A Good Move
unMo2 - The Piccianello Satellite
Her fellow unMonasterians were aghast at Katalin Hausel when already in the second week of February, she was declaring that our real work should be outside the unMo walls: that we should establish a satellite storefront location. Three months later, we’ve done just that.
Background + Goals
As discussed elsewhere, the critique that rained upon the unMonastery prototype Matera from its inception was that perched down there in idyllic tourist zone A, it was far removed from the people. If the unMonastery was to improve life for the town’s citizens this meant that we’d have to engage them where they lived. Katalin’s jogging tours got her around quickly; the Archeology Department of the University of Basilicata had launched an initiative to open themselves to the living archeology of their nearest neighbours. Our sights were thus directed upon Piccianello the first relocation community for the Sassi dwellers after the urban improvement projects of the Mussolini period. After some years as a vibrant working class community, it had certainly seen better times.
At a certain point it was proposed by Rita Orlando that since three individual projects each had a demographical outreach component that they would gain max effect if they share the same target group Maria Byck’s series of video interrogations then transferred their attention to the area. Lucia Caistor also chose Piccianello as her centre of operations. Rita and Antonio Elettrico had local links; other ‘informants’ and unMo friends gave guided tours of the neighbourhood (Rossella’s Mum). Katalin’s unGuide of local history fictional and unfictional already traversed the area.
Setting up shop in the middle of it all seemed a good tactic. We have good contacts. Rita knew the guy to whom Emanuele Curti had been talking who had absorbed the promise by local politicians to release unused communal space to local up-starts. The proposal had been put on wait - so could we possibly have the keys for three weeks?..
2 1/2 weeks later - we did indeed have the keys to a large windowed room that opened out on a patio beside the new vegetable market. It didn’t offer substantial walk-by numbers, but at least no traffic noise. Rip up half a floor, paint two walls and wash a window or two; it was almost ready. We could start without water, if we could only get some electricity; WiFi may have to be introduced in the next generation.
While fixing up the location, we still had to fill it with something. Ideas for public presentations were fielded, people had plans. Inevitably things grew - some leads went silent, some fun stuff appeared. The desire for a comprehensive PR plan with poster and website hit the regular bottlenecks. We worked very hard.
Our planned weekend coincided with a two-day seminar planned by collaborators at UniBas that celebrated <<Questo non è un paesaggio?>> Our two day event stretched into four. Two of the UniBas students presented a soundscape using tapes culled from interviews in the Piccianello neighbourhood in the workshop rooms of the unMo1. While most of the unMoaners were putting the finishing touches to the satellite space, Viral Academy hopped in with a kitchen crew that provided a thoroughly fitting atmosphere on perhaps the year’s first lovely warm summer night. The party rolled into the night while the unMo crowd tried for an early night. Next morning was for dress rehearsal of the in-house components. The seminar participants were to be marched through the unGuided tour and then meet up with the ‘Mapping the Commons’ work demonstrations.
International unMonasterians cannot be expected to grasp a second, third or fourth language over night. Any attempt to facilitate our way to deep analytical understanding is not going to bear immediate fruit. It is therefore useful if actions and deliverables are social in nature: people moving into unfamiliar groupings to meet one another under the illumination of whatever inventive context that we can serve up. Most of the facilitation occurs in the second generation: people to people.
We struggled a bit with a name. The generic ‘Mapping the Commons’ proposed for the grand scheme of things was not at all translatable. Everything else we came up with reflected nefarious colonial ambition. Finally we fell upon a description of the simple fact: “A Day in Piccianello”; it promised no more than a solitary, almost coincidental crossing of paths.
“Una Giornata a Piccianello” sabato 24 Maggio
- Laboratorio a piedi: Puoi mappare con un App?
- Yoga e Kung Fu – prova libera
- Poesia a piedi su Piccianello
- Musica live con il gruppo Allabbùn!
- Presentazione dal progetto Mapping the Commons
- Workshop per il co-design del progetto culturale Centro Internazionale dedicato alla narrazione
- Tradizione d’arte della cartapesta
- Giro insolito di Piccianello
- Esibizione della scuola Kung Fu traditional Shaolin Matera : in cooperation with Viral Academy media project
- Mapping the Commons
In a conversation with Rossella Tarantino just before lunch about the demographics of the Piccianello event so far, it was pointed out that the first half of the day became largely for friends – Afterwards the cumulated effect of having an unMo outpost started to do its work…
Lunch may not have been more than a glorious picnic for the regulars. (Thanks Saverio and Ramona.) But after the rainfall cooled everything down, Antonio brought in his cartapesta crowd as a fine counterpoint to the usual crew discussing networking that seem to follow us everywhere. Then in the evening, something most wonderful happened…
At dusk Viral Academy’s cooperation with the KungFu school gave their demonstration in the Market courtyard that gathered about 60-80 people around some music and their gymnastic display. After this the unMo program felt a little bit thin - the band we’d initially recruited was off at a wedding for the evening, so we’d already served up orchestra tipico for the lunchtime crowd. What we could offer was a poetry recital and at best some improvised ‘facilitation stuff’…
Ringing our unMonastery wake-up bell, a small(ish) speech was held and people directed up the 40 meters towards the unMo2 location where a line of nervous young actors stood outside half prepared to read. Still waiting for their last member, the readers were politely prodded into action: the writer spoke from his heart, chairs were pulled out for the elderly, beakers of wine appeared, a group of 40-50 people gathered, and the 7-8 actors accompanied by gentle guitar playing took a bold step forward into the centre of the crowd to read the poetry of one of their number: Emmanuele Canterino. Maybe half the audience were our family - the rest friends of friends in the neighbourhood and passersby delighted to find something happening. A small miracle occurred.
It seems a combination of something low-key and organic made the evening work without PR flags and amplifiers. The unMo lights were reduced to candles; the pomp was left to the performers. It was a simple but significant celebration of deep culture between young people who believed in the naked word, and a statistically moderately older people absorbing this belief. As Nalia, one of the our crowd of loyal unMo friendly pensioners, whispered to Lucia : “Questo è il vicinato.” (This is neighbourhood.)
At the end our unMo friend, Francesco Donnola held just the right kind of rousing thank you speech (MA2019 was mentioned at least twice) and then someone asked a spontaneous question that released a brief but pointed political discussion of “why not do this kind of thing here and in other neighbourhoods all the time ?” Those moved to do so spontaneously stood forth to share short impassioned points of view…
We unMonasterians were visible around the edges, but had purposely kept in the background while the hour had unfolded. It generated precisely the kind of event that we all long for…
Il Piccolo Popolo di Piazza
Two days later came the second public manifestation of our move to Piccianello: a children’s workshop in – Occupying Public Space --. Once again we were fortunate that the compact nature of Materan society delivered just the right people into the very middle of our plans.
We might have had trouble; the date and time selected was meant to capture the children emptying out of the adjacent Scuola Marconi. Nobody among our crew seemed to have noticed the fact that that Monday was an extra day-off to facilitate the European election process. Nevertheless we showed up, dodged a brief rain shower, and held an event for 20 or so youngsters using that most effective medium of 25 kgs of clay. Over two hours the Occupiers took over the flowerbeds, benches and fountains. Big thanks to Rosa diPede and Lydia. (see separate report)
Not everything was a miracle. The program juggling continued into the final seconds; the CoderDojo event at the main house collared the video projector on dress rehearsal day, so our mapping projects got buried by tech fail. A stupid misunderstanding became a stupid misunderstanding. The media crew packed up and left just before the magical transition instigated by the poetry on Saturday evening. Visually it wasn’t action-filled; but it was the definitive highlight of the day.
It was wisely remarked that the Una Giornata nel Piccianello events went off in the wrong order. At some point the idea was to incorporate the children’s event within the Saturday – separating it out to give it undivided attention was another good move. Had we, however, staged the children’s event first, it would have helped to draw the children’s parents to the market day.
The remaining task is to find a body of people who grasp the value of such a location. Suggestions are being vetted. At this point the keys are in house for another 30 days…