently raised against similar internet-based projects.


Carlos Daniel Aldana is a graphic designer and photographer, specialized on corporate identity, motion graphics and social photography; he has collaborated on several musical and theatrical projects. He developed the graphic language of the proposal.

Penelope Plaza is an architect, co-founder of CollectiVoX, a Venezuelan not-for-profit organization that delivers creative solutions for social problems through small scale interventions in public space, former member of urban activism collective Ser Urbano in Caracas, is currently pursuing a PhD at City University London’s Department of Culture & Creative Industries.

Tom Whittaker is a PhD student within City University’s Department of Culture & Creative Industries. His current work uses the example of participatory art practices that take place within East London to examine how public or community participatory art projects introduce or reinforce particular social discourses.

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