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September 20, 2023

Riding in Valsamoggia



The first working day of this final meeting began with the greeting of the mayor of Valsamoggia, Daniele Ruscigno, to the partners. The mayor recalled how in a particularly delicate historical phase like this, the exchange of ideas and mutual knowledge are essential to find solutions to the many economic, social and ecological problems that are arising. He then arranged to meet everyone the following day for a visit to one of the primary schools in Valsamoggia.

The rest of the morning was then dedicated to the practical experimentation of one of the main patterns of Sociocracy 3.0 (S3): that of decision by consent. Participants were offered a quick summary of the principles that guide this "advanced democracy" methodology and a theoretical description of the process used in this decision making dynamic.

Then we moved on to practice with two participants who presented a proposal to the rest of the group to be approved and the implementation of the various phases necessary to complete the proposal and approve or reject it.

The Sociocracy 3.0 pattern for consent decision making with an addition recommended by experiences with the Local Transformation Toolkit

With this short exercise we tried to highlight how the entire process is based on sense making and not on power dynamics within the group and how it can guarantee conditions of inclusion and participation that are clearly superior to other methodologies.

The afternoon session opened with the presentation of two real cases in which the S3 methodology was used or served as inspiration for social and institutional innovation experiments.

CASE 1 - Hire a mayor

The first concerned the process that saw a group of citizens define the characteristics that the ideal mayoral candidates should have to meet the needs of the Valsamoggia area. This experiment actually took place during the last elections in this municipality. The group produced a document that was made public and made available to voters before the election. The document listed features related to a global vision and other specifics related to the territory.

CASE 2 -Design a local complementary currency

The second case was instead related to the attempts to create a complementary currency that occurred in the Valsamoggia area (here the short video of one of the open calls to citizens and businesses). What has been learned through these experiences is that, although web-based technologies are available today that greatly simplify the practical management of auxiliary tools of the local economy, the topic of governance remains complex and extremely delicate.

S3 could be a suitable methodology as long as there are ways to make the activity of a government group that brings together the different demands of the community within it sustainable. However, it is relatively simple to obtain resources for the purchase of technologies and technological services, but almost impossible to finance process logics, especially in the medium to long term. Europe could perhaps help local communities to close this gap and obviously not only in the case in question, but in general for all processes that require inclusive and structured governance.

A moment of the Open Space Technology activity

The day then closed with an Open Space Technology session which left participants time to freely discuss the topics that interest them most. The day then closed with an Open Space Technology session which left participants time to freely discuss the topics that interest them most.

Three discussion groups were formed.

One of them started a discussion developed on the relationship between our society and our economy and the ecosystem. A delicate topic made even more complex by the radical changes that climate change is bringing to our territories.

The second worked on how we could reinforce the young people’s perception of the EU besides Erasmus and interrail. They concluded by agreeing that Participation should be a key strategy; so we – older european participants in european projects – have to find ways that assure that in the future, and more often than up till now, young people have a seat whenever discussions or actions or projects or even training concerning the EU takes place.

The third focused on the theme of the relationship between parents and children and gender issues, exploring the problems that can emerge in the parental path, the attitude of the new generations, the level of acceptance and inclusion found in different contexts and territories.

E-bike rinding to learn about Valsamoggia experiments.


The second day was planned as an outdoor day characterized by the telling of stories from the Valsamoggia area. Local stories that have universal value because they contain experiences of successes and failures that can be of general inspiration.

The participants were equipped with a pedal-assisted electric bicycles and traveled along one of the many cycle paths that the Municipality of Valsamoggia is creating with great economic and organizational effort to connect a very vast and complex territory.

The dean of the school Marco Mongelli (on the left) and the mayor of Valsamoggia Daniele Ruscigno

CASE 3 - The school

The first stop was the primary school in the town of Monteveglio. A building strongly desired by the community, built to the KlimaHaus Gold standard and co-designed with the contribution of teachers and families. The group was accompanied by the mayor and the school director on a complete visit and was able to hear the story of how, with a still instinctive use of some advanced democratic methodologies, the community decided to cancel a pre-existing project and face the challenge of a future-proof school.

After another short transfer by e-bike, the group reached the headquarters of the Ente di gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità – Emilia Orientale where they were able to listen to the some new stories:

CASE 4 - Rainwater Harvesting Tutorial

An adaptation response to the changing climate, in an area that has never known water scarcity. A tutorial to help citizens build simple rainwater collection and storage systems. The result was published on YouTube and has 133,000 views to date.

The Valsa TV YouTube channel provides good practices to the citizens of Valsamoggia.

CASE 5 - The "Bosco dei Piccoli"

An area of the regional park in which trees and shrubs were planted with the help of 100 primary school children. Now that the trees (and the children have grown) it remains their forest and is available to the whole community.

CASE 6 - The "FabLab"

An experiment aimed at making available in a rural area the laboratory formula for makers encouraged and spread throughout the world by MIT in Boston. 3D printing, virtual reality, programming, prototyping available to the young generations to be better prepared to enter an economy undergoing profound transformation (here a short video presentation of the FabLab in Italian).

A story of energy - The topic of renewable energy production has been explored here for many years and the group was able to see the traces of past experiments and those of the present reality, with all the ups and downs associated with them.

The councilor Andrea Bertaccini, president of the Equal Opportunities Commission of Valsamoggia talking to the partners group.

At the end of the morning, there was a meeting with counselor Andrea Bertaccini, one of the people responsible for social and inclusion policies who presented an overview of the many projects undertaken in the area up until the very recent ValsaPride (here you can download the text of his speach).


On the final day the group of partners moved to the headquarters of the Metropolitan City of Bologna, of which Valsamoggia is part. Accompanied by the mayor Ruscigno, the group attended the presentation of the "Bicipolitana" project (download presentation), a broad sustainable bike mobility plan that involves the entire area of competence (55 municipalities for a total of approximately one million inhabitants).

This is a difficult reorganization work which is developing not without difficulties and contradictions also due to cultural resistance, topographical difficulties and difficulties in finding the necessary resources. Despite this, however, it continues and can represent one of the answers to the problem of the transition to a lighter and more sustainable mobility system.

The visit to the headquarter of the Metropolitan City of Bologna.

This was the last opportunity for the partners to meet in person during the project, but in the conversations of these days we can already glimpse future activities together... we'll see.

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