Cisternino 2020

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award


The democratic participation project Cisternino2020 (Jan 2008- March 2009) was set up to involve the city of Livorno in the choices of how to use the newly restored building - il Cisternino - in the centre of the city.

This building had been closed for twenty years but was assigned funds for its restoration in 2007 by the Region of Tuscany as part of a project on social protagonism for young people in the city centre. The building, a fine example of early nineteenth-century architecture designed by the famous architect Poccianti, was originally destined to be a water cistern but was never used as such and became a vital, much loved cultural centre from the 1960s to 1980s. It therefore lives vividly in the memory and hearts of 40 to 60-year old politicians and administrators as a place where debate was vital and allowed plural points of view and where topics such as bioethics and religious dialogue were discussed.

Some administrators and politicians, in particular the Mayor, were concerned about a sense of political disaffection and social disorientation among the young and suggested a project of participatory democracy about a building which was a symbol of what was good in Livorno. The question was how to organise a project which would also invite and encourage participation of young people who regarded public authority with suspicion. The Administration wanted to go beyond the forms coded in the norms: referenda, petitions, proposal by popular initiative (L. n 241/90 e D.Lgs n 265/1999) by exploring other means of reaching the local population. In order to do this it was vital that the project be genuinely free - that the people engaged in the process would not feel obliged to provide answers that would satisfy the Municipality but answers that would satisfy the young people of the city. The starting point of the project was to encourage the emergence of plural divergent voices - to listen to them and to encourage the participants to manage conflict creatively. Facilitators were trained to become the mouthpieces of the project in the city. The project was structured into four phases. The first two phases (listening to the city/exploring the city) involved explaining the project, training the facilitators and starting their interaction with the city. This took place between January and April. In the second two phases (the city proposes and the city decides), the citizens made their proposals for the Cisternino and then decided on the final text to be given to the Mayor. There were 37 proposals and these were placed into five areas from which five panels evolved to produce a document for each area. From these five areas, one document called ‘the single text’ was creatively negotiated. Phase three took two days (in May) and phase four lasted from June to November.

The final text was then read by the Mayor and his cabinet and ‘given back’ officially to the city in March 2009.

Award info
Award category: citizen involvement
Award type: submission
Award year: 2009
Project type
Sector: Public administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reform
Type of activity:
Keywords: Conflict management, youth involvement, urban planning
Short English description: The starting point of the project was to encourage the emergence of plural divergent voices - to listen to them and to encourage the participants to manage conflict creatively
Further information
Organisation: Livorno Municipality
Other applicants:
Level of government: local level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved:
Country: Italy
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:

Cisternino 2020 (43.5522114, 10.3090383)
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