20 July 2011

Detroit copies Torino’s public markets to support its regeneration

Be the first to share
putting people first
by experientia

Porta Palazzo
(English translation of article published yesterday in La Stampa newspaper – author Andrea Rossi):

Michigan delegation between the cabbages and the red peppers

Who would have thought that the regeneration of a city can start from a market stand that sells fruits and vegetables, or clothes? But it’s true: one of the pillars that Detroit has chosen to structure its very difficult relaunch around, is the development of a network of local public markets, based on the “Torino model”.

Facing an uncertain industrial future, having lost nearly half of its inhabitants in fifty years, and with a fragile urban fabric that needs to be rethought, Detroit is looking in the mirror and discovers it has much in common with the situation facing Torino fifteen years ago. So now, building on the newborn Fiat-Chrysler connection between the cities, Detroit is retracing the steps of Torino’s regeneration. The city’s urban and (particularly its) social fabric needs to be knitted back together, and the Michigan heart has decided where to start from.

It may seem bizarre to us, but for the Americans it isn’t. Yesterday morning a delegation landed in Torino led by Kathryn Lynch Underwood, the City Planner of the City of Detroit. And with her came a group of about ten managers, experts and market operators. The first thing they did was taking a plunge in the heart of the Porta Palazzo market. Then they gathered in an office, to be briefed in detail on Torino’s 45 local markets by the city’s administrators in charge of local commerce and public spaces.

As of today they will visit them one by one, trying to understand how they can export their DNA and adapt them to the Detroit context. “They are interested in understanding the social, economic and cultural functioning of the markets and of the nearby businesses, which in Torino constitute one of the more distinctive aspects of urban life,” explain deputy mayors Ilda Curti and Giuliana Tedesco.

It took the American delegation only one day to understand that the replication – even in a reduced version – of the “Torino model” could be the engine of the urban regeneration process that the Michigan capital will have to undertake if it wants to rise up again. “Ours is a feeble system, made up of only six markets,” explains Pam Weintestein, who is in charge of one. “In Turin, however, everyone does their shopping at the market stands irrespective of their social background or their income level.” Dan Carmody is in charge of the Eastern Market, Detroit’s largest. He is surprised: “What makes the difference here is the sense of community that transpires from your markets. It is obvious that they add value to the urban context.”

Detroit is in desperate need of revitalizing its urban spaces. Kathryn Lynch Underwood, who works for Detroit’s City Planning Commission, knows it all too well: “Our challenge is to bring about density in a depopulated city center. Detroit is a dispersive city. Markets can help in creating new densities, to repopulate the heart of the city, and to rebuild the sense of community.”

It is a cultural challenge first of all, more so than an economic one, even though money is not of secondary importance. Detroit is a metropolis in crisis, held in the vice of poverty: thousands of inhabitants do not own a car, many not even a functioning refrigerator. “Developing a network of nearby markets,” explains Sarah Fleming, director of Detroit’s Economic Development Department, “would allow us to reach a double goal. Our citizens wouldn’t be forced anymore to drive to the big suburban supermarkets for their daily shopping, allowing even those who do not have a car could to obtain quality food. Also, the possibility of doing your small shopping on a daily basis at the market stands would solve many food conservation problems.”

It is not just about the rediscovery of “local” food culture that America has lost out on. What really drives this is the idea that the urban generation of a metropolis can start from its food.

Further links:
Kathryn Lynch Underwood
Detroit Food Policy Council
Detroit Food Justice

Be the first to share
Related Article
5 March 2015
Is it time to re-examine human-centered design?
Is it time to re-examine our anthropocentrism in design, asks ASU design professor Prasad Boradkar and to extend design's locus of action towards biocentrism. "Clearly, the things we design with such diligent research and utmost care …
Related Article
2 March 2015
Ethnographic film and book on people living off the grid
Life Off Grid is a two-year journey exploring the lives of Canadians in every province and territory who have made the choice to disconnect. Life Off Grid is a film and book about people who …
Related Article
1 March 2015
Towards multi-species ethnography
The well known anthropologist and sociologist Anne Galloway just announced the launch of the More-Than-Human Lab at Victoria University (New Zealand), which extends and augments human-centered design practices to our multi-species ecosystems. "What if we refuse …
Related Article
1 March 2015
Italian bank offers user-friendly home security kit
The Smart Care unit of the insurance arm of the Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo has just launched an innovative home security offering. Branded "ACasaConMe" [AtHomeWithMe], the service combines a personalized insurance package and a security kit …
Related Article
23 February 2015
Changing behaviour for a better deal? Not as easy as it sounds
There are many areas of life - e.g. utility providers - where we could be getting a better deal by making what seems to be an easy switch. Behavioural scientist Nathalie Spencer of The RSA …
Related Article
11 February 2015
The Internet of Insecure Things
In a recent study, every connected home security system tested by HP contained significant vulnerabilities, including but not limited to password security, encryption, and authentication issues. HP's Fortify on Demand security service assessed the top 10 …
Related Article
31 January 2015
Privacy and human behavior in the age of information
Privacy and human behavior in the age of information Alessandro Acquisti, Laura Brandimarte and George Loewenstein (of Carnegie Mellon University) Science 30 January 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6221 pp. 509-514 This Review summarizes and draws connections between …
Related Article
27 January 2015
New Wikipedia page on “Design for behaviour change”
The new Wikipedia page on "Design for behaviour change" starts as follows: "Design for behaviour change is a sub-category of design, which is concerned with how design can shape, or be used to influence human behaviour. …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

30 October 2014
The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]

29 October 2014
Experientia at EPIC: UX transforming a financial institution

In September 2014 Experientia gave a presentation on working as UX professionals with financial institutions at the EPIC conference in New York. The paper is now available on the EPIC site in HTML and PDF versions (free registration req’d). Abstract Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition […]

See all articles