Life in the Village—“Il Progetto Artena”

Life in the Village—“Il Progetto Artena”

The International Society of Biourbanism has organized a full-day conference, the “Project Artena: Reviving Italian villages”, in the city of Artena (Rome, Italy), on October the 21st, 2012.

The small town has been the paradigmatic subject of a systemic study approach, aimed at analyzing and contrasting the urban, ecological, and socio-cultural decline of Italy. It emerged that the original anthropological and environmental characteristics of the Italian village can provide inspiration for an effective revival action.

The speakers were young academics, local activists, and entrepreneurs. They shared views about biourbanism, systemic microeconomics, “smart” international networks, and biophilic culture, as well as presenting practical revival projects, based on civil life “building blocks”, such as common space and responsibility, real and human-scale economy, and a desire for a meaningful life. All these projects were framed in terms of a resilient, peer-to-peer network, free from any hierarchical bottlenecks, as this would easily make the system prey to heteronomous control. The network consists of operational, dynamic, and local “nodes”, characterized by local size, scale, and incidence, in contrast to large-scale projects imposed from above. According to this “lawn model”, individual companies, scientific research, and social activities form a living, organic tissue, consistent with the land and the community.

Examples of good practices are the first artistic map of the historical center of Artena, the educational program, strategic revenue and advertising management for local tourist enterprises, as well as the establishment of a quality handcrafted micro-brewery and a brewery school in the village. In addition, a film production company, specializing in documentaries, has been established, as has a local web radio, a cultural youth network, including blogs and public meetings with national personalities, a school for farmers, and an urban accessibility map, in order to make the city as wheelchair and bicycle-friendly as possible in future. All these projects gain more value and strength, while forming part of an organic structure, as they reinforce each other. They arise from real people’s inspirations, cultures, and desires, and are thus rooted in and fed by the best energy – human drive. Original forces involved in the order of the place, have to be encouraged and unfolded, while “development” by the indiscriminate use of abstract and out-of-scale models cannot work, because of conflict with the specifics of the context.

Business meetings between stakeholders in cooperation with the District Development Agency (Agenzia per lo Sviluppo della Provincia, ASP) which has expressed strong interest in the initiative, will follow soon, in order to start up the projects.

Among the speakers: Antonio Caperna, Angelo Gentili, and Stefano Serafini (International Society of Biourbanism); Christiaan Zandstra (architect); Alfonso Cauteruccio (GreenAccord); Valerio Borghese and Massimo Bagnuoli (tourism experts); Andrea Centofanti and Gloria Lattanzi (Péleo Film); Damiano Ricchetti (web radio “Briganti”); Mino Massimei and Vittorio Frosi (local scholars); Francesco Stefanelli and Gianmarco Camilli (brewery experts and entrepreneurs); Paolo Savasta (business financing expert). Organization: Stefano Serafini, Angelo Gentili, Angela M. Pezzilli, Angelica Fortuzzi.