Workshop Tom Fox



Presentation of the workshop


Why should we invite an environmentalist, social activist in urban development and planning to a congress for community psychologists? This the question that introduce this workshop. Urban planners hopefully design people-friendly spaces; whereas Community Pychologists build up relational bonds aimed for citizens’ well-being. The former work on streets, walls or parks, the latter develop links between human beings and environment. St. Augustine would say that “cities are not made out of stone but men”. This quotation can show us why we thought it is important to invite an urban planning activist like Tom Fox: to promote and value a discipline which is concerned with the interaction between individuals and contexts and with the firm belief that well-being is not only an internal state of affairs; it is rather the fruit of the interaction between people and environment. In that sense, Community Psychology bears a specific expertise which accounts for the interaction between individuals and contexts.

Traditionally, psychologists have focused on reparative skills performed within an clinical context with individuals, families or groups. Community Psychology has as its own object of interest the construction of living frameworks and organizations aimed at improving living conditions. Therefore, a Community Psychology perspective allows to investigate and foster those conditions accounting for a process of change as well as to deal with those that hinder it. Empowerment, participation, and respect for diversity ought to be guidelines for living together. But how? And, with which kind of tools? This is the very purpose of the workshop.

Tom Fox will talk about his experience as a social activist in urban planning which means he is an expert in urban planning from the bottom up. For more than 30 years Tom Fox in New York City (and other major US cities like San Francisco) has been initiating and supporting community participation for a humane and user-friendly development of public space in the cities.  Along with the difficulties he has come across in dealing with house owners, real estate developers, city administration and neighbourhood people, as well as the strategies he has used to cope with this complex social system, he will be able to teach and analyse many settings which are reality for community psychologists. As Community Psychologists we ought to be aware of our own competencies (i.e. identification of needs, support aimed at sustaining and overcoming crisis, specific skills for group work and social mediation).

We must give value to this knowledge and foster it through first-hand activities and basic training courses.

In the 60’s, Anna Maria Ortese, a famous Neapoletan writer, wrote “Il mare non bagna Napoli”. The author described the Neapoletan waterfront as a privileged place for well-off people (Villa Comunale) as well as an area for businessing. Today, the walls once erected around the waterfront have been knocked down hence the awareness that the sea soothes our souls, health, and social relations is driving public administration once again to value this place. Turning via Caracciolo into a pedestrian area is a first step towards that direction but there is still a lot to do if we really want to understand where and how we want to live

(Caterina Arcidiacono and  Wolfgang Stark).

Monday 4th and Tuesday  5th,15-18: Visiting the city waterfront

Participation and Community Psychology in action: Tom Fox will be visiting special places set along the waterfront of Naples in order to develop new ideas for re-designing it. (People and associations interested in joining in shall contact  dott. Immacolata Di Napoli at the e-mail address: (see the video)


The program   


The workshop will discuss Community involvement in the rebirth of the NYC waterfront parks and waterways (historic ships, boat houses, kayaking, marsh restoration, etc.) :

  • The story of the community’s continuing struggle to create this 4.5 mile, $450 million public park; and
  • The rebirth of ferries and water taxis (which now carry 100,000 people a day in NYC) as well including the rebirth of the waterborne transport system.

The 20-year community lead fight to save Manhattan’s west side’s waterfront.  It had been industrial but shipping changed to containerization and the waterfront deteriorated.  The government developed a plan to fill in the Hudson River and build a large highway with about 20 blocks of new luxury housing.

We fought and beat the government; and the real estate, banking, and construction industries in court in 1986.  I sat on two separate city state commissions and we convinced them to turn the waterfront into a park in 1992.  We then did a 4-year community design process which was finished in 1996 and developed a consensus plan to create a $450 million, 4.5 mile waterfront park with 13 piers restored for public use.

The legislation to create the park was signed into law in 1998, but 15 years later we are still fighting to keep it “pure”, as people are trying to amend the legislation to allow more development as we speak.

I have found in life that you must be vigilant about everything that is worth fighting.  Someone is always try to undermine the public good for their own private interests.

The presentation will then first describe the Manhattan project as the first step in the revitalization of the entire NY Harbor between 1985 and 2010.  About $2.5 billion has been invested in parks and waterborne transport as well as mixed use developments ranging from an IKEA that is served by waterborne transport and new residential development. Some issues of the broader waterfront revitalization in Australia will also be discussed.





Building communities with an environmental approach. A future challenge for Community Psychology

Wednesday 6th November from 10 am to 2 pm

Filangieri Hall

TOM FOX, New York, Environmentalist, Social activist in urban development and planning.

Why this kind of workshop for psychologists?

Caterina Arcidiacono (President ECPA) and Wolfgang Stark (University of Duisburg)

Workshop: Open Space in the City: Urban Planning from the Bottom up  How Community Participation can Reshape the City

Tom Fox, Social activist in urban development and planning 

(The workshop will be interactive and use still photography and video to help participants understand the techniques they can use to successfully pursue projects in their own setting in Italy)


12,15 How and where to leave in the future

Tom Fox, Ideas and suggestions for the city of Naples

Michele Capasso (President Fondazione Mediterraneo), Urban liveability and town re-humanization 

Luigi De Magistris (Mayor of Naples),The Re-shaping of Naples waterfront 

Mare Vivo Association (Tbc), Gaiola’s dream 

Caterina Arcidiacono, Psychologists as social catalysts for Individual and relational/urban environment

Massimo Pica Ciamarra (Architect, Pica Ciamarra Associati), RE-Civilising the Urban 

Raffaele Felaco (President Campania Register of Psychologists), Towns well-being and lo “psicologo territoriale” (territorial psychologist) 


Who is Tom Fox?

Tom Fox interview

TomFox in Essen




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(see also general press review)