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Generative European Commons Living Lab

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - gE.CO Living Lab (Generative European Commons Living Lab)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2022-01-31

Across Europe, citizens are engaged and mobilized to demonstrate their ability in creating innovative solutions for facing important social issues. How the creativity of these local solutions and their potential opportunities can be captured without compromising their participatory nature? gE.CO addresses this challenge building a platform for bringing together and supporting formal groups or informal communities of citizens who manage social centres, community hubs, cultural spaces, and incubators, created in regenerated urban voids, as well as municipalities supporting these experiences.
These innovative practices are generative commons: they are based on sharing and establishing new partnerships between Public Institutions and local communities. These innovative models of governance of the urban dimension are based on solidarity, inclusion, participation, economic and environmental sustainability. The creation of the gE.CO network will facilitate a smoother sharing of best practices between these initiatives across Europe, including a new end-user perspective in the implementation of urban policies.
What is the role that generative commons can play in our society?
- providing essential services in the suburbs and promoting the regeneration of urban areas, offering new models of development, new forms of work, and an alternative to face the transformations of the fourth industrial revolution.
- Improving the ecological sensibility of citizens enabling sustainable and environmentally friendly uses of regenerated urban spaces, open areas and abandoned or unused buildings.
Last but not least, the covid-19 emergency has stressed the necessity of a welfare system inspired by the principle of proximity. To build it, new models for establishing partnerships between local authorities and civic organizations are needed and generative commons indicate how to implement them.
To facilitate the creation of a network of generative commons across Europe, gE.CO has built, since February 2019, the project website, gE.CO database, gE.CO platform and gE.CO toolbox. Moreover, a biannual newsletter is regularly issued
The website ( is the tool for informing about gE.CO’s progress and for collecting materials developed during the implementation of the project. So far, the gE.CO database collected more than 200 generative commons in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and UK. The database is accessible in the project website, and it is mainly organized around two categories: community of citizens - including both formal and informal groups - and urban policies.
Among the cases collected in the database, a group has been identified to be studied in depth throughout interviews and surveys. The aim of this assessment phase is to understand which factors make self-organized experiences sustainable and how Public Institutions can support the development of generative commons. The results of the assessment phase have been the starting point for developing in 2021 the innovative gE.CO DIY package. It includes tools to facilitate citizens' participation in taking care of urban commons; to improve the internal organization of communities; and to renovate open spaces and buildings where solidarity initiatives are organized. To facilitate the creation of local partnerships between communities and public administrations, a legal toolkit has been created. Furthermore, specific recommendations are devoted to improve women' participation and underrepresented groups.
The gE.CO platform is composed of a map and a set of open source tools (gE.CO toolbox). The map provides users with a European-wide overview of generative commons and permit zooming on different scales: European, national, and local. The three-level system allows the use of the map as an informative tool but also as an operative network, since it facilitates connections. The map has been populated uploading more than 200 cases in Europe. Accesses to the platform (14300 in 2020; 13600 in 2021; and 1800 ins the first months of 2022) shows that it is a well-known tool to discover the world of commons. The gE.CO Toolbox is conceived as a device for supporting citizens and administrations, providing them with a tool for collaborative editing of community pages (Wiki.js); a tool for synchronous text editing and cloud storage (NextCloud); and a tool for synchronous communication (RocketChat).
During the final period, the gE.CO consortium developed its own tasks by involving communities and civil servants: 15 workshops have been organized to test and improve the gE.CO DIY package, and 3 thematic webinars allowed to discuss the project progress. An International Conference of Urban Commons has been organized in order to present the gE.CO project to European and international scholars: more than 60 researchers responded to the call for papers.
The consortium decided to present gE.CO and the tools not only to a specialized audience and for this reason, the project has been presented during the European Researchers' Night and one of the tools of the gE.CO CIY package has been tested.
The main strategy to exploit the results of the project consists in the creation of the Widespread Museum of Generative Commons, allowing to explore the Europe of the commons, as well as to discover communities through thematic itineraries.
Results obtained at the end of the project:

- the gE.CO DIY (“Do It Yourself”) package has been created, and it includes innovative models and solutions for supporting the emergence of new generative commons through shared, public and open access contents. The package is particularly rich and its contents goes beyond the starting expectations. The importance of this work pushed the consortium to revamp the gE.CO website in order to show the progress and the results of the project.
- the WMGC (“Widespread Museum of Generative Commons”) represents a useful tool to browse cases uploaded in the map and discover the Europe of the commons. Local experiences have the great opportunity of going beyond national borders.
- the work around usability and access to technology has facilitated the use of digital tools, permitting the elaboration of specific recommendations that can support communities in the use of digital tools.
- with regards to underrepresented groups, specific tools and recommendations have been created to facilitate inclusion.


- the map gives local experiences European visibility, presenting them as innovative models of local development; gE.CO can create awareness about the existence of generative commons and in general of local models of development. This can be the starting point for facilitating the rise of new experiences.
- gE.CO contributes to strengthen the Europe of citizens and of solidarity, as the Social Economy Action Plan issued in 2021 confirms.
- the gE.CO DIY package responds to common problems, so that it can support communities in reaching economic and social sustainability..
- the database shows that in many cases the provision of welfare services is organized in an occupied space. In Europe, long-time occupations exist and the research of tools for legalizing them is something to deal with.
- gE.CO contributes to bringing European policies close to local authorities, and this can increase the trust of citizens in the EU.
gE.CO postcard
gE.CO project essential info
infographic project activities