A corner in the city
In the north-east of Rome, in a peripheral area of the city, there is an old country side building where more then 20 years ago a bunch of willing and motivated people decided to take up an abandoned area to develop an entire microcosm of activities. Over the years this has grown to include a solidarity purchasing group, an educational botanic garden, urban gardens, a farmer market twice a months, an organic restaurant, the management of a library dedicated to the ecological culture, the energy production through solar panels and more.
Today the Casale Podere Rosa is a fully developed association around which revolve a community of 500 people, more than 100 families. A piece of neighbourhood benefitting from and contributing to the drive to shape the current identity and quality of the surrounding area. Its achievements, quite unique in the urban scenario where the initiative is settled, are the results of a careful management of the relationships with the local institution and of ability in taking advantage of the peculiarities of the neighbourhood, which has a history of social and environmental struggles.
As researchers, to approach people who have actually committed their entire life to develop an alternative way to live, to think, to exchange is both stimulating and challenging. Is it really possible to encase in a scientific methodology how it feels to succeed or fail in your objective, when the commitment is so high? How you manage your everyday activities with people which are not only co-workers but first and foremost partners, with whom you share a vision? We did our best and our task was supported by the warm welcome we received from these people, by their willingness to help us and to transmit at the best of their capabilities their experiences, the lessons learned, the upcoming challenges.
We found out about a reality made of everyday small tasks delivered by well organised groups, a human environment of people attending the activities offered by the initiatives characterised by participation and appreciation, but often not ready to get committed themself, the constant struggle to keep open the communication with a governmental level that is mostly absent, the generational gap between an approach developed when the context was far more favourable and new participants who today find themselves in the condition to worry first of all about the economic side of their life and of the initiative itself. The overall pictures that emerged was an initiative born and raised with clearness of targets and intent, managed by people highly conscious of their motivations and currently aware of the sensitive phase they are going through, suspended between the push from the bottom and the constraints from the top. Hopefully, through TESS we’ll be able to give our piece of contribution and help them finding new ways, alliances, supporters.