CI.VI.VO. in Rimini: How volunteers make their neighbourhood a better place to live
Rimini is a very popular tourist destination for beach lovers located on the Adriatic sea. It is also the birthplace of Federico Fellini and the location of many of his famous films. Rimini is also the home of almost 150,000 citizens – and one of them is Pier Paolo Cavessi, who was dissatisfied with the state of a park near his home and decided to take action to clean up the park. This grassroots initiative developed into the city-wide co-production programme CI.VI.VO. of the Municipality of Rimini. In this case study, you can learn how CI.VI.VO. emerged and how the Municipality of Rimini has supported it to scale it out at neighbourhood level.
In 2011, the Municipality of Rimini set up the nonprofit organisation CI.VI.VO. (CIvico.VIcino.VOlontario) to support the volunteering of local citizens at neighbourhood level. In Italian this acronym means “I live here” while the three words mean “Civic, Neighbourly, Voluntary”.
Anybody aged between 18 and 75 years can participate in a CI.VI.VO. group or launch a new CI.VI.VO. group, including immigrants and other newcomers as long as they have a residence permit.
The first CI.VI.VO. activity began in 2011 with “CI.VI.VO. Miramare”, which involved cleaning up a park in the most southern suburb of Rimini. This was due to the initiative of the local citizen, Pier Paolo Cavessi, who had become increasingly dissatisfied with the view of the neglected park outside the window of his house. He decided to take action by cleaning it up and cutting the grass in his spare time. After a few months, he was joined by some neighbours, who helped him to maintain the park. These activities triggered a number of meetings between the engaged citizens and district and municipal authorities to discuss how to sustain and scale up the initiative. This resulted in the project CI.VI.VO. The name was the idea of a local citizen and the Municipality of Rimini registered it as a trademark. The project received formal approval of the Municipal Council on 18 October 2011.
 See the local act n.282 “Disciplinare per lo svolgimento delle attività di volontariato civico”.
So far, there has been no survey to assess the level of satisfaction of the CI.VI.VO. volunteers or loal citizens or any evaluation of behavior changes as a result of the activities of CI.VI.VO.
Nevertheless, the informal feedback of some volunteers has been positive - they clearly feel that they have made a real difference in Rimini. In the specific case of the CI.VI.VO. Group Primary School Il Delfino (“Scuola per l’infanzia Il Delfino”), the teachers and parents of the children of the school are happy because the playground is clean and well maintained.
The clean-up of Miramare public gardens by the CI.VI.VO. Group Miramare, which was the first one in Rimini, has not only meant that the garden is now notably cleaner and well-managed but also more frequented by local residents. Moreover, the CI.VI.VO activities not only have environmental benefits but they also contribute to increase social cohesion in Rimini. Indeed, as the Manager for Relations with the Province Nadia Rossi states: “An unexpected success has been the number of people who want to get engaged. CIVIVO has managed to bring together many people who live in the same place who would never have met”.
Of course, there also have been some limitations to co-production in Rimini. The group CI.VI.VO “Il Terzo” wished to improve the archaeological site around a Roman milestone (which indicates that it is three miles to the historical centre of Rimini). In particular, the group wanted to undertake a small reconstruction of the old Roman Via Flaminia. However, this has so far been hampered by the lack of partnership working between the multiple agencies responsible for the archaeological site. This has meant that the activities of the CI.VI.VO. group have so far been restricted to the maintenance of the garden surrounding the archaeological site.
Finally, the CI.VI.VO. scheme has also become popular in some of the sourrounding municipalities. In particular, the municipalities Verucchio, Poggio Torriana and Santarcangelo di Romagna, which are in the same Province, have recently introduced the same scheme, following authorisation by the Municipality of Rimini.
The increase in the number of CI.VI.VO groups and volunteers is illustrated below.
Table 1: Annual growth of CI.VI.VO. groups and volunteers
Source: CI.VI.VO. Office, Municipality of Rimini
By December 2016, the number of CI.VI.VO. volunteer groups had grown to 68. Of course, there have also been some setbacks – for example, on 4 November 2016 the first volunteer group (the so-called Gruppo Scuola Borgese- Istituto Comprensivo XX Settembre) had to be closed down by the Municipality of Rimini as the leader of the group wished to resign and no replacement could be found (http://www.newsrimini.it/2016/11/ci-vi-vo-il-gruppo-borgese-xx-settembre-cessa-lattivita/).
Table 2: Total number of CI.VI.VO. groups by type (January 2016)
Source: CI.VI.VO. Office of the Municipality of Rimini
As Table 2 shows, most CI.VI.VO. groups take care of the built environment of local schools. The next most common activity is clean-ups and maintenance of parks and green spaces. A number of groups are engaged with the organisation of social, sports and cultural activities and educational projects. Finally, two groups take care of cemeteries in suburban areas.
The tangible improvements achieved by the CI.VI.VO. groups are publicly highlighted by use of a signboard in every CI.VI.VO. managed area - see the enclosed photo. The visibility of the signboards makes residents aware of the activities of CIVIVO and shows that CI.VI.VO. is making a difference.
Contributions, costs and savings
The CI.VI.VO. project is financed by the Municipality of Rimini, which covers the insurance costs for volunteers and also provides materials such as paint, rakes, spades, garden gloves, fuel as well as lawn movers in the case of big parks, which are required by the volunteers to carry out the agreed activities. Furthermore, it provides the signboards to highlight the spaces where CI.VI.VO. groups are active. The Municipality of Rimini also helps to market the activities of the volunteers.
However, the municipality provides no training (e.g. in health and safety) to the volunteers. The tasks involved are simple, so in each CI.VI.VO. group the volunteers use their own skills.
While this initiative is quite recent, there are already some lessons that can be learnt from the Rimini CI.VI.VO. scheme. In particular, the increase of the number of CI.VI.VO. volunteers suggests that people can gain a lot of satisfaction when making a difference to the area and to the lives of people where they live.
Furthermore, effective co-production between volunteers and the municipality requires more effective partnership working between public sector organisations.
Finally, the CI.VI.VO. project shows a lot of potential for rolling out co-production to other community groups and public services, which have so far not been strongly involved.
Website of the Municipality of Rimini:
News about the first closure of a CI.VI.VO. volunteer group:
About this case study
Ph.D. in Economics, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Bologna
This case study was written by Diana Artuso and Anna Montini in December 2016.