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July 15, 2014

Rome | Italy

The future of Rome and Italy seen by the participants of the inaugural meeting has more community sense, a pleasant public space and a helluva lot more and efficient public transport. But where does that leave unemployment, poverty and clean public space? Italians: start to take action instead of creating models! 

The Italian inaugural meeting takes place at a great location; Città dell’Altra Economia, an old slaughterhouse in a vibrant and gentrifying area of Rome. This place used to be a squat and is now a lively area where there is space for business, art and leisure. Italians would like to see more use of public space like this.

Public activities and the use of public space is mostly focused on traditional squares but there is much more useful public space to be found in the city. Our Sketch participants feel that industrial heritage should be changed into lively areas, but the participants we spoke did not come up with practical ideas on how to do this. I call upon all Italians to take action! You have great ideas so don’t wait for the municipality to do it for you.  Here are some fresh ideas from the local kids: Gemma, Simone and Francesco want to create a big area on the riverside where you can only bike and walk in fresh air. There are floating boats, fishes, motor-less boats and free roaming animals, because otherwise city kids don’t get to meet animals.

One might think community sense would be no issue at all with the traditional Italian families. So it clearly surprised me to find that this was one on the most mentioned themes. Even in Italy our changing society is tearing traditional family values apart.

The municipality can support community sense but, as our participants agreed, the work starts with the awareness of the individual Italians and their wish to participate. A lot of the people we spoke to came up with great ideas to take action. Enrico pictured a street where households are connected by wires for exchanging thoughts and things. This way neighbors can easily reach each other and helping out your neighbors will be easier. Or the already existing and successful concept, social street, of Luigi where social contact in neighborhoods is enforced by a little help of his project in organizing social life. Neighbors are getting to know each other on a low hurdle, by social media. A social and local network is created by Social Street where inhabitants of a neighborhood are actively invited to join. By creating this new sense of family the neighbors are more willing to work for and help out each other.

According to the Sketch participants Italy does not know an urban periphery. All the action takes place in the center. So if you live outside this center you spend most of your time travelling to and from work, shops, leisure and cultural facilities etc.  Frederica has an idea of linked neighborhoods that can create a sense of community in the periphery, so people only need to travel for work and not for leisure. All kinds of facilities in adjacent neighborhoods are shared such as shops, restaurants, bar, libraries and pharmacies. The current public transport is a hassle so people jump in their cars too easily. Annamaria, Marcel and Valentina want to ban cars out of the city. Others designed pleasant public transport places where waiting get’s worthwhile! Sevinc designed a smart bus stop where hybrid busses are always on time, you can read and learn about the surroundings, confortable seats for waiting if you would have to and a small playground for kids. So if the periphery would be lively and public services would be easier to access many people’s lives will improve.

I came to Rome expecting to hear a lot about unemployment and clean public space and it surprised me these issues were not mentioned often. Did that have to do with the participants we spoke to or with my presumption of Italy, please tell me!

I would like to close with Fabrizio’s motto for all Italians: Don’t survive your own city, live it! By being part of your city you are part of the world.

Next stop: Stockholm! See you all on the 21th of August!



I would like to give a huge amount of thank you's to the Roman SKETCH artists. Mary Cinque, Anna Maria Iantaffli, Sonia Giambrone, Alessio Tommasetti and Marco Serra, YOU WERE AMAZING! 


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