Co-Creating Solidary Communities Across Difference

A solution by Brave New Alps submitted to Building Social Labs for Integration!

Accademia di Comunità, a network of Italian associations and active citizens based in the Alps, proposes to combine the development of social labs for integration in two European sites: one in the alpine town of Rovereto, the other in the German city of Munich. We activate spaces where long-term residents meet with new arrivals in convivial, materially and culturally productive settings.

(Pitched: 26/04/2018)

One Page Summary

Who we are
Accademia di Comunità (AdC) is a small-scale network of Italian cultural associations, informal groups and active citizens based in Rovereto (Northern Italy) in activating spaces for collaborative and transformative community welfare actions. Accademia di Comunità was established in August 2017 with a lab-like structure, and is inscribed in principles of active citizenship, interdisciplinarity and iterative practical experimentation. From its foundation, the network’s mission is to tackle (trans)local issues related to what it means to create solidary and open communities in times of intersecting environmental, social and economic crises by activating spaces for dialogue and collective processes of making. The lab tackles potentials and concerns in relation to the current wave of immigration, but also considers integration and solidarity to be a transversal issue running across multiple social groups and actively creates spaces for people across different social and cultural backgrounds to meet and learn from each other. Since October 2017, Accademia di Comunità collaborates with with the local public administration, the Italian Railways, the National Observatory for Unease and Solidarity in Italian Railway Stations and the European Research Institute for Cooperative and Social Enterprises to transform empty spaces at the local railway station into a community welfare hub through co-development and co-design processes.

What we propose to do
For addressing the social challenge “Building Social Labs for Integration” in innovative and collaborative ways, we propose to connect the 12-months co-design process of the spaces, activities and economies with which the AdC will inhabit the railway station of Rovereto with the process of the Hans Sauer Stiftung (HSS) of establishing a lab for integration in Munich. By engaging simultaneously with the issues around integration raised in two European sites - one rural the other urban, but both of which are situated along one of the major transition routes over the Alps - all stakeholders involved have the opportunity to immediately test the transferability of the developed approaches, while also having the opportunity to consider issues of integration from a (trans)local European perspective that exceeds the issues of the single city, region and nation. In practice, this would mean that during month six of the co-design process in Rovereto (which is co-financed by the Municipality of Rovereto and the Fondazione Trentina per il Volontariato Sociale and started in April 2018), a connection with Munich would be opened up to collaboratively explore the issues that arise when being in practice enmeshed in the creation of a lab for integration.

Benefits for Munich and Rovereto
Taking up the challenge of immigrant and refugee integration collaboratively and (trans)locally will be an opportunity for growth and development for the city of Munich and the town of Rovereto:

  • Through the co-creation of social labs of integration, multilevel stakeholders will become familiar with collaborative interdisciplinary, iterative and experimental co-design methods that straddle practice and theory – which in turn multiplies the potential for innovation beyond the labs themselves.
  • It will also be an opportunity for the multiple partners involved to critically discuss and share their approaches so far
  • AdC and HSS can push their work further by experimenting with how the asylum seekers and refugees that they have built close working relations with so far can contribute with their expertise and experiences to the shaping of social labs across Europe.

Our competences
The majority of the members of AdC have between 2 to 10 years of experience in working with asylum seekers and refugees through methods of co-design and critical pedagogy in a participatory action research framework. Over the last two years members of the network have consistently collaborated with asylum seekers and refugees in Rovereto in the development of (trans)local projects that engage social challenges: for example, with the cutting edge digital education developed through Wikipedia4Refugees (2015-ongoing), where refugees translate key information about migration routes into their own language(s); the community garden comun’Orto as a space for social integration and environmental education; the building and running of QuerciaLAB (2016-2017), an 8-months pilot project that tested a lab for integration in Rovereto; Open Cinema (2018) where spaces of high culture are rendered permeable for asylum seekers - both as specatators and organisers - as a means to learn about European cultures; Hospital(ity) School (2017-2018) as the activation of a bottom-up process driven by activists of the refugee support network and asylum seekers living in Rovereto for financing and building a micro-architecture for hyper-exploited migrant workers ghetto in Southern Italy.

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