"Il Comune siamo noi" ("We are the Municipality")
Calcinaia Municipality

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Before the implementation of this initiative, the Calcinaia society situation was characterized by a lack of participation. Citizens didn’t take part actively to the public life and to the public debate. They didn’t participate in policy-making decisions. This problem concerned especially people who were exclude from any experience of real active and democratic citizenship, like the youth, the elderly and the immigrants. This target represented that part of the community didn’t take an active part in politics. Their voice was not heard in public debate and they didn’t have the possibilities, the instruments or the opportunities to be involved in political affairs.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
In order to foster participation in policy – making decision and to enhance the representative democracy in the local community, the Calcinaia public administration decided to involve population in an innovative consultation mechanism, a form of participatory budgeting named “Il Comune siamo noi” (“We are the Municipality”). 64 citizens were drawn respecting the criteria of the equal opportunities. The group reproduced the real composition of the local society on the basis of gender, age and neighborhood. People who was not belong to any association or specific group was preferred. Citizens selected, divided into thematic group, had have to decide how to spend the 300.000 euro allocated for the initiative by the administrators. Their task is to realize, with the support of a participation processes expert and some public servants (engineers, …), public work projects useful to the community. The projects were explained to the population. All the inhabitants (also the foreigners) could vote only a project. The public administration committed itself to realize the winning projects to the tune of 300.000 euro.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Thanks to “Il Comune siamo noi”, citizens could take part actively to the public life and to the public debate. This democratic deliberation and decision-making process made them feel really involved and valued. This initiative represented for the Calcinaia community an important innovation: for the first time the inhabitants had the opportunity to have their voice heard, deciding how to allocate a substantial part of municipal budget (300.000 euro, a sum that represented the 20% of the annual budget). On the other and, thanks to “Il Comune siamo noi”, the Calcinaia public administration had the possibility to know with a direct method the ins and outs of community needs and the citizens point of view about relevant questions. But these are not the only advantages of including citizens in decision making: “Il Comune siamo noi” contributed to improve the communication between citizens and administrators, creating a direct line between the community and the public administration.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Project Implementation Plan included various steps (for the detailed chronology look at the gantt diagram): A)Preparatory activities: 1-Selection and nomination of a vigilance committee 2-involvement of public servants 3-selection of a representative sample of citizens (64) B)Communication activities: 1-launch of an integrated communication campaign 2-development, launch and updating of the dedicated web site 3-Improvement of the communication campaign before, during and after the election days (advertisements, social network, news releases, articles, video, book …) C)Information activities 1-4 meetings (“world café”) during which selected citizens are informed about Calcinaia public administration activities. Collection of the citizens suggestions D)Elaboration of Public work projects: 1-selected citizens get into groups in order to realize thematic workshops 2-planning phase: project elaboration with the support of specialists of participation processes and engineers E)Selection of the projects 1-Electoral preparation activities 2-Public presentation of the projects 3-election days F)Conclusion activities: presentation and diffusion of “Il Comune siamo noi” results 1-Presentation of the final report. Presentation of the book “Sulla stessa barca”, which describes the participatory process “Il Comune siamo noi” 2-Realization and presentation of the video “Il Comune siamo noi”, which tells the participatory process step by step through the interviews of the people involved. 3-Distribution of the video “Il Comune siamo noi” to the citizens

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
A lot of actors contributed to the implementation of the initiative. The “Il Comune siamo noi” project was managed by an external participation processes expert. Furthermore an external company attended to the selection of the participants. Also some public servants contributed to the good realization of the project: the administrative office attended to inform the selected people about the rules of their participation, the press office was responsible for the communication (website, social network, press releases, …), the technical office supervised the workshops work. During “world cafes” and workshops, some local voluntary associations provided child care service and an adequate transport service for disabled participants.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The financial and technical resources’ costs associated with the initiative are: Instrument and equipment rental (chairs, projector ...): 1.000 euro Rooms (cleaning service): 1.000 euro Participation processes management: 20.000 euro Participant selection: 10.000 euro Child care/ transport service: 1.000 euro Writing materials: 1.000 euro Informative: 2.000 euro Catering: 3.000 euro Photo, audio and video service: 1.000 euro Communication campaign (web site, …): 8.000 euro Total amount: 54.000 euro The Regional authority for the citizens participation contributed to the financing giving to the Calcinaia government the sum of 41.000 euro. According to co-financing rules, the remining 13.000 euro was borne by the local government. For what concerns human resources, the costs amount to 7.200 euro. 22 public servants were involved in the process.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1.Citizens’ responsiveness: citizens reacted with interest and enthusiasm to the initiative, which had represented an effective involved form of democratic participation. People selected participated in the workshops and took part actively in the discussion. During the elections days, 948 citizens voted through SMS or e-mail message or in dedicated polling places located in the center of the city and in the municipal libraries. 2.Relationship between public administration and citizens: “Il Comune siamo noi” initiative had improved the citizens’ relationships with the public servants and local administrators. This project gave the Calcinaia community the chance to get in touch with the local public administration in a direct way, improving communication between population and local government. So the initiative had contributed to counterbalance any negative image of public administration and rise the image and prestige of public servants. 3.Community building: “Il Comune siamo noi” strengthed the network between Calcinaia inhabitants. Participants had the opportunity to discuss and work together for an important common goal, the common good. So the initiative had improved the dialogue and the inside the community. 4.Higher knowledge of community needs: thanks to the “Il Comune siamo noi” project, the Calcinaia public administration had the possibility to get knowledge of the realistic needs and diseases of the local community 5.Local voluntary associations involvement: the services delivered by the local voluntary associations allowed selected citizens to take part in the “Il Comune siamo noi” initiatives, contributing to the success of the initiative. Furthermore, the local voluntary associations involvement represents the starting point for the community involvement.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Some indicators were selected in order to measure and monitor the implementation of the project. For what concerns communication, some important indicators were taken into consideration, like the number of press release published, the numbers of articles published on the dedicated website traffic For what concerns the selected citizens participation, the indicators taken into consideration were the number of world cafes participants, the number of projects elaborated during the workshops, the numbers of voters.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Some organization problems were encountered during the implementation of “Il Comune siamo noi”. Principally, meeting participants’ needs, taking into consideration their family and work tasks, is very difficult, especially when a project involves a large number of persons. Another obstacle was represented by the complexity of the topics, which made it necessary to increase the number of workshops. So meet the general project timetable was very difficult.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The initiative implementation of the initiative increases citizens participation in local governance, enhance both the quantity and quality of inhabitants involvement. Not only the selected participants, but also the citizens who weren’t directly involved in workshops, had become more conscious of the local administration duty and responsabilities. They also had become more aware of the structural problems that the local government encountered in its daily work. They had experienced how difficult is to solve problems concerned with common good. Thank to “Il Comune siamo noi”, citizens had changed their point of view: they stopped strongly criticizing local public administration and engaged in constructive dialogue with administrators and public servants. Thanks to “Il Comune siamo noi” process, for the first time in Calcinaia public works projects were elaborated and voted by citizens. In particular, seven public works projects were elaborated by the 64 selected participants and explained to the Calcinaia community. During the elections days, almost 1.000 inhabitants (people over 16, including foreigners) voted (948 voters, 9,42% of people entitled to vote). The winning project was “Facciamo Centro”, which had the majority of votes (385). The project is about the realization of parking areas, sidewalks, led illumination system, green space, a traffic circle, a crosswalk in some specific city areas, to the tune of 300.00 euro. At the moment, the Calcinaia local government is working in order to realize the “Facciamo Centro” project. The project will be put into their practice as soon as possible. Futhermore, another way to measure the project impacts is through some interviews with citizens about “Il Comune siamo noi” process and their effects and results. “Il Comune siamo noi” video contains some of these interviews.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
“Il Comune siamo noi” initiative tourned out to be a fruitful consultation mechanism which had led to more effective policymaking, The Calcinaia local government would replicate the “Il Comune siamo noi” initiative in the near future (2015-2019). Both administrators and citizens would participatory budgeting as “Il Comune siamo noi” become a structural part of the local administration annual activity. In this way, citizen engagement could become a regular part of the policy process. In the future, it could be used in a systematic way, especially when administrators have to make decisions on public works or services which are important to the community. Now, thanks to “Il Comune siamo noi” experience, citizens and public servants are conscious and informed about the mode of operation of participatory budgeting process. This provides the precondition to realize similar projects without the necessary involvement of third persons, with a consequent cost - cutting. Anyway the process could be realized using internal resources and regional funds (according to the co-financing principle). This initiative could be disseminated and transferred in a wide range of situation. Not only districts as little as Calcinaia (12.000 inhabitants) could experience the participatory budgeting with good results, but also bigger districts could succeed in doing participatory processes like “Il Comune siamo noi”. In these cases, the process realization would require more time and greater organizational efforts.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Participatory budgeting represents the best way to involve local community in public policy decisions because it gives citizens the opportunity to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects. Also it gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent. Thanks to this method, local administrations can put citizens at the heart of decision making. Even though dedicated resources, organizational efforts and a long period of time are necessary, the realization of a participatory budgeting gives local governments the opportunity to deeply know and meet citizens needs. Using this kind of consultation mechanism, local administrations can reach a general consensus about its policy. For the future, citizens selected for the workshops and for the public works projects elaboration could be more than 64, in order to assure a greater local community involvement.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Calcinaia Municipality
Institution Type:   Other  
Contact Person:   Lucia Ciampi
Title:   Mrs  
Telephone/ Fax:   0587 265442
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   l.ciampi@comune.calcinaia.pi.it  
Address:   piazza Indipendenza, 7
Postal Code:   56012
City:   Calcinaia
State/Province:   Pisa

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