Campi Bisenzio’s Launches Forum for New Citizens
Seventeen candidates from nine countries recently stood for election at Campi Bisenzio’s Forum for New Citizens organised by Campi Bisenzio’s City Council and the association Intercultural Meeting Point.
An article published by MET-an online newsletter specializing in local governance in the central Tuscany region in Italy- provides an insight into the forum. It states: ”The forum is a participative, non institutional organ which the Meeting Point set up to reinforce and give value to the participation of migrants in the social and political spheres in our territory and make visible their presence and their yet to be fulfilled right to vote in local elections as enshrined in the Strasbourg European Convention”. The article then continues by providing clarification on the specific role of the elected candidate who will be called to the Table for the participation of foreign citizens in the democratic life in the province of Florence.
The statute of Forum provides an overview of the specific objectives of this initiative. The forum seeks “to be a resource for the associations of citizens of non Italian origin, to be a place and point of reference where they can meet, build collectively training paths and implement public initiatives. ”As far as means of action are concerned, the forum aims at “providing an educational laboratory for students through the involvement of primary, secondary and high schools to organize occasions for intercultural education during the school year with events held in symbolic areas of the city”. Intercultural communication will be realized in collaboration with the local media in order inform and sensitise public opinion on the opportunity of cultural pluralism. A prize for promoting intercultural understanding will be given on an annual basis “ to people who have been active in promoting intercultural dialogue and combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination”. Finally it the stated intention is also to “facilitate the development of a pluricultural identity amongst youths.”
During an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere di Milano the city’s alderman for immigration, Nadia Conti provides her impressions of another important day in the life of this intercultural city. On seven April Campo Bisenzio has made all minors residents in the town who have a foreign citizenship, honorary Italian citizens. She says: ‘The invitation was sent to all minors under the age of 17 years old. During the ceremony we selected eight, four myself and four the mayor. Amongst the ones I selected there were two very young ones, one two month old of Albanian origin and another one who was nine months old of Shrilankan origin. The presence of these children sent an important signal as it underlined the will of their parents to integrate”.
The Forum organised by Campi Bisenzio touches upon many areas which are crucial to the well being of all of the city’s citizens. It is a truly participative, right based and educational tool which touches upon so many best practice examples observed by the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities network. To name but a few they include ensuring representation and active involvement in local decisions and training journalists and students alike on the advantages of a pluri-cultural society. This initiative launched in Campi Bisenzio may provide inspiration for other cities to follow.
By Thomas Pavan-Woolfe