Revo­lu­tion­is­ing Wel­fare

Giuseppe Guzzetti be­lieves ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign have pos­i­tive ef­fects on peo­ple’s dig­nity. Fon­dazione Cariplo launches Cit­tàin­torno, an ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion pro­gramme

Domus - - CONTENTS - By Giuseppe Guzzetti

Some peo­ple are in­volved in phi­lan­thropy, oth­ers lis­ten to their hearts but all told there are thou­sands of peo­ple who make do­na­tions; even nor­mal peo­ple who are not rich, the ones we call “lit­tle Bill Gates”, who qui­etly do­nate hun­dreds of thou­sands of eu­ros. We know many peo­ple like this. Foun­da­tions like Cariplo join rea­so­nand feel­ing: although the spirit is in­spired by sol­i­dar­ity or al­tru­ism, the method is al­ways rig­or­ous, pro­fes­sional, con­tem­po­rary and dic­tated by rea­son; pre­cise strate­gic de­ci­sions and a clear sense of man­age­rial skill is re­quired. The ever-lack­ing re­sources should be spent well in or­der to af­fect the sit­u­a­tion, oth­er­wise it is just char­ity; of course char­ity works, too, but phi­lan­thropy is quite dif­fer­ent; it has shown that to­day, if it weren’t for the foun­da­tions with their mis­sion of so­cial in­no­va­tion and their re­sources, we would have piles of blank pages rep­re­sent­ing all the projects we wouldn’t be able to or­gan­ise. Foun­da­tions and the no-profit sec­tor are now sub­sti­tut­ing for the state. Just like the Cariplo Foun­da­tion we are in con­stant evo­lu­tion. We in­ter­act with the best Ital­ian and in­ter­na­tional phil­an­thropic or­gan­i­sa­tions. We are striv­ing to learn in or­der to be­come more ef­fi­cient. We mustn’t for­get one im­por­tant thing: we can learn even from the small­est re­al­i­ties, even from those that don’t have top rep­u­ta­tions. With a touch of pride, we can say that some­times oth­ers learn from us. On the or­gan­i­sa­tional front we have set an ef­fi­cient ma­chine into mo­tion: 80 peo­ple to eval­u­ate, de­velop, and man­age over 1,000 projects a year in var­i­ous fields (cul­ture, en­vi­ron­ment, so­cial im­pact, sci­en­tific re­search) with a bud­get of over 150 mil­lion eu­ros. In­ter­na­tional pa­ram­e­ters in­di­cate that a source of fund­ing would be re­quired per ev­ery 1 mil­lion eu­ros of ac­tiv­ity. We are well be­low that stan­dard, a proof of our ef­fi­ciency. On the com­mit­ment front, we are keep­ing up with pri­or­i­ties, pri­mar­ily the prob­lem of poverty to which we are de­vot­ing time, knowhow and re­sources. One ex­am­ple of this is the Qu.bì project, aimed at rais­ing from poverty some 13,000 Mi­lanese chil­dren and their fam­i­lies who don’t have enough to eat. Young peo­ple, health, com­mu­nity: these three pri­or­i­ties have been un­der­taken in re­cent years and, if we say some­thing, we do it. We are revo­lu­tion­is­ing the wel­fare sys­tem for peo­ple’s ben­e­fit and well-be­ing whether they be the aged, chil­dren, fam­i­lies, or in­di­vid­u­als in need. Dur­ing this process un­ex­pected re­sults have come from the com­mu­ni­ties we have in­volved and en­trusted with re­spon­si­bil­ity. We do­nated over 30 mil­lion eu­ros to some 30 pi­lot projects for so­cial in­no­va­tion in or­der to test a new sys­tem whereby lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties di­rectly take care of peo­ple’s needs. We have in­volved thou­sands of peo­ple, hun­dreds of busi­nesses and these are all fo­cus­ing their ef­forts on re­solv­ing prob­lems. We are cur­rently mak­ing 10,000 em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to young peo­ple over the next three years via our Cariplo­fac­tory, a project of ten mil­lion eu­ros, di­rected at those young peo­ple who are nei­ther study­ing nor work­ing - in Italy alone there are two mil­lion of them. Two mil­lion! We have tracked them down through Face­book be­cause they spend their days at home, feel­ing down. We in­volved a thou­sand of them in a big project in Lom­bardy. I live in the real world and I see the big prob­lems in Italy and Europe as well as in the rest of the world. When faced with set­backs there are two ways to re­act; we can ei­ther sub­mit to the sit­u­a­tion or we can roll up our shirt sleeves. I see so many peo­ple work­ing, strug­gling ev­ery day but armed with con­fi­dence and courage, in in­sti­tu­tions, and not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions. Scan­dals are com­mon­place and, when they oc­cur, they gen­er­ally dam­age ev­ery­one by un­der­min­ing­peo­ple’s faith. But I am con­fi­dent in out­look be­cause our young peo­ple are well­pre­pared and good-willed. I think there will be a re­birth of this so­ci­ety. Ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign are al­ready con­tribut­ing to this vast so­cial project through, for ex­am­ple, so­cial hous­ing. We have com­pleted thou­sands of well-made, el­e­gant homes with the max­i­mum Euro­pean en­ergy rat­ing, thanks also to com­pe­ti­tions among in­ter­na­tional ar­chi­tects. These projects have be­come in­ter­na­tional case-stud­ies of best prac­tice in homes for young cou­ples, stu­dents, the el­derly, whose ex­penses are cov­ered by only 500 eu­ros a month. Ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign are tools for af­fect­ing change in the pe­riph­eries, for re-ac­ti­vat­ing run-down or aban­doned sites to make them at­trac­tive and to gen­er­ate em­ploy­ment. Beauty is im­por­tant for peo­ple’s dig­nity; beauty and good taste gen­er­ate pos­i­tive ef­fects. We launched a very large project ti­tled Cit­tàin­torno, a three­year ur­ban re­newal pro­gramme that will bring cul­tural op­por­tu­ni­ties to the pe­riph­eries. The Cit­tàin­torno pro­gramme is based on col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween in­sti­tu­tions, uni­ver­si­ties, schools and play­ers from pri­vate so­cial ini­tia­tives and lo­cal as­so­ci­a­tions, busi­nesses and cit­i­zens. In this case, too, sci­en­tific method is the ba­sis; in fact, the Mi­lan Polytech­nic, an es­sen­tial part­ner, is sup­port­ing the pro­gramme by de­vel­op­ing a spe­cific line of in­ter­ac­tive re­search on the com­mu­ni­ties in­volved in or­der to pro­vide a thor­ough and strate­gic knowl­edge about the con­texts where the pro­gramme will take place. Soon the Com­mu­nity Food Hubs will be ready: places of ag­gre­ga­tion where ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign will be fun­da­men­tal. We must start from the out­ly­ing ar­eas that we have called Cit­tàin­tor-

no (Ci­tyAroundUs) be­cause here, too, we didn’t want to re­fer to a sec­ond-rate city or to mar­ginal lo­ca­tions. We are con­vinced that cul­ture is able to re­gen­er­ate out­ly­ing ar­eas with a pos­i­tive fall­out on so­cial co­he­sion. We feel con­fi­dent that, via the Cit­tàin­torno project, we can bring to light the great un­ex­pressed po­ten­tial of these de­cen­tralised dis­tricts. How­ever, re­build­ing the pe­riph­eries doesn’t mean de­vot­ing at­ten­tion only to the walls of houses or other build­ings, it is re­ally about mend­ing re­la­tion­ships. Once again the key word is Com­mu­nity. In clos­ing I would like to make a wish for 2020: to give hope to chil­dren and young peo­ple and to pro­vide seren­ity to the el­derly. I see bud­ding so­cial in­no­va­tion grow­ing hale and hearty and it is ca­pa­ble of af­fect­ing change. Nowa­days any­one liv­ing in so­cial hous­ing units feels part of a com­mu­nity, re­lat­ing to oth­ers and help­ing them, just like in those farm­steads of old where I was born and grew up. Peo­ple liv­ing far from big cities are go­ing back to form­ing net­works. There are thou­sands of peo­ple who are work­ing out new wel­fare by tak­ing care of the el­derly, the dis­abled, the chil­dren and young­sters who would oth­er­wise not have any points of ref­er­ence. I am op­ti­mistic. Giuseppe Guzzetti (1934), lawyer, politi­cian and phi­lan­thropist is Pres­i­dent of the Cariplo Foun­da­tion and ACRI, the as­so­ci­a­tion of bank­ing foun­da­tions.

Photo by Alessan­dro Im­bri­aco, Au­gust 2010

This page: ur­ban al­lot­ments in Via Promessi Sposi, on the out­skirts of Mi­lan.

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