In in Via Cenni (Milano) the first seeds are planted 
It is time to break the silence that Food in the Streets left you with in the last weeks. Let me tell you what I’ve been up to and show you some of the first results.

Since autumn this year I am working with Noemi Satta on a project called ZUP – the recipe for change. ZUP is an abbreviation for Zuppa (=Italian for soup) Urban Project and was founded in 2010. It is Noemi Satta who has developed this method which, over the past years, has proven to be very useful in cases where (complex) situations ask involvement of many or where new visions on ‘the usual’ are required.
If one follows a ZUP lab you and your group mates will go through a list of about five questions and tasks. This results in a personal recipe that can be a starting point of a longer process. What this process is and how long it takes, depends on the question(s) posed by the client.

Unfortunately it is not always simple to explain in a few words what a ZUPlab exactly is. Therefore I will go into more detail and bring you a short report of what we did last Saturday. Soon enough you will get to understand it and see also the relation with Food in the Streets and that what I usually talk about in this blog.
Saturday morning at Via Cenni started early but with a hot cup of tea and a freshly backed cake. In this case the aim of the ZUPlab was to involve the inhabitants of the social housing project in the design of the four urban gardens they wish to start on their rooftop terraces. 

After a short introduction on the ECO Courts project, the twenty garden-enthusiasts that participated were divided in four groups. Their first task was to describe in one word what an urban garden means to them. After five minutes we collected the answers of each individual and exposed them on a whiteboard and shared them. There were of course values that were shared by more than one person (like ‘relax’) while others were unique. Anyways, we had a starting point from which we could continue.

The second question we asked them, was to write down three characteristics (values, wishes and qualities) that they wanted to plant. ‘Plant’ because in this case the recipe that we wanted them to make in the end, is to be translated in a design for the garden on their terraces. The next step was to share the personal characteristics between the group members and extract six characteristics shared by all the group members. Now each group knew their shared characteristics they could work on in the next step.

For the third and last step, the participants where provided with a list of ingredients that coincided with the seeds that they would later plant in their garden. Each group was asked to relate an ingredient (for example bread, rosemary or egg-plant) to each of the characteristics they named before. The relation between characteristic and ingredient was to be interpreted by the group: some choose to connect the characteristic ‘sharing’ with the ingredient ‘parsley’ because for them this ingredient represents something that can be added to every dish and goes along with everyone. Continuing this way, the participants wrote down the ingredients of that what had to become a recipe in the last part of lab.

After not even two hours of work, the inhabitants of Via Cenni had written down four recipes with beautiful names like ‘The garden under the stars’ named after one of the ingredients or ‘The smells of the Mediterranean’ because of the presence of typical Mediterranean products like zucchini and thyme. You see, this is the food, people and cities that I promised you to talk about. And if you don’t understand, check the photo’s.

After this part of the program, the work of the inhabitants moved outside, where they literally started to plant the seeds for their garden. Food in the Streets stayed behind her desk and will make the plans of the gardens. 

The inhabitants of Via Cenni continue their work in two weeks, when Orti d’Azienda comes to give a lecture on the technical part of gardening and when the seeds and plants will be put in the right place. I’ll promise you to write about this as well.