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The City Council of Reggio Emilia, in its upcoming session on the Forecast Budget, will deliberate on intervention proposals emerging from the territory through new tools of participation: the Consulte – Neighborhood Council. The Council, established by the municipal administration, aims to foster closer ties and better address the needs and issues of different city zones.
Photo credit: Consulte
The proposals were showcased on 14th December 2023 at the Neighborhood Council meeting, where representatives from various areas submitted 85 requests and potential solutions for enhancing neighborhood livability and quality of life. These proposals – the result of efforts by 250 members across over 200 meetings involving approximately 4000 people – cover a range of issues from environmental concerns (green space maintenance, road management, and climate justice) to safety, perceived as a product of policies against urban decay, and focused on prevention, control, repression, and especially social growth investments, particularly for youth. Significant themes also include the maintenance of public assets and both physical and non-physical infrastructure. Proposals include, for example, introducing a neighborhood street cleaner and community traffic warden, redeveloping Mirandola and Pace parks and the former gasometer, and expanding greenways to enhance territorial and landscape engagement and attractiveness.
These and other project proposals developed in the Councils' first year, as outlined in the Territorial Pacts, will be converted into administrative actions upon approval by the City Council during the Forecast Budget adoption.
It is evident how far the Consulte has come since their inception, from civic protagonists to community architects for the future of Reggio Emilia.
"The Councils' work and the commitment of their citizen members demonstrate how participation in Reggio is not only a longstanding tradition but also capable of evolving" ..
.. asserts Mayor Luca Vecchi. "The results of these past months offer a vision combining everyday needs with aspirational values. It wasn't certain that this initially skeptical-received project would yield such significant and valuable outcomes. Listening to the needs of Reggio Emilia's neighborhoods and territories didn't end with the national law-mandated abolition of Circumscriptions; instead, new and effective methods have been found to sustain this engagement over time."
"We're extremely pleased with these initial months of work, confirming the city's desire for these dialog and engagement spaces," adds Participation Councilor Lanfranco de Franco. "Some viewed these Councils as outdated, but now we see the need to revive human relationship education. The Councils are significant not only for the issues they raise but also for the physical community engagement process initiated in each city neighborhood. It's heartening to see a community quickly gain role awareness and handle complexity with resolve, prioritizing collective needs over individual ones, despite the usual difficulties of starting a new experimental project and navigating public administration's often complex rules and bureaucracies. The issues brought to the Municipality will soon be addressed and realized, and will undoubtedly shape future work, reinforcing the relationship with these participation bodies, which complement the Citizenship Laboratories. We thank all members, especially the coordinators for their substantial volunteer work, and public officials who approached the Councils collaboratively, enabling their functioning in this initial phase."
The meeting, convened and led by Reggio Emilia Mayor Luca Vecchi, was attended by Participation Councilor Lanfranco De Franco, all Neighborhood Council members, and representatives from municipal and regional volunteer associations based in Reggio Emilia.
The meeting served to monitor ongoing and completed initiatives, participatory processes, decentralized deliberative experiences, the state of relations between the Municipality and Neighborhood Councils, and the operation of decentralized services and offices.
About the Consulte
The nine Neighborhood Councils, established in early 2023 following citizen-elected member appointments for each neighborhood, are new territorial participation bodies formed under the "Regulation on Democracy and Urban and Climate Justice" in Reggio Emilia. These bodies co-plan public policies, interact with Municipal Services and city governing bodies to identify, analyze, and assess neighborhood problems, and promote the utilization and circulation of neighborhood resources. Additionally, the Councils provide mandatory but non-binding opinions on significant city-related plans and documents.
The Council offers an open, inclusive platform fostering structured dialogue between the Administration and neighborhoods, following the national law-abolished Circumscriptions and in line with the collaborative city project "Neighborhood Common Good."
Reflecting the city's nine distinct territorial divisions (based on the amalgamation of 55 city neighborhoods), the Councils cover areas like the Historic Center; Areas A through H, each comprising multiple neighborhoods.
EUARENAS investigates how social movements and local government reforms lead to small-scale experiments that drive political change towards more inclusive and participatory governance. Check out our pilot actions in Gdansk, Voru, and Reggio Emilia!