This week LabGov will be releasing the first section of the Co-Cities Open Book, a publication that is the result of years of research and experimentations on the field to investigate new forms of collaborative city-making that is pushing urban areas towards new frontiers of participatory urban governance, inclusive economic growth and social innovation. .
This open book has roots in our conceptualization of the ‘City as a Commons,’ the emerging academic field of urban commons studies, and the work developed in 5 years of remarkable urban experimentations in Italy and around the world . Structured around three main pillars, the Co-Cities open book will first provide scholars, practitioners and policy-makers with an overview of the theory and methodology of the Co-City with the “Co-Cities Protocol”.
The open book also presents the “Co-Cities report”, the results of an extensive research project in which we extracted from, and measured the existence of, Co-City design principles in a database of 400+ case studies in 130+ cities around the world. Ultimately, thanks to the Co-cities report we were able to create the first index able to measure how cities are implementing the right to the city through co-governance. Thus, the Co-Cities index serves as a fundamental tool for the international community in order to measure the implementation of some of the objectives that have been set by the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The last section of the book presents a collection, or annex, of articles of some of the most important researchers and practitioners studying the urban commons. These essays were conceived and offered as part of “The City as a Commons” conference, the first IASC (International Association for the Study of the Commons) conference on urban commons, co-chaired by Christian Iaione and Sheila Foster that took place in Bologna on November 6 and 7, 2015.
Don’t miss the publications of the Co-Cities Open Book sections on our website and social media pages in the coming weeks. A complete version of the open book, downloadable from our website, will be available at the beginning of January on our website.
 The theoretical background and literature of this project, and the conceptual pillars of the Co-City are based on the analytical framework developed in the following publications: Sheila Foster, The City as an Ecological Space: Social Capital and Urban Land Use, 82 Notre Dame L. Rev. 527 (2006-2007); Sheila Foster, Collective action and the Urban Commons, 58 Notre Dame L. Rev 57; Christian Iaione, Governing the Urban Commons, 1 It. J. pub. l. 170 (2015); Christian Iaione, The CO-city, 75 The American Journal of Economics and sociology, 2 (2016); Sheila Foster & Christian Iaione, The City as a Commons, 34 yale l. & pol’y rev 81 (2016); Christian Iaione, The Law and Policy of Pooling in the city, Fordham Urban Law Journal 34:2 (2016) and Sheila Foster & Christian Iaione, Ostrom in the City: design principles for the urban commons, The Nature of cities, https://www.thenatureofcities.com/2017/08/20/ostrom-city-design-principles-urban-commons/. (20 August 2017).
Culture is driving regeneration, creating the jobs of the future and diverting young people from crime. Culture makes us healthier, facilitates civic engagement and gives tourists a reason to visit. It continues to shape the heritage and identity of our cities. In short, culture addresses all the major city challenges we face today – it has moved definitively from niche to mainstream. (…) While there remain serious challenges in all our cities, there has never been a better moment to unlock the potential for culture to transform them. (Justine Simons, p.5)
“How do cities use culture to provide solutions to our contemporary urban challenges?”. This is the question underpinning the World Cities Culture Report, a compendium of the most innovative programmes, policies, key trends and infrastructure projects in culture developed by 35 cities across the world. The Report is the annual document of the World Cities Culture Forum, a collaborative network made up of 38 members from local governments and cultural sector of leading cities around the world, whose activities are delivered by BOP Consulting, on behalf of the Greater London Authority and the members of the Forum. The network was founded in London in 2012 by eight cities (London, New York City, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Istanbul, Sydney and Johannesburg) convened by the Mayor of London, for the purpose of “advancing the case for culture across all areas of urban policy” and “sharing ideas and knowledge about the role of culture in building sustainable cities”. Beyond the annual Summit and Report, the network provides themed symposia, regional summits, policy workshops, collaborative publications and a Knowledge exchange programme.
Two major trends emerge from the 2018 Report, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies: the “critical role for culture in addressing the inclusion of all citizens and a new definition of how, where and by whom culture is experienced”.
As for the first trend, there seems to be a shared commitment across the cities in increasing participation to “culture for all citizens”, by means of different tools and programmes, recognizing Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community”. The report thus contains some examples of urban practices in access and inclusion, among which the TURN Project in Tokyo, Kulturpass in Vienna, the Agreement to Promote Reading in Milan, Neighbourhood Lives and Memories in Lisbon and many others.
As for the second trend, that is the “opening out of culture”, we assist to a change in both cultural spaces, places and forms and in the approach to support programmes and policies at the urban level. For instance, the Culture Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, the Bronx Creative District in Bogotá, as well as the Opera Camion in Rome, the Cultural Hotspots in Toronto and so on. At the same time, new governance and policy solutions have been envisaged, such as the Cultural Matching Fund in Singapore, the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact in New York, the Citizen participation shaping public art in Paris etc.
By providing “a city profile” containing data (45 indicators), trends and innovative programmes, the Report refers to more than 200 cultural programmes and practices (considered as the most innovative from the responding member cities), classified into 9 different categories:
- Cultural Diversity and Representation
- Cultural Access and Inclusion
- Culture in the Outskirts
- Citizen-Led Cultural Policies And Programmes
- Making Space for Culture
- Culture and Climate Change
- 21st Century Cultural Infrastructure
- 21st Century Cultural Event and Formats
- 21st Century Cultural Governance and Strategy
Already in 2017, within the World Cities Culture Summit, the 27 participating cities signed the “Seoul Declaration”, with the following commitment: “To ensure that culture is a golden thread in all aspects of city policy (…); To make culture available to and empowering for all citizens (…); To generate and learn from evidence and research, in pursuit of an enlightened and progressive approach to policy development and implementation; To act as leaders in our field and to continue to collaborate in the face of shared challenges and shared opportunities (…)”.
A shift is ongoing in urban culture-related policy across the world, a valuable phenomenon as demonstrated in the Report, especially in a time where “The resilience of world cities resides in their capacity to envision a different future, one rooted in interdependency that reflects and supports all the people they represent. An open culture builds that capacity” (Richard Naylor, p.17).
 Amsterdam, Austin, Bogotá, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Chengdu, Dublin, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Lagos, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Milan, Montréal, Moscow, New York, Oslo, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Seoul, Shenzhen, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto, Vienna, Warsaw, Zürich
Il “Festival della Partecipazione”, promosso da ActionAid Italia e Cittadinanzattiva in collaborazione con Slow Food Italia e il Comune de L’Aquila è una quattro giorni di laboratori, conferenze, dibattiti e concerti, una fabbrica di idee per costruire le nuove forme della politica, dell’attivismo e della cittadinanza.
L’edizione 2018 si svolgerà dall’11 al 14 ottobre e ha lo scopo di proporre e approfondire un approccio fattuale, articolato e critico alla partecipazione democratica dei cittadini. Attraverso dibattiti, incontri, laboratori e concerti il festival mira a riflettere sullo stato della partecipazione democratica in Italia e in Europa.
Christian Iaione, co-fondatore di LabGov, interverrà all’Auditorium del Parco Sabato 13 ottobre nel panel intitolato “Aree interne e periferie urbane: vivere ai margini e riprendersi il futuro”.
Il dibattito si concentrerà sulle aree interne del territorio italiano, provate dalla carenza di servizi negli ambiti di scuola, sanità e mobilità e dall’indebolimento demografico che le contraddistingue.
Il Festival è un luogo aperto a cittadini comuni, alle comunità degli aquilani e degli abruzzesi e sempre più a interlocutori ed esperti internazionali, ma anche a organizzazioni ed esperienze di attivismo civico, a interlocutori e partner pubblici e privati della partecipazione civica, ai media tradizionali e ai nuovi media, ai mondi della ricerca, della cultura e dell’arte. Non si tratta di un pubblico, ma di un insieme di partecipanti con l’occasione di scambiare e discutere informazioni, prodotti, idee ed esperienze.
La scelta de L’Aquila ha un forte significato simbolico: la città sta attraversando un complesso percorso di ricostruzione urbana e civica e crediamo che questo Festival possa essere un catalizzatore concreto di partecipazione al cambiamento.
Per più informazioni visitare il sito del Festival http://www.festivaldellapartecipazione.org/
Today, cities are increasingly becoming the place where to experiment civic participation and the dialogue between administrators and local authorities, and the urban community. The effort of Italian Municipalities in engaging citizens has a long history enhanced by the participation to EU Programs like Urbact, Urban, and Innovative Actions. For these reasons the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) organized a meeting, gathering the most compelling local experiences on the field, to rethink and discuss about civic engagement and democracy in the city.
On the 24th of July, at ANCI headquarters in Rome, the working group meeting on Civic Participation and Urban Commons will take place. Mayors, assessors, other local government and ANCI officials from over 40 cities will debate together with urban experts, professionals, civil society representatives, active citizens and social innovators about how to enhance participation to the urban governance, analysing opportunities and challenges as well as learning from local best practices starting from the ones of the Urbact network.
Main speakers of the day event: Veronica Nicotra, ANCI Secretary-General, launching the works; and Professors Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione, LabGov, introducing the concept of the city as a commons, a policy making strategy to connect and enhance participatory approaches to the management of urban commons towards a more complex and inclusive urban governance. Paolo Testa, Head of Research and Study – ANCI, will be debating with Rosalba Picerno, LUISS, about the evolution of civic engagement and participation regulations and the role of ANCI. Simone D’Antonio and Annalisa Gramigna, ANCI, will give an overview on local best practices about participatory governance scheme and legislation; and Tiziana Caponi and Valentina Piersanti, will talk about capacity building in local authorities to enable civic participation processes.
Finally, the meeting will end with greetings and speeches of Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna and Urban Agenda Delegate, and Antonio De Caro, Mayor of Bari and ANCI President.
The full programme here.
On April 18-20 Aarhus University, Denmark, hosted the international conference “Cultures of participation. Arts, digital media and politics”, organized by the Take Part research network on cultural participation. The conference aimed at presenting and discussing how participatory approaches are declined within both physical and virtual contexts, like cultural institutions and digital media platforms, urban spaces, artistic production, architectural design. It dealt with three main themes: 1) Participatory art & aesthetics, 2) Digital media & technology, 3) Cultural policy & participation.
In this context, LabGov participated, with its co-founder Christian Iaione together with Maria Elena Santagati, in the session that provided a reconstruction of the Italian context and initiatives, presenting the experience of the LabGov’s project Co-Rome promoting the participatory governance of cultural heritage in the framework of the Faro Convention, with a focus on the urban commons implemented in the Centocelle’s Archaeological Park in Rome
120 participants from all over the world had the opportunity to attend the three keynote speeches by Lisanne Gibson (School of Museum Studies-University of Leicester) “Museums and participation – Who goes… (and who doesn’t?)”, by Shannon Jackson (University of California, Berkeley) “Civic re-enactment and public re-assembly”, and by Zizi Papacharissi (University of Illinois-Chicago) “Affective publics: news storytelling, sentiment and Twitter”. The first one–starting from a recent study conducted in the UK showing that museum visitors are just a minority of the population (8.7%) who engage with State funded cultural activities–calls for a rethinking of museum practice and role to enhance the citizens’ interest and participation starting from the idea that “Museum can function as places where people can explore their own identities in relation to others, to reflect on how people are different and how they are the same” (Mark O’Neill, 2006: 109). The second one–based on the UC-Berkeley’s research platform on Public (Re) Assembly and the work of Aaron Landsman and Paul Ramirez Jonas–investigated the re-enactment in civic processes. The third one discussed about the concept of affective publics, the role and meaning of social media for the Arab Spring and occupy movements, together with data from recent studies by the University of Illinois at Chicago explaining the relevance of the platform for contemporary news storytelling, framing, and gate-keeping.
A range of sessions provided different perspectives on the topic of participation in culture through the lenses of different disciplines, reflecting the ongoing practices trends across Europe and beyond, including digitized cultural institutions and experiences, participatory art, policies of participation, measurement and valuation of cultural participation, cultural activism, methods for engaging communities in cultural production, arts&media platform, spaces for civic participation, urban and public space, participatory management of cultural institutions, technological transformations, and (non)participation. With respect to participation in policy and management, the session concerning the European Capitals of Culture provided useful considerations emerging from a study on ECOC projects revealing that most of them had an instrumental approach to the participation instead of providing a base for participatory governance (Szilvia Nagy). The session also stressed the need of rethinking the participation with regards to the experience of Aarhus 2017 based on the Rethinking participation Report (Leila Jankovich and Louise Ejgod Hansen), shared an analysis of arts carnivals programmes and participation within Capitals of culture in UK (Angela Chapell), and, finally, displayed a very interesting project “2025€ x 2025”, concerning participatory projects for Dresden ECOC candidate city for 2025, including one based on the “table-theatre” method (Valentina Mercenaro).
With regard to participation in culture policy-making, interesting inputs were raised from: a critical perspective on Iceland’s official cultural policy and its confusing aesthetic of involvement (Njourour Sigurjonsson); an interesting critical analysis of newly rooted participatory cultural institutions in Poland (Marcin Poprawski); a case study of Leeds cultural policy making as a democratic space (Malaika Cunningham and Elysia Lechelt); and a reflection about cultural participation as a narrative in the German cultural policy (Claudia Steigerwald). Finally, another case treated the challenge of participatory management at the School-Museum of Pusol within the SoMus-Society in the museum project (Lorena Sancho Querol, Rafael Martinez Garci and José Martinez Jurado).
Meanwhile, on April 18th, the European Union published the final report of the OMC working group on “Participatory governance of cultural heritage”, containing both operational and policy recommendations. Moreover, within the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the European Cultural Heritage Summit will take place in Berlin on June 198h-24nd, with the slogan “Sharing heritage-Sharing values”. Among the next interesting meetings and events, some concern participatory issues like: the conference “Cultural heritage communities and audiences in today’s digital environment” dedicated to digital technologies and cultural heritage; the conference “Sharing as a chance. Private initiatives and cultural heritage”: “People want to participate in heritage and be involved in decision processes. It should no longer be a specific task of experts to decide about the future of our heritage but of all those who are engaged in it”; and the students’ summit “Culture Up Your Future – Living out European Heritage in the Digital Age” concerning students’ engagement with European cultural heritage.
Finally, another relevant meeting on the topic of participation will be held on June, 11th-12th in Manchester for the conference “Understanding everyday participation: Re-locating culture, value and inequality”, as the final step of Understanding everyday participation – Articulating Cultural Values, a five-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council advancing a re-evaluation of the link between participation and cultural value.