I’ve been hopping between the ER and the MT2019 platforms more often in the past days and the ongoing discussions on sharing economy and collaborative networks have gotten me thinking on a question which I want to share with you.
Edgeryders are plunged in issues linked to sharing economy, collaborative activities, distributed skills: such a reflection, although ongoing, has settled on a couple of things that are only just started being discovered in the South of Italy. It is true that there are some great examples and initiatives taking place in Calabria, Apulia, Sicily, Campania and Basilicata… but let’s not forget that Casa Netural is the first co-working space that opened in Basilicata - and it’s not even one year old.
I don’t even want to go near the language issue (it seems like english is just perfect for describing and speaking about innovation and collaboration): how come in Italian we are always taking english words to speak about changemakers, digital media marketing, social media strategist, community management and so forth (you basically just have to read them out loud with a bit of an Italian accent).
What I want to address here is the spirit behind the sharing economy: it’s based on collaboration, sense of community, reciprocity, scarse resources, jobless but skilled people, ecc.ecc. Well, doesn’t "the South " represent, in general opinion, the place of reciprocity, community, sharing, familiarity, ecc? Moving away from stereotypes, how come that the European country that has the highest number of young NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training), and the regions that in the past years have lost a great number of youngsters (the number has grown of more than 400% in the past years, Alma Laurea) seem to be marginal in the debate on sharing economy?
It strikes me how urban agricultural practices are exploding in London and pick up so slowly in the South, that collaborative services are being designed in Milan and systemizing practices that in the South are so common. It reminds me when in a discussion in Matera I was speaking about Casa Netural with enthusiasm, and a friend of mine answered with a tinge of resentment mixed with disapproval “the guy is just making money on practices that we do for free” - meaning that co-working and co-living is just another name to call something that - it is true - we had been doing for the past years. Opening your house to colleagues and friends to live and work together.
Matt’s sentence got me thinking: “every resonably sized city can be a great place for Edgeryders”. But can it really? Matera is only just starting to discover “collaborative services”, but collaboration is something that has always existed. It is now taking other forms (some very service-oriented and well designed) and being expressed through a dense narrative that has to be channeled to places that know little about all this.
Although I know that my distorted passion for the South of Italy does bring me to enhance sometimes exceedingly the specificites of these regions, I still think that this gap between areas that seem so ripe for collaboration and other zones has to be tackled. It is not only about language. It is not only about entrepreneurial spirit. I believe a lot has got to do with the digital divide (very little internet access), not knowing that all this is possible and the fact that a lot of these practices are in the dna of the people who cannot understand why one would “design services” on them.
But there is more to it and I would love to know what your take on it is.
Thanks for your attention