Domestic breeding and environmental benefits

Domestic breeding and environmental benefits


Money savings and personal satisfaction produced by urban gardening have allowed people to rethink chicken breeding in a “more local” way: in many US and Canada cities people can grow their own hens in their backyard, just as they would do with tomatoes or salad in their kitchen garden.

This tendency was accelerated by the outbreak of salmonella in 2010, that led to the nationwide recall of 500 millions store-bought eggs, thus driving down the perception of their being risk-free; and now it has become a way to have a larger control on the food we eat everyday, while cutting energy use and fuel emissions for the trasportation of eggs from farms to cities.

Julie Simpson, president of the pro-chicken group Urban Chicken Advocates of Nashville, in an e-mail to the New York Times says: “It simply made sense to me to have a few chicken in my backyard. I was concerned about where my food was coming from, and having backyard hens was one small thing I can control”.

Buying chicks is easy and cheap, so most of the potential problems depend on having too many chickens in too little space. For this reason, some cities, such as Nashville and Portland, have approved motions that allow urban hen breeding, but with a limitation in the number of hens, calculated in reason of the land extension. These limitations found the approval of Pamela Geisel, director of the statewide Master Gardener Program run by the University of California Cooperative Extension, that says they “can help chicken keepers be better chicken keepers”, allowing them to avoid bigger risks.

Hens breeding it’s not just collecting fresh eggs for your breakfast, but it is a heavy daily effort to keep them clean and healthy, and for some people it’s not just worth the effort. But not for Ms. Geisel: “I love my chickens. They’re my pet” she says about her six backyard hens. “And homegrown eggs”, she added, “are so much better and tastier than store-bought”.

These eggs are not only tastier and healthier: they are far more enviroment-friendly and sustainable. In facts, eggs are in the top ten products with higher carbon footprints: the production and distribution in supermarkets of 1 kilo of eggs produces an average of 4.8 kg of greenhouse gases, that is the equivalent of 11 car miles. Also, more than half of the emissions (2.7 kg) are made only in the transportation phase, that is completely eliminated in case of urban breeding.

Not only an increase in food security and a decrease in damaging emissions: domestic chicken breeding is likely to be free from the ethical dilemma produced by intensive industrial farming. The domestic breeder is likely to develop some sort of an affection for his/her pet chickens and hens, and will probably avoid brutal practices such as the detention in barren battery cages, or the genetical selection. 

In the broader framework of a local program that endorses community gardening and urban farming, these practices could significantly cut down greenhouse gases emission, by operating a substantial reduction in the need of goods transportation. Moreover, urban farms and community gardens could also work as carbon sinks: in facts plants (especially the evergreen ones) absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and release breathable oxygen (O2) through photosynthesis, thus relieving the carbon accumulation that is innate in urban areas. 

In addition, plants absorbe and remove particulate matter, the result of the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles and power stations, classified by the WHO as one of the most dangerous carcinogenes. Given this statement, is easy to say that this cleaning action carried out by community gardens could reduce mortality rates in urban areas. To give an example of plants effectiveness in pollution abatement, Bradley Rowe in his essay states that “just one square meter of uncut grass on a city roof is needed to offset the annual particulate matter emissions of a car“.

Gwan-Gyu Lee, Hyun-Woo Lee and Jung-Hwan Lee have shown in their essay that the spreading of urban agriculture in Seoul, one of the most advanced cities in terms of collaborative and sustainable governance of the commons, has reduced the greenhouse gases emission by a rate of 11,668 tons per year. This value is the equivalent of  the CO2 emissions for 1155 persons on the annual basis of 10.1 tons of CO2 emissions per capita (2007 data), and it has been achieved with a urban agriculture area of just 51.17 square kilometers, which is about half the extension of rooftops in New York City.


L’allevamento domestico di galline e polli è una pratica sempre più diffusa negli Stati Uniti, che permette di controllare maggiormente il cibo che mangiamo ed eliminare problemi etici come i trattamenti abominevoli subiti dagli animali negli allevamenti intensivi. Nel quadro più ampio di un programma di incentivo all’urban farming e al community gardening, queste pratiche potrebbero avere un impatto significativo sulla riduzione del carbon footprint e sulle emissioni di gas serra, per la gran parte dovute al trasporto delle merci dai luoghi di produzione ai supermercati. 


Call Me Plural Sector!

Call Me Plural Sector!

plural-sectorHenry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University, wrote an interesting article about the identity and the role of Plural Sector. This article was published on Stanford Social Innovation Review in Summer 2015.

The article talks about the third sector that has not been able to settle on an acceptable label: indeed, third sector reminds a third-rate thing, non-profits and non-governmental organisations are not clear because governments are literally non-profit and businesses non-governmental. If we call it voluntary, we will underline the role of volunteers, if civil society, we will consider it in opposition to an uncivil society. Social sector is a good label only if it is used with political and economic sector.

The author thinks that the label plural sector is the best choice for two reasons: first of all, because of the variety of this sector’s associations and their range of ownerships and secondly, because it can take its place naturally alongside the labels public and private.

In addition, it is clear that this sector is really plural: there are associations owned by their members (i.d. Mondragon, the world’s largest federation of worker cooperatives) and associations owned by no one such as foundations, religious order, think tanks, activist NGOs and service NGOs. On this point, the article “The Invisible World of Association by Henry Mintzberg et al., shows an interesting categorization of the associations:

  • Mutual associations which serve their own members (book clubs);
  • Benefit associations which serve other people (food banks);
  • Protection associations which advocate for their members (chambers of commerce);
  • Activist associations which advocate for the needs of others (Amnesty International).

A lot of these associations are formally organized but the most significant are the spontaneous one. There are two types:

  • Social movements: their aim is to struggle some aspects of the status quo such as the occupation of Wall Street and the American Tea Party movement.
  • Social initiatives: their goal is to defend programs of social change, first in local communities such as Grameen Bank.

Then, according to the author, plural sector has been attacked by different forces and it is trying to defend itself by the pressures from the other two sectors and the consequences of new technologies. In history, both communism and capitalism have been undermining the plural sector where they have dominated. Communists government have never loved community associations, in fact, the first crack in the URSS was caused by two plural sector organisations: the Catholic Church and the Solidarity Union in Poland. Even democratic governments sometimes had a strange relationship with community organisations: i.d. the amalgamations of small towns into bigger cities as a consequence of economic growth no matter the social outcome. If it is possible, the private sector is more “dangerous”: an example of this is the struggle between fast food chains and local cuisines.

At this point, the author affirms that: “There is a homogenizing effect in globalization that is antithetical to the distinctiveness of communities. As a consequence, while private sectors have been expanding their powers globally, plural sectors have been withering locally”.

New technologies even are detrimental for the plural sector because the new social media connect people creating network not communities. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, reporting an Egyptian friend about the role of social movement, says that Facebook really helped people to communicate but not to collaborate.

In Mintzberg’s opinion, today, it is time to rebalance society. People require attention to three basic needs: protection provided by governments, consumption provided by businesses and affiliations found in communities. A healthy society combines these three factors balanced. Weaken any one of these and a society falls out of balance.

It is clear that there was not balance in communist regimes because the public sector dominated the other two, but it is also easy to understand that in the “developed” world consumption has become excessive. So, communist regimes collapsed because they were out of balance but US are out of balance (demise of democracies, ongoing denigrations of ourselves, …).

The question is: “Who will lead radical renewal?” Certainly not the private sector because the imbalance favors many of them. The answer is, of course, the plural sector: the renewal will have to begin in communities on the ground.

Although the plural sector seems to be obscure, surely it is not impotent: a good point is attributed to the independence and flexibility of many of its associations. If the private sector is about individual ownership and the public sector is about collective citizenship, the plural sector is about shared communityship (these associations are able to function as communities of engaged human beings rather than collections of passive human resources).

The plural sector is not perfect but it offers a way to restore balance in society, in other words, constructive social movements and social initiatives, carried out in local communities and networked for global impact, are the greatest hope we have for regaining balance in this troubled world. But something will first have to change in the plural sector.

In the last part of the article, Mintzberg says that the main problem is that the sector does not act collectively because of its plurality. This is not a problem for the private sector because it is less dispersed especially when profit is involved. This does not mean that the plural sector should imitate business practices but it can learn from it (and vice versa). According to him, “it [the plural sector] has to focus on its distinctiveness. Let’s welcome partnerships across institutions of the three sectors, as long as they are balanced, with full recognition of the contributions that can be made by each of the partners”. In conclusion, what plural sector needs are partnerships for the cause of better balance in the world.

L’etichetta “terzo settore” non mostra chiaramente e senza alcun dubbio l’identità e le caratteristiche di questo settore. Henry Mintzbeg in questo articolo spiega come il “terzo settore” meriti un nome migliore in ragione dell’importanza che ha nel ristabilire un equilibrio in questo mondo tormentato.

Only 48 h to rock the public sector !

Only 48 h to rock the public sector !

From the 30th of May to the 1rst of June ISIA ( ) will host a  jam in Rome. A Jam is a collaborative no profit event organized by professional designer. The participants will come from many countries of the world to share ideas on how to generate growth in the services of the public administration, tto produce an improvement in users’ and citizens’ life. The meeting will have a duration of 48 hours and similar meetings will take place simultaneously in many parts of the world. The official motto is “only 48 h to rock the public sector”.

The Global Gov Jam tries to takle  as main issue as the ones faced daily by the Public Administration . The designers will try to think or re-think solutions to improve the PA’s services in an innovative way . At the end of the event any solution that will have emerged will be shared on an online platform..

Designers, developers, students, business people such as startuppers but, above all, managers and employees of the Public Administration will – in the interests of experimentation, innovation, cooperation and healthy competition –  work in multidisciplinary teams led by “mentor” (experts of the sector).

Silvia Minenti, Debborah Navarra and Sharon Ambrosio have been the organizers, who worked with a team composed by Viola Petrella and Daniele Bucci and the mentors Giuseppe Spataro and Raissa Trinci.

Oliver Page, Paola Santoro, Antonio Opromolla and Valentina Volpi will be the speakers .

Gov Jam Rome has as  the main parteners UrbanIta , ISIA  and as sponsors PUSH and Scooterino.


Il 30, 31 e 1 maggio a Roma presso l’ ISIA si terrà una Global Gov Jam in cui le menti di più designer, provenienti da tutto il mondo, si impegneranno a trovare soluzioni innovative nel campo della pubblica amministrazione.  L’evento avrà la durata di 48 ore e avverrà con lo stesso tema e in contemporanea in più parti del mondo .I risultati di tutti i team verranno condivisi e resi pubblici online sulla piattaforma ufficiale dell’evento : .

The Amsterdam City Makers Summit: the new way to connect Europe

The Amsterdam City Makers Summit: the new way to connect Europe

The City Makers Summit will be held from May 27 to May 30,2016. LabGov, with the presence of Professor Christian Iaione, is getting ready for four days full of innovative inspiration, unlocking know-how and setting agendas, and reflections on the (Im)pact of the city of Amsterdam on the development of the New Urban Agenda.

Professor Iaione will lead two session. The first, more general in character, will consist in a philosophical dialogue on the values and ambitions of the New Europe and on the idea of a Europe managed by People. The second one instead will be one part of the New Democracy series. It will be focused on governance and on the concept of the co-city, with reference to the experience of the Co-Bologna project, and the partecipants will be encouraged to start their own projects and become part of a learning network in Amsterdam.

The City Makers Summit pools knowledge from City Makers from all over Europe and presents innovative ways of creating more livable, thriving, resilient and inclusive cities. City Expeditions all over the Netherlands’ territory will showcase emerging initiatives focusing on urban farming, social design, the redevelopment of industrial heritage, co-housing, the makers movement, social entrepreneurship, inclusion of refugees, the development of collaborative areas, community enterprises, the circular economy, and so on.

Best practices and models of collaboration with multiple stakeholders will be explored and feed into the City Makers Agenda. While the EU member states are adopting the EU Urban Agenda thought the Pact of Amsterdam, City Makers will pay their contribution, share inspiration and know-how, present their input and work towards further co-creation. Do not miss this incredible experience!


Il City Makers Summit si terrà ad Amsterdam dal 27 a 30 Maggio. LabGov, grazie al prezioso contributo del Professor Iaione, è pronto a partecipare a questi quattro giorni pieni di ispirazione per la costruzione di nuovo originale know-how e d’approfondimento dell'(Im)Patto che la città di Amsterdam sta avendo sull’agenda Europea. Non perdetevi questa incredibile esperienza!

Towards Forum PA 2016: bring your contribute on Sharing Economy Platforms

Towards Forum PA 2016: bring your contribute on Sharing Economy Platforms

Do you know any platform for public administration focused on collaboration?Do you want to contribute to this innovation? You can add your contribution on collaborative platforms that are already in use, or even tell about new ones that could be used for public administrations.

It is enough to fill in a short form, which is open to consultation only until May to help this fantastic research on the innovation of  the Italian Administrative System. In fact, platforms on Sharing Economy have been the core of a controversial parliamentary proposal.  Consistently, in June Brussels will lead the publication of the Guidelines on the Sharing Economy,addressed to all EU Member States .

Here in Italy, the latest draft of the regulation on the “Discipline of digital platforms for the sharing of goods and services and measures for promoting the sharing economy ”, renamed SEA – Sharing Economy Act , has already been promoted.

For more information, a public consultation is available online until 31 May 2016, coordinated by the General States of Innovation, on the platform Making Speeches Talk by Open Evidence .

The signatories of the regulation, although belonging to different political wings, stress that this proposal is only the beginning of a long path and the text is genuinely open to further changes.

Therefore, in view of the annual conference FORUM PA 2016 that will be held in Rome, May 24-25- 26, the research on digital platforms on sharing economy – of both goods and services –  is continuing, at the local, central, domestic and foreign level.

If you know any of them and you want to contribute to this collection, please report  them by answering to the questions of this short form at the following link. For the full program of the FORUM PA 2016 .


Conosci qualche piattaforma per la Pubblica Amministrazione che si occupa di collaborazione? Hai voglia di contribuire? In vista del convegno annuale FORUM PA 2016, organizzata dal 24 al  26 maggio a Roma, si è alla continua ricerca di piattaforme digitali di condivisione di beni e servizi, sia locali che centrali, italiane o estere. Se ne conosci e hai voglia di contribuire a questa raccolta, segnalale rispondendo alle domande del nostro breve modulo al seguente link.