A multi-year participatory intervention program in Milan involved the area's inhabitants in the process of urban regeneration, which aimed to enhance multi-disciplinarity and average times and express a policy on the suburbs, with the ambition to replicate it across the country.
Problems and Purpose
Lacittàintorno aims to promote the well-being and the quality of life; it advances local communities through cultural, artistic and debate activities, as well as social cohesion and economic development. It aims to make the neighborhoods a theater for different audiences, including other urban areas.
Various different actors compete in this process, such as institutions, companies, students, and artists; they represent different generations, with different cultural backgrounds. Ultimately, this project aims to widen the social and economic borders of the area, and stimulate creativity to imagine new city geographies.
The project has 8 actions:
- Increase services and functions in neighborhoods, improving spaces to stimulate the protagonism of communities.
- Opening of PuntoCom, community point, as an open and plural, multifunctional center of gravity.
- Strengthen trade, shared gardens and vegetable gardens of neighborhoods, and pastry shops, in order to open new spaces and commercial activities. Facilitate workshops for children, to open horizons by working right on the neighborhood.
- Promote the protagonism of communities in regeneration processes.
- Provide a rich and varied 'cultural diet' by getting the public back to different, varied tastes: public readings, neighborhood cinema, condominium library, music festivals, streets and buildings such as open-air museums, places where you can find unexpected flavors and foods.
- Promote the development of new city geographies
- The "quartieri intorno" ("neighbourhoods around") will host cultural, artistic and debate activities aimed at different audiences and not only aimed at local residents. The goal is to transform their territories into new centers of attraction and stimulus for all other neighborhoods.
- Involve the identified targets: citizens, third sector, institutions, companies, cultural nomads, students. The union of these multiple actors is aimed at increasing and improving the services and functions in the neighborhoods, laying the foundations for social and economic growth of the neighborhood itself.
Background History and Context
"During 2016, in its twenty-fifth year of activity, the Cariplo Foundation launched an important novelty: four high-impact programs that affect the suburbs, the recovery of internal areas, youth employment and social enterprise.
1) AttivAree: aimed at increasing the attractiveness of the internal areas, reducing their isolation and promoting good return practices.
2) Cariplo Factory: the creation of a 2400 m2 hub, which through the Cariplo Foundation network contributes to generating employment for young people.
3) Cariplo Social Innovation: to support the Third Sector and the new subjects that appear in the field of social entrepreneurship with social finance / impact investing.
4) Lacittàintorno: on the theme of urban regeneration with a two-year intersectoral program (2017-2018, 2019-2020), aimed at defining an intervention prototype to be replicated in different city realities. The aim is to promote the well-being of citizens through the increase of services and functions in the neighborhoods subject to intervention; the activation and strengthening of communities and local networks; and the improvement of the area's internal and external image. The main target device is the "community food hub", a hybrid and multifunctional space, managed by local actors but not only, where citizens can access different opportunities — cultural, aggregative, training and work — where food will be a pretext to promote aggregation, improve skills, and allow the place to sustain itself economically. The program also promotes the strengthening of schools, proximity trade, the role of citizens in the regeneration and care of common goods. All this will be enriched and supported by cultural, artistic and cultural debate activities geared towards cultural participation in the neighborhoods and to integrate the latter into the city's "new geographies".
The reference area is that of Milan, the area in which the Cariplo Foundation operates. Precisely the areas involved in the project are 4 suburban districts of the municipality, located north-east (Adriano and Via Padova) and south-east (Corvetto and Chiaravalle) in the center.
Each of these neighborhoods has its own characteristics which are described on the project website. In a more in-depth and updated way, they will be reported in handouts / slides that the DATSU researchers will prepare as a preliminary survey to implement the actions. This documentation is currently only available for the Adriano district. 
The geourbanistic and social reconnaissance, carried out with interactive methodologies, has returned a synthetic text with infographics and maps.
Adriano is interpreted by the urban planners of DATSU, as a "non-traditional periphery":
- fragmented territory, composed of several parts with different identities;
- territory affected by specific transformations to complete a project urban 'interrupted';
- territory inhabited mainly by young middle class families with home ownership;
- territory not marked by conditions of socio-economic hardship;
- punctual degradation conditions that generated conflict (presence of power lines and public health, illegal occupation in the area of 'Adriano 60' and 'ex RSA ').
Adriano's geographical position connotes it as:
- marginal compared to Milan and isolated with poor urban connection;
- characterized by a lack of territorial controls for sociality, aggregation and the culture and activities of trade (food);
- block within the metropolitan area, joint of an articulated supralocal system.
For the other 3 districts only the general summary is available, the materials to download — it is written — will be "available shortly" (rel. 3/8/20).
Via Padova, a central suburb in Milan, located north of Loreto, is well served by underground and surface transport, which easily connects it to the center. It is a lively area that is accompanied by areas perceived as "high social tension." On the one hand, there is a wealth of ideas, neighborhood cinema, shops and new services that become places of aggregations, while on the other persists poverty, overcrowding and dilapidated housing.
Via Padova, is a migrant, multiethnic area, where commercial development, different places of worship and critical issues coexist. Around this intersection of streets and stories, there is one of the hubs of the neighborhood: the Trotter park, another gathering place, and a new creative hub is being born here, bringing innovation projects a few steps away from bowls and groceries.
Corvetto "is located in the southern area of Milan. The suburbs alternate residential construction, built between the 1940s and 1950s, with public housing units up to places with names that refer to extra-metropolitan natures: Porto di Mare, a large green space, and the urban agricultural park of the Vettabbia. Here the entrance to the east ring road, subway line 3 and the Milano FS station facilitate the passage.
On site there are an independent bookshop, a hostel, an Arci club and several cooperatives and associations. Between roads bordering the railway panorama of the tracks, a new landscape has arisen made of galleries and spaces dedicated to art. At one time, when the neighborhood was called "Gambalavita", there was an eighteenth-century patrician residence, which became a farmhouse and then disappeared. The words present here are: integration, creativity, sport and agriculture."
Chiaravalle “is a rural village located in the area of the Agricultural-South park of Milan, following the Martesana canal, on the border with the Municipality of San Donato Milanese. The territory is most often named and mentioned for the Chiaravalle Abbey: one of the first examples of Gothic architecture in Italy, the medieval core of this area, whose tower has a historic bell dating back to the 15th century.
A village that is characterized by being a green island, it is surrounded by nature but with the deficit of being little or not served by means of transport; for example, there is no subway line. A village that has areas in a state of neglect such as La Grangia farmhouse or the former gym, but which on the other hand is also a place for new building projects and a shared garden. It is an island that focuses on issues such as culture and sport, and at the same time rich in associations, committees and neighborhood groups, with services." The area was dedicated to food, accommodation, and agricultural production.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Fondazione Cariplo is the funder, through the intersectoral program. A lender with well-defined purposes and strategies, one of its 4 focuses is Lacittàintorno, a three-year project for which a total of 10 million euros have been invested by Cariplo.
There is a steering committee for the project to which they belong: Alessandro Balducci, Andrea Calori, Ilda Curti, Marco Ermentini, and Carmine Garzia. The skills of the members are not given on the project website (ed. Balducci and Calori are teachers of the Polytechnic) and the role of the committee is not given within the overall governance of the project.
Municipality of Milan is a strategic partner for this first phase, and with them, a collaboration agreement has been signed to promote the development of some city areas, experimenting actions marked by social inclusion and sustainability.
DAStU is the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies of Milan Polytechnic. It provides support for the program with an interactive territorial research path, producing cognitive and strategic frameworks relating to the context of intervention. The staff involved in the development of the knowledge framework of the Adriano district alone, one of the 4 areas involved in the project, were composed of a scientific committee of 4 people (Balducci, Pasqui, Longo, Gabellini), a research group of 5 members (with scientific manager Prof. Francesca Cognetti) and the collaboration of 2 other people belonging to another laboratory (Ladec) of the Polytechnic. The amount of remuneration and the methods / reasons for selecting this partner are not given.
Around a dozen other active partners have provided an organizational contribution or mobilized resources for the realization of events or actions related to the overall project; e.g. the Spaziopensiero Social Cooperative for the involvement of elementary school children; the Embassy of the Netherlands and the cheFare Association for the organization of Civic Media Art, together with the Dutch artist Kevin Van Braak; the Association Not reserved for the organization of the Sottocasa action.
The precise number of people involved in the organization is not given, but about 40 main actors are involved in the coordination of the project, at the moment (rel. 3/8/20).
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Each action has adopted its own recruitment strategies:
Analysis of the neighborhoods around
For the survey in the neighborhoods, inspections and interviews were carried out and meetings were organized. In the preliminary interviews, the interviewees were "selected according to criteria of relevance for the project and among different types of actors, first identifying a shortlist of 'forerunners' then reducing it to 15" relevant "individuals. The interviews were carried out at the interviewee's workplace or by walking through the neighborhood.
In the territorial narrative workshops, by invitation, from 15 to 20 "active subjects in the territory" for each district took part, while in the territorial reading walkshop, 7 to 20 "stage-subjects and the participation of many other local actors"  for each neighborhood. Overall, around 36-40 local actors are listed for each neighborhood. 
For the 2 community maps, 14 (for Adriano)  and 23 (for Corvetto)  members of associations, local committees, bodies contributed. Workshops would also be organized, however, the number and participants are not given. The 2 community maps were created during a cycle of training meetings with local actors at the municipal offices of the affected neighborhoods which was held in 3 seminars, aimed at actors and staff of the entities, for each neighborhood.
In all the interventions, the 6 members of the DATSU research team led and guaranteed a constant presence.
Community points (PuntoCom), are civic spaces for the neighborhood community and its organizations, as environments for creativity. In Corvetto, the PuntoCom is located in the local market, where 4 stalls have been assigned to the social cooperative, La Strada which, together with the partners Milano Bicycle Coalition and Terzo Paesaggio, will create a community kitchen and a cultural laboratory with a bicycle workshop corner. There, workshops, events, and collective activities with a high social impact will be carried out in collaboration with citizens and local associations. Renovation works are underway in the other districts or management notices have been published.
Sottocasa is a multi-year program with no expiration of financial support for non-profit initiatives of local communities. Those who want to develop events, initiatives, ideas in the neighborhoods can apply and obtain funding up to a maximum of 30,000 euros, putting their own co-financing of 10-30%, their own organizational and logistical resources, ability and intention to work in the network and in partnership with other actors. To date, 120 events/initiatives have been supported through this tool with the participation of a large but unspecified number of actors and people. Among these are self-building workshops for the furnishing of Corvetto's collaborative kitchen in which a master set designer (Max Zanelli), a team of architects (Third Landscape) led a free laboratory for students in architecture and design, for a week, full time, in December 2019. 
Another initiative concerns the Pacts for the care and management of the Vettabbia Park, a changing park in the urban area south of Milan.  On 19/7/19 (18:30 - 20:00), another appointment was organized (at the Anguriera di Chiaravalle) of a workshop already started, with co-planning tables, to define the objectives and the actions to be carried out in the park. The action called Luoghicomuni involves many other interventions, and is coordinated by Labsus in collaboration with Italia Nostra Nord Milan. However, reports or more details on the 120 initiatives could not be collected.
On the project's Facebook pages, there are numerous posts that partially demonstrate the atmosphere or the outcome of the initiatives, also with photos and video interviews with the inhabitants, traders, artists who live and work in the areas.
Finally, the 4 areas have been connected by Abbracciami, a cycle-pedestrian path that does not pass through the center and crosses green areas, which are the places of Lacittàintorno's initiatives and projects, so as to make mobility constant and slower and stimulate greater attention to one's surroundings as well as the proximity relationships and social places of the neighborhoods.
Methods and Tools Used
A classic tool of social research, in this case it was used as follows: “The informal conversation includes 24 questions divided into four specific narrative dimensions:
- The history of the subject within the territory: biography, planning, skills, target, local roots and engagement keys.
- The relationship developed by the subject towards the territory: job prospects, local networks and leadership, participation mechanisms and citizens' activation themes.
- The description of the territory from within: specificity, problems, resources, geographies, communities and populations.
- The representation of the territory to the city: borders, relationships, interconnections, centrality and framing strategies in an overall urban vision" 
Workshops / co-design laboratories, are group interaction methods similar to focus groups. Led by facilitator and designers (architects/town planners), the participants acted with the help of maps, drawing material, and images, in order to discuss and elaborate plans, objectives, and project actions.
Community maps: Based on the idea of Parish Maps, created in Dorset (England), by the Common Ground organization, founded in 1983, community maps can be considered the formal result of a participatory process, through which a group or network of groups discover that they share certain solid values (fixed and solidarity points, not liquid ones) and a perspective, a sense, a direction (what to do with those values in the future) to the point of calling themselves communities (valueholder network). This process should then induce further awareness to demand greater public attention and therefore to demand new opportunities for participation [ed]. The elaboration of the map can follow different interactive paths with various techniques, including individual interviews, small group deliberations, focus groups, and Charrettes. In this case, participants were in seminars of 20-30 people.
Walkshop: These were group walks in which qualified witnesses meet who propose a narration of the context with which the group can converse. In the case of Corvetto, 4 situations were visited with 1 or 2 witnesses per stage, in addition to the stage in a significant bar for the coffee break.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The project started in October 2017 and is still active. It is a very ambitious and complex meta-path that mobilizes a large number of actors and organizational entities that cannot be easily monitored by a single direction.
Analysis of the neighborhoods around
In the first phase, the DAStU carried out an analysis of the neighborhoods through literature, statistical data, and observation of the territory, as well as the solicitation and involvement of the inhabitants.
Of the preliminary interviews, no specific report is given, nor of the workshops. All the collected material was synthesized and filtered by DAStU researchers and brought together in the report contained in the 3 Notebooks dedicated to the analysis of the 4 neighborhoods. The reports in the Notebooks return cross-sectional readings to the neighborhood and short narratives on glimpses or parts of them.
For example, in relation to the Corvetto district, it emerged that the inhabitants questioned do not have a strong sense of belonging, sometimes avoiding mentioning the area because it has been stigmatized as a degraded or at risk of delinquency region. Rather, they refer to neutral places, such as the names of Metro or railway stops or to more contained places (streets, squares, stops). The narration continued by describing the neighborhood "at human height" focusing on its characteristics that the urban planner interpreted.
Particular attention is paid to the covered market, a resting environment of ordinary humanity. As some traders from behind the counters tell, the market has a "mostly regular clientele. Over the years, it has increasingly become a relational space, a discreet garrison of sociality in a square full of social tensions, between empty or incomplete buildings, petty crime and real and perceived insecurity. The market today has 20 stalls, 12 of which are occupied by high-proximity commercial activities." In 2005, it was intended to be demolished while in the "summer of 2018 that option seems to have been archived and so four other stalls have been destined for social and cultural animation thanks to the Lacittàintorno program of Fondazione Cariplo. But all this would not have been possible if the inhabitants had not long since cultivated an intense desire for re-appropriation of the square and the market. As a lady waiting for the butcher tells us: "The spark has come: the square will change and the market will change because people's mentality has already changed". 
The discussion continued with a socio-urbanistic reading of the territory: the observation scale rises, maps, connections, infrastructures, long-term history, abandoned areas, the population of 36,000 of which come into play 9,000 (25%) of foreign origin and a concentration in the age group of 20 to 39 years, attracted in part by new developments south of Porta Romana.
Still further south is the rural village of Chiaravalle, in the South Agricultural Park, with just over a thousand inhabitants, which have fallen by 5% in the last ten years also due to the low attractiveness of the foreign population in this territory (only 13%). Here the predominant age group is 40-64 years (42%). The territory, after years of decline, is now regaining its attractiveness by virtue of a renewed quality of the historic building, the presence of the South Milan Agricultural Park and gentle mobility routes — already existing and in progress — that connect it directly to the city.  The narration continued with the particular places and already active social networks of the numerous actors that liven up the area. The interpretations followed the points of light and shadow, the potential, and the critical points. The focus was on the multifunctional agricultural suburban area as one of development and innovation.
Strategic design purposes followed. The following directions were proposed: to develop the cultural initiatives already in place and to make them attractive for the whole city as super-local attraction poles. Community Hubs (the PuntiCom) are needed to strengthen and connect "tune" actors and initiatives towards shared transformations, through a work platform that also aims to bring out or enable "fragile subjects" who do not participate in the active life of the neighborhood. Simultaneously connecting the policies and strategic frameworks shared with the actors, it allows the emergence of the imaginations of "marginal" but numerous populations such as the elderly, children and women of foreign origin; and enhances the skills to strengthen the sense of belonging with local brands, narrations, maps and routes, and recurring events. 
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Most of the target actions of the course are carried out or in progress. Overall, 140 events/micro-actions have been activated by the project to date (rel. 4/8/20). In Corvetto, the PuntoCom is already active, assigning 4 vacant stalls to local actors; in the other districts, they are still under construction. The macro-actions, Luoghicomuni and Sottocasa, have developed various events and initiatives. The cycle and pedestrian path is active. The workshops with the children also produced neighborhood guides. The evaluation or self-evaluation action of the project is missing or not detectable, provided in a last box of the "actions" page"  to which, however, there are no references, links or insights.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The current trend — especially in very large projects — to pour most of the reports onto social channels, without filters or verifiable tools shared with the participants, makes process analysis problematic and difficult. On the one hand, public interventions are reported as such (video interviews on FB), on the other, macroscopic syntheses and interpretations are made without having clear empirical references that are not buildings, streets, or surfaces. Transparency is therefore ambivalent. Further, the remuneration of the research and project team and the reporting of the individual initiatives supported by the Cariplo Foundation are missing. There are no clear decision-making processes and it is unclear when, how and with whom decisions occurred. There are reports of workshops on the ideas-force, but there are no conclusive reports. Particularly interesting would be the "evaluation" action which has not (yet) been initiated. This would allow an understanding of what has been invested in terms of co-decision-making and co-planning with the inhabitants and if they have perceived a sense of responsibility with respect to the project as a whole and in the individual actions. Without a shared and participatory evaluation, the whole path will seem more like an urban regeneration and resuscitation program (as stated), fairly well funded, conducted by urban planners, and quite practical in social field research.
Department of Architecture and Urban Studies of Milan Polytechnic
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