The Municipality of San Vito dei Normanni started a participatory process to identify a management model for its important abandoned or under-used real estate assets, and ultimately develop a proposal for the municipal regulation of common goods.
Problems and Purpose
The Municipality of San Vito dei Normanni intended to initiate a participatory process of participation with citizens and the organizations to which they belong, in order to jointly identify uses, governance tools, and models for available public real estate assets, eventually merging this into a proposal for the Municipal Regulation of Common Goods.
The objective of the process was not only to initiate extensive participation relating to the discussion and elaboration of a proposal for public real estate, but to substantiate the participation of all citizens through more than just a real referendum.
Background History and Context
The project arose due to a regional operational program (POR), more precisely: following the Sustainable Urban Development Strategy (SISUS) being presented by the Urban Authority composed of the Municipality of San Vito dei Normanni and the Municipality of Carovigno at the "Avviso pubblico per la selezione delle Aree Urbane e per l’individuazione delle Autorità Urbane - POR PUGLIA 2014-2020, Asse XII “Sviluppo Urbano Sostenibile”, Azione 12.1 “Rigenerazione Urbana Sostenibile” (translated: Public Notice for the selection of Urban Areas and for the identification of Urban Authorities - POR PUGLIA 2014-2020, Axis XII "Sustainable Urban Development", Action 12.1 "Sustainable Urban Regeneration). The project with the same name "Santu Vitu Mia" was proposed and conducted in 2017, with the support of regional funding specifically designated for participation. On that occasion, a document for urban regeneration (DPRU) emerged. This case is in continuity with that experience.
San Vito dei Normanni is a town of 19,000 inhabitants in Salento. Its political tradition has always seen an alternation between center-left and center-right. The last center-left council led by Domenico Conte took over from a center-right council in 2015.
The project is part of the regional participation policy program initiated by President Michele Emiliano, who has also been in office since 2015 and who promoted the regional law on participation 28/2017. The regional structures (Puglia Region - Participation Office) that work for the implementation of the policies were nominated and implemented in the summer of 2018, including the online portal "Puglia partecipa" (trans. Puglia participates).
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Municipality of San VIto dei Normanni was the promoter of the process and the decision-maker relating to the objective of the process and the drafting of the Municipal Regulation on common goods.
Puglia Region - Participation Office coordinates all the processes and activities to promote regional participation. The Office prepares the call for local authorities and manages applications from local authorities. A maximum of 20,000 euros is paid to each project. However, the applicant must contribute 20% to co-finance the total estimated costs. The requested / disbursed regional contribution is not reported and therefore the overall cost of the process is unknown.
Cooperativa sociale Qualcosa di Diverso (transl. Social Cooperative Qualcosa di Diverso) (also known as Ex Fadda) was active for years within the management of the ExFadda Urban Laboratory of San Vito dei Normanni, an example of a disused public building which was regenerated through practices of social innovation that enhanced the territory. It dealt with the conception and overall management of the process, including graphic and video communication made use of professional collaborators. The remuneration received by the cooperative, which provided at least four people involved in the project, is not known.
Scuola Open Source (SOS) (translated: Open Source School), a research institution based in Bari, was specifically called by Ex Fadda to design and manage the XYZ laboratorio (workshop). It was selected out of concern for impartiality, as a third body with respect to the territory of San Vito dei Normanni. The remuneration obtained is not given, neither of the organizers nor of the six teachers invited for the laboratorio.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
19/6 - 24/6/19. Establishment of the working group and selection of the property: administration, technical offices, facilitators were involved. In particular, the working group was made up of: Vincenzo Sardelli (City Councilor of San Vito), Juri Battaglini (architect, Studio Metamor), Roberta Lopalco and 2 collaborators (Studio Lopalco, architects), 4 expert members of the Ex Fadda (Marco Notarnicola, Roberto Covolo, Carol Nogueira, and Francesco Giannini).
24/6 - 25/6/2019. First public assembly: The properties selected by the Municipal Administration were presented to citizens; no reports are given. In the promotional video of the process, the mayor Conte and the city planning councilor are interviewed, as well as cultural operators and other local actors (see Facebook).
04/07 - 19/7/2019. Participatory inspections. Inspections were done at the selected properties subject to regeneration and citizens generated ideas. No reports are given, but only posts on Facebook. At the first inspection (5/7) in the historic center, concluded with a square party, it is impossible to estimate the number of people involved in the photos, probably from 20 to 30. Others joined during the party, while 11 were the sponsors (traders, associations, social cooperatives) and the musicians of the mandolin circle. At the second inspection, at the ex-Omni, a performance of the Context People Bodies project was put on with a solo by Fabrizio Nigro (it is a special project created by the World Music Academy, Teatro Menzatì and School of Pizzica di San Vito). There is no official report, but from the Facebook pages, it is estimated 20 people were present. On the third inspection of the Cloister of the Dominicans (12/7), an exhibition was held by the La Chimera School of Contemporary Art for children and a performance by Valentina Elia (TEALTRO - teatro danza sogni) and Alessan dra Francavilla (@Faddanza). Tournaments, competitions and table games were organized by L'Associazione Verso; an international photographic exhibition "24 Scatti bike: the man and the bicycle" by Associazione Aeneis 2000; and an experiential presentation of bio-building practices, techniques and materials by the architect Maria Stefania Bianco of ECOfucine. In addition, a cycle walk was organized starting from the ExFadda. Again, there is no official report on participation, but from the Facebook pages, 8 participants are estimated. The fourth inspection (18/7) was organized as a ride with departure from the former Fadda to the site of the former asylum in the Giovanni XXIII district; the last 3 subjects mentioned in the previous meeting were again involved. No numbers are available, even on Facebook. The fifth and final inspection was of the Alceste Castle (19/7). In addition to the 3 subjects already mentioned in the 2 previous meetings, the Arcieri d'Alceste group was involved. In the photos, about 20 people but can be seen but in the post, they declare 200 people were present. As stated by the “citizenship” program, technicians and experts showed the buildings, their characteristics, and their history. The events were advertised on social networks and with alerts and maps at the meeting places. There were no other methods used.
24/7 - 01/9/2019. Call for the selection of participants and teachers for the XYZ co-design laboratorio (workshop): The first part of this phase concerns the Call for the selection of participants and teachers of the XYZ laboratorio: the call, drawn up by the Promotori del Referendum in collaboration with the curator (Coop Qualcosa di diverso, aka Ex-Fadda) of the XYZ Laboratory, aimed to select 60 participants guaranteeing a diversity of gender, age, and skills, to make up working groups that will take part in the next phase. Nothing on the the Promotori del Referendum's actions are known. The call for participants asked for a letter explaining their motivation and their CV.
XYZ co-design laboratorio (workshop): the XYZ laboratorio is an already mature format used in various circumstances by the SOS a research institution based in Bari. This part of the process is particularly sensitive as it is responsible for identifying the intended use of the properties, the tools for citizen participation, and proposed governance models. The didactic and scientific coordination of the laboratorio was therefore made the responsibility of the SOS, as it was thought to be impartial. 
This laboratorio involved six teachers and 60 participants (mainly university students in various disciplines), divided into three thematic macro-areas : X (communication), Y (tools), Z (processes). The city planning and youth policy councilors of the involved municipalities also participated. There is a list of participants. Each teacher is presented in a post on Facebook as well as on the pages of the laboratorio. Updates on the laboratorio were sent on Facebook, in particular through interventions / posts with short videos of the teachers who explain their skills and their contribution.
During the Z laboratio, a World Café was also organized with the citizens of San Vito, but no report is given, so the number of participants, place and date are unknown. Other citizens (of an unknown number) were contacted for interviews or informal conversations by the participants of the XYZ laboratorio.
1/9 - 2/9/2019 Second public meeting: Results of the XYZ laboratorio and the public participation were presented publicly, with particular attention to the dissemination of the proposed Regulation of the Common Goods of San Vito dei Normanni. The communication campaign planned during the laboratorio began at this stage.  There are no reports available but the video (shot live) was posted on Facebook. The presentation was open to all, and from the video, it is assumed the same participants from the laboratorio were present (about 70-80 people).
From 1/9 to 30/9 Communication and involvement campaign - this stage took place until approval of the Common Goods Regulations. It consisted of: press releases, treasure hunts, video campaigns on social media, meetings with associations, itinerant speaking activities with a megaphone, a glossary printed on flyers, and posters (with a minimum description of the 5 fundamental terms of the process on common goods).
Methods and Tools Used
Design thinking consists of tools for organizing individual and collective thought, to solve problems and generate innovative ideas, products, or services. It makes extensive use of graphic supports that facilitate and synthesize reasoning (on the model of computer flow-charts) such as the Algorithm of common goods. Elaborated in the present case, it consists of a horizontal flow diagram, translating a governance structure for common goods into a graphic-poetic form, both for their recognition and for their management.
World Café. WoCa is an interactive method of conversation that has been adopted by large companies, governments, and communities around the world to animate networks of collaborative dialogue. WoCa are based on the principle that people already have the wisdom and creativity needed to face challenges and can learn a lot from spontaneous conversations with people outside their organization or groups they are used to. Therefore, in the discussion mode, tables of 4-8 people are formed. After the first discussion on a question posed by the event organizer, a witness (or table-host or "host") of the table remains stationary while the others go to different tables. The witness records the ideas expressed and communicates them to new guests or the plenary facilitator before the next discussion begins. This goes on until all the questions are exhausted. In this case, no reports are available on the organizational and implementation methods.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Until 4/7, there are no reports. The Facebook community was activated on 25/6 with the first posts illustrating the program of the “Santu Vitu Mia Reloaded” path. The first posts concern the inspections of buildings and areas which can become "common goods".
From 4/7 to 19/7, inspections were led by local experts and technicians. The events were advertised by postcards, flyers, billboards, and information sheets (in playbill and poster format) at the sites to be seen. In addition, a small group of organizers (2-3 people) also made direct contacts on the street, in the shops, using face-to-face communication to promote and involve in the path (see Facebook). For each inspection, there are photos and short Facebook posts. Not on Facebook or the Puglia website, but in the shared folders of the XYZ laboratorio (workshop), there is a report for each property viewed. The reports are not easy to find, but they detail what emerged from the proposals written on the post-its, from the informal conversations, and from the questions of the participants. For example, the report on the former kindergarten briefly describes the historical context, the prospects for today's property, its temporary uses as a municipal depot, and the intended functions (must include a co-housing for young people and a playground for children). The proposals for use collected include: spaces for youth aggregation (training space and rehearsal room for jugglers, for example); elderly center; urban park; hostel. The proposers included l’Associazione Verso (youth association) and the Ex-Fadda. Participants in the inspection of the former kindergarten emphasized the importance of carrying out projects that connect the young inhabitants of the co-housing with the elderly in the neighborhood.
The preparation activities of the XYZ Laboratorio (workshop) place from 24/7 to 25/8. The laboratory was reserved for 60 participants selected following a public notice; 10 external teachers (professionals, academics or independent researchers) came, for example, from Naples, Milan, Turin, Bologna, selected by the organizers on the basis of their contacts. A CV (a possible portfolio) and a motivational letter were requested from participants. The course was aimed at those under 30 years old, in particular students. No reports are given on the questions and the selection made, but some of the cover letters are published on the pages (blog) of the laboratory.
From 26/8 to 1/9, the participants were organized into 3 groups: X, Y, and Z of about 20 people plus two teachers per group and one coordinator. There were also two members of the SOS as communication managers. Being an intensive residential laboratorio, the support of a catering service was required. Working hours are not known. It was explained that the work took place in individual groups, and then in plenary group meetings to coordinate their results. The X group focused on the communication campaign of the strategy developed by Group Z, elaborating the new identity, brand, image, and the logo. Group Y focused on innovative tools to engage and identify interest and participation with respect to the areas subject to regeneration. Group Z focused on the governance strategy and its elements, tools, methods, forms (agreements, collaboration agreements, and regulations). The main product was precisely the proposed Regulation of common goods  derived and synthesized into the "Algoritmo dei beni comuni: metodo favoloso per far sbocciare un bene" (translated: Algorithm of common goods: a fabulous method to make a good blossom); it consists of 2 flow diagrams that highlight the paths for identifying a common good and for its management (see images above), using the phases of a love story as a metaphor.
Furthermore, the collaboration between the X and Y laboratories was used to build a communication strategy, in particular on the articulation of the identity project "Il Metodo Favoloso" (translated: "The Fabulous Method") and on the mechanics of "sense generation" and the tools developed to manage public involvement in the path of identification and management of common goods. The toolkit contains typical tools of the social sciences, suggestions and examples of successful management cases, such as the former Filangieri kindergarten in Naples, and unconventional communication actions, including a video game and a prolonged treasure hunt with electronic tools scattered around the country.
A World Café the citizens and participants of the workshop is claimed to have taken place, but no report or additional information is given. The only element mentioned is the generic result in 10 points. It is not clear, however, whether this result, including the WoCa, dates back to this process or to the previous one in 2017.
- Promote the dissemination of energy sustainability interventions.
- Enable sustainable mobility and cycling and pedestrian use of the urban and extra-urban territory.
- Enhance cultural places
- Promote local and neighborhood trade
- Enhance connections and synergies between the urban area and the rural areas
- Promote community welfare projects, promote social integration and multiculturalism.
- Improve the quality, quantity, and management of public parks
- Promote the tourist attractiveness of the area and create new tourist services.
- Enhance local production traditions
Another tool present in the toolkit is the glossary, composed of five fundamental terms (common good, civic and collective uses, declarations of civic and collective use, reference community, community assembly), also used for the communication campaign.
On 1/9/19, a meeting for the presentation of the results was held, with a screen illuminated by videos and presentations, and the live Facebook. The recorded video can still be viewed on the social network, but it only lasts an hour and therefore is not complete.
After the assembly, the treasure hunt was organized and the t-shirts printed with the process logotype were printed. In the meantime, the SOS drew up the report, in blog page format, on its website which it published on 7/10 on its Facebook page and then on 16/10 on that of the Santu Vitu Mia Reloaded process. After this post, there are no more updates. A vast communication campaign had to be held, with meetings, a monitoring of the developments of the process and a municipal resolution on the regulation of which the results are not known.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
This is a case in which the post-process results are not given much interest, the resources run out, and there is no longer anyone who updates the site or even the Facebook pages. The Regional Participation Office financed the process, but the tangible result is unknown.
There are no known effects on the public, or any satisfaction surveys or process evaluation. 10 people contributed to the discussions / comments on the FB pages. The referendum is no longer news.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The transparency of the process is lacking; primarily, it is disorganized and it is necessary to rummage through the folders of issues not directly related to the activities contained in it to find relevant materials. In particular, it lacks information on the financial aspects and on the influence of the administration of San Vito dei Normanni. There is not even a report of satisfaction of the young participants in the workshop. It is not clear if and when the World Café was held.
The sharing of the path is not available; one can suspect that it is in continuity with a process carried out in 2017 but of which traces have been lost. One of the results of that path, however, is precisely the former Fadda group that coordinated and oversaw this entire process and hosted the XYZ laboratory. The process, perhaps thanks to the contained context, went to great lengths to get noticed and involve local citizens and civic organizations. It also stands out for its openness to the outside world and an exemplary experience in the field of common goods; however, the XYZ laboratory was a training opportunity which could have been evaluated by the participants.
The representativity is unknown; the referendum does not give more information, and surveys (inspections of interviews and statements) ended up in a folder so are disaggregated and not easily accessible. It is unclear what contributed to the drafting of the regulation. The online commitment, despite the care put into the graphics and full competence, was not very engaging, as only 10 profiles have commented on the posts on social media.
 Regione Puglia, Puglia partecipa, Santu Vitu Mia Reloaded, https://partecipazione.regione.puglia.it/processes/SantuVituMia (ril. 20/08/20).
 Comune di San Vito dei Norman. (n.d.) Documento Programmatico per la Rigenerazione Urbana. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1olTeRlQvATwXmDkuxYU3-LvJmdvRvMn8uw5HPHYmG0c/edit
 La Scuola Open Source, Blog, Il metodo favoloso, http://www.lascuolaopensource.xyz/blog/il-metodo-favoloso (ril. 21/8/20)
 XYZ Laboratory, Regolamento per I Beni Comuni XYZ. Retrieved 8/21/20, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GAlaMoQ8FJuvGn83IRNLPOktBjCVVdqtFKigaFUQ4fI/edit.