It’s during the Milan Furniture Fair one month ago that I had the chance to meet Sergio Silvotti, the president of the Triulza Foundation, which is in charge of the management of the civil society pavilion during Expo 2015. Indeed the foundation was organizing a conference on the theme “Can design be social”, and Sergio nicely accepted to be interviewed on the 8th of May.
As an introduction to this interview I would like to recall how innovative the Expo 2015 is, since it’s the first time in the Universal Expositions history that there will be a pavilion entirely dedicated to civil society. And Sergio Silvotti allowed me to understand better how it happened and how they are organizing one year before the Expo, with spontaneity, transparence and optimism.
Have a nice reading!
What are the origins, principles and main objectives of the Triulza foundation?
The Triulza foundation creation is the result of a path that started in 2011 when the company Expo Spa announced the presence of a civil society pavilion during the 2015 Expo, and was looking an entity to manage it.
A group of civil organizations interested in doing this job emerged, keeping in mind that they wanted to so respecting their own objectives and conditions that were connected to their values and activities. In particular, the commitment of those organizations for the creation of a civil pavilion was subordinated to two main conditions:
- If we (meaning the organizations of the civil society) mobilized to represent civil society during the Expo, our commitment should not end on October, 31st 2015, date of the closing of the Expo. Those six months should represent an opportunity to open a true dialogue between governments, companies, NGO’s and associations, a dialogue that could be at the origin of many projects in the prospect of a long term strategy.
- The second condition was that we wanted to be entirely independent is the way we conceive the pavilion. We are here to represent the civil society and not the governments.
Regarding the first condition, Milan city allows the Cascina Triulza (name of pavilion which means a typical farm from Italian Lombardy Region) to remain active after the Expo with activities that we will be able to define on our own. Regarding the second aspect, we signed on February, 18th 2014 the participation contract to Expo as “non-official” participant. It means that the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions) imagined for us a specific contract, since we are not representing a state but a group of multiples national and international organizations.
An adequate juridical entity
In order to create a juridical entity that can be maintained after the Expo, we decided to create a foundation, which by definition has as vocation to collect an economic patrimony that is related to an ideal, which, in our case, is to find solutions to the diverse structural issues related to food in the world.
And so, on April 23th Foundation Triulza was officially created.
Who is participating to the foundation and how are you organized?
At first, we were 29 organizations, today we are more than 60, and we are all founding members of the foundation. These organizations are members of the general council that is dealing with diverse issues and is composed of 5 committees:
- The first one is managing the welcoming conditions for participants that are not coming to Milano, that have financials or mobility problems to do so.
- Another one is dealing with the management of contributions, in fact, there are exclusion criteria, for example, and we do not accept contributions from a firm that produces weapons. So we already have a blacklist and a whitelist, but for companies that we do not know well the commission makes a more thorough analysis.
- A commit “Expodiffusi” that is working on creating a type of “hub” that can connect different existing initiatives related to the Expo. Therefore, this committee is in charge of creating a platform where it will possible to localize the main existing experiences on the Expo theme (farm, activity with cities…)
- The fourth committee is dealing with civil service and volunteering witch are fundamental to create a mechanism to promote the involvement of young people
- The last one is working on the Post Expo, to start planning ahead and define the functions of Cascina Triulza after the Universal Exhibition
Then, to take decisions we created a board composed of 5 members chosen thru a confidence pact between the organizations (Sergio Silvotti is the President). This board takes decisions, and the staff of the foundation has to materialize and implement strategies and activities, for instance preparing and managing budgets (staffing, purchase of new materials, etc. …).
How do you finance your activities?
All the organization put a quote that vary from a minimum of 2400 euros to a maximum of 20 000 euros. Our capital amounts approximately 130 000 euro.
We have a budget of 6 million, so we gave ourselves the objective to collect 3 million of contributions or sponsors, and 4 million thru the selling of goods and services (for instance, renting areas of the pavilions, activities of restoration, concerts area…).
We just have define the terms of the contract of sponsorship and of renting of the pavilion areas (exhibition or market spaces). The objective is to collect a maximum of contributions and sponsor in order to reduce the cost of the pavilion.
For now, we have a strong partnership with Foundation Cariplo, a very solid foundation, thanks to which we are carrying out our work.
How to institutions consider your project?
The city of Milano is a big ally in our project. We also have excellent relations with the Italian minister of agriculture, Maurizio Martina (cf: take a look at Laura last article “La società civile protagonista ad Expo 2015). The international organizations, such as the UN, and in particular FAO has received us with interest.
The first project call for developing the cultural program of the civil society pavilion “Exploding your ideas” took end the 30th of April, how many answers did you receive?
We received 133 proposals of projects, and we are really happy of this success. We’ll organize a second call next months in order to allow organizations than couldn’t participate to the first call to do it.
Do you have objectives in terms of international representation within the pavilion?
Yes, our objective is to reach at a minimum one representative by continent. The fact that our pavilion has an international vocation forced us to redefine the meaning of “Terzo settore” which is not the same in every country. We defined it as “private subject, with mutual or solidarity purposes”. Those six months will also allow us to understand better the organization of the voluntary sector abroad.
How do you interact with international organizations?
There is a good relation with the international agencies, that we met during different appointments for instance at the occasion of the presentation of pavilion at the Italian senate…and their networks will diffuse our next calls to enlarge their visibility.
Another canal to mobilize the international network, thru the Cariplo foundation, is thru the big philanthropic entities. There is organization called European Foundation center, which bring together all the biggest European foundations and the ones of North America (Rockefeller Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation…): this organization that has a very developed network in many countries is also a way for us to mobilize the international community.
How does your pavilion intend to be sustainable?
The pavilions that will be kept after the end of Expo 2015 are only two: the Italian one and ours, the Cascina Triulza, then 80% of the buildings of the areas will be destroyed. The Cascina will be remodeled following a protocol what will guarantee the respect of energetic and thermic condition that will make the pavilion more sustainable than others. One of our problems is however that we didn’t get involved in the remodeling process of the Cascina, that has been though in an independent way from our project of presentation and directly managed by Expo Spa. So now, we are concerned about finding ways to adapt the space and the structure designed for the pavilion to our ideas (for instance, we wanted a picnic area, or a place to feed babies that are not included in the Expo Spa project for the Cascina).
Anyway, the project on the future of the Cascina Triulza is being processed and we have many ideas such as a permanent vegetable garden that could be used as an instrument for debating for children. We are also thinking about a space dedicated to innovative ideas that foreign participants elaborated during the Expo. The Cascina should become a true laboratory of good ideas recognized at the minimum at the European level.
But the future of the Pavilion also depends on the works what will be done to the Expo area after the Expo.
How does the foundation intend to involve young people to the Cascina Triulza activities?
We would like to pass a call for a civil service initiative where young people could implement activities of promotion of the Expo and of its theme “Feed the planet, energy for life” in Italy and abroad. The idea would be that 6 months before the Expo, the young’s could meet interested stakeholders, in Italy or abroad, and then, during the six months of the Expo they would be able to work with us on the Expo areas and welcome the people they met before or new people. The young participants will receive 433 euro by months and be reimbursed of their additional costs in Italy or abroad.
We would also like to implement a project with universities in order to make participate students to some summer school or seminar during the Expo (there will be a workshop area in our pavilion), and make then write articles on these events in order to make them more aware of the theme and to make them contribute to the lasting memory of the Expo.
What do you think about the Expo dei popoli project (coordination of Italian and international NGO’s and associations working for the organization of a society forum during Expo2015)?
I don’t understand why Expo dei popoli hasn’t yet joined the foundation, above all because it’s made up of the same organizations. They have a wonderful manifesto, rich in ideas with a precise project – consisting in organizing a forum between people of the world and confront their ideas on the Expo 2015 theme – that entirely go in the foundation philosophy. I hope that they will soon join the foundation, and we’ll be pleased to welcome the assembly of the Expo dei popoli in the Cascina Triulza.