Manziana is a town about an hour north-west of the Vatican on the FL3 train line just a whistle from the shores of Lake Bracciano. The town was founded by Tuscan timber cutters in the 19th century to tend to the Pope’s forest and remained a place marked by arboriculture and forestry until the 1970s. Population increased from 3000 to 4000 in the 1970s, then to 5200 in the 1980s, 5800 in the 1990 and to 7000 in the 2000s where it stands. The fiscal crisis and austerity measures that plummeted real estate prices and public employment in Lazio took the steam off further development pressure, but also lead to uneasiness and disorientation of the village’s future development.
If commuting to Rome is not increasing, and jobs in Rome are becoming scarcer, what should become of Manziana? Everywhere one sees Manziana is looking into the past, bearing witness of an identity that lingers on in buildings and on old faces, but this identity fails to provide a living to present and future generations. The annual chestnut festival in the centre of the village and a remarkable school initiative reminds everyone who care about the (agri-)cultural roots, but do have still have enough life in then to grow new branches and provide new fruits? What would these fruits taste like? And is the commuting population of Manziana willing to grow new local roots?
Through the TURaS programme, OSMOS is involved in exploring the vision of the area through the lens of a former sulphur mine that adjoins the Bosco di Manziana. The once contaminated mine was cleaned up through an EU co-funded LIFE program which extended to the adaptation of a number of the mine-related buildings.
Local stakeholders have high expectations for this site – for very different reasons. Firstly the site has remained dormant for over two decades at the village’s doorstep. One of the biggest challenges will be to find a common vision for the future of Manziana – its industry, its source of employment, its relationship with the forest and woods surrounding the site and so on. Like Janus, how can Manziana look into the past to reach to the future?
Our first step involved a site visit in November 2015 for one on one interviews with key stakeholders: the president of the forest manager (Università Agraria Bosco di Manziana), the mayor of Manziana, specialists in innovation and environment, the head of the local action group (Tuscia Romana), regional government representatives and others. This resulted in a stakeholder workshop in March 2015.
The stakeholder workshop brought together diverse range of local stakeholders for two consecutive days. Participants included various members of the Università Agraria, the municipality of Manziana, the Local Action Group Tuscia Romana, the regional authorities of Lazio and many others. BIC Lazio identified and invited the local and regional stakeholders. Our group consisted of some eight international experts with experience in urbanism, landscape planning, agricultural policy, local economics, transition planning and stakeholder management.
Our objective for the event is to make headway towards the implementation of a local resource-based transition of the Solfatara – without predefining this concept much further before to the workshop. Through the interviews from November 2015, we found four particular themes:
- Energy, agriculture and environment. Essentially the use of wood in the forest, the biodiversity, the water systems, human access to forest and so-forth.
- Buildings (urbanism). The link between the site and the township of Manziana.
- Creativity, design + culture. The use of the buildings for creative functions such as wood based industry, a fab-lab, links to the former film industry and so on.
- Business strategies. Essentially the question of how to create funds to activate the site weather it be through public or private sources.
Following the curatorial method developed for the Parco Agricolo event in June 2015, we ran a multi-day workshop: day one essentially used to better understand the four themes noted above, the second day was to focus on more specific interventions.
We started the first day with a multilevel perspective with some general questions: What are EU priorities and funding mechanisms for rural area transitions? How does the site fit into Lazio’s RDP? How does it link to the PSR of the GAL Tuscia Romana?
After presentations on the context of the site and inspiration presentations by the international experts, we began an emotions based exercise focusing on the hopes / desires, nostalgia / regret. This exercise allowed us to reach the heart of motivations shared within the group without getting trapped by technical detail or caught by institutional baggage. While there were some variations in the outcomes of each group, many of the core topics were repeated, which offered a based from which to explore more detailed ideas.
The day was concluded by each group preparing a ‘poster’ of a number of ideas they felt described the values that emerged from their group. This poster exercise synthesised the abstract concepts developed earlier and then allowed the groups to quickly design scenarios.
Day two began with a first presentation of the posters developed the day before and then a further development of four key ideas. These ideas were mapped on a Concept Canvas which helped to further explore the values, costs, impacts and so on that would result from the project. The final step involved pitching the ideas to a number of key stakeholders such as the land holder (The Università Agraria).
The workshop resulted in two very complimentary proposals. Firstly a proposal to treat the site as both gateway to the town of Manziana and the Bosco di Manziana – it would be a gateway from one to the other. In this way the Solfatara could serve both cultural and environmental, ideally an intersection of both. The second proposed organising the collection of wood at the Solfatara, allowing residents of Manziana to have a quota system which provided them with a fairer supply of wood. At present residents simply help themselves however the wood generates no income for the Università and is unfairly distributed.
Other proposals to focus on the film industry and making were not as clearly resolved and may require much further research. At the very least, the two options noted above provide a strong start and allow for space to adapt other functions over the longer term.
While the focus of the event was local, many participants represent regional perspectives. This holds notably for the Local Action Group Tuscia Romana (subregional level) as well as participants from consulting companies or regional administrations that work all over the Lazio region and beyond. The networking between TURaS partners and regional stakeholders fostered national and international dissemination of TURaS results.
Coordination: Adrian Vickery HIll (OSMOS) + Stephan Kampelmann (OSMOS / ULB / ILPÖ). International experts: Liana Simmons (Oxfam agroecology), Michael Kaethler (KU Leuven), Clementina Gentile (Nahman), Hélène Rillarts (BUUR), Elena Maccioni (EU policy specialist). TURaS support: Julia Hartmann & Eva-Maria Stumpp (ILPÖ and OSMOS), Patrick Van den Abeele (BE)