I LOVE ATINA
Atina is a small town in Italy which faces many of the typical challenges of a rural location. It suffers from an ageing population and an economy that is overly dependent on seasonal tourism, leading to a lack of dynamism in general. In addition it is a fractured community, divided into an old core which is a place of agriculture, heritage and culture and a more recent part which is industrial but has been declining for decades. Set against the backdrop of the financial crisis, this makes for a difficult (though by no means unusual) cocktail of problems. Working together with the Municipality of Atina and a number of other partners, CLEAR VILLAGE conducted a week of street interventions as a first step in the process to re-ignite Atina and break down the invisible border between its two parts.
WHAT WE DID
An Italian-speaking team of design analysts, comprising CLEAR VILLAGE as well as partners Fabiana Panetta and Angela Koch of ImaginePlaces, engaged in a week-long residency in Atina during the annual jazz festival, the most vibrant time of the year. ‘Discovery Week’, as it was termed, was well publicized in advance. Invitations were sent to the community via the mailing list of Atina’s main library; postcards were distributed around town; local Facebook groups supported the communications drive; and a project site was established online. During Discovery Week, the design team had a dedicated stand on one of Atina’s busiest squares and also conducted outreach in other parts of town to ensure that as many members of the community as possible were engaged.
The team developed and facilitated an intense array of participatory exercises including “What I love about Atina”, “If I were the mayor”, “Public realm improvements”, “My project for Atina”, “Children’s dreams”, “Retailers’ future”, and others. The goal was to cater for different people by means of various forms of engagement and thus to enable everyone to contribute their thoughts, suggestions and aspirations for the future of Atina, from the young to the old and from locals to decision-makers and visitors.
In addition, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted to feed into a tailored version of the CLEAR VILLAGE Wellbeing Analysis. To obtain further data, condensed versions of the interviews were carried out through a postcard survey, an online questionnaire and a poster poll at the stand. The initial findings of ‘Discovery Week’ were presented at a public exhibition in Atina at the end of the week and were subsequently analysed and collated in a CLEAR VILLAGE Wellbeing Analysis report.
‘Discovery Week’ helped to bring together all segments of the local community around a branded conversation which ran under the motto of ‘I Love Atina’ to boost local pride and overcome internal fragmentation. The Wellbeing Analysis that was conducted provided the Municipality and other key stakeholders with a reflective portrait of the strengths and weaknesses of the place, giving a clear indication on what areas need to be prioritized and addressed. Building on these foundations, CLEAR VILLAGE and its partners now have a roadmap in place to the second phase of the project: a CLEAR VILLAGE Lab which will take place in the course of 2012 and bring together locals and experts to co-design solutions to some of Atina’s most pressing challenges such as service decline, economic seasonality, moving beyond culture as the primary driver of dynamism, and establishing a stronger relationship between the inhabitants and assets of Upper and Lower Atina.