The good practice proposed by the Naples city council (IT) aims at guaranteeing the collective enjoyment of common goods such as water, public services, schools, knowledge, cultural and natural heritage, and their preservation for the benefit of future generations through a public government that allows fair use.
The core of these policy instruments is the democratic use of public assets. The city of Naples has recognised the "Urban Civic Use Regulation" of common goods in the city itself.
Thanks to the good practice's governance model, more than 250 projects came to life, breaking down the production costs by using free and shared spaces, resources, knowledge and skills.
By revisiting the outmoded institution of civic use, the good practice aims at making spontaneous bottom-up initiatives recognisable and institutionalised, ensuring the autonomy of both parties involved, the proactive citizens and the institutions.
The first good to be recognised as common, and therefore proposed as a good practice, is the Ex-Asilo Filangeri, a building that by resolution n.400 (2012) was already identified by the city of Naples as a “place with a complex use in the cultural field, and whose spaces are used to experiment in participative democracy”. At that time, it had been occupied by a group of art and culture professionals protesting against the restoration and new abandonment of the premises. With the following decision, n.893/2015, the city of Naples recognised the “Urban Civic Use Regulation” of the good, a declaration produced in an autonomous way by the community that benefits from the good, and that puts self-management as the main principle of its administration.
By acknowledging this regulation, the public administration assumes the burden of ensuring the usability of the place, while the right to make use of it is free and guaranteed to all but accompanied by a participatory model that is founded on open assemblies and thematic roundtable talks.
The latest resolution, n.446/2016, recognised seven more public properties as “relevant civic spaces to be ascribed to the category of common goods”.
The open and inclusive management model is plain by the data registered since March 2012. Every week, an open meeting is convened (more than 190 since the projects' beginning), as well as several working groups for the implementation of activities (more than 830, with about 18,000 attendances). Besides ensuring transparency, this has established a strong bond between the inhabitants of the city, and narrowed the gap between artists, academics and citizens.
The good practice aims at making spontaneous bottom-up initiatives recognisable and institutionalised, ensuring the autonomy of both parties involved, the proactive citizens and the institutions. The public administration assumes the burden of ensuring the usability of the place, while the right to make use of it is free and guaranteed to all but accompanied by a participatory model that is founded on open assemblies and thematic roundtable talks.
The designed good practice’s process guarantees a strong integrated approach, both vertical and horizontal. The integration is first and foremost assured through an ad-hoc municipal department, the “social enhancement of municipally owned spaces and common goods”, and with a political coordination in charge of the Urban Planning councillor. This department (technical level) and the above-mentioned councillor (political level) are in charge of promoting the collaboration with other departments and councillors of the municipality, or other institutions. Furthermore, the city waives completely the role of top-down manager and, with a horizontal subsidiarity mechanism, acts like a guarantor and takes its own burdens and responsibilities related to the operation of the good, while recognising the autonomy of the management system adopted by the users.
Mainstreaming: agency and regulation
The horizontal integration lies also in the basic principles that are stated in the Urban Civic Use Regulation, produced in an autonomous way by the community, and recognised by the Naples city council. The Civic Use of the Ex-Asilo is based on the principles of self-management, cooperation and mutualism, and tends to strengthen individual and collective responsibility. Empowerment is established by cooperation, in which each member of the community, whether guest or so-called inhabitant, contributes to the community's activities and management.
Thanks to the good practice, more than 250 projects came to life, breaking down the production costs by using free and shared spaces, resources, knowledge and skills. All this has generated, for the arts and culture professionals involved, immeasurable forms of indirect income, not to mention the free training offered and the many students who have studied at practically no cost.
The number of activities and active artists, monitored since March 2012 with the help of the so-called inhabitants, clearly shows that there is no reference group that uses the space in an exclusive manner. The overall activity is the result of a myriad of individual desires that flow into one stream: