Problems and purposes
The Western Front is a district of the extreme western outskirts of Pavia, where, between 2013 and 2016, a project was carried out to promote community ties, activating an unprecedented collaboration between citizens, organizations, social enterprises and the Municipality aimed at regenerating degraded or underused spaces and to give life to events to support a new image of the neighborhood (Cau, 2016).
The project involves citizens, social enterprises, associations, the Municipality of Pavia and ALER in actions aimed at (Link 1 - QNFO):
- build a shared representation of the neighborhood and its collective memory;
- activate opportunities for positive aggregation for young people;
- translating experiences of personal and collective hardship into opportunities;
- regenerate and adopt public spaces in a state of decay;
- making the citizens protagonists and activating them.
History and geography
The boundaries of the "western front" substantially correspond to those of the "old" Pavia Ovest1 district: the project intervention area consists of a portion of territory well delimited to the south by the Ticino river, to the east by the railway, which separates it from the city center, to the north from Provincial Road 11 and from Via Aselli, which mark the border with the university town and the health center; the district, peripheral, borders, finally, to the west with the countryside between the territory of the Municipality of Pavia and that of the nearby Torre d'Isola. The inhabitants consider Pavia Ovest a neighborhood: "broken up, insecure, without places and opportunities for aggregation, without a soul and without a real community of citizens, distrustful and closed, without communication and collaboration, with growing problems of youth discomfort, characterized from some districts and places characterized by serious social emergencies "(Link 1 - QNFO).
Pavia is a Lombard city, the provincial capital with 68,000 inhabitants. In 1971 it counted 88,800 after which it suffered a population outflow towards the smaller neighboring municipalities. There are numerous foreign communities, in particular Romanians and Ukrainians, which together represent almost 14% of the residents.
At the helm of the municipal administration, almost all the main political forces have historically alternated. The mayor Massimo Depaoli supported by the PD has been in office since 2014. In his program, the term participation occurs several times, but in generic terms, apart from the intention of establishing the “participatory budget”.
From the information available online it was not possible to better understand the history of how the project was born and why the Pavia Ovest area was chosen and where those quoted considerations expressed in the project description emerge.
Promoters and lenders
The Training Service Center is a Coop. Sociale di Pavia founded in 1997 in the field of training and job placement of people at risk of exclusion. He is the leader of the project curated by Livilla Bottinelli and Marco Cau .
The main contributors are the authorities: Municipality of Pavia , Department of Social Services, Department of Education, Youth Policies; ALER of Pavia (Lombard Company for Residential Construction, the agencies that have replaced the Autonomous Institutes of Popular Housing).
The partners of the project are: Comunità Casa del Giovane ; Parish of San Lanfranco ; CEM - Media Education Center ; Young People's Association .
The network of actors involved: University of Pavia, Department of Humanities - Psychology Section; Volunteer Service Center; Pavese Social Consortium; Parish of San Salvatore; Parish of Santa Maria di Caravaggio; Friends of San Lanfranco Onlus Association; Association of Amici Oratorio San Mauro Onlus; Coop. Social Active Disability; SOS Fragility Pavia Ovest; Babele Onlus; Comin; GVV Group “Francesca Sfondrini”; APS "Cazzamali".
The co-financier is the Cariplo Foundation (Savings Banks of the Lombard Provinces) but on the project website there is no data on the extent of the financing.
Selection of participants
The overall network of promoters was born with the project, derived from a reading of the context by the designers and, it is assumed, from direct contacts. There is no more information on how the network of promoters was created, the schedule of the meetings, the participants and the minutes of the coordination.
The overall path in three years has developed in 3 territorial areas and two transversal for young people. They concerned playful, recreational, care of the places, formative activities. In addition, there were extraordinary and structural maintenance interventions by the Municipality in the gardens and public spaces, and by ALER, as regards the houses.
Apart from the coordination meetings with the partners (which however are not reported), the initiatives were therefore open to all visitors to the neighborhood and focused on interventions to enhance the meeting places (parishes and the COMES municipal youth center), public spaces (green areas and building spaces) and socialization, aggregation and training activities with targeted categories, in particular: young pre-adolescents and adolescents and users of the daytime mental health center in the neighborhood. 30 to 50 people took part in the more interactive initiatives (shared cleaning, workshops, presentation of the playground executive project), 30 to 300 people took part in local events (walking, listening activities, neighborhood snacks, parties, festivals). The publicity of the project and the meetings was channeled with: word of mouth through the actors who are in the area, the flyers, the blog of the dedicated site and Facebook; through the latter, the narration of the course's actions was also channeled (with little follow-up, very few likes and no comments).
Methods and tools
The cross-sector partnership  is an approach, a design method, conceived by the No Profit Network - CSV Trentino (Link 2). It is a guide to collaboration in partnership to build transversal, trans-sectoral projects. It is made up of 5 stages: Explore !, Collaborate !, Focus !, Find energies !, Communicate !, each stage has 3 moments of in-depth analysis (Cau et al., 2016).
- How was the project born? A design process is triggered starting: from the exploration of an idea or from the knowledge of a context or from the investigation of a problem .
- Designing in partnership means above all collaborating, or working with others. The process of collaboration to share and expand the social capital , to build the project ecosystem and to outline the map of the actors is intrinsically dialogic, relational, with a high intensity of cooperation.
- With the focus begins a work phase more based on discipline and concreteness: it is necessary to make choices, define general and specific objectives , define a precise plan of actions and activities, prefigure the methods of managing the project in partnership and skills necessary to govern it . Probably the work carried out on these fields will lead (in the circular and recursive logic that characterizes co-design) to redefine the starting idea; just as surely it will be necessary to return to the context and the problem; above all, the focus of the actions will lead to reconsidering stakeholders and collaborations, propensities and availability, to redefining the function to be requested / assigned to the various project interlocutors.
- To carry out a project it is necessary to put in place both tangible and intangible resources. Resources have costs, which need to be defined and declined. The costs must be covered with revenues , against which it is necessary to identify adequate sources of financing.
- Communicating means sharing, sharing, being in relationship. It therefore means building and transmitting the public story of the entire design process , from the design phase to the implementation phase, up to the reporting of the results achieved (ib.).
Outreach means reaching out, going towards someone to include them, communicate and contact them by intercepting them in their context and in their daily habits / paths. There are many ways of listening and involvement that are inspired by this approach, for example door-to-door campaigns, street banquets, street entertainment or on public transport, condominium or company meetings, neighborhood walks, lounges neighborhood, etc. (Ib.).
The activating meetings , as defined in this path, are multi-actor meetings in which paths and projects, initiatives are presented and suggestions, criticisms, expressions of interest in collaborating are collected (Ib.).
The participatory planning workshops are aimed at adults and at least one for children. “We work in plenary sessions and in working groups, we mediate between desires and constraints, two or three fairly defined design sketches are outlined. If possible, municipal technicians are involved to develop more defined and executive projects.
With participatory initiatives in this path we mean initiatives, generally of communities, such as the cleaning of a park, in which a group of volunteers undertakes a collective action of cleaning, maintenance, organization of parties. "Citizens who get busy attract the attention of the media, decision makers" and actors (Ib.).
The public assemblies held in this path were held in easily accessible and recognized indoor places; in them the definitive projects are presented, announcements of the start of the works are given, they are occasions to retrace the path followed and to prefigure future steps.
Deliberation, decisions and interaction with the public
The intervention paths implemented are 3; The Pellizza district , the Colombarone block and via Aselli , where targeted initiatives have been carried out where the ALER blocks are located; in addition, 2 transversal initiatives aimed at young people have been created: Cinemabit , a free video making course for children (14-16 years) organized by the CEM (Media Education Center) at the San Lanfranco Parish; Ritmo Urbano , a free industrial and street percussion workshop for children, held at the San Mauro youth center. Finally, an already existing experience “ So-Stare in Recipro-Città ” curated by the So-Stare Association (an association of psychiatric users) was enhanced.
Rione Pellizza . The path was started on 13 June with a neighborhood walk , in which 30 people, operators and volunteers of the partners and of the project network participated, to which some citizens spontaneously joined. The aim was to arouse attention, curiosity and interest (media and city workers), build and strengthen the working group of the Pellizza district and break the ice to start a listening activity.
Between June and July, outreach activities were held on 4 occasions, “Tell us your”, in which the working group initiated a dialogue with the inhabitants. "In the four agreed days of June and July, first in via Pampuri, then in via Martinetti, finally in via Fratelli Cervi, we installed a green umbrella and a red table with coordinated chairs and to the citizens, who gradually approached curious , we asked to tell us about the neighborhood with three positive words and with three others that expressed criticality. Everyone was invited to have their photo-portrayed: - to change things you need faces and people, not just gossip - was our motto ”(Link 1 - Rione Pellizza). These activities (50 participants) converged on November 18, 2013 in an event-celebration of mutual knowledge, a neighborhood snack, at the Comes municipal center (120 attendees). The actors of the network made their resources and commitment available, the guys from Ritmo Urbano brought music and animation, those from Cinemabit carried out video interviews and created a photographic exhibition in the Pellizza district, entitled "Tell us your , with the words, faces and places of the Pellizza district ". A representative from ALER was also present. The Familiarmente event was held on November 21, with the So-Stare association and the family members of the ITACA project. Psychiatric users and family members organized a thematic meeting on the relationships and experiences in mental health of users and families, also including theatrical moments curated by the Teatro delle Chimere.
The Christmas and Carnival parties were a further opportunity to socialize with Christmas workshops for children, theatrical performances, snacks, Cinemabit always present. On May 17, 2014, the activities to enhance the green area begin, a semi-abandoned children's playground in via Martinetti. With the aim of recovering it and making it beautiful, equipped and welcoming, a cleaning day is organized, from 9:00 to 13:00, on a Wednesday. The information is spread with leaflets distributed in the holes house by house. 30 citizens will be involved in cleaning and preparing the final picnic. The initiative will also be supported by the operators of ASM Pavia (urban hygiene company) and by the network of partners. Following this initiative, on the recommendation of the working group, the Municipality installed a fence and an entrance gate on the side of via Martinetti "which dissuaded from improper use" (presence of waste, broken glass, dog area) (Link 1. Rione Pellizza).
Three design workshops (30 people involved) are then set up in the park in via Martinetti, on 20 November and 11 December 2014, in the evening, aimed at adults and on 13 December, during Christmas activities, aimed at children. In the first workshop, participants were asked what kind of activities they would like to do in the park, their wishes. Desires have emerged for a place: protected for mothers and children, for summer parties and birthdays, for school recreational activities, to tell stories and fairy tales for children and grandparents, quiet for the elderly, a meeting place for young people, for picnics, a garden with plants and flowers and a small vegetable garden, for team games, etc. Then he was asked which furnishings would make it suitable for the wishes (slide, swing, basket, tables and benches, etc.) and the need arose spontaneously to equip it with two entrances, one main on via Martinetti and one secondary on the courtyard of the Center. Street number.
In the second evening we moved on to designing the desires so some constraints were introduced; information obtained following a comparison with the municipal green maintenance technicians to whom the outcome of the first laboratory was presented. These constraints concerned: the definition of "playground" which limits the area to play for children without the possibility of introducing equipment and furnishings for sports activities; the need to preserve trees and grass; prohibition of lighting fires near homes and therefore the impossibility of barbecues; negative experiences of misuse related to other situations in which a gazebo was installed. The available budget of 10,000 Euros was then indicated and the equipment catalog with prices was made available. The work took place in plenary and in two groups. Drawings were also made in the children's workshop in which it was deduced that the slide and the swing are the most requested games (Link 1 - Rione Pellizza). Other parties and meeting occasions follow for Christmas and Carnival 2014.
On 1 April 2015, the executive project of the park in via Martinetti was presented at the library managed by APS Cazzamali with parties and refreshments (50 attendees). The project was thus completed by the municipal technicians who try as much as possible to comply with the requests, but on the question of having a secondary entrance connecting with the courtyard and the facilities of the civic center, no feedback is given in the project and none are found. in the report.
The new park was inaugurated on April 26, 2015, in the afternoon, and was presented to the whole city, as part of the Bambininfestival event, to which all the actors of the project contributed. The path ends with Christmas activities with animated readings of fairy tales, children's workshops, charity fishing, music, snacks, hot chocolates.
Nuovo Colombarone is a rather large ALER block of flats. In this context, the activation of a Day Center was promoted at the Oratory of San Lanfranco, where various recreational and cultural activities, parties, organizing events and socializing can be carried out. The inauguration was attended by ALER executives, the Councilor for the House of the Municipality, the Councilor for the House of the Lombardy Region, as well as representatives of the network.
Within Via Aselli , in 2013 a neighborhood snack was organized, as well as Christmas initiatives and the renovated buildings were inaugurated with celebrations; on 26 November 2014 the route was animated by the acrobatics of jugglers and a snack, on 10 February 2015 by the Carnival and again by Christmas 2015.
Influence, results and effects
The results of such a project can only be detected by field surveys by subjects unrelated to the path and the network after a few years from the end of the project. The participatory methodologies used here, on simple and recreational projects, were intended to be a channel for communicating, breaking mistrust and fostering collaboration and solidarity in a marginal and peripheral context, but still endowed with social capital and self-organization.
Analysis and lessons learned
If communication was to be a key point of the transversal design approach adopted, transparency was not properly taken care of. The information is incomplete because it is missing: the project and its path (as delivered to the Cariplo Foundation); the reasons for the choice of the western area, the history and socio-geography of the context, the budget and the amount of funding; the human resources employed are not explicit; reporting of context analysis and initial listening; the report of the path carried out is randomly inserted in a blog, there is no in-depth information (eg minutes of coordination meetings with the actors, nor of the workshops, nor of the assembly); there are no data on the achievement of objectives, indicators, self-assessments, final listening phases.
Participatory methodology can be a good pre-text model for socializing. In this case, however, the responsibility (empowerment) sold to the participants was very low; both for the impact scale: mini-playground; both because the workshop appeared to be little more than a guided consultation (without the possibility of creative expression of the participants - perhaps with a brief preliminary exploration of other experiences); and because certain choices were made before the design workshops (for example, the installation of the fence); and because the project presentation assembly was an informative moment where the participants did not have / could decide anything, but only celebrate.
If participatory methodologies are a good pretext for socializing, it can also be said that socializing, celebrating and having snacks is a good pretext for not letting people participate.
Given the lack of transparency, the doubt also emerges that the inclusiveness of all the actors potentially interested in the area and the project has been complete and consequently also the preliminary sharing of the path.
Cau, M. (2016) Regenerating spaces in the suburbs: an intervention model, in: W2 Paths of second welfare, 28/7> http://www.secondowelfare.it/governi-locali/enti-locali/rigenerare-spazi -in-urban-peripheries-an-intervention- model.html # 1 (release 4/2/18).
Cau, M., et al. (2016), Maino, G., Maturo, M., Designing in cross-sector partnerships: a kit to facilitate the process, in: W2 Paths to second welfare, 6/7> http://www.secondowelfare.it/ third-sector / design-in-partnership-cross-sector.html (ril. 4/2/18).
- Something New from the Western Front (QNFO)> http://qualcosadinuovosulfronteoccidentale.blogspot.it/p/blog-page_22.html (ril. 3/2/18).
- No Profit Network - CSV Trentino> http://www.volontariatotrentino.it (ril. 4/2/18).
 At the No Profit Network - CSV Trentino, the publication, "I know all" toolkit, is available both online and in print, consisting of 5 booklets to build transversal projects in the social, cultural, environmental, urban regeneration, management of common needs, local development> http://www.volontariatotrentino.it/pubblicazioni (ril. 4/2/18).