Creating the Cultural Commons
community engagement website
Matera, Italy 2014

mapping the commons screenshot

Map Matera Una risorsa per la comunità is the beginning of a long-term plan to develop economic, social, cultural, and environmental sustainability practices in Matera, Italy. The motivation behind this project is build the foundation upon which it is possible to leverage current local initiatives and build on existing knowledge and relationships. There is a need  to continue gathering information and refining the map of the cultural commons. We began to explore more deeply two areas of focus that have emerged from our conversations and interactions with people and organizations in Matera: sustainable alternative tourism and local artisans/traditional practices.

This walking projects combine elements of community engagement, mapping, movement of bodies, and experimental video. Through an interactive process in which participants are invited to partake in a simple project: to wander and converse. Encouraged through the presence and listening of the “other”, these urban dérives provide the means to excavate the knowledge, ideas, and emotions embedded in the surroundings. This process of discovery leads to the unintended unexpressed or assumed, often surprising even to the participants, once articulated. The revelations provide a way to break through invisible barriers to seeing and thinking about shared spaces differently, making visible connections that are not readily apparent in the daily routine of life. Each time and space has the potential to rouse a connection to globalized trends through unrestricted and open dialogue within the local.

Using a map with key search terms local people can find others in the region who are speaking about issues they care about.


locals interested in same ideas

In response to one of the dominant themes in the community research, sustainable alternative touristic practices, we decided to take it one step further and plan a meeting to bring those who shared this concern together. We had three meetings in which the idea and practices of working together around shared concerns about the tourist economy were discussed. Although people voiced need and desire for this kind of “working group” in Matera, local leadership and initiatives to carry on these meetings did not emerge, indicating the need to develop different approaches to engaging with local citizenry.