Place and community

International Landscape Study Days

2011, eighth edition

3rd-5th November

From mobilizing action to protect a place to taking responsibility for governing it.

The governance of landscapes and the construction of communities: case experiences and research.


The study days constitute a key annual event in the calendar of scientific work pursued by the Foundation; each year they are organized to bring minds collectively to bear on some aspect of the general topic of the form and life of places.

In 2011, the eighth in the series of study days will focus primarily on the relationships between place and community, relationships that in historical and geographical terms feature universal characteristics but which can assume widely differing modes and tones.

In every place we find individuals whose attachment expresses their strong feelings of tradition and others who experience only a vague sense of attachment or affinity or vicinity, people whose connection with a place is informed by a lifetime of memories and others who have moved to a place and are gradually building up the indispensable network of reference, some who study it and others who simply visit it. Every one of these individuals subjectively expresses desires and preferences.

But before this group of individuals can become a community there has to be a process of metamorphosis, from a number of separate desires into a coherent will, an assumption of collective responsibility and the taking of decisions concerning the aims to be jointly pursued, for the good of all, with regard to the place and how it is organized, and to the life of the people associated with it.

In the contemporary world, this metamorphosis is often generated by opposing actions.

A first basic objective is therefore to contribute to the compilation of a catalogue raisonné of efforts made to mobilize public opinion and undertake constructive protest action (committees, surveillance/occupation, networks, etc…) for the protection of places. The catalogue is already a Europe-wide, multiform phenomenon that gives expression to new sensibilities associated with the presence over the last decade of the European Landscape Convention and the influence of the principles it embodies and, in the specific case of Italy to renewed reference to constitutional responsibilities (including but not limited to article 9).

Linked to this basic aim is the much more difficult task of trying to contribute to investigations of the process that prompts a collective experience that originated as a “mobilization against” to develop into the construction of a community through the coordinated activation and involvement of experts and political powers.

In the cases (not only Italian) to be presented and discussed, a group of individuals, motivated by the universal need for protection of their vital space, seek the energy to define an idea of their identity, which, precisely because it is based on abiding characteristics, has the potential to give rise to a new community. And this, though such cases are still very rare, may lead to the group taking responsibility for the governance and planning of the place in question.