"Rete delle Case del Quartiere" (Network of Neighborhood Houses), is a network of eight "Case del Quartiere" (Neighborhood Houses) in Turin - the first Italian network of this kind!
The eight Houses find their strength on those aspects that link them one to another, as well as on the specific characteristics of each House and neighborhood.
Each of the eight Houses works independently as a multi-functional community hub located in different areas of the city. They are very different in their structure: some manage large buildings with large halls that can serve different purposes, including theatre/concert halls/cinemas, other have small spaces that are more suitable for other activities (meetings, classrooms, workshops). However, they all fulfil one common characteristic written in Rete delle Case del Quartiere's manifesto: they do not focus on any particular target or field of activity, and are open to everybody regardless of age, culture, geographical origin, etc.
A bit of history
The eight houses of the network were established over the years at different times - the first one in 2007 - in the framework of different programmes. Since 2012 they have developed a common vision and decided in 2017 to create the first Italian network of neighborhood houses. They are currently helping other cities and non-profit organisations throughout Italy to start up similar experiences.
What are their objective & activities?
The Houses are places of active participation: they encourage people to take part in the social and cultural life of the neighborhood and the city through different forms of active citizenship, volunteering and cultural activities. They are places where people look for and experiment new ways of planning and managing social welfare policies and activities, developing proximity-based networks, and finding collective solutions to common needs.
The Houses are places for artistic and cultural promotion because they recognize creativity and expression as a powerful tool for the community and the future.
The programme of activities of each House is decided each year in cooperation with the local organisations and the neighbours. The Houses host and disseminate cultural, artistic, social and recreational activities; information desks; courses; workshops; family services; performances; repair cafes; lectures and exhibitions. The Houses guide and support self-organised projects and events by making knowledge, spaces, tools and resources available for them.
They define themselves as Houses, because their goal is to make people feel at home. They are places of everyday life in an open dimension where it is possible to stay, socialize and be active by taking part in activities as well as becoming promoters of projects and initiatives.
How does it work structurally?
The Neighborhood Houses are based on the cooperation between the public and the private sector: most Houses are hosted in public (municipal) buildings but are managed by private bodies deeply-rooted in the territory - associations, foundations and cooperatives - and which are the results of participatory processes. They rely on a combination of public and private funding, as well as self-sustainability. The Houses are management models which also constantly learn from experience.
We are happy to join the ENCC network and we are willing to share our experience and connect with other European organizations that carry out projects connecting culture and active citizenship.
What European projects are the Houses involved in?
The network and some Houses take part in European projects, such as Erasmus+ (youth exchanges, European Voluntary Service), the Horizon 2020 projects CO3 and proGIreg as well as in CO-CITY, and the Urban Innovative Actions programme (European Regional Development Funds) . "CO3, Digital Disruptive Technologies to Co-create, Co-produce and Co-manage Open Public Services along with Citizens, aims at assessing the benefits and risks of disruptive technologies, namely: block chain, augmented reality, geolocated social network, liquid democracy tools and gamification, in the co-creation, co-production and co-management of public services with citizens as PAs partners. For this project, the network participates as linked third party of the City of Turin. The other Horizon 2020 project for which one of the Houses is working on, proGIreg, is about the regeneration of post-industrial site through nature-based solutions. The involved House is the Fondazione della Comunità di Mirafiori ONLUS located in the same district than the FIAT car factory", explains Vittorio Bianco, member of the Board of Directors. "We also work as a partner with the city administration of Turin for the CO-CITY project. The objective of CO-CITY is to allow citizens to propose and adopt European urban commons, like gardens, squares, public buildings. Citizens can write their projects and then the city administration makes a contract with them for the management of the new commons. The role of Rete delle Case del Quartiere is to communicate to our audience about this opportunity, to help people improving their projects and applying, and finally, upon approval, assist them in the start up of the activities."