We often talk about community and collaboration and use buzzwords like inter-generational. This weekend, I was lucky to be part of a project in Novi di Modena, a town in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, that brought these ideas to life.
Novi di Modena was the epicentre of the 2012 earthquake. The entire city-centre is still propped-up by scaffolding and is a distressing reminder of that terrible event. The town’s population has dwindled. Many are unwilling to return. Those who remain feel trapped because house prices have collapsed and they can’t afford to leave.
One woman — a passionate advocate for the local community, teamed up with the local councillor — a young lad of 24, to produce a fantastic two-day event that attracted a national audience and energised the town.
Around 40 of us, including participants from as far as Istanbul and Melbourne, poured into the town on Friday. For two days, we worked hard, ate loads of good, local food and slept in improvised B&Bs. We left feeling we’re now part of a new family.
Several locals volunteered as translators for the international exhibitors. Every now and then their uncle / aunt / cousin / grandma or neighbour would pass by the stall and there would be yet another round of frantic introductions and anecdotes. In one instance, our translator — a women, who must have been in her late 30s/early 40s — introduced us to her school teacher! They’ve been having dinner once a year ever since she graduated.
I decided to write this note as I’m so inspired and impressed by what the team has achieved. They channeled the anger, sadness and frustration felt by many into something so positive and inclusive. Anyone from the town who wanted to be part of the event, found a way to get involved.
As we were packing up this morning, I overheard the team was going to meet soon to start planning their next event. I wish them the best of luck and lots of success. I can’t what wait to see what they do next.