Co-City Protocols

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David Bollier:

"A clever twist on the public/private partnership is the commons/public partnership in which commoners act as working partners with municipal governments in tackling important need. An early example of this is the Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons. This initiative of the Bologna, Italy, municipal government established a system whereby the city bureaucracy provides legal, financial, and technical support to projects initiated by commoners. These projects have included the management of eldercare centers, kindergartens, and public spaces as well as rehabilitating abandoned buildings. As Chris Iaione and Elena De Nictolis describe in Chapter xy, the Bologna Regulation – developed by the Italian think tank LabGov – has evolved into the Co-City Protocols, a methodology for guiding co-governance initiatives.52 The protocols are based on five design principles: “collective governance, enabling state, pooling economies, experimentalism, and technological justice.”

The point of the Co-City Protocols as a legal innovation is to leap beyond the known limitations of bureaucratic administration and leverage the social and creative energies of commoning. Numerous cities in Italy have adopted the Protocols as a way to rethink and enlarge the relationship between city bureaucracies and residents. It is an insight that the City of Ghent, Belgium, has taken to heart as well. In 2017, it commissioned an intensive study of scores of commons-based projects within its borders. It wanted to learn how it might augment the work of a neighborhood-managed church building, a renewable energy coop, and a temporary urban commons lab that provides space to many community projects. Any commons/public partnerships that result are likely to require legal hacks to define the shifting contours of state collaboration with commons."