100 in 1 day: Building a citizen movement

Co-Founder of 100in1day //
Bogotá //
July 6th 2017 //

I met David, one of the Founders of 100 in 1 day in a bike themed cafe. He loves bikes, like a lot of people I met in Bogota.

100 in 1 day was set up in 2012 by a small group of students who were playing with ideas about citizen-led urban change in Bogota. Over beers they decided to be more ambitious and launch 100 urban interventions that would take place in one day. The idea was catalysed by the team working in partnership with KaosPilots, who were visiting Bogotá at this time.

What if hundreds of people united, each taking one small action to improve their city, all on the same day?

The principle of 100 in 1 day is simple, to have citizens create 100 urban interventions over the course of one day.

On the 25th/26th of May 2012 they launched the idea, and over 250 urban interventions took place in Bogotá. The 100en1dia phenomenon was born from this moment and has since spread as a movement to cities around the world.

David explained the pick-up of the initiative after this first experiment. It gained a lot of interest and momentum, there were calls for them to do it again, and people in other cities across Colombia were contacting them to ask how they can make the same thing happen in their neighbourhoods. They were invited to talk all over the world, and it grew in a way they were not expecting.

“It is all about democracy and the engagement of citizens, citizen rites and citizen duties”

When David talks about democracy, he is talking about collaboration and coming together, citizens participating in change.

“Now we think one single vote in enough”

David is passionate about forms of democracy, talking about the challenges for citizens to fully participate in the decision making and the structure of communities, cities and policies. He explains how the concept of democracy was started with choosing someone at random in a community, and everyone taking turns. Similar to how the Zapatista leadership model works in Mexico. Politics is now about power-play, rather than a duty to improve the life of others.

“We make political acts all the time, small acts in everyday life… what we created with 100 in one day was a Festival of Actions”

We talked about the cultural context of 100 in one day. What works in Colombia might not work in other cultural and political contexts. He talked about the language used in some countries, like Hong Kong, where the tone had to change so it didn’t sound like a criticism of the government. They called it a ‘citizen festival’.

There was an informality to how we started it here, we didn’t ask for permission, we sort of invited people to claim their streets. It doesn’t work the same in other places, and now we are trying to be more formal.

I believe their needs to be a connection with political authorities in order to sustain or implement some of the longer-term ideas.

He gives an example of a lady in Bogota who wanted to make a dangerous intersection in her neighbourhood, the happiest intersection in the city. Through her involvement in 100 in one day she influenced the local authority who has now installed lights to make it safer for pedestrians.

“100 in one day was a start of a movement for ideas and actions, it is organic, and it doesn’t need to survive in it original form… we are not trying to colonise, we want citizens to take power”

When I asked him about what made it possible here in Colombia

“It’s organic, without steps and tools and business models…
it relies on the collaboration of the people”


Here is one of the former founders Cristiam Sabogal speaking about their work. You can read more about my meeting with Cristiam here.


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