Lacittàintorno is the cross-sectoral programme for urban regeneration promoted by Fondazione Cariplo by a 10 million euros investment over a three-year timeframe. Designed to foster well-being and quality of life in urban areas, it aims at enhancing the functions and services in place in the target areas. Whilst the programme is meant to kick off in Milan, first and foremost in the neighbourhoods Adriano-Via Padova and Corvetto-Chiaravalle, it will subsequently spread to other Lombard towns.
After the institutional welcoming ceremony, attention will focus on a brief overview of the intersectorial programme “Lacittàintorno” and on an extensive analysis of the three topics which underlie the programme, while epitomizing its identity, namely the Community Food Hub, the social and cultural role of food and public art as lever to engage the communities. The conference will benefit the contribution from experts who will participate in a round table and a debate with the audience.
Focus on “Community Food Hub”
The programme Lacittàintorno is designed to improve the quality of life in the above mentioned neighbourhoods. To this aim, the so-called “community food hubs” will be implemented. Community hubs identify food with a trigger of engagement, social activation and economic sustainability.
Growingly on the rise since a few years, community hubs are public spaces and centres promoting economic and social regeneration processes. Their core features can be outlined as follows: deeply rooted in the context, close bond with the local community, integration of multiple policy sectors (multidimensional scope), co-creation shared by social players, citizens and public decisionmakers, public use, regardless of the ownership, co-production of “local public assets”, allocation and mobilization of shared resources. Community hubs, in fact, fall in the category of commons: irrespective of whether the original ownership be public or private, these places are accessible by all the community members who, in turn, contribute to promoting and bringing them to life, in addition to activating functions suitable of producing collective results. “The common is not ascribable to a right (category of having: I have a right), but is indissolubly tied to the actual possibility to fulfil fundamental rights, which implies both a personal satisfaction experience and the objective participation to an ecological community” (Ugo Mattei, Beni comuni. Un manifesto, Rome-Bari 2011).
While epitomizing specific interests and aspirations, the players committed to regenerating and taking care of a common endorse a shared vision regarding the mission of the site and the will to accomplish a joint, democratic governance. “The common is not a magic wand. It’s simply an opening, a pathway, a scaffolding to build anew. Indeed, a common works only if there are commoners participating in it” (David Bollier, Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons, New Society Publishers, 2014). Participating in the start-up and management of a community hub means endorsing a culture inspired to collaboration-based practices, effectively captured by the manifesto of Turin-based Case del Quartiere – sites open to the entire citizenship; active participation spaces; accessible, welcoming places fostering gathering and interaction; everybody’s spaces yet nobody’s exclusive premises; house to a wealth of visions and projects; the operators: knowledgeable social craftspeople; places halfway through public and private; spaces in pursuit of the right balance between economic independence and public sponsorship; places withdeep local roots; organizations with a governance of their own.
Nevertheless, “in order for the experience to be durable, sustainable and replicable, it is necessary transforming what appears as a disposition into clearly defined tools and skills: the former regard co-design, they advocate a typically relational approach to team working; the latter, instead, revolve around the community organization and the management of decision-making and organization collaboration processes. Relying on the tools and skills necessary to fulfil these dynamics is a must-have for the successful accomplishment of the project” (Nicoletta Tranquillo and Gaspare Caliri (Fenomenologia di un community hub: Kilowatt e le Serre dei Giardini a Bologna in I luoghi dell’innovazione aperta. Modelli di sviluppo territoriale e inclusione sociale, by Fabrizio Montanari and Lorenzo Mizzau, Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini, 2016).
Irene Bengo – researcher at the Department of Management Engineering of the Polytechnic of Milan and expert in social innovation and impact finance - and Claudio Calvaresi - Senior Consultant to Avanzi and guest lecturer at the Polytechnic of Milan – will discuss the hybrid nature of community hubs and the actions required to harmonize social impact and economic sustainability.
Focus on “Food, culture and community”
Lacittàintorno values tremendously the involvement and participation of local communities and the active inclusion of people. As extensively described in literature, these are exceptional behaviours usually focused on a comfort-zone theme (which, in turn, is also subject, object and pretext). In the case in point, food is the theme identified and discussed against multiple facets, as we shall see, and because in the Italian context as well as in many others, it plays a crucial role as it is deeply embedded in our culture and identity.
Apart from being amply discussed against its established nutritional value, food also stands out for its social and cultural relevance. Several social scientists, among whom Marx, Parsons, Mead and Giddens, investigated food and the great many social and cultural activities revolving around its production. In more recent times, psychologists, anthropologists, economists and sociologists contributed a wealth of personal considerations. Studies have demonstrated the role food plays to the aim of creating, nurturing, reinforcing, sometimes disrupting and even breaking up relationships.
The role of food goes well beyond nourishment and nutrition: in fact, personality, identity and relations are built through food and with food. There has sometimes been talk about the ability of food to trigger engagement and involvement, let alone its ability to appeal to and activate not only single individuals but entire communities too. Feeding is a need; food is what we eat and what helps us build ourselves both physically and figuratively.
A great many experiences, especially worldwide (Canada, Ontario), have been witnessed where food has been both the subject and the object around which community hubs come into being. A multitude of reasons drive this choice: on one side, food is a source of sustainability, on the other side, it is a facilitator of relations as it encourages and reinforces the community’s socialization. Sharing food helps gain a better understanding of and healthier eating habits, undoubtedly beneficial to our health. Accordingly, it is sensible expecting that, when we assume food as the lever for engaging the communities of community hubs, it is possible activating virtuous mechanisms which, in different forms, foster the communities’ socialization, promote economic welfare and well-being, in addition to favouring integration and sharing phenomena.
In 2015, on occasion of Expo 2015 “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, the Municipality of Milan launched the “Milan Urban Food Policy Pact”, an international agreement providing for a series of strategies designed to conceive of and implement more sustainable food systems. Signed by the representatives of 144 cities, today the “Milan Urban Food Policy” totals over 470 million inhabitants all over the world. Fondazione Cariplo actively sustained this process and assisted the Municipality of Milan in mapping the food policies implemented worldwide with a view to identifying best practice examples.