Citizen activism — Gamification

After a few years in Milan, I was given the chance to work from remote. I had a wish to live closer to nature and to a more spontaneous and effortless social life, so I decided to move back to my small home town, Ascoli Piceno, in central Italy after many many years …

I started immediately to explore the cultural and entrepreneurial potential of the town, hoping to engage in some meaningful project that could bring some innovation to a slightly dormant environment.
I became friends with young heroes that managed small companies and associations with values such as sustainability, beauty, culture, social fairness and progress. The same values that I cherish.
One project caught my attention: a group of local entrepreneurs bought a 27 hectares brownfield close to the city centre with the promises of transforming it into a new economic motor for the city.

When I did some more research on this project, I started to understand that something was not right. All they were trying to build was houses and the information about the cleaning of the polluted area was not very clear.
I also discovered that there was a citizen committee whose aim was to spread awareness among fellow citizens about the crucial issues connected to this project.
I had to understand more, so I joined the committee.

Me (looking serious) and some committee members at an information meeting with fellow citizens

During the time we were active (2013- 2015), we have informed the citizens about the sanitary risks and the socio-economical risks of the existing project approved by the institutions through a web site, a Facebook page (www.areacarbon.it, www.facebook.com/areacarbon/, that I have both managed), through meetings, seminars and news and radio shows appearances. We have also promoted alternative solutions to the approved project by consulting experts and by studying similar contexts and best practices elsewhere.

Project: Board Game
To increase the awareness and engagement among the citizens, I proposed to create a board game dedicated to the subject dear to the commettee.
People from Ascoli had already responded well to locally produced games with locally relevant content, so I thought it was worth trying. During a dinner that we organized for citizens who were interested in knowing more, I put a Goose Game with empty content boxes on a table, and told the guests to fill them with considerations on the subject or questions that they would like to be answered about the brown field project.
When we got home I started co-creating the content with my fellow committees.

The game’s intention was to inform and entertain so we have chosen a mix of the traditional Goose game and Monopoly, and we have chosen to adopt an ironic tone of voice, that well fits the character of people from Ascoli.
Every content box in the game has an ironic formulated text that informs about a topic and makes you advance or back according to the positivity or negativity of the message. There are also cards to fish (like in Monopoly) that enlighten the gamer about the opportunities of the brown field area and about the misinformation spread by local institutions and current owners.
I have hired a local professional illustrator for the game layout.

The two main libraries of the town agreed on selling the board game, that was delivered at 100 ex prior Christmas time. A big amount of games have been sold and we got two articles in the local newspapers launching the game as the perfect Christmas gift.

What I contributed mostly with was to generate the idea, to lead the production of the game making sure that all the other committees were involved in the content creation and decision making (thus leading a democratic team work) I was also responsible for the budget and logistics.

In short: methods and skills

-Co-creation
- Idea generation
- Facilitation Skills
- Coordination Skills
- Communication Skills

What happened with the committee? We were quite few people and eventually bigger personal and institutional commitments got in the way for some of the members. We are still good friends and keep ourselves updated about the situation of the Area Carbon project.

What happened to the brown field area? Removal of asbestos has finally taken place. The private owners don’t have an economic sustainability to carry out the complete removal of polluted soil and to build houses. To be continued …

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Mariangela Clerici

Mariangela Clerici

Curious, optimist and passionate Service Designer who navigates personal & job life with empathy, observation, analysis and creativity.