The non-profit CHF India has been operating in India for roughly 11 years. The organization primarily works with urban poor areas in several cities, enlisting locals in participatory waste management and sanitation initiatives. A business entity approached CHF for assistance in developing an innovative solid waste management initiative and this is where CHF’s community-led solid waste management spun off. It took off in Pune, a slum neighborhood with available land, and hired women to lead the effort in solid-waste management. Fortunately, the approach has been replicated in three additional locations in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Koregaeon Bhima in Maharashtra. This story focuses on Koregaon Bhima and discusses its work, methodology, and the approach it applies to promote sustainable waste management in the city.
3 out of the 5 design principles of the Co-cities methodology are highlighted in Koregaon Bhima’s project.
Collective governance was rated strong in Koregaon because between 3-4 actors were involved in the initiative as the Quintuple helix suggests by scholar, Carayannis and later by Foster & Iaione in their study of polycentrism. The project was initiated and funded by a corporation and implemented by a non-profit organization.
The case of Koregaon Bhima represents an intriguing blend of urban and rural characteristics. It is officially recognized as a “census town” by the Census of India, implying urban features, but lacks formal government recognition as a town. As a result, the state government treats it as a village, maintaining a rural local government (panchayat) rather than a municipal board. This unique administrative status has proven advantageous for the CHF project. Working with the panchayat has been more accessible than dealing with municipal corporations, and it has allowed for changing local habits and educating officials about solid waste management in preparation for future municipal governance. Additionally, the project benefited from the federal Swachcha Bharat Abhiyan, which incentivizes corporate donations to sanitation efforts. Despite no public funds being invested, this project is classified as Moderate on the Enabling State principle.
Regarding social and economic pooling, the project demonstrates moderate pooling within the communities where it operates. CHF’s intention is to empower community residents to continue the project without direct involvement. While the success in Koregaon Bhima is still uncertain, Pune, where a similar approach was taken, has shown promise. Community residents took ownership and continued the project when corporate funding decreased, and CHF withdrew. Thus, the project rates as Moderate on the Pooling design principle.
In terms of experimentalism, the project is not particularly innovative on its own. Household-level recycling and composting have long been practiced in rural India. Although the community-led approach is commendable for urbanizing areas with limited local government resources, it is not considered highly experimental. This project is rated as Weak in Experimentalism.
Lastly, regarding tech justice, technology did not play a role in this project, as indicated in the interview with CHF.
The case study is about the city of Valparaiso, Chile (South America), which covers an area of 402 square kilometres and has approximately 253 580 residents (as of 2012).
Following the election of Jorge Sharp as mayor of the City in December 2016, a project started in 2017 for the creation of a ‘Red de Servicios Populares de Salud‘, a network of community pharmacies that provide services sold by the City’s health department at reduced prices (up to 70% less than the market price). The service is granted to members (together with their families) of citizens’ associations and labor unions and to all people who live, work or study in the city who only have to present the operators with a prescription and a valid ID card.
The project includes not only the creation of pharmacies, but also optics, a municipal health center, orthopedics, and in the future, the creation of a “popular laboratory”.
With the support of the Central Abastecimiento Nacional (CENABAST), the national entity for the distribution of medicines as a partner, the pharmacy wants to guarantee access to medicines to all the members of Valparaiso. Moreover, the Municipal Pharmacy is planning to create a User Association to co-manage the service, aiming to promote a network of medication distribution at the neighborhood level, arraigning the importations of high-cost medicines, and incorporating the Chilean Municipal Association.
The experiment is juxtaposed with Imbroscio’s idea of a ‘solidarity economy’, a concept that reflects the desire to fight poverty and invest in the stability and prosperity of communities. In fact, the research is based on the conception of urban resources and city space as common goods, affirming the existence of a common stake and interest in shared resources with other inhabitants, as a way of resisting the privatization and/or commodification of these resources.
Considering the urban institutional framework of the city of Valparaiso, we can say that Chile’s Constitution’s centralist approach does not permit much autonomy to City councils. Even today, most of the relevant issues, such as the control of financial resources and the authority over determinate areas of urban governance are still managed by the central State. With the establishment of the Valparaiso network of community pharmacies, there has been a call by the health department of Valparaiso City Council to create at the State level, a public health fund to help Cities that might want to invest in the creation of such institutions.
The five dimensions endogenous to our design principles that define a Co-City were assessed: Collective Governance; Enabling State; Poolism; Experimentalism; and Technological Justice. The design principles are analyzed to better understand whether it is possible to consider the city of Valparaiso a collaborative and inclusive space, and with what intensity each principle is present: weak; moderate or strong.
Collective governance (co-governance) refers to the presence or absence of a self-, shared, collaborative, or polycentric organization for the governance of the commons in cities and it is a strong variable in this case. The Network of Community Pharmacy of Valparaiso project is a multi-stakeholder collaboration providing low-cost healthcare for city residents. All the project actors of the quintuple helix system project are involved: active citizens and community groups, non-governmental organizations, and public authorities.
The Enabling State is present to a moderate extent. The State support to the project has been positive and a certain degree of autonomy has been conceded to the City and the citizens’ associations. However, the presence of non-standard, informal procedures for cooperation are still missing. It is the project principle that expresses the role of the State in the governance of the commons and identifies the characteristics of an enabling state that facilitates collective action for the commons and can be a key factor for the success of community projects on the urban commons.
Social and economic pooling is a strong design principle here, which aims to identify the presence of forms of pooling. The experience of the Valparaiso community pharmacy network seems to be ascribable to the ‘community economy’ subgroup of the pooling economy because it is essentially collectively owned and publicly managed; thanks to the involvement of the public (the City of Valparaiso and organs of the central State) and private (associations) entities; it also involves a transfer of resources from the private or public actor to the collective group and is aimed at realizing the goals of the right to the city, in particular universal access to public health services.
The project is not particularly innovative. However, it is very practical and replicable on a larger scale, and other cities in the world that do not yet guarantee the right to free access to health services; indeed the idea is based on a process that can be exported and adapted to different contexts and is replicable by following the same steps. Experimentalism is a moderate variable. Building a network of community pharmacies was an unprecedented case for Chile, but surely not for other Countries in South America or the world.
Technology may constitute the weaker element in the project. A strong technological innovation and a push towards reachability via the internet could have been a step forward in terms of the quality of the project both for efficiency and universality.
In conclusion, we can say that the Valparaiso network of community pharmacy is a laudable example of how the empowerment of local communities and a strong coordination, can lead to substantial and tangible improvements in the lives of citizens.
The Chilean National Statistical Institute predicts that by 2035, in 82% of cities, people over 65 will outnumber those under 15. This will lead to an increased demand for medical care and health services. Against this background, it is difficult to see how the older generation will manage to conserve their health without being able to afford the right medications.
The project might bring temporary alleviation from these problems and set an example for other cities in a similar situation. The project still needs to improve from a methodological point of view, especially about the Enabling State and Experimentalism variables, which are present to a moderate extent, and the Tech Justice variable, which is almost completely absent.
Either way, even though this case has still space for improvement, it certainly constitutes a full example of communities that work together for common well-being towards a common good dimension.
In the wake of a severe crisis that engulfed downtown Beirut in 2015, a group of passionate academics from the American University in Beirut initiated a movement that would change the face of Lebanese politics forever, Thus, Beirut Madinati (BM) was born, a political campaign aligning to challenge the traditional political system and prioritize the livability of the city and its people.
Initially centered around addressing the garbage crisis through their “Municipal Solid Waste” policy based on the 4 R’s (Refusing, Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling), the movement quickly gathered momentum as it received overwhelming support from frustrated citizens. The Waste Management Coalition, a diverse group of NGOs, recycling factories, municipalities, and young political movements, joined forces with BM, pressuring the authorities to take action.
Despite the Municipality’s lack of interest in waste management, BM’s mission transcended its original cause. The movement transformed into a political force, encompassing volunteers from various backgrounds such as urban planning, transport engineering, waste management, and economics. Their ideology focused on achieving social, economic, and political rights for the population while preserving the environment and cultural heritage of Beirut.
The 10-point municipal program outlined by BM covered crucial aspects of city life, including mobility, public space, housing, waste disposal, social and economic development, urban security, green energy, and cultural heritage. Their ambitious goals included improving waste recycling rates, expanding green spaces , and fostering community services.
One of the defining features of Beirut Madinati was its commitment to independence. The movement financed its actions through crowdfunding, and to maintain transparency, they refused donations exceeding 10% of the budget. This independence allowed BM to stand apart from the entrenched political class in Beirut, who saw the movement as a threat to their grip on power.
Over the years, Beirut Madinati’s scope has expanded, driven by Lebanon’s widespread social unrest. Debates that were once limited to city matters have now expanded to address national issues, with discussions covering everything from banking policies to the demands of the revolution sweeping across the country.
Collective Governance Principle: Beirut Madinati’s strength lies in its collective governance model, embracing active citizens, civil society organizations, and partnerships with local businesses and universities. The movement’s collaborative approach empowers citizens and ensures that projects stem from community-driven ideas and debates. The project answers to the characteristics of “collaborative governance” involving all stakeholders; citizens, private actors, and civil society organizations.
Enabling State Principle: Although the government has shown resistance to BM’s initiatives, the movement garners informal support from progressive entities like the Ministry of Interior. Despite this, the enabling state principle remains relatively weak due to the lack of substantial financial or official backing.
Social & Economic Pooling Principle: Beirut Madinati’s commitment to “right to the city” and inclusive engagement across sectors further strengthens its standing in the Social and Economic pooling aspect. The project engages both engaged both NGOs, political parties, and citizens.
Experimentalism Principle: The efforts of Beirut Madinati have led to a number of experimental approaches. In actuality, they plan gatherings, discussions, and displays. Each event is announced on the Beirut Madinati Facebook page, and a recap is also provided there following it. Every follower on Facebook has access to information regarding debates, including the date, location, and primary themes, enabling them to take part. This level of experimentalism is moderate.
However, when it comes to Tech Justice, the movement faces some challenges which allows it to be rated as Weak. While BM effectively uses social media to disseminate information about projects and events, there remains a digital infrastructure divide in Lebanon. Not everyone has equal access to technology, potentially making some feel disconnected from the movement.
In summary, Beirut Madinati is a beacon of hope for Lebanon’s political landscape. Founded with a mission to transform the city of Beirut, it has evolved into a nationwide symbol of collective governance and social change. By encouraging citizen involvement, nurturing partnerships, and challenging the status quo, BM proves that a new era of inclusive politics and responsible governance is within reach for Lebanon.
Atelier Observatoire is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2012 purposely as a place for art and research. The intent is to develop participative projects and support the creation of the Moroccan population. The idea is to bring artists, students, researchers, and inhabitants involved and engage in these participatory projects. Activities are involved on the geographical fringes of Morocco, from suburbs to rural areas and marginalized territories, targeting the most vulnerable communities.
The programs developed involve numerous partners, enrich the visions, ideas, and knowledge of the communities involved, and these are long-term programs that include:
– The Collective Museum: is a citizen museum for the collective memory of cities in Morocco and several recovery actions are led by activists for this purpose.
– Madrassa is a regional research, meeting, and training program for contemporary curatorial practices.
– La Ruche is a program for the production and support of emerging Moroccan artists.
– Les Invisibles is a research program that aims to trace the history of the lives of societies.
– L’Aquarium is a collective reflection for future new activations of public, educational, and heritage places in Casablanca.
– La Serre is a temporary, shared place that takes place in public places, suburbs, and rural areas to encourage the emergence of new ideas, breaking with traditional constraints and visions.
The areas in which L’Atelier de l’Observatoire is developed are the office and residence for artists in Casablanca (Maarif) as well as the space for creation, research, and archiving in Laassilat. The project was born in Morocco from the significant political fragmentation of the territory and the strong weakness of local governance, which caused disparate alliances between a poor and slow local development and a development of projects with a strong centrality of the State, which has always maintained control over local issues and projects.
Since 2015, the adoption of advanced regionalization has aimed to break this traditional governance model by giving local representatives more prerogatives in their local areas and promoting citizen participation in the management of local affairs. Despite its achievements, the project is still far from being completed. The main challenge for territorial development in Moroccan cities remains the transfer of powers to local elected representatives and the lack of clear and established governance. This counts as a major obstacle to the development of collaborative cities in Morocco.
Three design principles of the Co-Cities methodology characterize L’Atelier de l’Observatoire:
First is the collective governance principle. This principle is identified as strong as all actors are united together around the Atelier de l’Observatoire. For instance, in 2016, the Casablanca Aquarium, part of the city’s historical heritage, closed since 1980, reopened to the public at the initiative of the artist Mohamed Fariji for an ephemeral project dedicated to a collective utopian reflection on the future of the place. The Atelier de l’Observatoire played a substantial role here, with various partners such as foundations, the support of the municipality, and the artists’ collective. The project involves:
1) Active citizens, ordinary citizens, social innovators, city makers, and local communities.
2) Public authorities.
3) Private actors.
4) Civil society organizations and NGOs.
5) Knowledge institutions.
The enabling state principle seems to be weak. L’Atelier de l’Observatoire has the support of the Minister of Culture, which means a lot in the top-down approach of power in Morocco. The main reason why the enabling state is weak id due to a lack of collaboration at the public level; indeed, L’Atelier de l’Observatoire denounces the lack of institutional structures and policies in the cities. The aim of the project, however, is not to denounce the failures of public policies or governments, but to introduce the notion of civil society; to set aside the usual dichotomy that defines the state and capital as the only holders of power in our contemporary societies, and to support and empower civil society agency through art.
Thanks to the Atelier de l’Observatoire, a large network of artists has been created, making social and economic pooling a strong principle. In fact, several actors in the neighborhood create an economy of aggregation around cultural and social issues. The Collective Museum, for example, is the result of the research, collection, reflection, and creation of groups of artists, activists, students, children, and residents acting in their neighborhoods to bring out unknown stories, thus dedicated to the collective memory of the city and the suburbs of Casablanca.
L’Atelier de l’Observatoire has other innovative projects, that enable a whole community to access cultural heritage through various approaches, such as meetings, surveys, exhibitions, educational programs, conservation projects, production of works, and publications. Madrassa is a program of residencies, meetings, and pieces of training in contemporary curatorial practices for the North Africa and Middle East region. It is the first of its kind and has been successful in the Mediterranean region, with other initiatives active in several countries. This curatorial program is indeed a good example of experimentalism, that has been spread in different places. The pilot Madrassa session took place in October 2015 in Casablanca, bringing together 15 participants from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, and Cameroon and more than 12 international instructors, with the support of the Arab Fund for Art and Culture, the Goethe Institut Maroc, the Institut Français and Art Moves Africa. It enabled them to work directly with the European Union and apply for funds through the Med Culture program.
Finally, we can say that the potential of digital infrastructures and access to technology to facilitate collaboration does not seem to be considered in the various Atelier de l’Observatoire projects. However, there is an awareness of this weakness and a willingness to improve this dimension.
In conclusion, this case study of the Atelier de l’Observatoire shows us how it could be relevant to adopt in the state of Morocco, a co-city perspective, in order to identify that the weakness of local governance constitutes a major obstacle to the development of the territory. This analyzed model has a collaborative artistic structure, based on strong local action, to bring about a general renewal in Casablanca and from a more national perspective: it creates new ways of approaching collaboration, from the bottom up in the cultural sphere and new methods of interaction between people. The Atelier de l’Observatoire is currently negotiating with the public authorities to launch its project. It would be in the government’s interest to use this initiative to continue advanced regionalization, creating new possibilities for urban life.
“Urban villages” emerge when the previous villages have been geographically incorporated into cities and granted urban administrative status. However, they keep their village collective economies, which are managed by village shareholding companies. Chinese urban communities are usually governed by residents’ committees, which are part of the state governance system and responsible for delivering public services.
In these urban villages, village shareholding companies are established to continue to take care of the village collective properties, such as their collective landholdings, and/or manage the unallocated compensation funds from the government to the villagers. The shareholder companies are only permitted to engage in economic activities, such as investing in real estate or service companies or renting out local manufacturing land or buildings that are owned jointly. In actuality, though, they actively take part in local administration and care for the villages. They support neighborhood events planned by residents’ committees, run welfare programs and other community services, and resolve disputes among neighbors.
Depending on various elements such as the size and viability of the village collective economy, whether the villagers stay in their current homes or move to contemporary urban residential communities, and the power dynamics between the shareholding companies and the residents’ committees in each community, village shareholding companies’ governance and authority differ across different regions of China.
The village shareholding firms are set up to manage unallocated compensation monies for land expropriation as well as any remaining community common assets. Their establishment also brings the prior community government practiced in villages to the urban setting.
The companies are playing a leading role in community governance in the urban villages, enjoying higher authority among the villagers than the residents’ committees that are a part of the formal state governance system. This is due to the companies’ collective assets, such as land holdings, strong ties with the villagers, as well as their financial support for the residents’ committees.
The ability of the urban villages to sustain their common resources and grow their village economies will determine how long this government will last. The community is more likely to maintain its governance autonomy the stronger and more successful its communal economy is. Furthermore, the ability of the owning corporations to recruit educated, younger villagers to run the businesses will determine how successful this governance is in the future. The younger generation has a stronger sense of place in the city and favors employment in “urban” corporations over that in their “village” owned businesses.
Decaying spaces matter: Empowering communities through urban regeneration.
The accumulation of demographic and economic decline in a city is an old phenomenon. It is its persistence in the long-term as well as a crisis of local public finance, which characterize the shrinking city. “Shrinking cities” challenge urban planning to imagine new ways of thinking deprived spaces, and thus become the place for innovative urban alternatives. Make Better is one of them.
Make Better (MKBT) tackles urban deprivation, housing, and decaying space through commons in Romania. It is an NGO and consultancy firm working toward virtuous urban (re)generation with cities, communities, politics. They enriched the Co-Cities research as their projects illustrate how initiatives could build a Co-City. It is now part of our online map, an open database identifying innovative urban projects across the world: link of MKBT project. MKBT’s project “lively Făgăraș” is one of them, implementing co-governance to activate underused spaces.
Empowering communities through urban regeneration
In Romania, some cities as Făgăraș lost 20-30% of their population. In that context, “urban regeneration” projects aim to make cities livable again, but it could also be a process that marginalizes communities already present. Therefore, Make Better develops the idea that abandoned or latent spaces have resources to offer and can respond to the community needs: it is just a matter of facilitating them.
It is in this state of mind that they co-organized the “Lively Făgăraș – Civic appropriation of derelict spaces in shrinking towns” project, to revitalize the area of Făgăraș. It was implemented between March 2021 and September 2022, in partnership with Făgăraș Country Community Foundation (FCCF). The role of communities is central in this project : a participatory mapping of underused spaces has been implemented, as well as several ideation workshops using gamestorming and other participatory methods, temporary events organized with the community to test some activation ideas, as well as co-governance structures were set up for a selected number of latent spaces.
“ From the design of interventions and events, towards their organization and on-site implementation, the local community is the most valuable resource and catalyser for both short-term and long-term transformations.” stated the “Lively Făgăraș” toolkit.
In Făgăraș, MKBT and their partners engage with local actors in all stages. They tried to make fun and attractive events, established and communicated “ground-rules” to develop a care attitude, and think their events as the most inclusive as they can (accessibility, topic of interest…). MKBT observed participation from deprived areas, which might also have been due to the location – next to the place they were living at – where people would feel welcomed. That is why housing and decaying space is a great tool for including marginalized groups: it is concrete and visible.
Regarding this very last point, the MKBT staff noted in an interview led by LabGov that there can be a sort of nostalgia about the glorious past of decaying cities. Thus, the organization thinks of memory as a tool for fighting negative impacts of shrinking cities. In Lively Făgăraș, old photos exhibitions conveying community memories, and stories of Făgăraș community and the Jewish legacy, were settled. Besides, gastronomic experiences linked to place memories were implemented. The goal remains the activation of space regarding community’s needs and experiences. Thereby, memory has a place in urban regeneration and constitute a community building tool.
Source : Blog – Încredere în Făgăraș (incredereinFăgăraș.ro)
Towards a Co-City?
“Lively Făgăraș” project led to write and specify a protocol, enhancing the shift from urban commons to the City as a Common.
“Lively Făgăraș” tested a collaborative process to engage citizens for discovering, thinking, and generating co-governance tools for giving life to otherwise abandoned spaces. Throughout the process, youth was deeply involved, and then ‘space ambassadors’ were identified, as civic groups or members of the community that are willing to contribute even more to revitalizing the targeted spaces. The steps are:
- Discovery. It is the very first phase to identify deprived spaces and link them with community needs. Participatory mapping tools, mental maps, urban exploration in groups, walk along conversations with residents, urban education, questionnaires, interviews…
- Ideation. How could such spaces be transformed and for whom? In this phase, game storming, brainstorming exercises, mental maps and facilitated discussions are led.
“Collaborative maps engaging youth to make and discuss places with reconversion potential and routes most used by themselves and local residents”. Source : Screenshot ghid-Făgăraș-EN_AE.pdf (incredereinFăgăraș.ro)
- Activation. This step is about concretely valorizing the space and empowering the community in the long-term. The method is to build urban furniture which allows to test various new site uses, to organize entertaining activities for various age groups to catalyze their engagement, revealing the history of the space… Temporary events are a key moment.
- Co-governance. This very last step enables key stakeholders (owners, users, administrators) to get organized with roles and responsibilities, to take care of these spaces on the long term. Various forms of co-governance tools as contracts, partnership agreements, open letters of cooperation… can be implemented.
The process is composed of several steps, deeply detailed with very concrete tips and tools, available through an opensource. Such a protocol enables replicability and transmission of experiences to build the City as a Common. This enhances multiple governance experiments and participate to what LabGov named “Experimentalism”. The different phases also recall and give strength to the first steps of the Co-City Cycle which compose the Co-City Protocol (Co-City Protocol | LabGov). In fact, it includes the cheap talking and mapping phase, which foster collective intelligence to activate space according to community needs, exactly as the “Living Făgăraș” protocol aims to.
In Făgăraș, MKBT tried to connect with local actors and already existing initiatives, as well as foreign organizations. They organized temporary events to get the community involved, and work with a large range of other actors: local restaurant, NGOs, museums, and community foundations already actives and sometimes engaged with high school. Their actions head towards the idea of implementing an eco-system of public, private, cognitive, social, and civic actors, the so-called quintuple helix model as a tool for urban co-governance promoted by LabGov. An online platform, Trust Fagaras, was set up to
Among several sites identified and activates by the Living Făgăraș experiment, Comuniteca is a probating example of Co-governance. There is now a contract between the Senchea College and FCCF for the renovation and use of one classroom to host the Științescu STEM hub for kids and a coworking active community space. A volunteer-based workshop was held “to renovate and arrange the space for its new use, with financial and in-kind contributions mobilized by FCCF from the community and other international funds” (Source: MKBT).
Source: Housing Workshop In Făgăraș | Mkbt.
Although MKBT directly relates to the Common paradigm, the terminology of commons is not that much used in Romania. Thus, the only fact of creating temporary events and using deprived spaces has already pushed discussions toward co-governance. “Living Făgăraș” promotes an innovative vision of decaying spaces, in considering it as an opportunity instead of a loss, to foster civic participation, and empower youth and other community members. It reflects efforts made by actors in shrinking areas to reinvent urbanity and urban governance, toward a Co-City.
E. G. Carayannis, T. D. Barth, D. F. J. Campbell, The Quintuple Helix innovation model: global warming as a challenge and driver for innovation, Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, n. 1/2012; C. Iaione, E. De Nictolis, La quintupla elica come approccio alla governance dell’innovazione sociale, in F. Montanari, L. Mizzau (eds.), I luoghi dell’innovazione aperta. Modelli di sviluppo territoriale e inclusione sociale, Torino, Fondazione G. Brodolini, 2016.