Surviving as a community among the tourist flood in Florence

The Challenge: 

The Question: 

How can we put together a very traditional community and many immigrants in a large modern city

The Problem: 

Mass tourism, gentrification, evictions, loss of services

The Solution: 

Finding a way to help ourselves collectively

Channels: 

We are the families of the "Oltrarno", the other or wrong side of the Arno river in Florence, Italy.

Facing a tough challenge - surviving in the Disneyland of the Renaissance, as a community.

Right behind the Carmine church, where the Renaissance was born, families of the most varied background - both traditional and immigrant - run a garden which was donated to the population of the district by the American Red Cross in 1920 and has since been largely seized by a real estate speculator.

A cross-section of ordinary people of every kind, who are beginning to work together to develop new ways of survival, friendship and beauty in an era where the "state" is no longer the key actor.

As we discover our own needs, our strength, the power of working together, we find that we have a whole world of prospects before us, something much larger than the garden we started out with.

We are here to listen and to learn, and of course we would be glad to show you around our side of Florence, should you ever drop by!

 

 

 

Comments

Hi and welcome :)

Nadia's picture

Sorry to hear about the park. Perhaps there is inspiration to be drawn from members of the community who are facing the  same struggles. So some people who immediatey come to mind are:

@jordanhttps://edgeryders.eu/en/the-urban-shepherd-of-stockholm

@Nick Davitashvilihttps://edgeryders.eu/en/better-and-bigger-collective-action

This work of building and caring for communities is challenging.

 

As @marcoclausen points out

 @marcoclausen, @ecl and @Caroline have alot of experiences in Berlin: See their stories here. But this kind

 

Benvenuti (e alcune domande)

Alberto's picture

Ciao @Amici del Nidiaci

An Italian myself, I know Florence a bit and understand how it must feel to you. Great that you are taking action! So, from what I understand, your action revolves around coming together to maintain a community garden.  Can you tell us more about that? Is it mostly gardening, or do you do other activities too?

Here in Edgeryders, we have a few experiences which are somewhat similar. One is Prinzesinnengarten in Berlin. They sell food, run a small café and give courses in gardening. Real estate speculation is a problem for them, too. Here is the full story: @marcoclausen is one of its protagonists and could tell you more. 

The other one is Vake Park in Tbilisi, Georgia. In this case, a community formed specifically to protect the park from speculation. Among its leaders were @Nick Davitashvili and others: here is Nick's beautiful TEDx talk.

Looking forward to hear from you! 

From the Nidiaci

Amici del Nidiaci's picture

Thank you for your comments.

Our garden is theoretically for children, then for their families. Which means that...

The outstanding feature of our experience is the fact that we are not an intellectual or "political" movement, but the ordinary people of this district: a cross-section of families of both traditional and immigrant background, who take their children to the garden (basically a playground with trees). Everybody except the very, very rich.

However, we opened this garden in a situation of conflict, an object lesson for everybody on gentrification and the ruthlessness of real estate speculation: we did not put the politics into it, they did, and everybody has learned the lesson.

Communities can be built on imagining the past, children help us to imagine the future together and learn to build solidarity - we love our place and its history, but anybody from Senegal or from Germany who also loves them is welcome; 

In this context, we do small things with major implications, for example:

- markets where parents give and take children's clothes for free, which teaches one enormously important things about the wastefulness of our society;

- violin lessons, chess and opera singing because we believe that "beautiful","elegant" and "difficult" things should not be the monopoly of a financial elite;

- the only free football school in Florence, thanks to the unique Lebowski football team;

- attempting to revive the dying crafts of Florence and discover the history of our district, with all its tremendous historical implications;

- we are trying to find a way to set up a cooperative to give work to the many families who have skills, but are being driven off the job market;

- we are beginning to develop more sustainable ways of consumption, in a gradual way that everybody can understand, also thanks to the fact that we have a child's birthday party nearly every day in our garden! And a child's birthday party is a much better place to deal with these issues, than a smoke-filled meeting hall...

Whatever we do, we try to move together with as many other organisations as possible in our district - ranging from the parish church to the young people occupying an abandoned house, to small shopkeepers, to the very, very special Florentine institution of "Calcio Storico".

We also want to provide the lowest level of basic services, which the "state" is dropping out of, and this is where the issue of health and other care interests us.

The institutions first saw us as a harmless group of parents who wanted a place for their children to play,

then more or less as enemies,

then as a large group of voters who need to be humoured, as well as people who do for free what the state usually has to pay for.

Which is alright, we neither hate nor love the dying institutions of our times.

We love our people, our monuments, our trees, our bats and cats that come at night, and anybody else in the world who feels like us and realizes that this world should not belong to speculating private monsters or to cold public machines. 

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