EA’s Anna Lodeserto and Rosen Dimov are taking part in the first international work-camp organised by the network “RE.CO.SOL. Rete dei Comuni Solidali (Solidarity Network of Municipalities), Comuni della Terra per il Mondo – Towns of the Earth for the World” to bring young people together from different parts of Europe in the virtuous centre of Riace, Southern Italy, from August 4th to August 18th, 2012.
Tomorrow – 12th August – and the day after – 13th August – they will run a workshop seeking to address current aspects of media approaches to ensure genuine inclusion and the expression of pluralism in our contemporary European societies, notably assessing their portrayal of minorities and situation of detention centres for migrants, included in the programme of the Recosol Camp. During the second session, the video “Citizens²: Voices for a Diverse Europe” created by and produced by members of European Alternatives in Italy, France, Germany and the UK, will be shown to the public. This video tells the stories of young people whose parents are migrants, but who grew up in Europe, highlighting their contribution to the building of a European society and identity which recognises its own diversity.
The video is, indeed, a result of the project “CITIZENS2: NEW VOICES FOR A DIVERSE EUROPE” aimed at involving young people in a transnational discussion and action on the meaning of European citizenship, starting from the situation of young people with ethnic minority backgrounds. After having being presented in Paris and Rome during the Transeuropa Festival 2012, and shown in the Theatre and Short Film Festival Sudaka in Ecuador, will be then shared with the participants and trainers of Recosol work camp in Riace coming from many European Countries such as Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Malta, Poland and Romania.
In the last few years, in the Ionian zone of the Province of Reggio Calabria, known as Locride, five small villages, such as Caulonia, Stignano, Monasterace and Badolato, along with Riace itself (the first case), have become successful models of integration offering immigrants arriving from across the sea a warm welcome along with homes in a number of empty buildings in the historic centre. These experiences are based on an experiment of territorial development through the rebirth of rural economies in Southern Italy that had almost disappeared. This way, migration is providing a new lease of life to rural villages abandoned over the last two centuries that have now been repopulated and can be lively communities once again. Starting from this assumption, the five Italian villages that risked becoming “ghost towns” because of the emigration of most part of their population to the USA, Northern Italy and the rest of Europe, are now experimenting long-term strategies and policies regarding migration, seeing migration itself as a positive factor enhancing the whole society economically, socially and culturally.
These models represent a concrete alternative to the “flexible emergency response mechanisms” (in contrast to the first migration and reception experiences that occurred in these areas), such as the fatal realities of Detention Centres in Europe and the Italian government’s policy of “pushing-back” to the shores of North Africa migrant boats intercepted on the open sea. These municipalities now are gaining more and more respect all over Europe recognised as they are from EU Civil Society, Media and Institutions for having bucked the usual trend of hostility towards foreign newcomers with courage and far-sightedness and for the ability of the Mayor of Riace, Domenico Lucano, who then inspired other Councilmen and Local Government Officers, to work at the institutional as well as socio-economic levels with passion, commitment and persistence to promote cross-cultural understanding.
These stories also became protagonist of the short film IL VOLO (“The Flight”) produced by the German film director Win Wenders in 2012 with the support of Calabria Region and UNHCR as a firsthand account – through Wenders’ off-camera narration – of immigration seen as a resource instead of a threat. This will be screened in Stignano (3 km northwest of Riace) for the participants of the work-camp.
The camp currently held in Riace offers a concrete opportunity to develop a direct experience from the ground gaining a better understanding how such a difficult territory has successfully become the “laboratory” of best practices of integration for immigrants. Despite the active presence of organised crime groups over the whole Locride area, these new policies and political practices, were drafted in creative ways to deal with the cultural and structural changes that have recently happened. They constitute, indeed, a concrete response to the increasing need for integration policies, which will create a lasting and suitable socio-cultural structure having a meaningful impact in contributing to a fairer and more equal society by raising a new generation of truly global citizens.