Inclusion of citizens in the political processes is not a challenge – it is the challenge the City of Turin has decided to face.
In a time when social inequalities grow, the fear for “the other” rises together with violence and rage, an effort was needed to re-define policies and improve their coordination.
With two major objectives: the fight against any form of discrimination (in particular racism) and the building of spaces, tools and policies to ensure equal and free participation to the democratic process and strengthen a sense of community in the city.
In order to achieve these objectives, the City of Turin has adopted on the 20th March (in occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, on the 21st), the new “Guidelines for interculture and participation”, a theoretical and practical framework of action for the public administration to help it setting up a participated environment to define rules, rights, duties and behaviours needed for living together in diversity.
The Guidelines design a three-pillar strategy:
- First and foremost, the Public Administration decided to act upon itself in order to change its internal structures and practices. Horizontal synergy, intersectional approach and two-ways communication are the fundamental elements of this revolution. Two tools were created: a political Steering Committee and a technical Working Group will coordinate different services and offices of the City of Turin. Both SC and WG will provide not only a strong vehicle for transferring knowledge and practices, for raising the quality of intercultural actions and projects and for coordinating policies of different offices, but – most important – they will give the different services a space to jointly elaborate the needs and requests expressed by the communities.
- The second pillar focuses on the creation of Communities Working Groups. CWGs can be nationality-based, religious-based or created according to any other form of identity (second generations, women with migration background, etc); what is important, however, is that they always respond and are structured in order to meet the needs and specificities of the community. Flexible structure, problem-solving approach and horizontal dialogue between the Local Authority and community stake- and need-holders and associations are the key-words for these spaces of dialogue, co-planning, project drafting and evaluation.
- Finally, the third pillar is represented by the activities and projects jointly organized by Local Authority and Associations. For the first years, the cooperation will focus on the most important religious or secular holidays of the single communities (New Year for the Chinese community, Open Mosque for the Islamic community, Day of Religious Freedom for Valdese believers, and so on). The specific aim is to further increase mutual trust and knowledge between offices and communities' representatives, increase the communities' public visibility as well as empower the communities' members and representatives.
A further step will be setting up of a “City coordination body for intercultural planning”, to give space to all associations, citizens and institutions wishing to work on intercultural and interreligious dialogue.