Culturability: Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione on Urban Commons and City as a Commons

Culturability: Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione on Urban Commons and City as a Commons

On the 15th of July, Unipolis Foundation in collaboration with Fitzcarraldo Foundation and Make a Cube association organised a second mentoring workshop for the 15 finalists (the description of finalists see below, or at: http://culturability.org/notizie/finalisti-bando-culturability/) who have been selected from the “Culturability” call – an Italian national call to support innovative projects in cultural and creative fields to promote urban regeneration processes (see more about Culturability at: http://culturability.org/).

 

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The third day of the workshop series was complemented by Urban Law professor at Fordham University Sheila Foster and LabGov coordinator, prof. Christian Iaione’s presentation as well as an interactive discussion with the audience. Scholars focused on bringing the attention of the 15 progressive cultural innovators to the idea of urban commons and, more specifically, addressing the collaborative governance of commons as the main target in the urban regeneration processes of today.

Coming from the school of thought on commons, Sheila Foster began with questions of what exactly an urban common is and what does it mean to the society and the city as a whole. “Urban commons are what city inhabitants share daily, in fact, these commons are of a deeply democratic nature, because they have an open access meaning that the usage of them is non-excludable”. From a property law perspective it is very important to distinguish urban commons from what is conventionally understood as common pool resources within the field of environmental law. Such distinction is necessary, because these commons differ in terms of their nature, characteristics and value that they create to the society, and hence this affects the character of their governance. “Urban commons are city spaces, such as squares, parks, abandoned or non-utilised buildings, streets, vacant lots, even cultural institutions, for instance, museums, and other urban open-access units – spaces of a truly common good nature”- addressed S. Foster. “These spaces are unique because they generate value, that is precisely of a social and cultural origin and a wide range of city actors have a stake or an interest in these urban commons. Thus, by preserving commons together, we can contribute to an inclusive and sustainable well-being co-creation by and for city inhabitants”.

 

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On the other hand, scholar stressed that commons are not a simple concept in law or theory. “Commons are neither private nor public, it is something in between. Therefore, the question of governance of the commons is condemned to be a challenge from both practitioners and scholars’ viewpoints”. Having addressed the “Tragedy of Commons” (see H. Garrets), S. Foster emphasised that urban commons are not something that should be governed either by private or public, because these commons are not necessarily in threat of over-consumption or degradation like natural commons, as some scholars suggest. The opposite – open-access urban spaces, which increase multi-stakeholder usage, even enhance shared social, economic and environmental value and contribute to the so-called “Comedy of Commons” (see C. Rose).  “The issue is that today every urban common is overly regulated, today nothing is an open access  and non-excludable anymore and having mentioned the value of urban commons the re-opening and collaboratively governing urban commons is a highly valuable process for all stakeholders. The opening urban commons – contributes to the stimulation of a social value to the community. To add, the value of opening up the commons is directly linked to the production of culture, of housing. Commons are not about tragedy, rather about solidarity and shared value” – stressed S. Foster.

Christian Iaione took over the debate stressing that today there is a growing need to rethink economy, institutions and focus on the energy that the community possesses. “The community should recognise the value of commons. It is not the tangible commons that matter, it is the collaborative governance of commons and the value to the community that it produces”- said C. Iaione. Professor focusing on governance of commons stated that between the state and the market there is a room for experimentation and this is the space of commons that connect different stakeholders. So far, what the overly regulated cityscape has produced is scarcity and collaboration, or collective action, as stressed by E. Ostrom, yet in an urban context, is the way to introduce new approaches to governance and eliminate the problem of scarcity. Despite the fact that “[w]orking on commons requires constant experimentation, what we have accomplished thus far is writing the Regulation which is a strong step towards the recognition of urban commons at the city level and the introduction of collaborative urban governance”.

 

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Lastly, by sharing experiences from the Parco Centocelle project in Rome and the project on #CollaboraToscana, C. Iaione emphasized that the governance of commons is an arrangement between 5 different actors (or “quintuple helix” model, see more about this in “City as a Commons“), where (1) the unorganized public (e.g. social innovators, active citizens, urban regenerators, urban innovators, etc.), (2) public authorities, (3) businesses, (4) civil society organisations, and (5) knowledge institutions (e.g. schools, universities, cultural institutions, etc.) work together to establish public-private-community partnerships and contribute to the preservation of the cultural heritage and the co-creation of the social as well as economic value.

Laboratory for Collaborative Governance of Urban Commons appreciates the energy and the ideas that 15 finalists of the Culturability Call possess. These finalists are promising examples of urban regeneration processes and therefore are strongly supported by LabGov.

The information about the finalists:

An initiative which regards culture in proposing a hybrid agricultural production system which creates a lively ecosystem. This, while restoring the role of not only agricultural production, but also of culture, contributes to the creation of welfare and strong community. This is a biological and social farmhouse of innovation and agriculture to improve the integration and employment, aggregation of space and the production of cultural places. It creates a sustainable local supply chain between farmers as well as it is a museum contributing to the regeneration of an area.

 

A non-profit organisation, founded by people who share a dream: to return the Cascina Sant’Ambrogio – an important place of agriculture and economy. This place regarded as poor and outdated due to the transformation of society is just an error of perspective. The Cascina is place rich in culture, memory and practices that need to be rethought by integrating them with the needs of present times. Citizens must not just be consumers and voters, but producers and active citizens able to concretely transform a portion of reality. This path does not come from nothing, but by a gradual emergence of the collective application that, with more and more insistently, asks sustainable and alternative lifestyles, as well as adequate opportunities.

 

  • Caserma Archeologica + Art Sweet Art – San Sepolcro (Arezzo) | artsweetart.net

This is a platform of artists to display their works in private homes to visitants. A homeowner can choose an artist via the website artsweetart.it from those who have joined up to the initiative. After assessing the home, the artist decides what type of art work to display in the new location. The art has to fulfil both the customers’ needs (the house as a location, the artwork’s theme, etc.) as well as those of the artist (who is invited to carry out a piece of art which fully respects their artistic expression). The initial drafting phase is followed by the artist creating their work. The artist is hosted in the customers’ private home, an unprecedented experience which influences the creative process. During the artists’ stay, the organisers-together with the hosts’ family- promote the art in construction and facilitate workshops in schools, local cultural guides, gatherings with friends, etc.

 

The projects seeks to reform the system of support the cultural industry in Italy. It highlights the critical issues and illustrates the best solutions.

 

  • DLF: cantieri interculturali per una città inclusiva –  Pisa | www.pisafolk.org

The project promotes different cultural tradition lines belonging to all Italian regions. Through musical concerts, plays, lectures and seminars, many of the popular culture heritages met within the framework of demonstrations made in Pisa, which due to its characteristics naturally prepares to host a dialogue between diverse communities and different cultures.

 

The project that seeks to create a network of people and spaces, such as, the abandoned buildings and underused of sites, with the objective of denunciation of situations of abandonment and then revaluation of the buildings by putting the spotlight on forgotten places, abandoned or fallen into disuse, showing its potential for reuse, it will foster a new collective interest in these spaces. This is a project that wants to revolutionise the way of seeing and understanding the assets disposed of a city, turning it into a resource.

 

This is a residence project that was born in a former industrial factory, able to provide hospitality for the whole year to travellers and tourists, and simultaneously transform into a school on urban regeneration: a “training of the mind” in the heart of central Italy, where two cities, Terni and Rieti meet. The idea is to experiment with new solutions and re-design territorial integration policy.

 

  • LAB+: Piazza Gasparotto Urban Living Lab –  Padova | copiu.it/lab

The project that focus on workers with different skills to meet, share ideas and expertise in urban regeneration practices. Gasparotto Square in a space of co-design living between citizens, private organisations and public institutions. To achieve this objective, the project makes the system a series of micro-actions of re-appropriation of public space: the urban expansion, construction of a weekly market of organic producers, involvement of local residents through the social theatre and community, realisation of works public art, use of storytelling and the creation of micro-community events.

 

  • Mana Grika – Hub Culturale della Grecìa Salentina –  Calimera (Lecce) | managrika.it

It is a Cultural Hub of the territory that will be made available to local communities to create initiatives with a strong cultural and social impact spaces. The main objectives are the territorial promotion and enhancement of the local culture through affiliated initiatives for social activation of communities and by creating a synergistic network among all organisations working in the area.

 

  • MUFANT, MuseoLab del Fantastico e della Fantascienza di Torino – Torino | mufant.it

This is a project by a team of professionals and industry experts, academics, journalists and researchers who are aspired to imagine a world, in which people are aware that this is just one of the possible worlds. This is being accomplished by the multiple permanent or temporary exhibitions, performances, conferences, events, and such, in the MusueoLAB.

 

Piazza dei Colori is one of Co-Bologna “construction sites”, and the aim is to turn it into a collaborative district that could later include different realities from Croce dei Biacco and all the migrants that live there.

 

The project aims to put an end to the progressive abandonment and degradation of one of the most prestigious and representative testimonies of the assets of the industrial archaeology resulting from the old age epic mining of Sardinia, which UNESCO declared a universal value in 1997 . With the completion of the project they intend to preserve and make available the public buildings of great architectural value at the Sella Well located in the mining complex-Monteponi on the outskirts of the city of Iglesias. The work of protection and restoration of the industrial archaeological heritage will accompany the exhibition. The abundance and beauty of the available space will also allow to set up an area for conference activities with its audiovisual and multimedia equipment. With the completion of the project, as well as regeneration of the museum space, the site will be returned to the local community.

 

Station Chiaravalle project focuses on the regeneration of the unused gym of neighbourhood school and creation of a hybrid space in order to host a community hub: operational production based on cultural content, artistic home and an urban laboratory. Additionally, it reinterprets the disused railway line along the Vettabbia channel as space in transformation. Lastly, it activates a participatory observation with the local community and generates landscape projects and custody of places and common open spaces for the enjoyment of the area as a landscape for immersive experiences.

 

The project which has an aim to enter into the social and productive fabric of Rome and spread to further cities. It focuses to put in place cultural practices and job opportunities that would promote inclusion and integration of those individuals who are in need for help and solidarity. It is a job creation, but also the artistic expression, which can also become a source of income, are the ways in which we intend to intervene in the social and cultural fabric of Rome.

 

This is a non-profit organization active in the field of contemporary art and culture both at a local and international level. It produces and organises art exhibitions, theatre shows, publications, audio-visual works, training and residency programs with the aim to encourage artistic mobility and the promotion of artists on an international scale. It intends to invent original devices in order to promote projects and enable processes that mobilise unconventional strategies and plans of intervention in the artistic and cultural system. The members of the core working group are artists who chose not to limit their activities and their identities to “the creation of artworks”, but to work actively – and independently – for the activation of shared processes and the redefinition of the role of the artist in society. The project starts from an idea of hospitality and sharing to create a symbolic place where experience and the individual journey are set aside to make way for the development of a collective strategy. The network of people intertwined constitutes a network able to  relate with institutions, questioning established practices and models, with the aim of generating concrete outcomes/results in the community.

 

LabGov congratulates all finalists and looks forward to new collaborations!

 

 

 

Secondary sources:

  1. Garrett, Hardin, (1968) The Tragedy of the Commons
  2. Iaione, Christian. (2016) “The CO-City: Sharing, Collaborating, Cooperating, and Commoning in the City.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2: 415-55.
  3. Ostrom, E. (1990) “Governing The Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action”, Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, Volume 6, Issue 4, 235-252
  4. Rose, C. (1986) The Comedy of the Commons: Custom, Commerce and Inherently Public Property, 53