The City as a Commons: Social innovation as the Basis for a Commons-Based Urban Welfare

The City as a Commons: Social innovation as the Basis for a Commons-Based Urban Welfare

Sito genericaIn the early 2000s the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business launched the Stanford Social Innovation Review with the first “Editors’ Note” defining Social Innovation as “the process of inventing, securing support for, and implementing novel solutions to social needs and problems” with a clear manifesto: “dissolving boundaries and brokering a dialogue between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.” [1]

From that time until now, research has made many leaps and bounds but there is still a huge potential and need to develop new skills and competences for an age of innovation and collaboration, especially, in the urban field. Our civil society, social economy and social enterprise movement has always found the power to drive positive change through its knowhow besides its values, knowledge and networks. In order to realize the full potential of our resources, it is crucial to embed strong and flexible knowhow that will help build a strong method and skills for innovative civil society organizations and social enterprises in a changing world. The reality is lagging behind these targets. But can we derive and propose some of these dynamic solutions through an innovative approach of commons? Does Commons-Based Urban Welfare Contribute to Social Cohesion?

Sharing and collaboration is also emerging as a model for a new urban lifestyle and new forms of social cohesion. Urban residents increasingly conceive private spaces and goods as common spaces and resources open to access or use by other people, share needs and tasks, help each other, give birth to new ways of living and moving within urban contexts, generate new forms of reciprocity, self- and mutual aid. Local governments following the capability approach are enabling forms of generative welfare to foster human flourishing. What are the lessons and forms of social innovation that we can learn from? One possibility is the regeneration of neighborhoods, private spaces and buildings to transform them into common spaces for co-living, co-housing, and other forms of collaborative living and welfare. The emergence of an urban collaboration class is transforming social relations between urban inhabitants and therefore should trigger a rethinking of welfare systems at the urban level. These questions are the ones which we must build on.

The first IASC Conference is trying to find new stimuli. With its focus on “The City as a Commons: Reconceiving Urban Space, Common Goods And City Governance” LabGov organizes it in collaboration with Fordham University of New York and the ICEDD of the LUISS University of Rome. The Conference will take place in Bologna on 6-7 November 2015. The conference will be co-chaired by the LabGov’s coordinator Professor Christian Iaione (UniMarconi University and LUISS Guido Carli) and by Prof. Sheila Foster (Fordham University) both pioneer scholars in conceiving the urban commons.

img-submitThe Conference aim to analyses the phenomenon of urban commons in a comprehensive way, dividing the two day work in 6 Tracks. One of the them is devoted to the Social innovation as the Basis for a Commons-Based Urban Welfare. Professors, scholars, experts are invited to submit a paper for contributing to the ongoing debate on Social Innovation. The Conference want to investigate on what are the lessons and the forms of innovation that it is possible to learn from the literature on social innovation and from the experiences of the movement active all around the world.

The real change is already around us. We have to learn about how we should compare and how we must share. From the point of view of Eddy Adams, member of the EU URBACT “cities exchange and learning” Programme, Social Innovation consists on new ways to tackle the most chronic social challenges.

Recently, the change has also paced the Italian capital of Piedmont. Thanks to prominent figures such as Michele Fatibene, the city of Turin has officially sent these days an internal communication to its employees with a special project invite: Innova.To. This project is a collaborative/cooperative “competition”, which aims to engage employees of the City of Turin in developing projects that can help improve the performance of the City through the reduction of waste and the use of resources. The initiative is part of the Torino Smart City project which is an incentive, even within the Administration, for the adoption of tools that enable the participation and sharing of knowledge and ideas.

Ezio Manzini, a leading thinker in design for sustainability, founded DESIS, an international network on design for social innovation and sustainability, in his latest work “Design,when everybody designs”draws the first comprehensive picture of design for social innovation defying that as the most dynamic field of action for both expert and nonexpert designers in the coming decades. Thanks to his experience, what is certainly clear is that also your input is necessary! The deadline for the paper submission is tomorrow, August 10, 2015 at 12.00 pm.

Submit your paper until today!