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Summer school on Good Governance in the Context of the European Integration Institutions-Rights-Societies. Case study: “Città sottili” Pisa 2002-2009 Valeria Venturini. Introduction.
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The purpouse of this article is to explain how the Public Administration tries to solve the problems concerning the precarious condition of the Roma communities, focusing on the Tuscan area.
The goal of this project is to show that stereotypes are not strictly connected with the truth, but rather an instrument of legal power to define the ‘others’, creating political and social labels.
It stresses the central role played by the so-called ‘Nomad-camp’, which becomes a segregation place where Roma people need to redefine themselves on the basis of what the others think about them.
The movement of Roma EU citizens has increased since the EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007: it is fair enough that the EU citizenship has been itself a good practice, because Roma are now able to move freely and more positively than when they had others statuses.
Despite of this, Roma communities suffer a massive discrimination in all the European countries.
The European Commission on Human Rights has strongly criticized countries such as Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and all the Eastern Europe countries, who adopted discriminatory treatments against Roma.
For this reason they created the so-called ‘Decade of Roma inclusion’ (2005-2015).
There are about 60.000-90.000 Roma in Italy.
They have been always seen as the immigrant’s archetype, criminals and undesired. Most of them, with the exception of a 15 %, are not even nomad: the “nomad theory” is often just used to stir up a “no-membership” segregation, treating them as children, unfit to live in our society.
The CERD (European Committee against Racial Discriminations) on 7th march 2008 harshly criticized the Italian behavior against Roma and Sinti in the area.Moreover, they expressed concern about the assertions of some xenophobic and offensives parties towards minorities, to prevent propulsion speeches to rage and against the paradigm of the “other” based on untruthful stereotypes.
The project started in 2002, from the Municipality of Pisa, in cooperation with the Local Health Unit (USL) and a large number of NGOs.
The objective was ‘to build pathways of social inclusion for people in situation of high social exclusion living in strongly degraded housing conditions’.
The aim was to create a cultural path between the Municipality and the Roma community present in the area, and called for a dismantling of so-called "nomad camps“.
The building team of ‘Citta’ Sottili’ was made by specialists in working with targeted groups in precarious condition from the Michelucci Foundation, a non-profit research institute on urban problems.
The Michelucci Foundation was established in 1982 by the architect Giovanni Michelucci, to "contribute to research and study on city planning and modern and contemporary architecture, with a special attention to the problems regarding social facilities, hospitals, prisons, schools”.
To avoid the geographical and social apartheid, they created a housing complex with a deep contact with the ambient around, a naturalistic and respectful of the territory intending as a resource.
The intervention allows the construction of 17 housing units on a module of 60,3 mq each, with a high level of privacy, but also a continuity between inside and the gardens outside.
Employment and vocational training are without any doubt the fundamental goals to guarantee an effective sustainability of the program per a long time.The adults in the camps expressed many times the request to receive a support for the creation of firms for the management of green areas and all the connected services.
School is for young Roma children the first interaction place with different realities.
It is very important to recognize the difficulties they found during the educational path, which has seen sometimes obstructive for the children’s growth.
They frequently get married early, living as adults since their 14s, so school can be seen as useless.
But is very important to explain them which benefits they can obtain for their future.
Diseases are very common in the Roma community, because of the precarious condition of the camps.
The pathologies are usually different according to their age.
In the infancy especially respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatological diseases.
In adults, cardiovascular, gynaecological and chronic respiratory diseases.
Here are included as lessons for the education to legality as support for the access to restrictive and re-educational measures, different from the prison.
Particularly with children, the presence of the mediator can facilitate to comprehend easily the legal proceedings, times and procedures and to build a path through the Juvenile Court to adapt the trial, where possible, to the young Roma features.
Especially for younger, it is clear that the spare time has an important role for their personal growth and also as an educational worth.
Usually young Roma are keen to live in a tense psychological condition (family problems, alcohol and drug addiction, precarious jobs); the children is not stimulate to any activity (sport, theatre, music..) except for television; there are considered adults when they are 13 or 14 years old.
Unfortunately the project was not part of a comprehensive national or regional strategy, and this make all the project less powerful.
Although the political debate focused on the project for a long time, it has been carried out with great difficulty, and we are now at the point that the houses have been built but nobody actually lives in.The various administrations over the years have not been able to decide how to allocate the growing families and the project has been stopped, under the usual conspiracy of silence.
“Selected positive initiatives: the situation of Roma EU citizens moving to and settling in other EU Member State”. pp.10-12.
“Programma le città sottili –comunità rom”(2007)
“Italiani, rom e sinti a confronto- una ricerca quali – quantitativa”.