During summer 2021, ICRE, the Italian partner had issued invitations to partners to visit their project.
The slow & varied process of ‘opening-up’ had made unlikely the possibility of a full partnership meeting.
One feature of the difficulties faced during the pandemic in 2021 was (and will continue to be) knowledge & understanding of the varied national regulations applied by Governments (in and beyond the EU).
The UK NA (the Erasmus Plus national agency responsible for project oversight) maintained an ‘encouraging’ approach, stating in July: “The covid situation is changing so fast week by week, that … maybe by autumn time, you will be able to have a physical meeting without self-isolation period.”
On September 1st Italian restrictions were altered due in part to the national introduction of the EU Green Card system (applicable to all EU member & associate States) plus the lifting of a 5 day isolation requirement for fully vaccinated UK visitors.
Following further advice from the UK National Agency a meeting was created in Spilinga, Calabria.
Given the late decision and very restricted dates available not all partners were able to attend.
In Spilinga, Calabria
- took partners to the ‘heart & soul’ of the Green Bridges concept:
- to deepen a comprehension of humanities’ relationship with the whole environment: natural, built & cultural.
- was structured to maximise active engagement
- limit passive desk-bound discussions
An Active Experiential Process
A meeting of
Variation & Movement; Chance, Change & Engagement
The essential elements of any learning process
These were a continuum – embedded throughout the visit
The above report can be viewed separately click here
Partnership Breakfast Meeting
- Outlining the purposes of the visit
- Considering reporting processes (document circulated separately)
- Discussion re: The Two Day Agenda (with flexibility due to inclement weather)
The local partner: ICRE has been involved in encouraging & working with a wide range of local individuals and companies, all engaged in conserving or promoting aspects of local culture.
ICRE aims to encourage tourists, whose main focus for visiting the area is ‘sun & sea’, to step aside and experience more of the nature (human and natural) within the area.
There is also another major aim for ICRE: that of encouraging local communities to develop their potential – individually, as communities and economically.
Throughout the 2 days the focus was on experiencing the potential for such social developments. The Green Bridges visitors were themselves, simply by being present and engaging with the locality and its people, part of the ICRE led process.
Pasquale, whose enthusiasms over 10 years ago had started the community & environmental developments in the area & the Valley of the Mills, organised 2 visits
The ‘Nduja farm & production unit
- Peppers, onions, pork produced as a spicy sausage – or paste usable in cooking
‘Nduja is specific to the area of Spilinga where an ‘Nduja fstival is hld each year.
One local producer states on their web site:
A popular saying, attributed to ‘Nduja Spilinga “aphrodisiac properties and recommended instead of medications”.
At lunchtime: a visit to Capo Vaticano
… and the house of the Italian author Giuseppe Berto at which, hosted by Antonia & Philip, a special lunch was prepared.
Assisted by the local expertise of the hosts, the partners were provided with space to discuss and evaluate the morning’s visits.
Evening: Social Activity
The visit of the international partnership allowed ICRE to create a celebratory dinner in Spilinga
The setting was a community building used solely as a Men’s Club (largely for games of cards). It was the first time that the capacious building had been used for a mixed social event.
Dinner was followed by music and dancing…..
Styles of music and dance were varied and all became involved – visitors, old & new residents and including the Mayor of Spilinga.
… and there were songs from Lithuania and Britain
The event was regarded as a very successful community event & one comment stated that one of the principle organisers should ‘Receive the Keys of Spilinga’.
Day Two: Thursday October 14th
Partnership morning Meeting
Discussions focused on personal motivations for involvement in Erasmus+ partnerships
The text can also be viewed separately click here
Following the meeting the group spent the morning exploring a section of the Valley of the Mills in the Ruffa valley complex.
The area was the centre of considerable commercial activity until the middle of the C20th.
A series of Mills, all driven by water, produced grain for human use but also, in season, animal fodder from, for example, chestnuts.
There were 9 mills situated along the deeply indented valley & were powered by the fast flowing stream that has never been known to dry.
In their time they were an important to the whole economic and social structure of the largely pastoral area.
The mill visited by the partners was destroyed by a violent torrent of flood water in the 1950s; an event remembered by Giuseppe whose son is engaged in working with ICRE to conserve and present both the physical structures and the nature of the valley.
The water for the mill was channelled from a point higher in the valley (called in English a mill ‘leet’) before dropping from a height down a pipe onto the horizontally placed stones.
The trail follows the line of the Mill Leet before re-crossing the stream
The route also includes other elements of traditional life.
The tracks into the valleys would only allow mule or donkey access and they were stabled alongside the other animals.
It was only possible to visit one small section of the Valley of the Mills as the rampant growth that occurs due to the warms, damp and sheltered context of the valley results in rapid and luxurious plant growth.
The section visited is maintained in order to provide a refreshing & culturally informing experience for tourists.
The text can be viewed as a full page: click here
Michele & Giuseppe also provide a small traditional outdoor restaurant to cater for visitors who wish to understand the historical social and natural context.
There have been considerable successes achieved by voluntary effort – but along the valley, much still needs to be done
The final event was a meal hosted by ICRE – with more music & a little dancing.
The evening finished with music that has a very particular significance.
The song ‘Bella Ciao’ sung enthusiastically by those (all?) present.
Whilst the ‘partisan’ version of the song has associations with the complexities of immediate post-war Italian politics (and civil war) it has become an international statement against injustice.
The words of the original & partisan versions can be viewed here
There is a spirit of determination in the song that can serves well for those who wish to ‘collaborate with passion’ for a better world.