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A New Rur-Urban Utopia? Social innovation and the case of the Sicani area in Sicily


Urbanization patterns based on urban bias propose rural areas as agriculture based areas that exchange goods with urban areas (poles) through corridors systems connecting poles and peripheries. Also in many spatial polices the exchange of goods between urban and rural areas are considered an essential element of rural-urban linkages, increasing flows of goods between rural and urban areas with high population density and where services and manufacture centres are located. The strategic questions that the conference "TERRITORIES. Rural-urban Strategies“ suggests ask to look at a new alliance between rural and urban spaces able to overcome any sectorial interaction (agriculture based in rural areas, and a reliance on manufacture and services in urban centres). "Rural" and "Urban" are not more terms of a dichotomy opposition but they become elements of a necessary alliance that enfold an actualized view of the territory development. Sicily and, in particular, the Sicani area with a series of territorial conflicts, abandoned and unused spaces but also high cultural and natural qualities and some poles of innovation, offers an excellent start to work on hypothesis of a meso-level scenario of rural-urban linkages based on a rural-social innovation. The alliance between rural and urban is offered as a renewed "utopia" of an alternative settlement model based on the values of a rural social innovation able to propose "rural" as critic element to understand the contemporary through a dynamic dialectic of changing and sustainable life styles and new possibilities.