The building of the former military quarters Rojc, colloquially Rojc, is located in the Pula city center. Its astonishing size is probably one of the reasons why this particular building dodged the commercial imperative of much other public, former military areas in the city. Investing in restoration and redevelopment for commercial purposes was clearly excessive and uneconomic, since the number of ideas for possible re-usage never came to life. The building itself is of rectangular shape, the south facing part of the building has three floors whereas the north one – five, the layout area without the inner courtyard area is 16 739 square meters. The outer courtyard or the historic plot of the building is defined by a fence and occupies an area of surprising 29 180 square meters. Each association situated in Rojc has its own premises, yet a common space too – the Living room – which is managed by the Rojc Associations Alliance (RAA). The 180m2 common room is located on the ground floor in the renovated space of the former military cafeteria. The Community Center Rojc has one internal and large external courtyard with a basketball and soccer field, a skate park and large, free parking area.
History of the building
The building itself was built for Naval school purposes during the of Austro-Hungarian Empire regiment, having the same purpose under Italian regime as a School for Cadets. Throughout the Yugoslavian regime, it firstly served as a Partisan-engineering school, and since 1976 as military quarters.The National Army of Yugoslavia decamps from Rojc in 1991. Thereafter, the building has been used by war refugees. During 1997, after the refugees moved out, the building was abandoned and left to ruin, then different associations began to occupy the building. At this time the majority of Pula’s population averse to Rojc as a dark, dirty and demolished building with inappropriate hygiene conditions. Arrangements, as well as settlements of “individual” association premises were founded by their own resources, and for the common grounds development and regulation, such as long corridors and outer courtyard, joint actions were organized and agreed upon. The prerequisite for this course of action was that the electrical energy and water supply were available at all times i.e. free of charge.
Only then, did the City of Pula realize the undeniable existence of many Rojc tenants, and, as a solution, although still not the formal property owner, offered a formalization of the existing status by agreements regarding usage of space and announced an initial public bid for the remaining space allocations. All attempts of rental remain unsuccessful. The City of Pula initiated investments in toilets and hallways, doormen and janitors, cleaning services, night security guard services, etc. In 2007 the Department of Defence finally gave up Rojc as an obsolete building for its needs, and handed over the ownership to the City of Pula that is still financing the building maintenance from its budget. Since 2010, when individual meters were installed for all premises, associations bare their own electricity consumption costs as well as the costs of adaptation of individual premises, while other maintenance and repair costs remain funded from the City’s budget.
DEVELOPMENT OF PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE MODEL IN ROJC
The Rojc governance is under the jurisdiction of the City of Pula which was unsatisfying for the beneficiaries. The main objection relates to the irrational fund usage earmarked for building maintenance, lack of development plans, insufficient maintenance and building renovation budget funds, as well as the lack of capacity or interest among authorities for fund collections outside the city budget in order to be able to ensure the long-term Centres’ financial stability and sustainability.
In 2008, due to the disappointment of the people from Rojc with the abovementioned
governance situation and with the decision-making process without involving its beneficiaries, started the initiative to establish an effective Rojc governance. Organized associations indicated rationality regarding financial management and sanction measures. They initiated the formation of a common body with the authority of decision-making and the cost control management of Rojc. Then, a Working Group for Coordination in Civic Associations Center Rojc was formed, consisting of three Rojc associations representatives and three representatives of the City of Pula.
DEVELOPMENT OF POTENTIALS FROM CO-TENANCY TO MORE PRODUCTIVE FORMS OF CO-EXISTENCE
Organizations gathered together identified 3 types of issues in Rojc:
Governance issue (for instance no vision about desired future of Rojc, sole administrative role of the coordinator appointed by the City, ineffectiveness of the Coordination appointed, indifferent city administrators with no real interest in management, lack of budget funds transparency, etc.) Mutual relationship (few of the associations cooperate, lack of information about each others activities, no common space, etc.) Space usage modes (lack of criteria for premises allocation, number of subjects who operate as profitable business venture rather than CSO, disproportion in the use of space, hygiene problems, etc.) Toward stronger inner bonds and collaboration:
Regarding these problems, organizations started new processes in order to establish the Community Centre Rojc as a recognizable entity based on the active fellowship between all its users, the partnership with local authorities and on the principles of participatory governance and responsibility sharing. It turned out that one of the key problems was the question of an active fellowship. Although miscellaneous stakeholders are active in the same building and even most of them share similar basic principles, not many of them, and only occasionally, engage in joint ventures. The insufficient familiarity and the inadequate level of communication between the stakeholders were evident. The syndrome of co-tenancy without a complex and more productive forms of co-existence and the absence of continuous and established joint action was recognized as a crucial problem. In order to achieve a higher level of fellowship, Rojc members from the “Initiative for new governance model” decided to start a process of establishing a formal body that aims to gather NGOs located in the Rojc Center , represents them, stands for their interests, fosters mutual cooperation and actively works in the community. Rojc Associations Alliance was founded in June 2012. Its goals are to build a distinctive network based on collaboration and joint programs; to improve the management of the Rojc Community Centre based on participative public-civic joint management; to contribute and work in the community and actively promote the need for collaboration, principles of solidarity, and respect for diversity. The establishment of the Alliance was crucial for the formation of new governance model in Rojc as it is to open the possibility of associations with space benefits for direct management involvement and taking responsibility as a unity.
For further improvement of the already existing model, some other possibilities should be considered: hybrid institutional models based on a partnership between the two sectors: civil and public. It could lead to more effective and long-term sustainable management. The proposed body of management named “The City of Rojc” would be formed as a joint institution between the City of Pula and Rojc beneficiaries gathered in the Alliance with the sole purpose to establish a combined and collaborative governance.
THE USAGE OF SPACE – RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Based on the defined vision, framework for a firm future criteria establishment, indicators for approval and space usage monitoring in Rojc have been determined. Namely: fields of activity determination, possible Rojc users target group definition and their division based upon priorities, space typology definition and the usage of space, as well as the basic principles and general criteria for the use of space establishment. Core activities to be performed in Rojc were defined as a range of non-profit socially useful activities. However, Rojc Alliance is developing social entrepreneurship projects (hostel, café etc.) as a model for sustainable development of the center.
Primary users with the highest priority are associations, informal groups and private establishments which are primarily acting for the greater good, and those who are focused on its members if gathered around socially disadvantaged groups.
Users with medium priority level are associations, informal groups, student and art organizations working primarily for their members (founders), occasionally organizing public events.
The third priority includes those non-profit organizations that are exclusively oriented towards its members, as well as independent artists, companies that have established associations and external profit entities (enterprises, trades).
Once having identified the possible modalities for the usage of the space (be it individual, group, community, permanent or temporary), typology regarding the function (production, presentation, sports and recreational, workshop-conference, club, office, warehouse, food, or service), a list of general basic principles and criteria as a base for further development of specific criteria and indicators for a particular type of space usage was made. Main characteristics of these principles and criteria are: application criteria equality for all; responsible and efficient usage; general public space accessibility; active involvement in solving common issues; the resource access rights based on individual user activities, the social importance of action and help in achieving the Community Centre Rojc overall visions; individual organization experience and quality level evaluations but also encouragement regarding new inclusions; diversification requirements for the use of space with respect to activity and social utility.
ROJC ASSOCIATIONS ALLIANCE – INTENSIVE COMMUNICATION AND JOINT ACTION
Rojc Associations Alliance (RAA) is defined as the Associations Network of Community Centre Rojc that brings associations together, presents and represents their interests, promotes mutual cooperation and committedly acts within the community. The Associations Alliance is the legitimate representative of Rojc beneficiaries in conjunction with the City of Pula and other entities, whose representative role is not based on the number of their members but engagement and active involvement since their legitimacy will arise from a process of transparency and freedom for all interested parties, rather than a mandatory inclusion.
Three fundamental RAA’s strategic objectives were set down. The first one clearly recognizes the primary orientation towards the establishment of an inner unity: building a stable and recognizable network of associations based on cooperation and joint programs. The second objective reflects the acceptance of area management responsibility or progress from the self-interest oriented position towards active subject users responsible for the common good: improve Rojc governance based on a participatory model. Finally, the third objective is to focus on community and willingness to widen social engagement: the community activities and promotion towards the principles of diversity, solidarity and cooperation.
BACKCASTING OF PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE MODEL IN ROJC
Towards participatory governance model in Rojc
End of 1990s and beginning of 2000 – associations established Great and Small Council of Rojc since the City intended to charge rent for space usage. March 2008 – associations established Rojc Associations Council, an informal body with an aim to assess the general interest issues of Rojc and propose solutions. April 2008 – Coordination – Rojc Associations Council initiated Coordination establishment which is consisting of 3 Rojc association representatives and 3 representatives of the City of Pula. Many problems in Rojc governance – no willingness from the City to share decision-making power with associations, intention to make a parking lot in Rojc yard – encouraged associations to get together and organize joint advocacy actions. 2010-2011 – project „Education and development of participatory public-civil governance model of Community Centre Rojc” 2011-2012 – Rojc Associations Alliance establishment + suggestion on establishment of hybrid institution called „City of Rojc” 2013 – 2016. – Results of Rojc Alliance activities: became legal representative in joint co-govenance body Community Center Rojc Coordination; governance with the common space for community events and programs + space for the development of hostel and artist in residence programs; improvement of communication with users and community by information tools such as rojcnet portal, social media, newspaper Veznik and newsletter; creation of strategic plan for Rojc Center development; partnership in the TEH network/participation in the TEH management (Rojc Alliance representative became a member of the TEH Commitee). collaboration with the City of Pula for making a Sustainability plan for the CC Rojc; development of several projects for Rojc governance and management improvement; became a center for social entrepreneurship support; coordination with Open Platform Rojc – collaborative network which allows members to develop community projects and work together on Rojc development. What are we going to do to get where we want – to a more productive model of Participatory Governance?
Creating a single, dynamic, hybrid organizational and management model that will be effective, professional and at a higher level of business responsibility and financial viability. Strengthening implementation capacity by creating a professional executive team with a clear division of roles and responsibilities. Development of social entrepreneurship models (a consortium of cooperatives and social enterprises), complementary business activities. Creating a supportive ecosystem for development and experimentation in the field of energy efficiency.