After three fruitful years of research, the TESS project is coming to an end. The TESS team is busy concluding the final results based on the successful research experience and data we gathered. Looking back on the last three years, it becomes clear that TESS was more than just a research project: the focus on community-based initiatives and the close collaboration of the researchers, stakeholders, CBI members and communities brought to life a lively network of relationships that extended beyond the interviews and the scientific purpose of the investigation. The people we met throughout this journey demonstrated a great deal of patience and commitment, generously making themselves available for countless meetings, inviting members of their communities to speak with us and helping us navigate through the various stages of the research process which often went beyond simple, straightforward questions and elicited responses and reflections on their history, their goals, their ambitions and their internal workings. We were extremely pleased to discover that, in the end, the collaborative project we embarked on gave us both the opportunity to reflect on the work being done in the CBIs from a multitude of perspectives, producing a deeper understanding of the value of the results of the CBIs’ actions.

Perhaps as a sign of this mutual satisfaction, when researchers from La Sapienza and T6 organized a closing event with the participation of the CBIs from Rome, the response was immediately positive. On the 27th of October, in the exceptional venue offered by the Società Geografica Italiana in Villa Celimontana, in a garden just beyond the shadow of the Colloseum, nearly 70 members of CBIs, local policy makers, students, activists and stakeholders gathered for the presentation of the final results of the TESS project, as well as the opportunity to discuss the experience of CBIs in Rome in a public forum. The afternoon began with a catered lunch stocked with local, seasonal products, which started off the event with a cheerful and collaborative mood.

The first half of the event was dedicated to illustrating the main findings of the TESS project: the results for the greenhouse gas accounting for CBIs were presented, enriched by the introduction of the Track-It tool, available online. A synthetic, but comprehensive, presentation of the results of the multi-criteria analysis followed, highlighting the achievements of the Roman community-based initiatives. Finally, an in-depth description of the policy analysis and recommendations concluded the first session. The second half of the event gave the floor to the initiatives themselves and an open discussion with the audience was held. Five of the key case study initiatives were present for a roundtable discussion to reflect on each CBI’s main achievements, challenges, constraints within the local political, social and economic landscape. Questions and comments from the audience helped enrich the discussion by identifying both the challenges of the local context and the added value of these CBIs’ activities and contributions. A number of insightful reflections and constructive comments were presented by members of the audience and a lively debate over a number of local issues, relevant for all present, were discussed.

At the conclusion of the event, it seemed as if a collective vision had filled the room, with many commenting on what has been reiterated by the entire TESS team: how we would love to be able to keep this debate alive and continue investigating how better to support CBIs and promote their contribution to local communities in the future.

Cary Hendrickson, Alessandra Prampolini