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Generative European Commons Living Lab

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - gE.CO Living Lab (Generative European Commons Living Lab)

Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2020-03-31

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 of 56 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. Strong points, weaknesses, and obstacles are identified to define a common core of experiences.
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. Self-registration in the gE.CO map is already possible. 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).
Generative commons represent a very spread phenomenon Europe wide, and for this reason their connection and the mutual exchange of experience is essential to strengthen their innovative capability. gE.CO Living Lab is a platform providing citizens who want to improve both the quality of their life and the neighborhood where they live with solutions, and best practices to organize activities and services, invent alternative forms of work and regenerate the urban space. Similarly, gE.CO provides public administrations with models for supporting citizens' initiative, with the aim of overcoming the main obstacles that civil servants met in experimenting public-civic partnerships.

Expected results until the end of the project:

- the gE.CO DIY (“Do It Yourself”) package will be created, including innovative models and solutions for supporting the emergence of new generative commons through shared, public and open access contents.
- the WMGC (“Widespread Museum of Generative Commons”) will provide a useful tool to browse cases uploaded in the map and increase the number of users.
- the work around usability and access to technology will facilitate the use of digital tools.
- with regards to underrepresented groups, gE.CO intends to better understand how they are involved in these initiatives, and to identify those factors that make their participation difficult, in order to foster their involvement.

Potential Impacts:

- the map and the assessment phase are providing the consortium with data through which identifying EU lines of action that are able to integrate and improve the Urban Agenda. gE.CO can contribute to bringing European policies close to local authorities, and this can increase the trust of citizens in the EU.
- the creation of a specific package devoted to temporary uses will be able to clarify a field appearing quite confused and to facilitate their application.
- the study of the internal organization adopted by formal or informal groups of citizens is able to show how regulations in the field of the so called third sector have been applied. This analysis can improve national legal frameworks in dealing with the phenomenon of self-organization.
- 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 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 postcard
gE.CO project essential info
infographic project activities