Giuseppe Guzzetti believes architecture and design have positive effects on people’s dignity. Fondazione Cariplo launches Cittàintorno, an urban regeneration programme
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.
This page: urban allotments in Via Promessi Sposi, on the outskirts of Milan.