We carry out a critical analysis of current participation practices in urban regeneration processes. Many concrete examples suffer from major flaws in terms of instrumental or ineffective involvement of parts of the community, and especially of the weakest and most deprived constituencies, at the advantage of more affluent andexperienced ones, which are familiar enough with institutionalized public decision making to surf and manipulate the deliberation dynamics at their own advantage. Below a superficial rhetoric of inclusion, cosmetic forms of participation are therefore at risk of perpetuating and even exacerbating existing inequalities. We then explore new possibilities for more effective and sustainableforms of participation, most notably social storytelling, community informatics, and relational public art and culture projects. A new, interesting frontier of future experimentation in participation practices can be found in innovative forms of coalescence among these three streams of activity, as testified by a few state of the art pilot projects and experiences.
Article by Guido Ferilli, Pier Luigi Sacco, Giorgio Tavano Blessi
Published in City, Culture and Society xxx (2015) 1e6
From the Conclusions (excerpt)
(…) In this paper, we did not have the ambition to attempt a thorough review of such possibilities, but just focused on three themesthat we find of particular interest and potential, namely: social storytelling, community informatics, and public relational art. None of these themes is, in itself, entirely new e but each of them hasacquired a new salience in the pursuit of a fairer, more equitable representation of local community voices. Old questions and issues in participative, inclusive planning acquire a new sense and raisenew issues in the contemporary perspective. The problem is no longer having an opportunity to tell stories per se, but learning to combine them into a real, problem-solving collective narrative that gives a fair amount of relevance to all of them. The problem is no longer having access to digital sources or just closing the digital gap, but inclusively developing widespread capabilities to collectively code e and hack e the architecture of the new social space. The problem is no longer pleasantly decorating the public space with some iconic landmark, but taking, as a cohesive community, the responsibility of co-creation of meaning and collective representations, side by side with artists and cultural professionals, taking diversity as a primary source.(…).
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