The objective of the “EUR/OPEN” is to promote innovative cooperation between public institutions and citizens, with the aim to improve social entrepreneurship towards specific partnership for the area of corporate/institutional communication, with the extension to areas at risk of social marginality.  This meaning is increased by the recent transition within the Mediterranean area.  Sicily is a special place to set up a laboratory about construction of management of immigration, entrepreneurship oriented to social welfare, education to the European languages, improvement of the civic sensitiveness.

EUR/OPEN aims to be an intergenerational tool working as a poli-functional laboratory, interpreted as “European Door” to people, creating an “European Open Sphere” as a common home for social improvement and reciprocal understanding.

The modern internet based technologies and the opportunities emerging from new tools for publishers, both on e-books and audio / video sharing platforms, extending to new solutions involving additional spheres of perception, exploring new technologies to open new spaces of communication to other persons at risk of marginalization (the SME Immagini e parole works also on the field of visually impaired commmunication).    In general, to communicate with people who don’t know the language or that have some social or physical limits, needs to expanding the content – formal (institutional) and non-formal (social) – extending the  ways to communicate (through the full repertory of classroom, workshopws, and also traditional books, electronic books, audio / video and other innovative solutions involving Braille).  This idea of extension is the core definition of the “EUR/OPEN” communications objective.

The project EUR/OPEN is based on the idea of Europe as open sphere, a place where citizenship can flourish. With this participative aim, EUR/OPEN thinks its structures (both virtual and physical) as open place: a world of books, communication, performance, to live the dimension of shared  expression.    The concept of open sphere is naturally connected to the willingness to take open the door to civil society in each phase of implementation.    The main objectives of the EUR/OPEN project are related to activities to improve communication and cover the risk of the extension to areas at risk of social marginality, looking to gender equality policies, in the meaning of men and women opportunities, but also with reference to human rights standards and also about disabilities and impairments.    The results we wait from these actions are given by the increase in the participatory approach, the number of people involved in these works, the number of the organizations involved in these activities.    Measurable indicators of the link between objectives and results is given by the number of subject which enter in these participatory approach, the number of organizations, and this will be recorded by the documents that will be produced by the project, considering each issue as what the anthropologist calls a “totem”, in the meaning of something which collect the symbols of each identity that is present in the territorial system.

Background – the experience made while structuring this idea participating to several call for papers, where the project has been accepted (IRT Cairo conference, ECPR General Conference in Reykjavik, etc.).  The idea of an European Open Sphere, which is the core of the project’s background, is a dynamic vision of relation, with the aim to contribute in the modern process of transforming information (as unilateral process) into communication (as participative system).  The creation of an European Open Sphere is the setting up of a process where the public sector is the main driver of the change in act.  The meaning of this approach is now increasing its value while the situation in the Mediterranean area is so dramatically changing.  This consideration is of first level, because while social behaviour and, generally, the social conditions are changing, the institution needs to hold on the stability during the transition.  Looking from the institutional point of view, we need to focus on the point that Local Government – and especially Municipalities – is the first level of subsidiariety and, therefore, the concrete place where people’s needs manifest itself.

The present changes in the Mediterranean area are a matter that Europe needs to hold and manage.  Looking at this issues through the perspective of a local government, Municipalities are the best laboratory to setting up centres where the cultural mediation must be realized.  The European Open Sphere (symbolically: EOS, which is also the Greek name of the Dawn) composes and realizes its own nature of poli-functional laboratory for cultural mediation focusing on some themes that will be described in the next section, while enumerating general and specific objectives.

We may anticipate here that the target of expected beneficiaries of the laboratory’s activities is composed by:

  1. a) young people;
  2. b) immigrates;
  3. c) people who needs requalification of their work skills;
  4. d) people with risk of social marginality.

The risk of this social marginality comes from different reason:

1) the economic crisis and the loss of jobs;

2) the changes in the North-African regimes, which determine the increasing immigration towards Europe;

3) the different value of gender equality, implying the relation men/women; immigrates needs, human rights standards – with special reference to people who were been object of social recovery – and also involving people with disabilities and impairments.

Such a kind of laboratory will imply a new form of cooperation between the public sector and the private one.  Looking from the EUR/OPEN approach, we may say that, generally, the need to give to people who live in Europe the warranty about human rights and standards of civilization is something that we need to affirm: and the main way to affirm these concepts is not to make easy solutions (propaganda) but to create condition of direct participation of people who feel this needs upon their skin.  The way to realize this direct participation is to setting up the framework of this integrated laboratories.  These laboratories come from innovative cooperation between public institutions and social entrepreneurship towards specific partnership for the area of corporate/institutional communication.  While creating the opportunity to people to create their messages and – with the aid of new technologies – having the opportunity to see that their message is replied and visible to other people, we may affirm that the anthropological primary need to be heard is done: and this is fundamental for each person that is in the range of “marginality risk”.

While doing this work, EUR/OPEN, since the choose of its name, looks at each kind of solution that can be addressed to open communication.  Looking from Sicily (which is the place where the purpose was setting up) we look to open communication as a tool to involve an increasing number of people, considering that new technologies determined the emerging of a new generation of men and women that needs for freedom, driving a wave of change that is the spirit of time and can be addressed to all people that are in a lower level of quality of life.  This laboratory may be also the way to experiment new way for cooperation between public sector (local government) and NGOs and SMEs, with the opportunity to determine the emerging role of new skills and competences, creating new forms of job in the field of social entrepreneurship.

General and Specific Objectives 

The general objective is the setting up of the “European Open Sphere” (as we noted before, symbolically, EOS, which is also the Greek name of the Dawn).      This Open Sphere composes and realizes its own nature of poli-functional laboratory for cultural mediation focusing on some themes (which are also specific beneficiaries connected to specific objectives):      a) young people;    b) immigrates;    c) people who needs requalification of their work skills;    d) people with risk of social marginality;   e) people who needs sanitary assistance;   f) women (with special reference to single mothers, women who suffered gender violence, stalking, etc.)    Coming back to the general objective, the aim of this poli-functional laboratory is to increase the opportunities for people at risk of social marginality to be heard, understood, recognized, including.

In simple words, we can say that this is the image of Europe that open its door to each man and each woman who is able to receive this opportunity and start to change the inner quality of life.  We do not think to be able to solve each kind of problem we underlined.  Nevertheless, we believe that setting up a system on information and opportunities is the correct approach to transform the quality of life.  The specific objectives are:  – recover and prevention of social deviance,   – diffusion of skills and competences,  – information on the consequence of drug abuses,  – information on the equal gender positive action,  – improving of the knowledge of the basic Italian language,  – diffusion of the social and sanitary assistance,  – extension of the role of communication through internet-based technologies (also for people with audiovisual impairment and other disabilities);  – use of communication as integration tool (implying electronic publishing, multimedia solutions, theatre and arts performances – in their social meaning and value).

Sustainability (embedding in future activities) (max. 2000 characters)

The kind of activities given by this laboratory are oriented:

  1. a) in a first level of the social meaning, to give assistance (social and sanitary);
  2. b) at a second level, to give manifestation of the public sector as leader force in the process of improving of quality of life;
  3. c) with the partnership between local governments, other public actors, NGOs and SMEs, this kind of activities can be addressed to social entrepreneurship, generating new economic opportunities;
  4. d) using internet-based technologies, the results of the project are easy to be replied and spreaded around the whole world (both through e-books and audio/video instruments.

The project aims also to extend its communication with innovative technologies to visual impaired and other categories of perceptive disadvantage).  These solutions give to the project its simple way to get demonstration of the methodology and clear perception of the repliability of the initiatives.    Using the public administration (and the local partnership) resources, these activities can remains into the field of ordinary activities: it is more a matter of internal organization than to buy something additional.    Therefore, the real cost of the laboratory can be reduced just to what the administration do not owes inside its structure.  This can be also reduced in reason of each single function of the laboratory.    The international partnership – with reference to its specific composition and competence – will be able to improve the spreading process and to reply all the products that come out form the project activities, leading also an economic induced value in social entrepreneurship, with items at low cost just as e-book or audio/video electronic items can do, with absolute consistence an easy system to be shared and diffused.

Implementation (e.g. structure, processes, management, communication, max. 6000 characters)

The poli-fuctional structure owes a modular composition, whose main actors are:

  • Local Partnership:

1) Public actors:

  1. a) the Municipality of Catania, through its Social Policies Dept. and the Equal Gender Commission;    b) the University of Catania, through its Social Process and Analysis Laboratory;
  2. c) the Europe Direct Center in Catania (inside the Municipality of Catania and with a role of communication extended to the whole metropolitan system);

2) Non-Governmental Organizations

3) Small enterprises

4) European Partnership:

Relating to the decision making system, the processes are disciplined by an agreement between the actors, in reason of the different weight given by the resources engaged by each one of them.  The decision with a general character are taken through administrative formal (collegial) act, with the agreement of the partners involved.  Other decisions (e.g., specification of general decision, applicative solutions, etc.) are taken by the management organ (individual) which is specifically charged of the procedure.  Agreement of the private partners is always due while their involvement is prevue.  The management cycle (programming, implementation, realization of actions, reporting) follows the same rule as above described, with formal distinction between collegial and individual organs.  The communication area is related to several levels:  a) institutional level (Municipality and University’s press office);  b) the Europe Direct network;  c) the private diffusion through the NGO and SME partners of the project, with specific reference to special targets as young people, women, immigrates, drugs users, visual impaired and people at risk of social marginality.  The (a) typology is mainly addressed to local press (newspapers, tv);  the (b) typology is addressed to the European Sphere of networks (Europe Direct, Eures, European Enterprises, Eurodesk, Team Europe, etc.);  the (c) typology is addressed to the special targets as identified.

Most Important Innovation Features 

In our contemporary times, all the world is interested in using the new internet-based technologies.  Looking from the Mediterranean area, it is clear that the changes in the North-African countries were caused by these technologies and especially by social networks.  Generally, the new technologies are the main matter of the new generation and a system to repair from social isolation and marginalities.  Looking from the EUR/OPEN project perspective, using internet-based technologies, the results of the project are easy to be replied and spread around the whole world.  An additional opportunity is given by the opportunity to extend the communication with innovative multimedia technologies to visual impaired and other categories of perceptive disadvantage.     These solutions give to the project its simple way to get demonstration of the methodology and clear perception of the repliability of the initiatives.    Using the public administration (and the local partnership) resources, these activities can remains into the field of ordinary activities: it is more a matter of internal organization than to buy something additional.    Therefore, the real cost of the laboratory can be reduced just to what the administration do not owes inside its structure.  This can be also reduced in reason of each single function of the laboratory.    The international partnership – with reference to its specific composition and competence – will be able to improve the spreading process and to reply all the products that come out form the project activities, leading also an economic induced value in social entrepreneurship, with items at low cost just as e-book or audio/video electronic items can do, with absolute consistence an easy system to be shared and diffused.

In the logical framework of the EUR/OPEN project, the specific context of the topic “Opening up the public sector through collaborative governance” is connected to the emerging growing complexity and increasing social demand of Europe.    The expression “social demand of Europe” is clearly related to the extension of rights and the improving of quality of life.  This social demand knows today a dramatic growth, while the Mediterranean area is passing through epochal changes, with a new explosion of the request of freedom and rights to people.  This request has a close connection with the new technologies: as it is said by the contemporary press, the combination of youth and technology is driving a wave of change, which is not addressed to theological fundamentalism but, instead, towards freedom and awareness.  Therefore, if the Western world – and, first of all for geopolitical reasons, Europe – starts new policies of reciprocal comprehension and cultural mediation, this new situation can be an important opportunity in civilization.  This work needs to be led by a logical framework in the field of social policies, with an approach on the knowledge society and the diffusion of digital competences, which are essential for future jobs and core life skills.      The poli-functional laboratory composes the system to transfer these characters on “open government” policies and “active citizenship”, and this manifests to be the correct way to extend this process and to push in order that these policies will become internal to the public sector aims and in a way which implies the participation of the private sector.  Of course, our project does not pretend to solve all the problems, but can be a pilot action which gives a pushing energy to the consciousness of the public sector (in a local government dimension) in the leading process of the changes in act.  Active citizenship is led by the emerging forces of the main change’s actors, which are young people and women.  These actors are the most relevant in the access to new technologies, a powerful support tool to foster learning and teaching of individuals at risk of exclusion, such as early school leavers, migrant children, learners with special needs.  It’s known that the impact of information & communication technologies in education has not only impacts learners’ digital literacy but also to their communication, language, social and cognitive skills.  New social computing networks illustrate the new ways of learning among youth and in future working life, empowering all educational actors.