You’ve probably returned from your holidays and decided that something has to change. Whether it is the amount of time you dedicate to your friends or the relation between you and your neighbours. Because even though you probably haven’t chosen the people that live next door, you have to coop with this anyways. So you better make the best out of it.

ZUP once started with the aim to get people together. And even though we now are ZUP The Recipe for Change, one of our goals is still to tighten relationships in order to join forces as 1+1 could quiet easily become 3. Even in situations where you won’t expect it.

It takes only little to start a process of change that influences many

It takes only little to start a process of change that influences many

In Europe there are different types of ‘mass-housing’ also known as apartment blocks. In the north  usually these are built in post-war modern architecture styles. The buildings are anonymous and, besides a few exceptions, there is not much space for interaction between the inhabitants. That’s why soon these buildings became unpopular and a source of (social) problems.
Going more south, where the climate is warmer and the people are used to live ‘outdoors’ there usually is also more space to encounter the neighbours, take some minutes for some small talk or sit and watch the children play. But also here people start to complain that people live on their own and ‘no one knows its neighbour’.

If there is a will, a way can be found. There already exist lots of examples of co-housing projects in which future inhabitants organize events to get to know each other even before they start building, to find out their needs and their demands and bring these together to enable to construct an ‘ideal situation to live in’.

However, building from scratch is not a necessity if you want to create a community. Also in existing situations it is possible to make a change and create better relations between you and your neighbors. And that is where ZUP The Recipe for Change comes in. As no other we know how to involve inhabitants and – in one or more workshops that are as well entertaining as ‘educating’ – we  find out the current situation and look for ‘solutions’ for the future. All done in collaboration with the inhabitants to start to shape a community and make sure that all get involved and understand the why of the project.

Did you escape from the everyday life inspire you to make a positive change? Than come to the first edition of Experiment Days Milan on the 11th and 12th of October and get more info on how ZUP can be useful in your situation.

What is a vegetable garden for me? With what values do I want to feed myself? Which wishes do I want to plant/seed? These are some of the questions that  have articulated the steps of the ZUPlabmini workshop in Via Cenni, a social housing project in the West of Milan. The goal of this workshop was to work, together with a motivated group of inhabitants, on the design and realisation of the vegetable garden that will be used to share and collaborate.
Cenni 021
ZUP The Recipe for Change has proposed a workshop of co-design to elaborate the idea to create a shared garden on the terraces of their apartment building, The workshop was part of the project CenniColtiva! (the apartment is in Via Cenni, coltivare is the Italian word for cultivation) organised by Food in the Streets under the commission of Life 10 – ECO Courts (ECOlogical COurtyards United for Resources saving through smart Technologies and life Styleand supported by the Fondazione Housing Sociale.

On the last Saturday of March 2014, together with Inge (read her report here) we had only a few hours to execute a ZUPlabmini – the circumstances asked for a flexible approach from our side – in which the participants slowly discovered their personal report between their wishes and expectations related to the garden. In only a few hours the different groups defined a theme and found a name for the gardens on the four communal terraces of Via Cenni. Giving a name means finding the voices and the vocations of a place, for a garden like this one, shared by a coloured community, multi-generations and participative. Implicitly with a name one discusses the future, the continuity of a curated action and ZUP has also worked on this: from how to appropriate a space to the development of the project itself.

We collected words, ideas, desires. About twenty participants on a sunny Saturday morning have shared their expectations on the garden project. They put down a list of wishes, images and later flavours, smells colours, herbs and flowers. From the ingredients of their project, the final sum of their imagination plus concrete earth, we have defined a list of ingredients, to create a recipe that is and also explains the project.

The four recipes of Via Cenni are the soup of the Mediterranean, Zupapo’, Astrozuppa and Brave flavours in Rime.

The four shared gardens have different names and different stories. A recall to the Mediterranean to follow a list of aromatic herbs, or to the effervescence and sympathy of the group of woman (the patatasgirls) that look forward to cultivate peppers and poetry. There were groups that have taken an image as starting point, others a memory. That is how one group ended-up with a soup called Bahay – Kubo, which in Philippian means House between the vegetable gardens. Last but not least the Garden under the stars (Orto sotto le Stelle or Garden under the Stars) inspired by a colourful flowers called astronano.

For those who like to read the recipes we suggest you to download them here Assaggi di Via Cenni_Il ricettario di ZUP” (in Italian).

For this beautiful experience, a new direction for ZUP The Recipe for Change, we thank all the enthusiastic participants that not only designed bu will also take care of the gardens, and Food in the StreetsLife ECO Courts – Cortili ecologici and Fondazione Housing Sociale, for their assistance, the guidance, the coordination and their support.

Ps. Two weeks after the ZUPlabmini, the participants got a technical lecture by Orti d’Azienda to learn them how to take care of their garden, and of course they planted their first real seeds. If you are curious to read what happened there, we suggest to follow the link that brings you to the blog in which Food in the Streets gives you a report.

ZUPs’ souvenirs

luglio 16, 2014

From May to October 2015 Milan will host the 34st Universal Exhibition. Less than a year before the event, many entrepreneurs in the Milan region or even in the whole of North Italy start to realize that this event might be an important opportunity to take a step forward after difficult years, amongst others caused by the economic. Even though the event seems to be far away, this is the right moment to take action and get ready for the tourists it will attract.

ZUPsouvenir helps people to revalue their neighbourhood or territori and gets them ready for tourism

After having worked for years in the business, ZUP started a few years ago as Zuppa Urban Projects. One of the first events we organised were ZUPlabs in which the participants (re)discovered their neighbourhoods with the idea to revalue them and contribute to an upgrade. To explain the other participants how a specific person interpreted the area of discussion, the partakers were asked to write a recipe for a soup (zuppa in Italian) that for them represented their neighbourhood.

These workshops and the recipes resulted in what we called ZUPsouvenir: a tour through the neighbourhood in which stories from local entrepreneurs and inhabitants were explained and eaten (as we also served some of the soups). An alternative way of tourism was invented.

Thanks to the internet new forms of tourism have developed themselves at high speed. Think of AirBnB in which you will be hosted in a private persons ‘ spare room or Spotted by Locals, a platform where local inhabitants give up-to-date insiders tips on activities in their city. You can imagine that there is enough on offer for different kinds of tourism.

While traveling through the country and working on different locations – from big cities as Firenze or Bologna to picturesque valleys in the north of the country – ZUP The recipe for Change has discovered that not everyone is ready to receive the ‘new’ tourists. That’s a pity as you might imagine that an event like Expo Milan 2015 (get a speed course Expo in this document) will bring millions of people. Assuming that many visitors will come from far away and combine a visit to the event with a trip through Italy and even Europe.

To enable entrepreneurs, local governments, trip agents and other merchants involved to profit from these possible increase of tourism, ZUP propose a new kind of ZUP souvenir (name under construction). In this chapter of our menu you will find, amongst others, the possibility to participate to a series of 2 to 6 workshops (the length depends on the situation) that will help the groups named before to see the weaknesses and the strengths of their destination and develop, with the support of the ZUP method, a strategy to get ready for the nearby future.

Again ZUP will demonstrate that with a relatively small investment, both in time and money, we can help people to start a change and bring them to the next level in a positively way.

Are you interested in ZUPsouvenir or one of the other ZUPlabs, please feel free to contact us on

ZUP in numbers: Part two

luglio 2, 2014

After our blog of last week, we again like to share some experiences and numbers with you. It can’t be emphasize enough that with a relatively small investment required to host a ZUPlab, many results can be reached, not only in the short run but moreover in a longer period after the ZUPlab.

This time we will discuss the Giardino Carnevali, a garden (giardino in Italian) again in the Dergano/Bovisa area in Milan, Italy that until not long ago was used as an illegal waste dump. In March 2012, a year after the ZUPfest, we started the works on this garden that is situated in the middle of an housing area.

During the first event, a concert of percussionists attracted 150 persons that were – in a positive way – amazed, curious and perplex of the activities that suddenly took place on their doorstep.  With a relatively simple intervention (a concert, that thanks to its noise make its own publicity), we reached our first goal: attract people that usually only complain but never undertake action to make things change.

As promised, we will treat you with some numbers that might give you a clearer idea of the output and outcome of this one activity. As the process is still ongoing, we will concentrate on the period between November 2012 and November 2013. In this year ZUP organized eight events of participation, was involved with the organization of the meetings and smaller activities, had a role as secretary and coordinated the group of volunteers. In total, we involved 600 people, with other good results of people that followed the process via the social networks (1500) and in the journals (600.000). Thanks to this publicity we were enabled to also open-up new networks interested in the ZUP projects.

But all these numbers do not mean anything if it was just temporary. To demonstrate the long term impact we like to share that until November 2013 there were 10 active volunteers, we involved 4 merchants that do business around the garden (on top off the 15 already involved during the ZUPfest of 2011) and also the network of entrepreneurs of the closeby Via Tartini, got the patronage of the local government, are connected to the network of associations and committees in Dergano and closeby neighbourhoods. As you might have understood, ZUP did not only have the intention to make in order the once dismissed garden. Even more importantly was (and still is) to generate possibilities and to progressively ‘feed’ people’s interest and their participation in order to involve them in the search for solutions for a transformation process that goes way behind the gates of the garden.

At this moment, a group of 10 volunteers and the network has already generated new activities. Soon it will have its own ‘brand’ (development coordinated by Giardino Carnevali, thanks to the collaboration of Annalinda de Rosa, designer at the Politecnico Milano) that will grow independently of the ZUP brand.  In the coming months ZUP will slowly move away from the project and leave it all to the people that, thanks to the intervention of ZUP, discovered the potential they and the group they form part of, has to start and accompany a process of change.

This whole process we followed in Giardino Carnevali has resulted in a new item on our ZUP menu, namely ZUPcultivation, that…….. To find out more about the menu, consult the brochure that you can download here.

During the recent years, ZUP has elaborated a specific methodological canvas. The long experience on the territory of Noemi Satta and collaboration between different groups allows us to give you some numbers and dimensions that demonstrate the impact of the ZUPlab. Ready? Here we go!


For those who don’t know: ZUP was founded in 2011 as an experiment of a long, including, shared, multi-disciplinal and multi-sectorial process in the Dergano/Bovisa area in Milan, Italy. It is a project that doesn’t fit easy in a specific sector but rather ‘floats’ somewhere between culture, urban or communal gardening, social and commercial projects: in the past years it is exactly this mix of interest that has demonstrated to have a strong possibility to activate energy hidden in neighbourhoods, organizations, businesses, etc.

In this blog we will present you some figures that will give you a dimension of the impact of a ZUPlab on the middle and long term.

In the year after the foundation of ZUP, between March and May 2011, we had twelve volunteers that helped us to organize the ZUPfest. Another 15 realities – amongst others institutes, associations and commercial activities – were involved to make this party with 150 guests all living in the neighbourhood possible. A simple Saturday afternoon became a happy event in the public domain: with the use of a kitchen, creative input and the activation of networks we activated the guests to create ideas and later form groups that took care of them with the end goal to realize them. On top off the people involved in person, this was followed by 15.000 people on the social networks and another 500.000 people that read articles about the event in national newspapers.

The value of the activities executed in 2011 (ZUPfest, ZUPranzo and ZUPlabmini) was covered by investments, gifts, volunteers and (technical) sponsoring from the network of f-autori culturali, local commercial activities and institutes.

The numbers you find above might not be shocking to you, but meaningful if you see it in the context of a small neighbourhood where the individual until then seemed to be more important than the collective. This ‘fest’ enabled us to involve parties like local commercial activities or the restaurant owners. Some of them even opened on this Saturday of ZUPfest, to offer the participants one of the soups from the ZUPfest menu.

Yes. A ZUP can do this!

ZUP ha permesso di elaborare un canovaccio metodologico specifico, e la lunga esperienza sul territorio e tra gruppi diversi permette di dare qualche numero e dimensione legata all’impatto.

ZUP nasce nel 2011 per sperimentare nel quartiere Dergano/Bovisa (Milano) un processo lungo, coinvolgente, aggregante, multidisciplinare e multisettoriale. È un progetto che non si incasella facilmente nel settore cultura, o in quello dei giardini, del commercio, o del sociale: di fatto ha una valenza forte di attivatore di energie, nelle sue diverse attività sviluppate nel quartiere.

Ecco alcuni dati per dare una dimensione dell’impatto di ZUP nel medio/lungo periodo.

Nel periodo 2011, anno di attivazione di ZUP: marzo-maggio 2011, 12 volontari per la ZUPfest, 15 realtà tra istituzioni, associazioni, esercizi commerciali, 150 partecipanti nel quartiere: non solo convivialità, ma ricerca, riconoscimento e riappropriazione dello spazio pubblico attraverso la cucina e la creatività, attivazione di reti, attivazione di idee e di gruppi che le portino avanti. Oltre 15.000 nei social network, circa 500.000 lettori su stampa nazionale.

Il valore delle attività svolte nel 2011 (ZUPfest, ZUPranzo, ZUPlab) è coperto da investimenti, elargizioni liberali, volontariato, sponsorship tecniche e dalla rete di f-autori culturali, commerciali e istituzionali.

Sono numeri non eclatanti di per sé ma significativi rispetto a un quartiere e ad alcuni soggetti, come i commercianti o i ristoratori, difficili da coinvolgere: questi ultimi hanno appositamente aperto di sabato per realizzare la maratona di zuppe della ZUPfest.

#zupinprogress #tobecontinued

Comunità e organizzazioni in cambiamento: questa è la parola chiave anche per il festival organizzato da Rena a Bologna. Un incontro cui abbiamo deciso di aderire immediatamente, convinte come siamo che la cooperazione e la condivisione siano la chiave di successo di tutti i percorsi di trasformazione.

Seminiamo partecipazione e trasformazione da anni con ZUP, che a sua volta si avvale dell’esperienza più che decennale dei fondatori, e questo è il momento in cui il confronto con tutte le organizzazione che basano il loro lavoro sul cambiamento è necessario.

Più di 350 aderenti tra diverse realtà, diversi tavoli di lavoro dalla governance dei beni comuni, alla promozione del patrimonio culturale, alla filiera di innovazione sociale che nasce nell’ambito rurale, al tema dell’attivazione delle comunità, dal punto di vista degli attivatori e organizzatori di processi lunghi.

Ci aspettiamo sguardi lunghi.

PS: e il buon segno si è visto da subito: servizi di baby sitting e laboratori di coderdojo per i più grandetti, primo servizio messo in evidenza per le mamme e i papà che parteciperanno ai lavori.

La qualità di questi incontri (come nella vita) inizia da questi “dettagli”! #cambiamento #trasformazione #zupinprogress

Volete saperne di più? Scarica la brochure di ZUP The Recipe for Change

ZUPlab goes Bologna

maggio 29, 2014

Is it possible to immagine another scenario than the one we thought we were going to follow?

This was the main questions with which we started a critical trip curated by Raffaele Quattrone which has given shape to the //:(TT)+U=Think The Unthinkable exhibition that is, on the moment we have our ZUPlab, on display in the Galleria OltreDimore in the Italian city of Bologna.

ZUP is selected by the collective and brought its ZUPlab for the first time to Bologna on the 23th of May 2013.

What did we do?

The participants of the ZUPlab have ‘read’  the city therefore using its communal sites and looking for new points of view, surprises and unexpected novelties. As a final step of the workshop these observations were translated in recipes to cook and taste together the soups of Bologna. Like every ZUPlab also this one was custom made for the specific situation.

Recipes named ‘ The studied, the fat and the pink’, could sound like something absurd, but the recipes are there and they are beautiful and tasteful.

Within a few weeks ZUP returns to Bologna to participate to the Festival delle Communità del Cambiamento, organized by Progetto Rena (which translates in The Festival of Comunities of Change). We will keep you updated on that!

The Moleskine sketchbook is a place where appointments, projects, relations, reminders and memories, words, ideas, dreams, projects and stories are collected. Like in The HUB, a worldwide platform where persons exchange and develop ideas.

This blog tells you about these stories. As you can expect from ZUP, we will do that with the help of a recipe that – after mixing the ingredients together and do some cooking – becomes a soup: ZUP – ZUP the recipe for change activates the sharing and creation of new recipes of social and cultural innovation.

On a Monday evening 70 hubbers full of ideas and expectations started the workshop: in one hour they were asked to follow three steps to explain their own projects, ideas and wishes and translate these in recipes. For the occasion we collaborated with Moleskine that offered each participant a notebook that functioned as a platform to write down stories, appointments and creative inputs. ZUP was hosted by The HUB Milano with whom we have curated the workshop which at the same time was the launch of the Fly Your Moleskine Project.

The diversity of the projects, the will to share and explain, the willingness to play and to elaborate in a creative way helped the participants to put their ideas on the table. Or better: on the dinner table, as ZUP uses food as an instrument to get the participants going. If we want to assign tags or keywords to summarize the evening we define the words networking, sharing, opening-up, innovation, projecting and enthusiasm. And that is what characterizes a HUB and why we choose to propose a ZUPlab to them.

The result of just an hour of work are eight recipes with confusing names but with clear explanations: Freedom and Sangria, Subvert the relation (the sauce that was missing!), Hotchpotch Melting Pot, Happy Day, Risotto the Amaca Way, Spicy Chicory Spring Rolls, Velvet of Celery and Straws, HubblyBubbly – the aphrodisiac for creativity.

Down here you’ll find some impressions of the evening, while an overview of the atmosphere of the evening is on display on our facebook page.

Fly your Moleskine

Ripensare alle tappe del lungo e interessante processo di “In un giardino”  permette di mettere a fuoco il lavoro di questi mesi. Quali i passaggi fondamentali?

Iniziamo dall’antefatto, denso di scambi, nella primavera del 2013.

Accendere la scintilla, costruire il gruppo di lavoro

Tutto ha avuto inizio scambiando idee, bisogni, sensibilità, anche tecniche e metodi, tra ZUP, il comitato giardino carnevali, l’orto condiviso del politecnico Coltivando, e il suo animatore il gruppo di ricerca di design degli spazi, Politecnico, capitanato da Davide Fassi, e alcuni vecchi compagni di strada, Francesca Piredda e tutto lo staff di Imagislab, sempre del Politecnico . Era il periodo primaverile, si susseguivano sopralluoghi, riunioni, incontri, spesso con la presenza e il coinvolgimento attivo di Andrea Motta, che come presidente della commissione ambiente del consiglio di zona 9 segue sempre con particolare attenzione tutti i gruppi che si muovono sul verde urbano.

Un’idea e un bisogno: trovare nuove domande e nuovi scenari

L’idea alla base dei nostri incontri era: provare a disegnare di nuovo lo spazio del giardino carnevali, per disincentivare il “cattivo uso” dello spazio. Ma il desiderio principale era di non accontentarsi di soluzione tecniche qualunque, di abbellimento o legate al decoro urbano (che tra l’altro nei desideri dei cittadini esasperati spesso coincidono con: togliere le panchine, alzare i cancelli, mettere la sorveglianza. Di fatto tutte azioni che chiudono lo spazio a chiunque, non solo a chi ne fa un cattivo uso). Il desiderio alla base di questo lavoro era trovare nuove domande, nuovi immaginari, per poter raccontare di nuovo le possibilità di uno spazio pubblico verde.

E farlo coinvolgendo di nuovo i cittadini: il coinvolgimento è stimolo all’attenzione, ad uno sguardo sistemico, ad adottare nuove soluzioni, a lavorare per la condivisione di azioni e spazi.

iniziavamo a pensare e a progettare In un giardino.

In bici in un giardino_nologocomune