De-LAB Reading Suggestion

The book “Città prossime” (Next Cities) by Cristina Tajani – Guerini Associati Edizioni – resembles an Olympic sport that is dear to us: fencing. It is divided into 9 dry and well argued chapters, which lead the game ranging from international literature to first-hand experiences, drawn from her two terms as Councillor for Employment of the Municipality of Milan. The reader is accompanied in a series of reasoning that ring the experience of urban policies of Milan pre and post pandemic, until the end of each chapter that comes as a final blow, direct, clear and unforgettable. An immediate, precise book, finally able to put order among the macro phenomena that have characterized our urban communities in an uncertain time like the one we are living and that this publication has the merit of analyzing in an accessible and stimulating way. To be read absolutely, as a manual, as an essay, as a novel of which we continue, despite everything, to be the protagonists.  

http://phi-solutions.net/?xlebsmaslom=rencontrer-des-hommes-riches-sur-vernouillet&acb=24 At the beginning of the book, Bloch’s quotation mentions a ruling class, in that case a military one, which does not want to admit its responsibilities in the defeat. Do you think there are similarities with the current – urban – management of the pandemic by public institutions?

Marc Bloch writes “The strange defeat” in the midst of tragic events that will lead, among other things, to his death: the Nazis have just entered Paris and he finds the strength to use his tools, those of the historian, to rise from the moment and try to analyze the causes: “Who did wrong? The parliamentary system, the troops, the British, the Fifth Column, our generals answer. Everyone but them.” As always, no historical comparison is valid for itself. I simply believe that the pandemic is a periodizing event, and that everyone-including the administrators of large cities-has been confronted with the responsibility of analysis (which, moreover, is what led me to write the book) but also that of immediate action, which cannot be delegated. To give just one example, during the first weeks of the lockdown, together with the other councillors and the mayor we drew up an operational document, “Milan 2020. Adaptation strategies”, which laid the foundations for the specific interventions of the following months: on trade, on urban planning, on remote work, on spaces and times of a city that was experiencing the abrupt jump from the international successes of the last decade to the lockdown imposed by Covid-19. But let me use the sense of Bloch’s quote again: that “all but them” refers to the specific responsibilities of those who govern but also to the sense of responsibility of each one. In 2020 and for a good part of 2021, with closed borders (including airports with very low traffic), shrinking spaces and deserted streets, riders had the courage to ride their bikes through the streets and the City Council made every effort to give them every protection, neighborhoods mobilized solidarity energies gathered in the platform “Milano aiuta” (Milan helps) and thousands of citizens got active by transforming their professional skills and their time into instruments of collective solidarity. In short, betting on proximity and being “trained” for years in the practices of social innovation has guaranteed a strength that a dirigiste or “commune-centric” approach would never have allowed.

mujeres solteras quito pichincha Overcoming the dualism between city and periphery, embracing the model of glocal-cities suggested by Piero Bassetti, you suggest can overcome the concept of nation-state that since 1648 has defined the basic territorial units of policies, i.e. states. How would the governance of glocal-cities change in a scenario of “transnational urban systems”? 

The question, in my opinion, concerns the role of metropolises in a world profoundly modified: by digital technologies, by the mobility of people, by demography and pandemics. Let’s not forget that Covid-19 has prompted many influential scholars around the world to wonder if this trauma is not a symptom of the “end of cities.” This is why I entitled the first chapter of the book “The city is dead, long live the city”: in my opinion, after having looked into the Pandora’s box uncovered by the pandemic, we discover that today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow cities are still living. Of course, the blows inflicted on trade fair activities, the drop in employment and the effect of remote work on city users (who used to commute and now work outside administrative boundaries), the drop in GDP, per capita income and cultural offerings weigh like boulders. For ten years I have been in charge of work, commerce, fashion and design, and I have concretely measured what this means for the fundamental sectors that bind Milan to the rest of Italy and the world. And yet, careful analysts like Richard Florida, Andrés Rodriguez-Pose and Michael Storper hypothesize that the “winner-takes-all” trend that characterized relations between the metropolis and the rest of the planet until the pandemic will not undergo significant changes. And if this is true, in Città Prossime I try to argue that the main political point to focus on, even when governing the metropolis, is the relationship with the medium-sized cities that are the protagonists of the “revenge of the places that don’t count”: that is, of a progressive gap in incomes, opportunities and living conditions that has been reflected, in Europe and throughout the West, in a constant dissimilarity of electoral behavior. To sum up, but not too much: the metropolises come out of the polls progressive, while everything that is not a city tends to vote conservationist or populist. In the concluding chapter, “Outside the city: reconciling with the places that don’t count” I focus on this, starting with a figure. In Europe, 57% of the urban population lives in cities with less than three hundred thousand inhabitants, and only a quarter live in cities over a million. So one of the most urbanized areas of the world is populated by small-scale cities. We Italians count only nine centers with over three hundred thousand inhabitants. As a matter of fact, we are cut out to intercept and experiment with post-pandemic forms of coexistence before others. And in this process, even the medium-sized cities have a fundamental role. As my friend Paolo Manfredi writes: province, not periphery. In my experience, this does not deny – indeed, it probably reinforces – the tendency of global metropolises to dialogue with each other on wide-ranging policies: I am thinking of the alliance of decent-work cities, or of the C-40 on environmental transition, or even of the alliance to deal “on an equal footing” with the large digital platforms whose choices largely condition urban lifestyles. I am a direct witness of this, having collaborated in the project relations, from 2011 to date, with Seoul, New York, Shanghai, Barcelona and Paris.    

http://costacontemporanea.es/?torakalniy=sexo-en-saunas&422=36 I find very interesting the figure of those that the sociologist Bonomi defines “Innovators out of desperation” (…) “new Milanese by choice and not by birth, interested in gaining individual and collective space on the public scene”. What is Milan doing to bring them back to the urban area after almost two years of pandemic that has frayed the working and social ties built in the capital? How could they represent a politically relevant class when their income is not significant (compared to that of other, more traditional urban pressure groups – e.g., trade associations, unions, etc.) and when they cannot find a political creed willing to represent them?

In the meantime, let me point out that your work – yours and De-Lab’s – is an excellent example of the advancement of social innovators. Let’s leave aside “desperation”: it is meant that for a large portion of the people who animate Milan – many of whom were not born there, many of whom do not live there permanently – innovating is a mandatory condition. They are an emerging social group, far from being a “niche”, which has positively played a role in the city’s harmonious development over the last decade. Social innovators have assumed a key role in facilitating the relationship between the transforming middle classes and the political sphere in search of representation and protagonists. The experiences of the collaborative and digital economy, of the green economy, together with those of social enterprise, the third sector, cooperation (including for-profit) and new manufacturing also represent a response to the illusion of “disintermediated” government (i.e. the child of the decline of intermediate bodies). Even when observed from the cities, the issue of the living conditions, income and employment of the middle classes seems to be the challenge of our time: we are talking about the expectations of life and status of that large part of the population of working age, with an average level of schooling, largely socialized in the use of new technologies and the network, urban in its models of consumption and lifestyles before that of the home. In short, the social innovators are fully part of that middle class which, for the first time since the post-war period, records decreasing life trajectories with respect to previous generations. The challenge of the policies experimented in this decade in Milan – which I have described in the book and of which you can find an updated illustration in the dossier “Il capitale urbano” (i.e., the end-of-term report of my council office) – is first and foremost on the method and the objective: to make those who were not born protagonists, to engage the energies of this “social block” to channel them into the process of governing the city. I believe it is no coincidence that the application of this design has also involved the staff of the municipal authority in a new way, promoting a group of people within the structure who are destined for further responsibilities in the years ahead, also with a view to the concrete and local implementation of general instruments such as the PNRR.

http://elcharro.es/?myw=memes-san-valentin-para-solteros&e38=64 The fourth chapter thematizes the role of women in the formation of more effective public policies. Is their marginality comparable to that of young people, who are also underrepresented among the actors of urban reformist policies? 

In Europe, less than 30% of policy makers are women. European cities are governed by less than 15% mayors. Fewer mayors were elected in the 2016 local elections than in the 1946 round. It seems to me that these data speak for themselves. The point is that we don’t need more public policies dedicated to women, as we often hear. But that we need more women to decide for better and more effective public policies. Even at the municipal level, where, historically, women’s protagonism in public life has been more visible.

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