Collaborative cities: Gorenflo launches the first Sharing School

Collaborative cities: Gorenflo launches the first Sharing School


The sharing economy is growing faster than ever and becoming a hot policy issue these days. Casa NeturalCollaboriamoRENA and LabGov have for this reason decided to launch the “Sharing School”. Thanks to the collaboration between these organizations and with the support of OuishareAvanzi and Societing, the School has been able to host highly qualified professionals and experienced innovators. The guest star of the event has been Neal Gorenflo from Shareable, an American leading organization in the field of sharing economy and collaborative practices.

The event held in Rome at Porta Futuro, had the main objective of dealing with the mainstream tendency of sharing economy and to understand if such trend can become the leading paradigm of the new economy. Andrea Fusco, Director of Department III – Services for placement and quality of life of the Province of Rome, the future Metropolitan City, was very happy to host the Sharing School initiative.

Minister Counselor for Public Affairs of the US Embassy in Italy Elizabeth McKay, reminded how the sharing economy has already changed things; it is no longer a new phenomenon and thanks to technological interactions and social media, we are exploring a potential that can disrupt traditional forces. Customers become service providers themselves, acting as catalysts for phasing into the system resources and goods that are normally not exploited.

We were used to think about sharing economy as some “nerd stuffs”, while nowadays there is a sort of “media bulimia” that affect the topic of sharing economy – says Francesco Russo, President of RENA. It is undeniable that we are assisting to a growing tendency of the concept of collaboration, as we simply trust strangers. However, the problem is that we shall distinguish what sharing is really about, and that is the aim of the Sharing School. There is a paradigmatic change of society and in the next future, 40% of the online staffing will be served through services provided by the sharing economy. Then, the approach of the initiative is not only about telling the story of a new economic trend.

As Neal Gorenflo recognizes, we are all here to learn how to gather people and create a common homogeneous vision about the sharing economy. But here we encounter obstacles, since we need to dissolve the gap between trans-formational economy and trans-action sharing, which basically maintains social hierarchies. Neal Gorenflo talked about making a choice between the red pill and blue pill like in The Matrix movie. The blue pill is a story about the re-adaptation of the old capitalist paradigm to the new economic trends, where Uber and AirBnB are the concrete examples of how initiatives of such strand of the sharing economy can still create monopolies. On the other hand, the red pill is the one that inspired our research. It is about the resurgent collaborative experimentation and it is what can wake up reality. We need to open cities, to make them available for use and to activate citizens by creating an economy “by and for” the people. We need to invest on transformational sharing much rather than transactional sharing.

However, as Matteo Lepore – Commissioner to Economy, Development of the City, Tourism, International Relations and Digital Agenda of the City of Bologna –  underlined, if we talk about social order and sharing economy, we are inevitably bound to themes such as politics, democracy and participation. In fact, even taking the red pill has the risk of initiating a debate between citizens and the political representation. It is all about a systemic change, otherwise there would be no way back from the loss of collaboration between citizens and institutions. Step by step, we are loosing the sense of citizenship, by projecting a vision of citizens as the residual assets of society. Fortunately, the City of Bologna was able to initiate a process of human capital reactivation, thanks to the implementation of the “Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons” that seeks to transform the Public Administration in an enabling factor. The City of Bologna is thus a starting point for understanding how collaborative practices can rehabilitate citizens and regenerate urban networks, for instance with the instrument of the “pact of collaboration“. The underlying idea is that important results can only be achieved through effective practices of co-working, which involve citizens and professionals through a platform of mutual exchange of skills and knowledge.

Starting from the community to build competences and deliver effective results on the territory is also the strategy of the City of Milan , says Renato Galliano, Director of Smart City Service in Milan. We have to recognize that it exists a network of collaborative urban cities, which is itself a new form of infrastructure. This is the confirmation that collaborative economy is not only about isolated and scattered projects of mobility sharing, start-ups and civic crowdfunding. The social innovation entails a renaissance of the cities in a wider context, whereas citizens are the locomotives of change and public administrations are the habilitating infrastructure.

As Christian Iaione, Coordinator of LabGov, reminded we have to reinforce the processes of active citizenship and active entrepreneurship, to foster a steady dialogue between the five actors of collaborative governance and to create an “Italian way” to sharing. Indeed, the real sharing is centered on the restitution of value to the community. This is a good opportunity also for the City of Rome. Daniela Patti – from the staff of the Comminisioner to the Urban Transformation in Rome – affirmed that we need to create a network of collaborative cities, to develop instruments to regenerate abandoned urban spaces and to consolidate practices for exploiting the latent potential of the great cultural heritage.

Alex Giordano (Societing and Rural Hub) warned against the dysfunctions that an incorrect practice of sharing economy can create. In this sense, we should not only focus on the quantitative approach and upon capitalist mechanisms. It is in fact essential to reason on communities and social impact. If we have a look at territorial distributions, it is possible to notice how people are divided by interests and have lost the sense and ethic of community building. Fortunately there are breeding grounds of innovation that create value, even if their outreach is limited by disabling institutional leaderships. The problem is that those who have the courage to produce social innovation are constantly marginalized, as Simone Cicero of Ouishare, noticed. Even Enrico Parisio, of Coworking Millepiani says that we need to express such new exigency, as a pedagogic stimulus for social innovation. When we started talking about sharing economy, nobody believed it could be real, reminds Ivan Fadini of Impact Hub Roma. For this reason we are strongly committed today on avoiding the reiteration of traditional economic capitalism.

The commoners will be the heroes of social innovation.

Stay united!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Presentata a Roma la prima edizione della Sharing School.

Si è tenuto il 22 gennaio 2015 l’evento di presentazione della Sharing School di Matera, la prima scuola sulla sharing economy e sulla condivisione per promuovere in Italia un nuovo paradigma sociale, economico e istituzionale. L’incontro, ospitato da Porta Futuro e reso possibile grazie alla collaborazione tra Casa NeturalRENA, Collaboriamo e LabGov, con il supporto di Avanzi, OuiShare e Societing, ha visto la partecipazione, grazie al supporto dell’Ambasciata americana in Italia, di Neal Gorenflo co-fondatore di Shareable.

L’evento, incentrato su temi dell’ economia collaborativa e innovazione sociale, ha rappresentato un importante punto d’incontro tra ospiti internazionali, attori istituzionali, accademici e società civile. Se si vuole sviluppare un nuovo concetto di economia, è necessario rivedere gli orizzonti sociali e promuovere spazi innovativi di collaborazione. E’ in un contesto di inclusione sociale e di promozione della cittadinanza attiva che la sharing economy deve prendere piede perché, come ricorda Neal Gorenflo, le persone devono rappresentare lo snodo per un’economia collaborativa.

Dobbiamo cominciare a comprendere come l’implementazione di un modello di governance condivisa non ruba potere alle amministrazioni, semmai ne rinvigorisce la struttura e la riempie di nuovi contenuti. Per questo il prof. Christian Iaione, coordinatore di LabGov, invita a pensare all’economia come un bene comune che possa essere curato e messo a punto con interventi di animazione da parte di tutti quei soggetti coinvolti nell’ambito della sharing economy, inclusi i cittadini.

The city of Orvieto approves the regulation on urban commons

The city of Orvieto approves the regulation on urban commons

Map of Regulation
Ever since the City of Bologna approved in May ’14 the Regulation on Collaboration Between the Citizens and the City for the Care and Regeneration of the Urban Commons, twenty municipalities have approved the Regulation and fourth-three more are examining it. In this sense, the city of Orvieto has numerous predecessors, but this does not change the fact that it should be considered a success in itself.

Every little, medium and big city that voted in favor of a collaborative governance of the urban commons represents an important achievement along the way towards the end of the practice of devolving power. Active citizens have the chance to take care by themselves of the place they live and to do it hand in hand with the public administration, in a constructive cooperation that brings benefits to the whole community.

On December 29th, 2014, thus, Orvieto joined the list of the cities that decided to completely revolutionize the way of thinking about the commons, and in particular about the urban ones. The Municipal Council endorsed the Regulation by a unanimous decision. A fact, this, which highlights that behind themes like this, there is a common background able to eliminate the differences between the various political factions in favor of a shared agreement. Furthermore, the approval in itself helps avoiding all those cases in which the active citizenship is blocked and even punished (e.g. the emblematic case of Mrs. Ilaria Montis who was fined for having cleaned the seaside of Is Solinas (CI) and for throwing the garbages in dumpsters far away from her house). To regulate a phenomenon does not mean to block it or to establish boundaries and limits, but rather to let it flow according to its characteristics and according to the different realities it takes place in.

The Regulation found its origin in the work carried out also by LabGov experts in Bologna and is centered upon the principle of horizontal/circular subsidiarity enshrined in the Italian Constitution (Art. 118) in an innovative way. Article 118 should not be interpreted as a way of merely dividing the responsibilities between the private sector and the public one, but rather as a shared background on which a new model of society shall be built. A society where active citizens can practically contribute to the renewal of the reality they live in. Obviously, this implies that the Regulation cannot be applied everywhere in the same form. Changes are firmly supported in order to adapt the goals to the concrete situation and to the history and values of the city at issue.
The analogies and differences between the four different versions of the Regulation approved in the cities of Bologna, Ivrea, Siena and Chieri were already analyzed, through seven parameters. Now, with the same methodology, it has come the moment to present the vision that the city of Orvieto decided to offer with the approval of the Regulation, in comparison to the original version of Bologna.

  1. Principles. The Municipality of Orvieto maintained all the original principles that constitute the foundations of the original version of the regulation. However, an interesting voice was added by the City Council of Orvieto during the drafting phase: art. 10 makes an explicit reference to the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, approved in Faro in 2005. In the words of Paolo Maurizio Talanti, the Democratic Party councilman of Orvieto “a city with such an artistic and cultural heritage like ours shall know that the knowledge and use of the cultural heritage is an individual right […]”.
  2. Subjects. For both Bologna and Orvieto, the subjects taken into consideration are the active citizens, namely “all subjects, single or associated, anyhow gathered in social formations, also of entrepreneurial type or with social vocation, which are active for the care and regeneration of urban commons”.
  3. Organizational aspects. Unlike the case of Bologna, Orvieto does not explicitly provide a unique office for the evaluation of the proposals of the active citizens, thus provoking an organizational gap that risks to provoke overlapping procedures and ambiguity during the implementation. In fact, according to the topic, each proposal will be submitted to the competent office.
  4. Type of administration. The kind of administration that takes shape in Orvieto is based on the authorization by the public offices, which are competent to technically evaluate the feasibility of the projects.
  5. Relevance of the private assets. The Regulation of Orvieto puts a particular emphasis on the public spaces as objects of the care of the active citizens, leaving however the possibility for a shared management of the private spaces for public use. Worth mentioning is the fact that the regulation merges the provision about the public spaces with the one about private ones in a unique norm.
  6. Forms of support. This is probably the most interesting aspect of the whole Regulation of Orvieto. In fact, the text completely eliminate all forms of exemption and relief from levies and local taxes and of administrative facilities, such as in obtaining permits. The Municipality may contribute to the reimbursement of costs only in those cases where an in-kind support is not possible.
  7. Disputes. Contrary to the Bologna Regulation, which provided for the creation of a Conciliation Board in order to solve future disputes, the City Council of Orvieto did not, thus leaving open the possibility to submit the arising cases to the ordinary jurisdiction instruments.

Strongly adapted to the local situation, the Regulation of Orvieto, with its strengths and weaknesses, constitutes a remarkable example of how much our society is changing and how well the Regulation fits in this challenging and stimulating environment.


Il Comune di Orvieto approva il Regolamento sulla collaborazione fra cittadini e amministrazione per la cura e la rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani!

Il Comune di Orvieto ha due settimane fa approvato il Regolamento sulla Collaborazione tra Cittadini e Amministrazione per la Cura e la Rigenerazione dei Beni Comuni Urbani. Seppur con un testo adattato alla realtà della città, l’approvazione del Regolamento dimostra un rinnovato modo di pensare sui beni comuni urbani che si sta diffondendo velocemente in tutta Italia.

Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

Schermata 2014-12-18 alle 19.06.26

The City of Bologna has just adopted the translation prepared by 2013/2014 LabGov interns as the official English version of the Bologna Regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons. The official English version of the Regulation is available here.

LabGov interns participated actively to “La città come bene comune” (i.e. “The city as a commons“) project in Bologna, carrying out research activities, training programs and co-design sessions. One of LabGov strategists, Christian Iaione, was also a key member of the working group which drafted the “Regolamento sulla collaborazione per la cura e rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani” of the Comune di Bologna.

According to the regulation active citizens (i.e. social innovators, entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and knowledge institutions willing to work in the general interest) can enter into a co-design process with the city leading to the signing of a “patto di collaborazione per la cura o rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani“. Urban commons are mainly public spaces, urban green spaces and abandoned buildings or areas.

Using the institutional technology of public collaboration (” or “amministrazione condivisa“) Italian cities and communities can transplant Elinor Ostrom‘s idea of “governance dei beni comuni” (i.e. “governance of the commons”) in urban contexts, as Sheila Foster has already theorized.

The regulation is at the same time a form of social innovation enabling tool and fosters the birth of collaborative economy or sharing economy ventures. Indeed the regulation has dedicated specific articles to “innovazione sociale e servizi collaborativi“, “creatività urbana” and “innovazione digitale“. As a matter of fact social innovation and collaborative services, urban creativity, digital innovation  must be the centerpiece of a “sharing city” or “collaborative city“, which is by default a commons-oriented city and therefore a co-city.

Last, “public collaboration” is centered upon the use of bottom-up or collaborative “nudge” or “nudging” techniques  and “service design” techniques. Indeed, the regulation strengthens the importance of information/communication tools, training and educational initiatives, facilitation activities, as much as the need for measuring and evaluating the impact of the regulation and collaboration pacts or initiatives activated under the umbrella of the regulation.

Milan, an Italian smart city for Expo2015

Milan, an Italian smart city for Expo2015

documento-milano smart city2015 is going to begin, and in some cities all over the world, it is possible to live in and to believe in a new concept of “city”, where the concept of “community” plays a great role.

These new cities which I am referring to are the so-called smart cities. And they are changing the way in which we intend the usual urban life.

If we focus on Italy we can see few likely attempts of transforming some municipalities into smart cities.

The city of Milan, which among the other things, will host Expo2015 – the Universal Exposition that will merge the most prominent people who mainly studies social innovation, or works on it, and themes related to it – is making efforts in order to change and become a smart city.

Soon after the politicians have understood what Milan should become, the main tool that is useful to let the civil society enter in this new paradigm is the Internet. And the city of Milan is doing it well.

Actually, a very clear and direct website is online and it answers to lots of questions that may rise.

First of all, what are we talking about? What are the goals of a new kind of city? And, before that, what is, concretely, a smart city?

Milano Smart City is a fact promoted both by the Municipality of Milan and its Chamber of Commerce, whose core aim is to include the main actors in the development of the city, into the realization of the “Milano Smart City” strategy.

On an international level, the Municipality of Milan is already an active member of the biggest European and worldwide networks that work on smart cities.

On the local level, the Municipality and the Chamber of Commerce are building stable partnerships between different realities, in research, social innovation, business and finance.

Secondly, how it is possible to give life to a smart (in the literal sense of the word), green and inclusive city? Simply through a continuous dialogue on and exchange of practises with the communities that are involved in the process.

Actually, Milan can compete on a national or European level, in order to become a benchmark of innovation and sustainability only thanks to collaboration processes between the public sector and the private entities.

Therefore, a way of consultation has been launched and it has networked institutions, private entities, Universities and various associations through the creation of six thematic working group, that are named Smart Economy, Smart Living, Smart Environment, Smart Mobility, Smart People and Smart Governance.

Moreover, what I was referring to, before in the article, is the process carried on from April 2013 that has had as result the drafting of a document that contains guidelines for Milan Smart City. It was a very useful period of time during which the Administration, along with the citizens, has outlined the seven guidelines, that are:

  • global city, national and European Lab;

  • Lab for sustainable urban mobility;

  • Lab for environmental and energy policies;

  • Lab for social inclusion and diversity;

  • Lab of well-being in the city;

  • Lab for decluttering and simplifying Public Administration;

  • incubator for business models.

The document can be downloaded at this link, both in Italian and in English.

Finally, MilanoSmartCity’s motto is of importance to me and it is emblematic: “a smart city not only cultivates its technological component, but must combine economic development with social inclusion, innovation with education, research with participation”.

To be updated, for further infos or to gain knowledge of other projects on Italian smart cities, please follow this link.

CO-Mantova as the trigger for a co-cities movement

In Mantua what can become a “Co-Cities” movement moved its first steps.

CO-cities as a new urban and local governance model

Co-Mantova is a prototype of an institutionalizing process to run cities as a collaborative commons (see Jeremy Rifkin‘s definition) and therefore as “co-cities“. Co-cities should be based on collaborative governance of the commons (inspired by Elinor Ostrom‘s work) whereby urban, environmental, cultural, knowledge and digital commons are co-managed by the five actors of the collaborative governance – social innovators (i.e. active citizens, makers, digital innovators, urban regenerators, rurban innovators, etc.), public authorities, businesses, civil society organizations, knowledge institutions (i.e. schools, universities, cultural academies, etc.) – through an institutionalized public-private-people/community partnership. This partnership will give birth to a local p2p physical, digital and institutional platform with three main aims: living together (collaborative services), growing together (co-ventures), making together (co-production). The project is supported by the local Chamber of Commerce, the City, the Province, local ONGs, SMEs and knowledge institutions, such as the Mantua University Foundation and some local schools.

CO-Mantova builds on the experience developed by LabGov through the “City as a Commons project and the “Regolamento sulla collaborazione per i beni comuni urbani” (i.e. Regulation on collaboration for Urban Commons which greatly benefited from Sheila Foster’s work on urban commons) that LabGov contributed to draft for the City of Bologna at the end of that project. Principles and rules embedded in the regulation inspired the drafting of the CO-Mantova Collaborative Governance Pact (which is soon going to be translated into English), a “patto di collaborazione” for the territory.

Methodological process of creation of Co-Mantova as a co-city

The first action has been seeding social innovation through the launch of ideas seeding callCulture as a commons” to make the social innovators in Mantua emerge. Second step has been the co-design laboratory “Enterprises for the Commons“, an ideas camp where the seven main projects emerged through the call were cultivated and helped create synergies with each other and the city. The third phase has been the governance camp, a collaborative governance scheme prototyping stage which led to the drafting of the collaborative governance pact, the collaboration toolkit and the sustainability plan. Fourth and final phase is the governance testing and modeling through the launch of a public consultation in the city on the text of the Pact and a roadshow generating interest in CO-Mantova among possible signatories belonging to the 5 categories of collaborative governance actors.

The code of the Pact

The CO-Mantova Collaborative Governance Pact provides a code of definitions, values and principles:

Definitions contemplated by the Pact are among other:

– “commons”

“Commons are goods, tangible, intangible and digital, that citizens and the Administration, also through participative and deliberative procedures, recognize to be functional to the individual and collective wellbeing, activating themselves towards them pursuant to article 118, par. 4, of the Italian Constitution, to share the responsibility with the Administration to cure or regenerate them in order to improve their public use[1]”

– “social innovation”

“social innovations are new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or collaborations[2]”;

– “collaborative governance of the commons”

“collaborative governance” of the commons is a legal/institutional device whereby the five actors of the collaborative governance – social innovators, public authorities, businesses, civil society organizations, knowledge institutions – co-manage urban, environmental, cultural, knowledge and digital commons of a city through an institutionalized public-private-people/community partnership.

Values and principles of the Pact are:

–       Mutual trust: based on the public prerogatives regarding supervision, planning and control, the Administration and the active citizens shape their relationships to the mutual trust and they presuppose that the respective will of collaboration is oriented to the pursuit of purposes of general interest;

–       Publicity and transparency: the Administration guarantees the largest knowledge of the partnership opportunities, of the proposals received, of the forms of aid assigned, of the decisions taken, of the results and of the valuations made. It recognizes in the transparency the main tool to ensure fairness in the relationship with the active citizens and verifiability of the actions made and the results obtained;

–       Responsibility: the Administration values its responsibility and the citizens’ responsibility as a key factor in the relationship with the citizens, as well as a necessary prerequisite in order  for the partnership to be effectively oriented to the production of useful and measurable outcomes;

–       Inclusiveness and openness: the interventions of care and regeneration of the commons must be organized in order to allow any interested citizens  to join the activities at any time;

–       Sustainability: the Administration, in the exercise of discretion in making decisions, verifies that the collaboration with citizens does not cause greater costs than benefits, and that it does not determine negative consequences on the environmental equilibrium;

–       Proportionality: the Administration ensure that the administrative requirements, the guarantees and the quality standards required for the proposal, the preliminary investigation and the execution of the collaborative interventions, are commensurate with the real needs of protection of the public interests involved;

–       Adequacy and differentiation: the forms of collaboration among citizens and the Administration are adequate to the needs of care and regeneration of the urban commons  and they are differentiated depending on the type or on the nature of the urban common and on the people whose well-being it is functional to;

–       Informality: the Administration demands that the partnership with the citizens takes place in accordance with the requested formalities only when it is provided for by law. In the rest of the cases it ensures flexibility and simplicity in the relationship, as long as it is possible to guarantee the respect of the public ethic, as it is regulated by the code of conduct of the public sector employees, and the respect of the principles of impartiality, efficiency, transparency and judicial certainty;

–       Local democracy: the pact guarantees equality between parties and subscribers and the attribution of reciprocal rights and duties. The pact pursues the improvement of the quality of local democracy;

–       Public autonomy: the pact signatories act as “public actors”, holding the ability to take care of the general interest;

–       Horizontal subsidiarity: the pact was made possible thanks to the participation of all the parties, which got activated in a collaborative and mutually supportive way, even delegating specific functions if acquitted by others more effectively, in the pursuit of the common good. According to this principle the care of collective needs and the activities of general interest are provided directly by private citizens (both as individuals and as members) and the entities involved in ‘subsidiary’ function, programming, coordinating and possibly managing;

–       Legality: the compliance with the principles and rules dictated or accepted in the legal system is the cornerstone on which the entry and stay in the pact is based. The law is intended not only as a means of guarantee for civil coexistence within and outside of the pact, but also as a fundamental tool of cultivation of social cohesion and competitiveness of the territory.

Internal and external governance

Beyond the pact, CO-Mantova led to two governance outputs. One is the Pact itself as an external governance tool that whoever wants to join the Pact has to agree upon. The other  is the creation of a Collaboration Handbook or Toolkit overseeing the day-by-day collaborative life within the Pact. In general terms, the actors of Co-Mantova are going to be divided in three groups; social innovators, the technical unit, and the collaboration community. The collaboration toolkit of Co-Mantova is a fundamental instrument to shape the collaborative process among the actors. Some of the contents of the collaboration toolkit are, for instance, rules to inform the collaboration among social innovators (meeting with community and creative youth, citizen’s involvement, new members, personalised pacts), rules for the use of Co-Mantova as a physical and economic collaborative services platform, rules of collaboration for partners and external entities.

Sustainability plan

Another outputs of the co-design process that led to the creation of CO-Mantova is the sustainability plan, realized in order to ensure to the platform Co-Mantova a long-term financial and economic sustainability. From a first analysis of data we can say that even the Mantua area is affected by the same peculiarities of the Italian system, in the presence of a high number of SMEs, but unlike the Italian trend, these SMEs, account for a larger proportion of working population. On the one hand, this could make it more vulnerable to the business system of Mantua, because the population involved in the instability of these companies is representative of a greater number of people than the national average. On the other hand this morphology of the business system is a feature that could be maximized through networking and collaboration tools, such as the initiative to CO-Mantova aims to do.

Communication Plan

The last outcome springing out of co-design process that led to the creation of CO-Mantova is the communication Plan. website is the centerpiece. So is the public consultation process we launched on the whole CO-Mantova process/pact and all other initiatives on the ground and through traditional and social media that CO-Mantova has carried out so far and will be carrying out in the next future.

Stay tuned, participate and join in CO-Mantova and the co-cities movement (email to!


[1] The definition of urban commons is provided by the “Bologna Regulation on collaboration between citizens and the city for the cure and regeneration of urban commons“.
[2] Murray, Calulier-Grice and Mulgan, Open Book of Social Innovation, March 2010.