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  • Italian Infoday - 23 January 2023 in Rome

    L’Infoday è organizzato da ANCI nazionale come National URBACT Point in collaborazione per presentare ai comuni italiani il primo bando URBACT IV dedicato alla creazione di Action Planning Network, reti transnazionali di città che affrontano sfide comuni.

    Il bando, uscito il 9 gennaio e aperto alla partecipazione di comuni europei di ogni tipologia e dimensione fino al 30 marzo, rappresenta la prima opportunità per partecipare a URBACT IV, la nuova edizione del principale programma europeo sullo sviluppo urbano sostenibile.

    L’Infoday costituirà un’occasione per condividere informazioni sul bando e sui temi e gli approcci da seguire in fase di stesura di una proposta progettuale, ripercorrendo al contempo le esperienze di successo che hanno visto le città italiane protagoniste nelle edizioni precedenti del bando. Nel pomeriggio per i comuni che hanno effettuato prenotazione sarà organizzata una sessione di co-progettazione, nel corso della quale si esploreranno più in dettaglio possibili temi di interesse e potenziali partnership con comuni europei che stanno preparando proposte progettuali.

    Italy

    Save the date - Italian Infoday

    The Italian National Infoday will present the first call for proposals for the URBACT IV programme. The event will be held in Sala Laudato Sì – Palazzo Senatorio – Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome.
    The event will start at 10 am and last until 1 pm on 23rd January 2023. 
    Working language: Italian. Participation is free, but registration is required.

     

    National URBACT Point
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  • Joy Village

    Introduction

    The Joy Village is a model of social innovation revolving around an old farmhouse and adjacent land, on the edge between the Roman countryside and the working-class district of Magliana.

    The basic idea is to recover the existing ruins and adjacent land - applying the strictest standards of green building, accessibility and agroecology - to create spaces for inclusive hospitality, meeting and work. In constant interaction with the community.

    The Joy Village also aspires to demonstrate the benefits of infrastructure and services tailored to everyone. A living laboratory, at the same time, where to experiment with assistive technologies and solutions, sustainable mobility.

    Geographical context and logistics

    The Joy Village is an old farmhouse located in the middle basin of the Valle dei Casali, an area of more than 750 hectares protected and managed by the regional Roma Natura Protected Authority. The farmhouses of the Roman countryside, whose construction began in the 12th century, were structures of a residential and productive nature (cereal growing and breeding). 

    Sudden urbanisation in the last century, however, has led to the abandonment of many farmhouses - such as the one under examination, currently reduced to ruins - or their destruction to make way for new buildings. The loss of interest in the land has caused an urban and para-urban desertification that also exposes the land to serious fire hazards.

    Accessible hospitality

    The project aims to recover a total of 806 square metres of ruins, currently divided into:

    (a) 396 sqm on two floors, which are presumed to be former dwellings that have not been surveyed. To be restored for residential use, divided into:

    -first floor, a 100 sqm dwelling and 2 mini-apartments of approx. 40 sqm, 
    -ground floor, 3 mini-apartments (30 sqm approx.), to be rented on a weekly basis through b&b,

    b) 406 sq m on one floor, former stables or storage sheds, to be converted to accessible tourist accommodation and meetings hub;

    -ground floor, to be built, 12 mini-apartments of approx. 30 sqm, to be used as b&b,
    -first floor, conference area (140 sqm) and bar-restaurant area (90 sqm), hall-office with meeting room (80 sqm), gym-therapy area (60 sqm), service rooms (20 sqm).

    A swimming pool accessible to persons with disabilities and ecological, i.e. to be built with natural materials and maintained in service with biological technologies (without the use of chlorine) is also planned.

    Every indoor and outdoor space will be realised in compliance with the ISO/FDIS 21542:2011(E) accessibility standard, with attention also paid to sensory and mental disabilities. To ensure this, the projects will be shared with a focus group of disabled people.

    Parking, organic garden, green area and social eco-agriculture

    The Joy Village aspires to provide a green oasis for its visitors as well as the local community. Parking spaces with charging stations will therefore be underground and covered with lawns and trees.

    The space closest to the buildings will be dedicated to an organic garden with fruit trees and grape arbours. In a wider radius, a green area respecting the flora-fauna tradition of the Valle dei Casali (which includes cork oaks, willows, mulberry trees and broom) will be developed, with paths accessible to people with motor and sensory disabilities. 

    The adjacent land will instead be dedicated to eco-agriculture for the production of fruit and vegetables and a micro-production of organic eggs. Space will also be reserved for traditional crops with the highest CO2 capture rates (e.g. bamboo, industrial hemp, Pawlonia Piemonte). Agricultural activities will be subjected to organic certification, the methods of which will also be applied to garden and landscaping. A social cooperative employing people with mental disabilities will manage these activities.

    Accessibility, inclusion

    Either the Municipality and the public services providers, as well as the private enterprises (i.e. sports centers, shops, restaurants and cafeterias, laundries, etc.) will be encouraged to join a common effort in making life easier for the wide community of persons with disabilities and frailties. By eliminating architectural barriers, and also sharing practical solutions on how to better include the overall population, leaving no one behind.

    Égalité, a no-profit association steadily engaged in disability awareness and rights, will provide the first-hand contribution of its members who live with physical and sensorial disabilities. In order to help public administrators, entrepreneurs and their personnel, and the citizens of the neighborhood understand the needs and the values of a truly inclusive society.

     

    Dario Dongo
    Égalité no-profit association
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    Are you a potential Partner looking for a Lead Partner
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    Your job title
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    Social inclusion
  • RU:RBAN

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting
    Rome Transnational Meeting
    Caen Transnational Meeting
    Vilnius Transnational Meeting
    Loures Transnational Meeting
    Thessaloniki Transnational Meeting + Mid Term Reflection
    A Coruña-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Krakow Online Transnational Meeting
    Krakow-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Vilnius-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Loures-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Caen-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Thessaloniki-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Network Final Event - A Coruña June 28 2021
    Thessaloniki Transnational online meeting
    Krakow TNM second part (in presence)

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    This Transfer network builds upon the "Management model of Urban gardens in Rome" Good Practice, in order to transfer to EU cities geographically distant from each other to ensure sharing of experiences to enhance the capacities of local governance. Transfer efforts will be given to 3 distinct, interlinked, thematic components/elements that the Good Practice is divided into: Capacity building in organizing urban gardens, Inspiring and training people to manage urban gardens (Gardeners) and urban gardens governance & regulations.

    Urban agriculture for resilient cities
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  • Food for thought in URBACT cities: the broad effects of eating local

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    15/11/2022

    How can improving local food kick-start the systemic transition of a city and its surrounding territory?

    Articles
    Food

    Food is a hot topic for cities and stimulates a lot of citizen initiatives in urban contexts: street vegetable boxes, community orchards, public garden-planting, window gardening, etc. But despite the growing enthusiasm among residents of saturated cities to grow their own food, the quantity of food produced by these initiatives remains limited... The core interest lies in their symbolic value and potential to spark change: (re-)engaging populations disengaged from food, building cities’ food sovereignty, strengthening local resilience and, in return, fostering improvements in city governance.

    Food has been a core topic of multiple URBACT networks over the years. Recent examples among URBACT III Transfer Networks include: BeePathNet, disseminating Ljubljana’s (SI) urban bee system; BioCanteens, building on Mouans-Sartoux’s (FR) 100% local and organic school canteens; and RU:RBAN, sharing Rome’s (IT) methods for supporting community gardens. All shared their experiences in a ‘Food storytelling battle’ at the June 2021 URBACT Festival.

    What are the important transfer outcomes for partner cities engaged in these food-related URBACT networks? How can food issues kick-start the systemic transition of a city and its surrounding territory? How is this consensual and appealing topic of food in the city fostering the transformation of city governance? URBACT Expert François Jégou investigates.

    Engaging whole cities with food

    Modern cities developed around cars, and disconnected from food, as Carolyn Steel’s famous book Hungry City, How Food Shapes Our Lives, made clear in 2008. She and others, including AESOP, the Association of European Schools of Planning, make the case for sustainable food planning, involving diverse people, from planners, policy-makers, politicians and health professionals, to local farmers, food businesses and associations. The first outcome of these URBACT Transfer Networks is certainly to raise city residents’ awareness of local food production and consumption.

    © City of Krakow

    “One of the steps that can be taken is implementing school gardens in each school.”
    Katarzyna Przyjemska, Krakow (PL)

    BeePathNet’s coordinator Maruška Markovčič explains: “The most important thing that Ljubljana did was to put the bees and other pollinators at the beginning of the food chain and created the whole system of preservation, education and awareness raising. We introduced the late mowing to the public green areas to upgrade biodiversity in living spaces for pollinators. We encourage people to plant ‘melliferous’ plants and create green roofs all over the city.” The city’s services and residents feel more closely linked with nature and food cycles – and are proud to play an active role.

    Katarzyna Przyjemska from Krakow (PL) states how the urban gardening focus of the RU:RBAN Transfer Network is key for inhabitants of cities to reclaim food issues. “The future of the earth is in our children’s hands. I guess nowadays no one doubts the truth of that statement, but how can we do that, since children are becoming more and more distant from nature? One of the steps that can be taken is implementing school gardens in each school. Having that kind of green classroom, we can enable them to observe nature every day and moreover take part in it. This personal commitment will pay off in a real intense connection with nature.”

    Healthy and sustainable food is a popular topic in cities. Enjoyed by all and affecting everyone, food constitutes an easy, tangible entry point to engage citizens in broader local transition. City partners in the BioCanteens network took a food-systems approach. They saw how improving primary school canteens not only highlights the benefits of providing healthy, high-quality food to young children – influencing families’ food habits  – but also leads to knock-on effects in a broad range of connected areas. BioCanteens questioned ‘who feeds Mouans-Sartoux?’, investigating agricultural resources with organic certification in the surrounding area. They looked at land preservation in urban planning and opportunities for developing a local farming economy.

    This was a step towards the recent signature of the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration, “A commitment by subnational governments to tackle the climate emergency through integrated food policies and a call on national governments to act”.

    Building food sovereignty

    The recent challenges of globalisation seem to be confirming cities more and more clearly as the right level to act and initiate change, as for instance stressed in 2016 by the European Commission and UN-Habitat report ‘The State of European Cities, Cities leading the way to a better future’. In food, as in other areas, cities are taking measures to boost their sovereignty.

    © City of Mouans-Sartoux

    “Focusing primary school canteens reaches out to the children’s families, influencing their food habits.”
    Thibaud Lalanne, Mouans-Sartoux, (FR)

    As Thibaud Lalanne, BioCanteens network coordinator, illustrates, relatively small cities such as Mouans-Sartoux (population 9 500) and its network partners acknowledge they can innovate and solve many of their own problems by themselves. “In 2008, when the elected representative of Mouans-Sartoux decided to switch to the 100% of organic local school canteens they faced a major issue: there were actually no local organic producers. We were able to put out a call for tender because we had a production gap in our province. In 2010, the elected representatives of the city, almost as a joke said, ‘well if no one applies, well actually we will produce food by ourselves’. Which led to the creation of this municipal farm. This is how the story begun and we actually celebrated the 10th year of this municipal farm.”

    Tiago Ferreira from Amarante (PT), one of the transfer cities in BeePathNet, listed seven reasons why beekeeping has been a key topic for his city’s empowerment: “Promoting beekeeping is at the same time promoting the economy and promoting sustainability […]. It is an economic activity where workers feel fulfilled and contribute to make happier cities […]. Good beekeepers could be people with or without remarkable academic backgrounds […]. It could be an extra earning source for people that have other jobs […]. Honey and other beehive products can be transformed into added value products […]. They generate touristic routes and experiences that can attract new customers […] and a friendly territory for bees will make you gain benefits on some agricultural productions.”

    “Beekeeping is extra earning source for beekeepers, economic activity and touristic development for the city.”
    Tiago Ferreira, Amarante (PT)
    © City of Amarante

    BioCanteens cities made the most of their URBACT connections to raise their Final Event to the European level, stating that for some advanced cities the “COP26 is already happening” and inviting other cities to “Join the Movement of European Cities Engaged for Food Democracy and Sovereignty”. The cooperation continues with a session on “Integrated local food systems to tackle climate change: URBACT’s lessons and actions” organised by URBACT on 19 October 2021 at the Barcelona 7th global forum of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

    Strengthening city resilience

    Based on their experiences, cities in BioCanteens, BeePathNet and RU:RBAN, say that strengthening local food systems results in a direct increase in local food resilience.

    © City of Troyan

    “The municipal farm, the first of its kind in Bulgaria, is a tool to supply canteens, to create jobs and to educate the children.”
    Teresa Georgey, Troyan (BG)

    From Troyan (BG), a city partner in BioCanteens that created its own municipal farm during the project, Teresa Georgey explains: “Although Troyan is situated in a rural and mountainous area with much less pressure on land than Mouans-Sartoux, we decided to do the same because we were also facing a lack of organic producers to supply our school canteens. The municipal farm, the first of its kind in Bulgaria, is a tool to supply canteens, to create jobs and to educate the children who can visit the municipal farm, as well as to educate the elected representatives, because they can see what a city can do to feed its own population and can start thinking in broader terms.”

    The Covid crisis has revealed marked differences in the ability of cities to maintain high-quality food supplies for their most deprived residents by supporting local food production.

    © City of Rome

    “The strong sense of belonging each gardener had and the strong sense of community in community gardens.”
    Silvia Cioli, Ad’hoc expert RU:RBAN network

    Silvia Cioli, ad hoc Expert for the RU:RBAN network, stressed how urban gardens played a key role in supporting inhabitants during the pandemic, both reducing food poverty and strengthening mental health. After meeting a photographer observing Ortonorte gardeners in the north of Rome, she recalls: He was impressed by the community in the urban garden on how differences disappeared among all the people that were going there (social, gender, generation, etc.) and also the strong sense of belonging of each gardener, and the strong sense of the community in times characterised by isolation […].”

    This is a story that tells us about urban gardens as not only a place where people grow food but […] they really bring people back to nature, reconnecting them through food.”


    To find out more about URBACT capitalisation activities, visit the URBACT Food Knowledge Hub. Listen to the Interreg ‘This is Europe’ podcast on ‘Feeding Our Future Generations’, featuring URBACT and Mouans-Sartoux. And sign the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration!

     

    This article is part of URBACT’s series exploring latest challenges in sustainable urban development, based on discussions with cities and experts at the 2021 URBACT City Festival. Topics range from community participation in urban renewal and gender in public procurement, to cities tackling climate change. View highlights of the 2021 URBACT City Festival.

     

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  • RU:RBAN Second Wave

    Timeline

    Kick off meeting
    Algeciras Transnational Meeting
    Alexandroupolis Transnational Meeting
    Carlow Transnational Meeting
    Split Transnational Meeting
    RU:RBAN 2nd Wave Final Event in Rome

    RU:RBAN's Good Practice is the Management model of Urban gardens in Rome to be transferred to newcomer cities that are geographically, historically and socio-culturally distant from each other, to ensure sharing of experiences to enhance the capacities of local governance. Transfer efforts will be ensured on the 3 well known and successful components the GP is divided into: 1. Capacity building, 2. Inspiring and training people to manage urban gardens (Gardenisers), 3. Governance & Regulations

    Urban agriculture for resilient cities
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  • Five great ideas for greener cities

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    15/11/2022

    These local green solutions are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in your city too?

    Articles

    The New Leipzig Charter highlights three forms of the transformative city which can be harnessed in Europe to enhance people’s quality of life: the Just City, the Green City and the Productive City.

    URBACT’s latest publication is packed with sustainable solutions to address these three dimensions – all tried, tested and transferred between EU cities, with adaptations for each local context.

    To give a taste of the full stories in ‘Good practice transfer: Why not in my City?’, here are five examples of local actions for Green Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ these participative, joined-up solutions, helping to drive a just transition to a green economy.

    1. Reward re-use and recycling

    The Zugló district of Budapest, Hungary, launched a reward scheme with the city’s waste company to encourage recycling – and slow growth in household waste. After an initial survey of local needs and attitudes, they built an online platform linking citizens with various ‘green points’ where they can drop off recyclable and reusable items, earning coupons for goods and services provided by local sponsors. Schools and other organisations – including Budapest zoo – are joining in with activities to promote the circular economy. This approach originates in the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela (ES), which motivated people from its so-called TropaVerde ‘rewarding recycling!’ initiative – including web developers – to transfer the good practice to their peers in other EU cities with support from URBACT.

    2. Bring in the bees

    A new ‘Bee Path’ guides visitors round local sites linked to bees and honey in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz. The sweet solution was developed by a group of beekeepers, teachers, entrepreneurs, researchers, tour guides and interested locals. Together, they identified 16 places in their city with apiaries and melliferous potential, from a university roof to the botanical garden. Bydgoszcz is one of six EU cities to enrich its urban jungle with bees, adopting Ljubljana’s (Slovenia) tried-and-tested ‘Bee Path’ as part of an URBACT Transfer Network. With education, tourism, biodiversity and business all benefiting, visible changes already include new bee-friendly flower gardens, city-wide World Bee Day celebrations, and the promotion of local honey.

    3. Link up art and culture with climate activism

    A movement of green cultural events and a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, is growing in the UNESCO-listed town of Mantua, Italy, thanks to new synergies between the cultural sector and climate activism. As partners in the URBACT C-Change network, Mantua picked up its approach from the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (UK), which was formed in 2011 to explore how the arts and culture sector could contribute to the city's first climate change strategy. Mantua’s cross-sectoral scheme has sparked improvements ranging from re-usable cups to bio-gas buses, contributing to a new ‘plastic-free’ city strategy, environmental criteria in the city’s UNESCO management plan, and green public procurement for cultural events.

    4. Create a municipal farm to supply local canteens 

    With an ambitious sustainable food policy, the Bulgarian town of Troyan decided to build a municipal farm from scratch, and use the produce in school meals. After two years learning from Mouans-Sartoux’s (FR) pioneering ‘Collective school catering’ work as partners in the URBACT BioCanteens network, Troyan’s farm has already started supplying organic fruit and vegetables. To achieve this, the town learnt new public procurement techniques and took a step-by-step approach, initially aiming to provide half of the vegetables required in local canteens, then expand production later. And the process was supported by an URBACT Local Group, involving heads of schools and kindergartens, civil servants and parents.

    5. Grow urban gardens together with communities

    Vilnius, (LT) is promoting urban gardening as a way to fight social exclusion and gather neighbours, even in high-rise ‘sleeping districts’. Working with local stakeholders and the Ministry of Environment, Vilnius developed a clear set of regulations for communities to know how – and where – to start an urban garden. The municipality also released an urban gardening guide as part of a broader environmental awareness drive – and has formally included the shared gardens model in the city’s urban development policies. Their inspiration? Rome (IT), whose resilient urban gardening project targets more than 50 hectares, involving NGOs, citizens, disadvantaged people and minorities. Thanks to the URBACT RU:RBAN network, shared gardens in Vilnius have already started to grow – and dialogue continues with private and state owners to free up access to land for more community gardens in the future.

    Read about these and many more sustainable solutions for cities, in URBACT’s latest publication ‘Good practice transfer: Why not in my City?’, with positive opening words from Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.

    Tagged with the three city dimensions of the New Leipzig Charter, our easy-to-search Good Practice database also provides more inspiration for greener cities.

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  • EU Green Week inspiration: 5 networks to watch

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    15/11/2022

    Ania Rok, URBACT programme expert, takes a close look at URBACT's 5 most environmentally friendly networks.

    News
    Climate adaptation

    Have you heard thousands of young people all over the world calling upon us to get serious about the climate crisis? It’s high time we stopped making excuses and started acting. URBACT transfer networks offer concrete examples of how each and every city can contribute to a more sustainable future.

    1. Bee-friendly cities - good for nature, good for people

    Did you know that bees are one of the best indicators of environmental health? This is why the city of Ljubljana (SL), European Green Capital 2016, originally decided to support urban beekeeping and then things got a little out of control! It turned out that the bees (or was it honey?) had the power to bring so many people and activities together: from biodiversity protection to tourism, from corporate social responsibility to open source design. As part of BeePathNet network, Ljubljana and 5 partner cities are (re)discovering urban beekeeping as a way to co-create greener cities and stronger communities.

    Visit the network's page: BeePathNet

     

    2. Sustainable food - one school meal at a time

    Think only big cities can afford to go green? Think again or, better yet, find out more about the incredible work that the French city of Mouans-Sartoux (FR) and its BioCanteens partner cities do to promote sustainable food systems. Imagine school canteens with 100% organic meals that do not cost more thanks to reduced food waste. They are also better for the planet thanks to an increased share of plant proteins. And now, imagine the food is also grown locally, creating jobs and raising awareness about sustainable lifestyles. Sounds tasty, right?

    Visit the network's page: BioCanteens

     

    3. Urban gardens – looking to Rome

    Urban gardening projects have become widespread in European cities, but are we making the most of the opportunities they offer? Urban gardens are not just places to relax and grow some zucchini; they can be experiments in citizenship and democracy, social innovation and inclusion too. They can also promote new, healthier mind-sets and lifestyles. Partners of RU:RBAN network are getting inspiration from the city of Rome (IT), home to over 200 community-run green areas that fulfil social, environmental and cultural goals.

    Visit the network's page: RU:RBAN

     

    4. Recycling – re-use and reap the rewards!

    Learning from the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela (ES), Tropa Verde partners are encouraging citizens to reuse and recycle by proposing a reward system managed via an online platform. Local government works closely with local businesses and partners to make sustainable choices easier and more fun. The trick is to set the rewards in such a way that the system promotes genuine behaviour change and does not simply fuel more consumption, e.g. by supporting sustainable businesses, promoting services over products or encouraging a healthy lifestyle. We can all learn from the Tropa Verde network!

    Visit the network's page: Tropa Verde

     

    5. Climate emergency – helping artfully

    The arts and culture sector is far from being the biggest contributor to the climate emergency we are facing. However, when it comes to sustainability, artists and institutions can lead by example, bring critical issues to the public agenda and change mind-sets. The partners of the C-CHANGE network are learning from the experience of the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team how to better involve the arts and culture sector in developing and implementing ambitious local climate policies. Who knew that the local arts and culture community could be the best allies in creating a cultural shift and a sense of urgency needed to address the climate emergency?

    Visit the network's page: C-CHANGE

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  • Are Urban Gardens the place for modern community hubs?

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    15/11/2022

    From Rome (IT) to Vilnius (LT) and A coruna (ES), Urban Gardening plays a key role in creating social links and is at the forefront of social innovation.

    Urban Gardening is a now widespread concept. That is how Wikipedia proposes to define it: "Urban gardening is the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in or around a town, or city. The concepts in Urban Gardens and the associated facilities have received significant attention and popularity in the last 10 years and are growing to meet the needs of the ever-developing urban life."

    But what happens in real life in European cities and towns? How can one build and manage urban gardens? Are Urban Gardens just about gardening in public or private plots, or are they creating something else, that one could call real community hubs?

    Articles
    Ageing

    Implementing successful actions that result in improved citizens’ quality of life, actions that are also supported by local authorities, is both a target and a great challenge for modern cities and societies.

    During the last decade intra - and peri – urban agriculture expanded rapidly. It went beyond the initiative of self-organized citizens or associations. Urban and peri-urban gardens are becoming a promising trend in some cities & towns all over Europe.

    Benefits of Urban Gardening

    Urban gardening and agriculture plays an important role in enhancing urban food security. Urban agriculture contributes to local economic development, poverty alleviation and social inclusion of the urban poor, as well as to the greening of the city. The importance of urban agriculture is increasingly being recognized by international organisations like UN-Habitat & FAO (World Food and Agriculture Organization).

    Today associations managing urban gardens already often at the forefront of innovation: they put in place new techniques such as permaculture, use new technologies, create green parks for leisure and therapeutic purposes, stimulate citizens participation to all environmental activities through the abolition architectural barriers – in particular of those with motor disabilities and the visually impaired – they improve social inclusion and integration, disseminate the culture of sustainability and resilience by raising awareness among citizens, families, groups, associations and institutions on the need to safeguard and regenerate the territory through self-management processes of common goods and self-organization.

    Rome (IT) has been awarded the URBACT Good Practice label for its participatory urban gardening project. The city has a long tradition of urban gardens but the novelty is that the City Council of Rome recently approved a regulation for Urban Gardens. Urban Gardens are now on expected to fulfil social, environmental and cultural goals for the inhabitants following clear steps for their establishment, but also their management.

    Ru:rban: Transferring the Urban Gardening Good Practice

    The Ru:rban project is one of the 24 new “Transfer Networks”. It focusses on the aspect of urban gardening, transferring knowledge and valuable experiences from the lead partner to the other participating cities and backwards. Urban gardening is a tool to include disadvantaged people (including refugees), to encourage citizens to reconnect with nature, notably if it involves schools, the young and the elderly. In terms of social inclusion, urban gardening also helps reduce the risk of mental health diseases, promote a

    healthier diet and lifestyle. Urban Gardens can combine cultural activities with societal wellbeing and spread democratic values, as it offers the occasion for social and political engagement, citizenship rights.

    Ru:rban Transfer Network is an opportunity to make urban agriculture a valued and essential element of policy in favor of green urban infrastructures.

    The cities involved in the network (Rome, A Coruna, Vilnius, Thessaloniki, Krakow, Caen and Loures) will exchange on methodologies in order to improve the impact of their urban gardening practices focusing on the policy topic management. The project will involve a wide range of stakeholders that have a strong relation with the existing gardens in each city, but also people responsible for the management of city gardens on behalf of the cities.

    The targets set for the network are to enrich Rome urban gardens regulation with new ideas, to transfer this updated regulation to the other cities, to assist these cities in improving their urban garden practices, to train in a vocational way people to manage urban gardens (Gardenisers) as parts of a small scale action plan for each city that will be prepared early 2019. The small scale actions plans will aim at increasing inhabitants’ interest, in order for them to be involved for the first time in urban garden projects and make of these places interesting community hubs.

    3 different views and practices of urban gardening from 3 cities visited so far within Ru:rban.

    While comparing the cities experiences, different approaches appeared. The first community Urban garden in Rome was implemented in 2009: Orti Urbani Garbatella. Today more than 200 community-run green areas are mapped. A regulation for the Assignment and Management of Municipal Green areas and Allotments was approved by the COR in July 2015. According to this Regulation, community gardens are considered as agricultural activities places, public spaces, green areas and community associations, all at the same time. They must conform to the prescriptions that each of these domains imply. Consequently, they are expected to fulfil social, environmental and cultural goals.

    The city of A Coruna uses its own budget and human recourses to fund the urban gardens infrastructures and organisation. This self-government policy challenge is a core element of the city action plan.

    Vilnius has a long history of urban gardening. They were mostly created by the institutions. There are very few examples of community based gardening actitivities but the potential is huge due to the amount of green public and private spaces avaialble in the city.

    Identifying common challenges beyond each city’s expectations Each of the city visited by the partnership so far has expressed its own expectations as regards to the network:

    • Rome would like to learn from the other cities in order to improve its existing regulation.
       
    • A Coruna would like to transfer elements of the good practice about management of urban gardens and would like to understand how to access funding to support of this specific policy challenge.
    • Vilnius would like to design a model for the continuous growth and expansion of community led gardens in the city; one that is sustainable and beneficial to everyone, notably by engaging public and private stakeholders. Vilnius would also like to review - and if necessary revise – the functioning of the municipal company in charge of public parks (Vilniaus Parkai) for it to focus more on community gardening.
       
    • There is also a critical common challenge for all cities participating to the the network: to improve their governance effectiveness in managing urban gardens through an improved city regulation.

    Through the Ru:rban project, the partners want to meet those objectives, notably by exchanging on the existing knowledge and practices that exist today in Europe.

    They wa

    nt also to work in the direction of building a European Urban Gardens City Network. It is a great opportunity to explore the situation of urban gardening in Europe.

    But above all these objectives there is also a very ambitious goal: that of inspiring new people to involve in community gardening and to make of urban gardens modern community hubs, in which people meet daily and act together with other people.

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  • Resilient urban and peri-urban agriculture

    Italy
    Rome

    A tool for social inclusion and urban regeneration

    Claudio Bordi
    European Projects Unit
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    • Adapted by the RU:RBAN Transfer Network
    • and by the RU:RBAN Second Wave pilot

    Summary

    The City of Rome developed a participatory urban gardening project. The aim of the project is two-fold: it fights social exclusion and poverty and allows brownfield recovery.
    Working with NGOs, citizens, disadvantaged people and minorities, the city uses the urban and suburban agriculture as a means to improve governance processes. Alongside employment policy, social and intercultural dialogue has a pre-eminent role to play. The importance of other factors such as housing, health, culture and communication should also be acknowledged.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    The good practice contributes to the improvement of the governance processes by connecting different competencies and municipal offices such as social, environment, urban planning and innovation departments. UPA is an innovative practice that could provide a governance model for sustainable development, environmental protection, brownfield recovery and reuse, social cohesion and poverty fighting (i.e. immigrants, elderly, disabled people, AIDS and Alzheimer’s patients, prisoners, etc.).

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    Rome (IT) has the widest urban agriculture area in Europe. Its agricultural landscape is immersed in a network of archaeological sites, monuments, villas and farmhouses. Green areas are about 86,000 hectares, 67% of its entire territory. While most green areas are located outside the urban perimeter, several agricultural corridors connect the periphery with the city centre of Rome. This unique feature distinguishes Rome from other European cities that are characterised by a division between urban and rural areas. Rome thus offers a unique potential for further development: citizens are now developing permaculture systems and producing healthier organic food for self-consumption. The aforementioned projects' approach to tackling urban challenges is the result of a territorial cooperation process, involving different partners of the Mediterranean Basin under ENPI CBC MED Programme: the Royal Botanic Garden and the National Department for Forests and Agriculture (Jordan), the city of Mahdia (Tunisia), the metropolitan area of Barcelona and the City of Rome.

    Based on a participatory approach

    Participatory mechanisms for communities and citizens in the new UPA policies/actions allow the former groups a greater capacity for action and decision making on Urban Governance: Urban Agriculture management strategies herein are oriented towards participatory citizenship. Stakeholder like local NGOs and horticulture associations did contribute to the set-up of the Regulation of urban gardens (City Council Resolution, July 2015) activating local representatives of such communities in a process of social and intercultural integration. Socialisation among different communities is the core of this activity.

    What difference has it made?

    The previous experience allowed the City of Rome to experiment the application of the Regulations of urban gardens of Rome approved in 2015, through 3 pilot projects assigned to different non-profit, multipurpose associations in charge of needy and disadvantaged people. At present, approx. 300 people are direct beneficiaries of the parcels. Dozens of associations and thousands of citizens are involved in the pilot projects, and awareness was raised among municipal officers and citizens. The Regulation of the Urban gardens of Rome (City Resolution of July 2015 or “Regolamento degli orti urbani”) is to be considered an extremely important outcome as a governance tool. According to the “Regolamento”, the use of pesticides, chemical fertilisers and GMO seeds are prohibited. The sustainability of the UPA pilot project is ensured by the commitment of the City of Rome (i.e. the “Regolamento”), the Districts, the associations as "managers" of the pilots, the thousands of citizens involved, and by the coordination with a network of urban gardens and other local and national organisations.

    Transferring the practice

    Rome led the RU:RBAN Network over 2.5 years, transferring its practices to 6 other cities: Vilnius (Lithuania), Caen (France), Krakow (Poland), Thessaloniki (Greece), Loures (Portugal), and Coruna (Spain). You can, in particular, check Vilnius’s Good practice here. The approach was based on the three components/elements of the Good practice: capacity building in organizing urban gardens, Inspiring and training people to manage urban gardens (Gardeners) and Urban gardens governance & regulations. The network’s outputs can be found on the URBACT website. RUR:BAN might also be reloaded with a new Transfer Network starting from June 2021.

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  • Post-Crisis Urban Planning: Innovative Local Solutions to Fight Environmental Degradation

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    15/11/2022

    Due to the financial crisis the heavily indebted public actors are not able any more to launch large-scale programmes to handle difficult environmental problems. Thus they have to find new, innovative ways, experiment with more flexible environmental standards and regulations.

    Articles
    Abandoned Spaces

    Once upon a time in European cities the public sector had enough money to carry out large-scale programmes to improve the environment. Such programmes were usually connected to strict standards and regulations regarding the level of improvement and the use of the improved areas.

    One of the many examples on large-scale brownfield improvement programme is the C-Mine project in the Belgian city of Genk, converting a coal-mine site into creative center for business innovation and entrepreneurship. This project was at the middle of the 2000s jointly financed by the Flemish government and the city of Genk.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Source: Internet

    With the financial crisis (also) these opportunities were largely gone. The heavily indebted public actors are usually unable any more to launch large-scale programmes, thus they have to find new, innovative approaches and partners to handle environmental problems. One of the potential innovations is to experiment with more flexible environmental standards and regulations in order to initiate bottom-up processes and to involve the population into the improvement of the environment.

    “From control to co-evolution” – this was the topic of the 2014 AESOP Congress in Utrecht. One of the “Mobile Tracks” (full day visits), led by Zef Hemel from the Amsterdam Planning Department, aimed to illustrate this new approach on the example of Amsterdam North.

    The Northern waterfront of Amsterdam – although not far from the city centre – is the “wrong side” of the Ij-river, which was always industrial area. In 1984 the Dutch Ship Building industry closed down and the ownership of land was transferred to the municipality. There were many plans developed for market lead modernist development with large cruise ships – in reality, however nothing happened for two decades, the city has ‘forgotten’ this area.

    Since the mid 2000s, the Urban Planning Department of Amsterdam has decided to go towards a new planning approach that is more open and less expert-driven, aiming for a step-by-step change, with temporary uses and festivals trying to find out new uses and users…This move from control to co-evolution opened up totally new perspectives in the use of the area, illustrated below with three examples.

    The NDSM area is close to the river, where a large food producing industry functions nearby with a lot of noise and smell, thus no residential functions are allowed. Pictures 1 and 2 were taken in a large industrial building of the ship industry which is now used by 260 artists. They created their studios, formed a coalition and started even to rent out spaces. In that way they feel themselves as part of the process of change. There are many discussions going on with the open-minded planners (less with the financial department which wants to radically increase the rents). Artists argue for more flexibiliy in allowing people to live here, at least temporarily. Planners resist so far as this is an active harbour area and the importance of harbours seems to increase again. If introducing residential functions this would mean no possibilities for harbour activities in this area and the harbour would have to go to green-field areas… thus difficult choices have to be taken within the framework of sustainability.

    Picture 1.                                            Picture 2.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Source: Iván Tosics

    The Buiksloterham area is 1 km further away where residential function is allowed but plots are very polluted. The original plans aimed for several hundreds of new housing units but this did not function as there was no interest from the side of large developers – who would like to live here? After some discussions the city decided to follow a totally different idea, offering the area plot by plot for development. The planning department started to discuss possible developments with groups of families, organized by architects. In this pilot area for self-building people are not allowed to buy more than 2 plots (in this way large developers are excluded). There are 50 year long lease contracts signed for the plots, construction has to be started within 1,5 years and finished within 1,5 years afterwards. The basic rule is that everyone can build what they want within their plot. Inhabitants have also a say how the streets should be designed and practice shows that they aim for totally different streets as it would have been planned by the city. After long discussions compromises have to be reached taking into account the already installed amenities. One of the groups asked for the possibility to bring a caravan as office place and put up benches for weekly discussions. Another resident has built the green building (Picture 3) within 2 weeks with an atelier on the groundfloor and also a place to where a furgon can come in. The advertisement (Picture 4) calls for registering for a co-housing project.

    Picture 3.                                            Picture 4.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Source: Iván Tosics

    De Ceuvel is a workplace for creative and social enterprises. The site is so heavily polluted that under “normal” planning rules it could not be used for any human-related purposes. As there are no chances in the near future for the costly cleaning of the site, a decision was taken about a 10-year lease from the Municipality of Amsterdam to a group which won a tender to turn the site into a regenerative urban place. To avoid the problem of pollution imaginatively retrofitted houseboats are placed on the site, linked by a winding bamboo walkway and surrounded by an undulating landscape of soil-cleaning plants. Each of the upgraded boats will house offices, ateliers, or workshops for creative and social enterprises. The plan also includes a public restaurant, café, and a bed & breakfast. De Ceuvel is a totally self-sufficient insofar it relies on solar technology for its heat and electricity, green roofs and water collection systems will supply water and its sanitation systems will extract energy, nutrients and water from on-site waste and be used for food production. It will also serve as a showcase and living laboratory for new, green technologies to the broader public. Probably the most unusual is the use of vegetation to create a bio diverse environment (phytoremediation) so that when the boats pull away in 10 years, the land will be left clean(er) and more valuable as it was at the beginning.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Source:Deceuvel

    All the three examples show very innovative approaches to handle difficult problems with which the public sector can not do anything with traditional methods, especially under the present financial conditions. The unprecedented flexibility from the side of the municipality, however, is not without contradictions. One of the debated aspects is about the future diversity of the Amsterdam North area. In order to assure social mix the Dutch planning system requires a minimum of 30% share of social housing in any new built areas above a certain size. This rule is not implemented in the pilot areas in Northern Amsterdam and it is clear that these special projects attract very special people, mainly highly educated intellectuals. It could be argued that in this originally very low status area the flexible approach of the municipality creates a kind of „publicly initiated gentrification”. This can be accepted up to a given extent, as currently this is the cheapest area of Amsterdam – people who want better environment go to other parts of the city and not even the poor families aspire to live here.

    Federico Savini and Sebastian Dembski, two political scientists who follow closely the changes in this part of Amsterdam, consider the case as a post-crisis liberal approach to achieve changes under very difficult circumstances. The first results can already be seen: some parts of the Northern brownfield area became by today the coolest place in the city (the Shell tower is a DJ school and incubator… a previous Crane has been turned into a hotel with 3 rooms for 300 eur/night…).  It is now a delicate task for planners and politicians to steer further development in such a way which assures the interest from the side of pioneers (who are very much needed to handle the difficult problems) but avoids the change of the whole area into a gentrified high-end neighbourhood.

    The new, flexible and innovative planning practices are also analysed and discussed in URBACT projects. In the Re-Block final conference in Iasi the importance of flexible governance and the notion of Public-Private-People-Partnership (PPPP) have been emphasized by Pietro Elisei. Many of the cities of the Re-Block network mentioned the need for innovative methods to involve minorities and disadvantaged groups into decision-making, especially in service provision. Cities and neighbourhoods in difficulty have to develop their governance innovation in order to move from hierarchical attitudes to enabling, partnership initiating approaches.

    As a practical example the case of Leipzig has been shown in the conference by Stefan Geiss. The Grünau prefabricated housing estate had once 85 thousand residents. Quick shrinkage of the area has led to 26% vacancy rate, as a result of which over 7.700 flats had to be demolished. Around the end of the 2000s the city changed its strategy, recognizing that in economically weaker cities it is important to give to people new hopes based on the “advantages of being poor“ (low real estate prices, empty spaces and buildings…). People have to be approached and made interested to think about new solutions. Along this philosophy innovative governance attempts were launched:

    • after two years of discussions with local residents a new neighbourhood management system has been introduced with semi-professional protagonists (i.e. contracting the most active residents)
    • neighbourhood gardening was launched as a first step to evoke the interest of people towards the future of their area
    • in a freight yard area people established an NGO which started discussions with the railway company. Now the city buys part of the railway area and hands it over to the people to change it into green, and other uses.

    According to the Leipzig experience enough time should be assured to achieve that local groups become co-developers. In this process cheaper, even interim solutions have to be allowed instead of ‘perfect’ and expensive solutions. As Thomas Knorr-Siedow emphasized, the city might give up total control… for example the Leipzig Wächterhäuser (Guard Houses) scheme is an attempt to hand over empty building to groups of people without knowing exactly what will happen. Furthermore, as most land and buildings are owned by private actors, the city has little chances to intervene directly and flexibility remains the main thing the city can decide about. As a result of the new ways of planning and thinking and the political courage to allow development from below in Leipzig, today even from Berlin many young people move to Leipzig where life is cheaper and opportunities for informality (to get empty houses for free, to start urban gardening in empty areas) are higher.

    In the TUTUR final conference in Rome the local politician Giovanni Caudo summarized very clearly the new philosophy of District III of Rome: in crisis times flexibility is the best way for local municipalities to re-capitalize under-used assets. Temporary use of empty spaces should also be considered as important tool to mobilize citizens – it could help to achieve that everyone gets access to a minimal working space where some useful activity can be carried out (e.g. co-working). Flexible labour market would also need flexibility of working space. 

    Written by Iván Tosics

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