putting people first

by experientia
by experientia
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
3 December 2014
The politics of the sharing economy
Trebor Scholz, Associate Professor for Culture and Media at The New School in New York, writes that he "support[s] peer production and sharing practices but [he is] vexed by attempts to subsume them into the …
Related Article
3 December 2014
Ericsson’s new ConsumerLab report about the smart citizen
Last month, Ericsson published its latest ConsumerLab report, entitled "Smart Citizens: How the internet facilitates smart choices in city life." The study covers 9 cities worldwide-Beijing, Delhi, London, New York, Paris, Rome, São Paulo, Stockholm and …
Related Article
21 November 2014
Everyday rituals and digital tech in the families of mobile workers
Quotidian Ritual and Work-Life Balance: An Ethnography of Not Being There Jo-Anne Richard and Paulina Yurman (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art) David Kirk and David Chatting (Culture Lab, Newcastle University) Paper presented at the …
Related Article
5 November 2014
Creating government tech systems with excellent UX and ‘good enough’ security
Gov.uk, the website of the UK Government's Digital Service that merges the websites of all UK Government Departments and many other agencies and public bodies, has posted a draft guidance document on risk management of …
Related Article
2 November 2014
A constructionist approach to behaviour change and the Internet of Things
Dan Lockton just posted an essay on how to enable social and environmental behaviour change by using IoT-type technologies for practical co-creation and constructionist public engagement. It got him immediately some Sunday morning Twitter commentary …
Related Article
30 October 2014
Graphic novel explains our role in the world of Big Data
Big Data powers the modern world. What do we gain from Big Data? What do we lose? Al Jazeera America examines the role of technology and the implications of sharing personal information in the network’s …
Related Article
26 October 2014
Creating user-friendlier environments
MIT News describes how Federico Casalegno of the MIT Mobile Experience Lab designs technology environments that keep human experience at the center of user experience. "The director of the MIT Mobile Experience Lab looks to innovate …
Related Article
25 October 2014
Report outlines future of UK social design research
Social Design Futures: HEI Research and the AHRC By Armstrong, Leah, Jocelyn Bailey, Guy Julier, Lucy Kimbell University of Brighton and Victoria and Albert Museum October 2014, 84 pages The UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has …

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.

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 […]

25 October 2014
Experientia president to speak at User Friendly 2014 in China

Experientia president Michele Visciola is one of the keynote speakers at User Friendly 2014, the annual user experience conference of UXPA China, to be held in Wuxi, China, 13 to 16 November. The theme of the 11th conference is the “new era of the experience economy,” thus underlining the importance of transferring UX concepts and […]

19 October 2014
Event: Why the world needs anthropologists

An upcoming event is encouraging anthropologists to “come out of their ivory towers” and work more closely with their colleagues in the field, in order to bridge the gap between “pure” and “applied” anthropology. The international symposium “Why the world needs anthropologists” (Facebook page) will be held on 5 December 2014 in Padua, Italy. Experientia […]

See all articles