Enrico Pesce: thanks to our project, citizens become active subjects and costs turn into investments
To move beyond the traditional welfare model and develop a new one capable of regenerating existing resources and instilling a sense of responsibility in beneficiaries, thus rendering social intervention more effective. This is the challenge laid down by so-called “generative welfare”, an innovative project which is finding fertile terrain in Trivero thanks to support from Fondazione Zegna. We asked project leader Enrico Pesce to explain its underlying concepts and values for us.
What exactly is meant by “generative welfare” and where did the idea of introducing it to the Trivero area come from?
For years, many welfare policy specialists have been asserting the necessity for a change of perspective in the sector. The so-called economic crisis has brought about a veritable change of scenario at local and global level. As stressed by Fondazione Zancan, we should be thinking about “welfare that can regenerate and render more productive the (already) available resources to improve the yield of social policy actions for the benefit of the people being assisted and of the community as a whole”. The idea of launching a project like this in the Trivero area grew out of ongoing contact with the president of Fondazione Zegna, Anna Zegna, from the tradition of community welfare that’s always accompanied the Group’s business activities, and from the community itself, the public, which have all the requisites for becoming a virtuous territory of experimentation in civic economy.
Compared to traditional welfare, what values is it based on and what advantages does it have?
I’d like to quote Venturi on this: “The change in progress in the welfare system entails a rethinking of the actions of all the subjects called on to co-produce services of public utility for the community by putting together the means and ends of their actions, that is, by co-operating in the building of a new welfare". While traditional welfare introduced a vision of a passive citizen representing a public cost, the citizen in the “generative welfare” concept becomes an active subject for redesign and implementation. So in this sense we’re not talking about costs but investment.
What sort of activities have been developed in the “Oasis of wellbeing” project?
We started out with a “classic model” of response to a present need, in this case regarding people with disabilities in our territory and the creation of job opportunities. We then involved their families in the idea of generative welfare and set up a local association. Our activities are focusing on artisanal production in the area, on involving people with different abilities and difficulties for the purpose of achieving a concrete, economic co-investment with a “multiplier” effect on the resources invested.
How can the “Oasis of wellbeing” help people regain a level of active participation in the community?
The real force of our project lies in the potential of the players involved: Fondazione Zegna, Zegna Group, the social organizations, the local community. Starting with small but concrete actions and experiments we can launch something really innovative. At a time when there’s so much talk about social innovation, the real innovation is the process with which projects can be implemented and the awareness that this strategy cannot be pursued alone by putting together the various competences for a precise purpose: the wellbeing of the territory.
What impact is generative welfare having on local communities at an economic level? And in Trivero in particular?
Where the process works, it has a multiplier effect. On a same resources basis, more interventions are made, with the advantage that the subjects involved, whether individuals or corporations, play an active role and become responsible for the service itself. In Trivero, the first concrete result was being able to prolong the “Oasis of Wellbeing” project by a year with the same level of resources, and this is just the beginning. We’re now looking to further optimize the multiplier effect by directly involving the families.
How does the concept of “wellbeing” change?
The concept of “wellbeing” has to be extended to the concept of common good. The total good, in fact, is the sum of individual “goods”, whereas the common good is the product of those “goods”. This means that the common good is an indivisible thing, because it’s something that can only be attained together, as happens in a product of factors: if even just one of the factors is cancelled, the whole product is cancelled. Being common, the good does not regard a person as an individual but a person in relation with other people. This is why wellbeing cannot be understood as the existence of just one factor (work, environment, health, social cohesion, economic situation, etc.) but as the co-existence of a number of factors that make it possible for the single items to exist. So we come back to the question of the relationship between profit-making and non-profit organizations, public agencies and the community. In Trivero we’re working towards achieving excellence in this respect too and we’re seeing results and will continue to!
Find out about all the projects supported by Fondazione Zegna