Blockchain Technology as an Opportunity for Energy Sector

Blockchain Technology as an Opportunity for Energy Sector

In the last months, the theme of blockchain has raised in importance in the debate worldwide. Not only in terms of “Bitcoin Bubble” but also as the “next big unlock”.

Blockchain technology is a sort of backbone of a new type of internet. Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of the book “Blockchain Revolution” affirm: “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.

Based on transparency (data is embedded within the network, that is public by definition) and incorruptible (a huge amount of computing power is needed to override the entire network), blockchain could solve the problem of trust. According to Vitalik Buterin, the inventor of Ethereum, in the western countries, the majority of people trust public institutions, banks, organizations and corporations such as Facebook, Google and so on but in the rest of the world, there is a problem in this respect.

Initially, Bitcoin was the raison d’etre of the blockchain as it was originally conceived. By design, decentralization is a key aspect of this technology design, as well as the peer to peer relationship which is changing traditional transaction model, enabling the development of smart contracts (a digital protocol that automatically executes predefined processes of a transaction without requiring the involvement of a third party, as a bank). According to this, new bitcoins are provided by miners that compete to win bitcoins by solving computational puzzles in a decentralized way because the possibility to win bitcoins is a form of game theory to reward who decides to join the network[1]. Therefore, Bitcoin is managed by its network, not by a central authority as in the case of traditional currency.[2]

It is now recognized to be only the first of many potential applications of the technology.

Blockchain technology shows a lot of promise. Other than being used to execute energy supply transactions, it could also provide the basis for metering, billing and clearing processes. Other possible areas of application are in the documentation of ownership, the state of assets (asset management), guarantees of origin, emission allowances and renewable energy certificates. Blockchain technology has the potential to radically change energy as we know it, by starting with individual sectors first but ultimately transforming the entire energy market.

In Brooklyn, N.Y., taking advantage of small and secure transaction costs guaranteed by blockchain technology, companies are developing a way to use blockchain technology to enable solar panel owners to swap the output of their panels with their neighbors. That project brings together blockchain technology provided by Samsung  for a microgrid developed by LO3, a start-up based in New York that develop microgrids using blockchain to enable local energy trading.

Despite skepticism about the viability of blockchain technology, it could be useful for company. A project to evaluate the use blockchain technology to help integrate renewables into the grid is developing in Germany: grid operator TenneT TSO[3] and German storage company Sonnen are working to make it real.

Sonnen is working on a community-based model for solar power and battery storage. Using a blockchain solution designed and developed by IBM (built with Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework implementation and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation), and residential storage batteries from Sonnen, the TenneT project intends to ascertain the extent to which these technologies help reduce the need for emergency measures.

Philipp Schröder, Managing Director and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Sonnen said in a statement that “The future of power generation will be composed of millions of small, decentralized power sources, including both prosumers and consumers. The blockchain technology is what makes mass simultaneous exchange between all these parties possible in the first place, and is thus the missing link to a decentralized, completely CO2-free energy future.”

We are living in an age in which a growing number of people have understood the need for retreat from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy. The importance of renewable energy is increasing steadily, so wasting less wind and solar power because of inability to transport it, it is a crucial element in the process of better integrating decentralized renewable energies and ensuring energy supply.

[1] Nowadays, research estimates that there are more than 700 cryptocurrencies already available

[2] Another problem solved by blockchain technology concerns privacy thanks to public and private keys.

[3] TenneT is a European electricity transmission system operator (TSO) with its main activities in the Netherlands and Germany.

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Oltre che per le transazioni finanziarie incentrate su Bitcoin, la blockchain sembra potersi applicare anche in altri ambiti come quello energetico. In questo campo, uno dei progetti più avanzati prevede l’integrazione dell’energia rinnovabile prodotta in modo decentrato all’interno della rete elettrica.

Athens’ unofficial community initiatives offer hope after government failures

Athens’ unofficial community initiatives offer hope after government failures

Commons stakes out the claim to a city. The claim that resources, which are hosted by cities, belong to a broader group of urban inhabitants than just for those who can afford. Thus, the nature of city as a commons is inherited in its accessibility to a wide amplitude of stakeholders including workers and the unemployed, pensioners and migrants as well as youth, among others. This claim has become viral. Bologna, New York, or Amsterdam are not the only places where people with an enabling local administrations have been turning abandoned buildings, degraded squares or parking lots to vivid social and cultural spaces, such as, vibrant and open access community gardens, self-managed health clinics, collective kitchens, neighbourhood assemblies and other profoundly inclusive spaces; the “Informal local movements are reclaiming public space in Greek capital” too, as The Guardian announces.

This is fascinating –  commoning practices all over the world have shed the light over the fact that the city dynamics and even laws could be changed from the ground-up. To add, this reality illuminates two phenomena: first, S. Sassen’s claim that city is a “complex and incomplete event” and, second, that social innovators who care and want to take care of their cities are indeed experienced and competent City Makers putting human value above commercial and business interest.

The Guardian depicts exactly these phenomena in a Greek context. Athens inhabitants and the city at large witness a transition: the conventional understanding of space with fancy and over-designed infrastructure, which is either under public or private regime, is shifting to commons. To add, this phenomenon is insisted and governed by a multitude of stakeholders – a polycentric approach. Athens are gradually becoming a centre for the ground-up urban transformation, having creative, dynamic and resilient communities leading the struggle.  A wide array of spaces, from abandoned offices to neo-classical buildings are being reclaimed by local urban and social innovators, thus, the activities at Navarinou Park or movements like ‘Us Here and Now and for All of Us’, which united local residents in transforming a parking lot into a community-managed space, are just a few illustrations of this.

This gradual reclaiming the right to the city via bottom-up practices followed the demise of the welfare state, tells the Guardian. At the time of Europe’s economic crisis which erupted in 2008, Greece had to bear with the severe consequences that hit the modest neighbourhood inhabitants the most. Nonetheless, the trauma of the economic collapse, which initially produced an unpleasant occurrence of street riots, also proved that city inhabitants are not paralysed by the crisis. Economic decline encouraged informal urbanism, which was born out of the spirit of solidarity and brought people together having them pooling and sharing resources, actively engaging with one another and contributing to the co-creation of collective well-being. This was recognised as compelling example of city revitalisation coming “in a sharp contrast to the practices of big donors sharing urban form that, from the first days of Athens being made the capital of a state romanticised as the cradle of western civilisation, have prevailed until now” tells the Guardian.

@ Navarinou Park. Photo by Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images, the Guardian

@ Navarinou Park. Photo by Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images, the Guardian

Thus, Greece, having undergone the uncompromising outcomes of financial and economic crisis, has simultaneously witnessed “an explosion of social networks born of bottom-up initiatives” as said by Stavros Stavrides, who was interviewed by the Guardian. Needless to say, what is extremely important here is that Mr. Giorgos Kaminis and Amalia Zepou are not strangers to these processes. A progressive mayor of Athens and his vice mayor for civil society and municipality decentralisation recognise the value of social and cultural needs and hence support the manner city dwellers reinvigorate the democratic processes and transform Athens to an inclusive and sustainable spaces for all. In the commons language Athens experience illustrates the main principles of the governance of the commons, which are polycentricism, the enabling role of the local authorities and social pooling.

Find the original article by the Guardian here.

East Harlem: An Example of Community-led Development Plan

East Harlem: An Example of Community-led Development Plan

east-harlem-neighborhood-planThe problem of neighborhood change, due to movement of people, public policies, investments, and flows of private capital mediated by conceptions of race, class, place and scale is a fundamental factor affecting the development of modern cities. Scholars from University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Los Angeles, have studied this phenomenon and its consequences, such as gentrification and displacement related to urban renewal, and they have identified some important findings:

  • Neighborhoods change slowly, but over time are becoming more segregated by income, due in part to macro-level increases in income inequality.
  • Neighborhood decline results from the interaction of demographic shifts, public policy, and entrenched segregation, and is shaped by metropolitan context.
  • Gentrification results from both flows of capital and people. The extent to which gentrification is linked to racial transition differs across neighborhood contexts.
  • Cultural strategies can transform places, creating new economic value but at the same time displacing existing meanings.
  • Displacement takes many different forms—direct and indirect, physical or economic, and exclusionary—and may result from either investment or disinvestment.

These results show us how complex the situation is in terms of economic differences, racial transition, cultural displacement and public policies. Moreover, on the subject of affordable housing, an important study is the Report on The Effects of Neighborhood Change on New York City Housing Authority Residents, prepared for NYC Center for Economic Opportunity and published in 2015.

According to the Report, New York City and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have maintained the traditional public housing model of 100 percent low-income developments. Nonetheless, many residents of traditional public housing in New York City may experience mixed-income environments. The most relevant issues are:

  • Two thirds of NYCHA residents live in public housing developments surrounded by census blocks with an average income that is greater than the NYC median.
  • Developments surrounded by persistently low-income neighborhoods have higher violent crime rates and are zoned to attend schools with lower standardized test scores than developments with increasing- and persistently high-income surrounding neighborhoods.
  • A lack of opportunities for young people is a theme. In particular, residents feel that their communities have lost after-school enrichment and skill-building programs for youth, and offer few opportunities for youth employment.

These evidences show the problem with the traditional paradigm in urban planning because, today, this model doesn’t satisfy the real needs of citizens. At this point, new solutions are welcomed because it is clear that urban planning traditional approach is inefficient and doesn’t fix problems. The solution can be seen in a statement written in the Report: “Community-based organizations can play a critical role in improving resident’s lives and building connections to the broader neighborhood”. Hence, a possible solution should concern a new paradigm in urban planning: according to “Linee Guida per la predisposizione di un documento programmatico di indirizzo delle politiche urbanistiche di Battipaglia“, we are talking about collaborative urban planning based on an “institutional mending”, namely an alliance between public, private and plural sector or a polycentric governance of urban, territorial and local commons.

According to this perspective, East Harlem community-led initiative expresses a community-oriented approach in urban planning which is consistent with the aim of promoting a new institutional and economic system based on the model of collaborative urban governance. A similar community-based approach was also implemented in Italy in Bologna in the project called Bolognina. Bolognina’s main purpose is acting as a link between the different planning actors already existing, in order to increase their potential and to offer them new occasions to collaborate. The whole process is supported by Federcasa, which looks at it as a useful experimentation for the innovation of housing policies at a national level.

East Harlem Neighborhood Plan

First of all, it is necessary to remember that, in May 2014, Mayor de Blasio released his plan to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, creating 80,000 new housing units through the introduction of two new policies: mandatory inclusionary housing (MIH) and zoning for quality and affordability (ZQA). This plan and the 2015 proposal were welcomed with wariness and trepidation by many citizens.

Many times before the MIH/ZQA plan passed into law, Community Voices Heard (CVH), an East Harlem-based advocacy group founded by low-income residents, reached out NY’s second-most powerful politician, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to ask around more information about the rezoning city plan. She agreed and in May 2015, she convened with around 400 community members and community-based organizations to kick off a process to create the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, a neighborhood-led vision for the proposed upzoning of East Harlem. So, the final plan was released in February 2016 and includes 232 recommendations covering 12 topics such as NYCHA, housing preservation, affordable housing development, zoning and land use, etc. The plan was a great achievement because there were only nine months to draft the plan to avoid a loss of 282 units of affordable housing and because Mark-Viverito would be leaving office in 2017. According to her, this plan is not going to be a panacea but a try to replace the number of losing affordable housing and to add more benefits into the community.

Formally, in the revision of Universal Land Use Review Process (a seven-month timeline to approve zoning changes in the city), the key moment for the community stands when Department of City Planning certifies a plan, because that’s the moment when the plan is handed to the community board. It’s important because,here, communities can voice their concerns or proposals.

The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan’s project partners sought to create a process that would inform the actual rezoning plan for East Harlem that the city will eventually take through ULURP. So, CVH, Mark-Viverito’s office, the Manhattan borough president and the Manhattan Community Board 11 came together to lead. 21 organizations were invited to serve on a steering committee thanks to their long-term experience in the community.

Organizationally, Hester Street Collaborative, a non-profit specialized in community engagement, had the role of indipendent facilitator. There was also the Neighborhoods First Found, a consortium formed by different foundations with the aim to coordinate resources to support engagement by the communities in terms of both organizing and technical assistance. To help prepare residents for a community visioning workshop on different themes such as affordable housing development, zoning and land use and impact on transit, Center for Urban Pedagogy was invited to conduct different simulations.

Nearly 200 people attended the community workshop. What emerged was some cognitive dissonance, i.e. people say yes to more affordable housing but they say no to more density and a lot of private development was already happening without affordable housing. This led people to be against the mayor’s plan. But, knowing how difficult the conversations would be, the project partners also decided to bring in a second facilitator to facilitate subgroup meetings, steering committee meetings and the actual drafting of the plan. So NYC-based architecture and planning firm WXY won the bid and in June 2015 began to work with the project partners and Hester Street.

According to WXY’s Adam Lubinsky, their aim was: “Set up a process by which the visioning workshop findings would go back to these subgroups that were built around the themes, and they could digest the results, present those results to the steering committee, get feedback from the steering committee and then start to formulate draft recommendations.” Subgroups were responsible for combining input from the community visioning workshops with their own research and discussions to formulate recommendations to present to the steering committee”.

The last problem concerns the implementation of the plan because there was a huge amount of work to translate that plan into actions. Fortunately, some institutions are interested in implementation process: for example, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene plans to award $275,000 in grants to 10 local organizations for projects that are helping to achieve recommendations from the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.

The plan process officially closed at the end of January with a community forum that involved around 350 participants. Lubinsky stressed that the level of ownership of the subgroup leaders was so disbursed that facilitators had to do anything at the event.

In the future, the community will face some challenges, for example, it is fundamental that the future leaders will hold accountable for the plan and the steering committee will continue to meet in order to coordinate follow up with city agencies, advocate for recommendations and set up an evaluation process for the plan.

 

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Alla luce degli studi effettuati sui fenomeni legati all’affordable housing e al più ampio tema della trasformazione dei quartieri, il piano di sviluppo di East Harlem si rivela un importante caso studio in termini di urbanistica collaborativa, strategia che è parte di una visione più generale basata sulla co-governance del territorio e dei beni comuni urbani, territoriali e locali.

 

 

Community Financing in Collaboration with the Administration

Community Financing in Collaboration with the Administration

 

Banner_Rome_WEBSITECommunity financing in collaboration with the Administration. This was the theme of the first event in the three-day long workshop “Funding the Cooperative City – Rome” Nuovi modelli per spazi comunitari, which took place in Rome (@Casa della Città) on 5th May.

In front of the audience, Daniela Patti, Managing Director of Eutropian GmbH in Vienna and Founder of Eutropian association in Rome, introduced local and international speakers:

Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative and Freehouse bring existing workspaces, entrepreneurs, producers, social organizations and the market together. They promote sustainable local production, knowledge, cultural development and entrepreneurship based on shared responsibility and participation. The primary purpose is for people in the Afrikaander district to reclaim the right to develop their own neighbourhood.

Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative and Freehouse are working in Rotterdam-Zuid’s Afrikaander district to create a stronger and wealthier area for residents and businesses. In order for the Afrikaander district not become the victim of the expansion of the creative city, Freehouse set up small-scale projects to regenerate the districts and its market from within. In collaboration with residents, artists, and fashion designer Freehouse created a workshop for making and designing clothes, a communal kitchen area and a shop selling local products and offering small-scale delivery services. Another crucial element is the Afrikaander Market, which has been in decline for several years because it is not possible to combine products and services on the same stall.  With over 300 acts of civil disobedience, they found a solution: red carpet fashion shows presented the work of young local designers and alongside items available on the market. In addition, the one-sided market assortment was expanded with local quality products. At the present, they offer over 48 jobs and various internship to the community.

Fondazione Cascina Roccafranca, founded by Turin municipality and participated by associations and informal groups is an innovative, social and cultural civic centre designed to citizen participation. It is a “container” that provides service: such as an accommodation centre, advice shops, a restaurant and a cafeteria that contribute to economic sustainability. There is also an Eco-museum and activities about ethical consumption, courses (theatre, dance, painting, diction …) reading groups, cinema clubs, foreign language courses, after-school programs, etc. Both the Foundation and other actors organize the activities and the services.

There are 100 courses involving over 3500 people, not only from the neighbourhood but also from the entire city. Actually, 40 volunteers and 20 specialists work in the Foundation. Through the improvement of relationship among different ages, cultures and actors, the Foundation wants to encourage citizens to be a part of their community and to work not only for their private needs but also for the commons. To do this, it is necessary to focus on citizen rights, social cohesion and new models of cooperation (especially PPP).

Zo-Ho is Rotterdam’s makers’ quarter. In 2013, owner Havensteder, Stipo and Municipality cooperated and decided to develop the area in a gradual process called slow urbanism. The area has been the opportunity to redevelop itself for 10 years. Havensteder offered tenants the chance to use and develop their property in an appropriate manner. The municipality provided spaces for experimentation and invested in social strategy and public spaces. Tenants found suitable neighbours and provided frameworks for the development of buildings and public spaces. Thus, users of the area, companies, organizations, inhabitants, and visitors can get involved with the development plans.

Two examples of improving Zo-Ho at eye level are Restaurant Gare du Nord (a successful organic vegan restaurant in a former train wagon on a derelict building site. The staff came from the neighbourhood) and residents from the Noord district starting an area cooperation to improve their district in an economic sustainable way. Zo-Ho become an experimenting and prototyping area and the success of the project persuaded other people to join the district.

LabGov Luiss is a place of experimentation, created to train the “experts in the governance of urban commons”. The goal is to create a new institutional and economic system based on the model of “civic collaboration”, “collaborative governance of the commons” and “circular subsidiarity”, according to which public institutions shall favor all citizens (individuals or in associative forms). In order to achieve social and institutional regeneration, it is necessary to create collaborative relationships between citizens, administrations and businesses to share the scarce resources and to take care of the commons, whether tangible or intangible, in urban and local community.

Prof. Iaione talked about the experiences of Pilastro, Co-Bologna and Co-Roma underlining some key points. First, the scheme of experimentation concerns reproducing institutions in the street (it is a matter of co-design; the results are new forms of social institutions). Then, it is a tension between social norms and formal rules because bureaucracy doesn’t work in the same direction (public procurement is different from co-design) but it is necessary a collaborative approach between internal and external actors to agglomerate knowledge. LabGov’s work is an experimental research on the field; it is natural that there are problems and imperfections in the process because we are in a transition from dualistic to cooperative paradigm. The city could be seen as a laboratory. There is not one solution, it’s a process.

Area Studi ANCI is a part of Cittalia – Fondazione Anci Ricerche and it is a network dedicated to research and study activities on issues of major interest for Italian Municipalities. The Foundation initially got involved in environmental, institutional and innovation programs and then focus on welfare, social inclusion, local governance, public and urban policies. The mission of Cittalia is to support Italian cities and Municipalities in facing the challenges of a changing society, so that they can develop effective public policies and improve their capacity to plan, manage and assess their actions.

Regarding the state of art of the co-city, Dr. Allulli agrees with the previous speaker. He talked about three assumptions: city rulers intend Co-city as a mere replacement of the role of PA (it is not correct because Co-city is more). The second assumption concerns the lack of understanding between politicians and social innovators because the former talks about money, the latter about legitimization, spaces and resources. Then he affirms that, although the contradictory situation, Italy is a land of pioneers: a lot of PA are changing their mind, they think in term of resources not only money. According to this, good news are the crowdfunding growing experience, participatory budgeting and exchanging best practices.

WithYouWeDO is a TIM’s Social Responsibility Enterprise programme. It is a crowdfunding platform, c’est-à-dire a method of web funding by large numbers of people, or crowds, with the goal of raising funds, even of small amounts, to finance projects placed on a platform/website. This platform is available for the non-profit sector and the public. WithYouWeDo promotes and supports the funding of initiatives, ideas and projects in the following areas:

  • Social Innovation: from innovative projects for solidarity to building new models for integration.
  • Spreading Digital Culture: schools, art and literature, from protecting heritage to innovation in the expression of creativity.
  • Environmental Protection: everything that relates to environmental sustainability.

The platform includes two types of support:

  • Reward Based Crowdfunding is form of fundraising to support a project in exchange for non-monetary recognition or reward on achieving the objective set out at the start of the campaign.
  • Donation Based Crowdfunding on the other hand is a way of donating to support a given idea or campaign, without receiving anything in return: a sort of ‘intellectual investment’.

An example of this, it is Mappina.

In conclusion, we can affirm that this event has been an opportunity to discover citizen spaces and new economic models for community-led urban development with initiatives from Italy and Europe.

Funding the Cooperative City – Rome è stata un’occasione per conoscere nuovi modelli economici per uno sviluppo urbano promossi dalla cittadinanza con iniziative italiane e straniere. In particolare, l’evento del 5 maggio intitolato “Finanziamento di comunità in collaborazione con l’Amministrazione” si è caratterizzato come una chiacchierata tra esperienze italiane (LabGov e Cascina Roccafranca), internazionali (Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative e Zo-Ho) e contributi tecnici (Area Studi ANCI e WithTouWeDo).

UrbanMeta, Eutropian and an Advice from the Research

UrbanMeta, Eutropian and an Advice from the Research

logo-urbanmeta-500x200UrbanMeta represents a large part of the Venetian civil society and stakeholders of the building sector. This network includes economic groups, professionals, universities, trade unions, builders and environmentalists. These actors have decided to be a part of a worktable to face the issues of the government of the area and the land consumption in a multi-disciplinary approach that allows achieving a sustainable growth through urban regeneration processes.

UrbanMeta’s vision is explained by the manifesto “Un Patto per un programma regionale di strategie politiche di Rigenerazione Urbana Sostenibile – Obiettivi e valori per le città venete del futuro” in which it is said that the launch of urban regeneration innovative policies is fundamental and urgent for the cultural, economic, politic and social growth of the Region. In the report, urban regeneration projects aim to:

  • Stop the expansion of new building;
  • Connect urban areas with rural ones;
  • Encourage the use of urban planning and rethinking administrative practices;
  • Promote mixité, equity and social inclusion;
  • Stimulate citizen participation;
  • Innovate building practices;
  • Simplify legislation and procedures.

According to this plan, UrbanMeta undertakes to build an integrated system of communication among stakeholders, became the local pivot in this sector, examine the possibilities given by the EU financing programmes and train experts in urban regeneration system. Then, stakeholders ask the Veneto Region to target EU funds at regeneration programmes, to work in Conferenza Stato-Regioni to promote a national legislation and to adopt a regional law on this matter.

UrbanMeta is not the only project in this field, another one is Eutropian. According to the website, it is “alogo eutropianplanning, policy and research organisation helping urban regeneration processes”. They offer assistance to municipalities, NGOs and community groups, policy development and fundraising, cooperation and communication activities. Their specialization concerns “urban regeneration, cultural development, community participation, local economic development and social innovation”. Eutropian offer, also, a multi-disciplinary approach (such as UrbanMeta) that allows activating urban unused resources with the help of experts and citizen knowledge. The main difference with UrbanMeta is about the dimension: Eutropian operates at world level whereas UrbanMeta at local one. This international know-how follows different tiers:

  • Environmental Planning: open spaces in urban areas are more than just recreational purposes: they can lead economic local growth in a natural environment. It is possible to bring together offer and demand to a balanced solution for both sides;
  • Urban Regeneration: it relates to the involvement of human and financial capital to reuse abandoned industrials sites, cinemas or schools. Regeneration might be the way to discover the potential of the city;
  • Cultural Development: the identity and the meaning of a city is done by a “permanent yet constantly changing culture”.
  • Smart City: ICT is a tool that can improve our lives, on the condition that it is used wisely. A multi-disciplinary approach is fundamental to reach energy efficiency in buildings, smart grids, digital platform, etc.

To develop local cohesion, Eutropian offers different services: fundraising, international cooperation, project management, participatory planning, policy development and communication.

UrbanMeta and Eutropian’s community-led approach is surely an innovative perspective to face the problem of urban regeneration but there could be some issues.

“Capacity building for community-led regeneration. Facilitating or frustrating public engagement?” by Paul O’Hare is a study of community organization, operating within a UK neighbourhood, supported by an “infrastructure organization”, namely Community Empowerment Network (CEN), a local authority and community and voluntary sector.

According to the author of the paper, the engagement of communities is a revered and integral aspect of governance processes. On the other hand, statutory initiatives raise serious issues although they provide opportunities and support for engagement with the inhabitants of local communities. Moreover, “there was a lack of clarity regarding the definition of “capacity building” but, in broad terms, it refers to the practical support provided to communities to contribute to governance as equal partner, or to enable the wider community to engage in the opportunities provided by economic and social regeneration” (Diamond and Liddle, 2005).

Theoretically, capacity building holds the potential to help communities understand decision-making processes, to communicate more effectively at differing tiers of governance, to take decision, and to eventually “manage their own destinies” (Schuftan, 1996, p. 261). In this case, the focus is turned toward organizational and managerial capacity of local communities to assume responsibility leading regeneration programmes. In practice, capacity building takes a variety of forms, namely, the provision of practical support and the development of skills and structures (Diamond and Liddle, 2005, p.148). A range of agencies, i.d. CENs, may build this capacity: here, CENs, primarily established to help local communities pursue the UK Government’s Neighbourhood, play a supporting, coordinating, representative, policymaking and developmental role for other voluntary and community organization.

This research shows many problems such as:

  • Groups can become preoccupied with top-down forms of fiscal and operational accountability rather than bottom-up forms of accountability;
  • Partnership established may in fact be manipulated in a variety of manners and to a range of ends (Rowe, 2006):;
  • Dilemma of institutionalization;
  • Restrictions upon activity of actors are enacted through regulation, incentivisation and surveillance (Richards and Smith, 2002);
  • Governance becomes more complex;
  • Groups engaged in activities for which they receive payment from the state may neglect the important function of campaigning (result of coercion, self-censorship, lack of time, etc.);
  • Funders can be more interested in how money is spent than in the merits of projects;
  • Given that the group was spending public money, there were a set of “absolutely legitimate formalities they have to cover” and local government becomes a manifestation of centralised control;
  • The group is entirely formed by volunteers that lack the capacity to address problems as and when they arise, so they depend upon the CEN to take care of such issues.

In conclusion, according to this article, we discover that community organisations may develop a significant degree of dependency upon facilitators such as CENs. Thus, there is the risk that capacity becomes something developed rather than built in a linear style. Furthermore, the external initiatives can restrict the autonomy of the community-based groups. These outcomes are very important because they give us the opportunity to understand community-led approach vulnerabilities and a try to improve this policy.

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L’approccio community-led alle pratiche di riqualificazione urbana riscuote un grande successo nelle odierne esperienze di settore. Riprova di questo, sono il network UrbanMeta e l’associazione Eutropian, che seppur in modo diverso, lavorano nel campo della riqualificazione urbana mantenendo salto il riferimento al coinvolgimento della comunità. Il community-led approach, però, mostra però alcune problematicità che si sostanziano principalmente nella dipendenza degli attori locali nei confronti dei facilitatori pubblici.