New seeds of demopraxy at Solferino 2019: the traditional celebration took place from 17th to 23rd June in the town in the province of Mantua where Henry Dunant found inspiration for the conception and foundation of the Red Cross. Cittadellarte actively participated in this edition, also marking the centenary of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, organizing the demopractic workshop The art of care in the name of the Third Paradise, involving volunteers and operators of the Red Cross and Red Crescent from all over the world, coordinated by Paolo Naldini, director of Cittadellarte, and Carla Orizondo, volunteering officer of the Italian Red Cross. As mentioned in a previous article, the objective of the workshop was to identify and elaborate individual and collective actions to be developed within one’s own community to impact the territory taking inspiration from the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The workshop was introduced by an artistic-musical performance curated by Italian-Ethiopian writer Gabriella Ghermandi, and opened with a speech by Paolo Naldini, who presented to the participants the guidelines of the demopractic method and the peculiarities of the Third Paradise (with specific regard to the sign-symbol which seals the collaboration and the communion of intents between Cittadellarte and the Italian Red Cross). To identify and elaborate the contents of this collective dialogue, the participants referred in particular to the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the 7 Red Cross principles, besides the association’s own 2030 strategy. With this view, to accompany and act as background to the programme was the Walking Sculpture, i.e. Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Sphere of Newspapers, usually made of newspaper sheets but for this occasion realized with coloured cards bearing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their logos. The binomial art-sustainability thus became a trinomial – or a trinamics – with the addition of a third keyword: care.
After Paolo Naldini’s introduction and indications, the participants divided themselves into three work tables coordinated by as many facilitators: the director of Cittadellarte himself, Saverio Teruzzi (coordinator of the Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassadors) and Valentino Magliaro (founder of Humans to Humans). This session was followed by the plenary phase, in which all those present shared – through the voices of the facilitators – what had emerged from the collective dialogues.
The work tables, structured in different ways, had the 2030 Agenda as their common topic. In Valentino Magliaro’s, the participants were invited to identify a phrase encompassing all the 17 SDGs. On the basis of the five specified keywords (more, prosperity, perfection, change and determination), they composed a sentence summarising all of them: more determination and imperfection bring prosperity. The participants, relying on their own skills and connecting them to the others’, will also conceive a strategy to spread this expression and put it into practice in daily life. Saverio Teruzzi instead suggested a reflection on something generating sadness. Starting from this provocation, how can we responsibly change life? With this in mind, the participants chose the objective of sustainable development they deemed more important and representative in the contexts of their own countries and communities. The members of the work group led by Paolo Naldini had a dynamic discussion about how to carry out actions that can virtuously change the practices of every-day life. In view of a more and more sustainable present and future, the proposal was to start from small gestures to change the world: use the stairs instead of the lift, don’t buy plastic bottles, don’t print theatre and transports tickets, don’t use dryers and many more.
The results of the workshop have been synthesised in the Solferino Charter, a document drafted on the basis of the contents and practices of the work tables. Not only that: the participants were invited to draw on blank pieces of paper slogans and images conveying the topics previously debated; these were then placed on the Sphere of newspapers. The next day, the volunteers of the Red Cross, on the occasion of their traditional torchlight procession, rolled the work along the streets of Solferino: from manifestation to manifestaction. On the Saturday, Cittadellarte was also protagonist of the Italian Red Cross meeting, as mentioned by Naldini in a post on Cittadellarte’s Facebook page: “I am on stage to read the Charter we drafted in the course of the seminary on demopraxy and the art of care in front of 8.500 people coming from all over the world. Thanks to the Red Cross, to the volunteers of the Red Crescent and to the international youth and staff for welcoming Cittadellarte into this incredible community of healers”.
The Red Cross echoed Naldini’s words: “The Young Volunteers of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – we read in a press release on their website – gathered around the work tables to talk about sustainability, change, art and responsibility and experimenting with demopraxy, i.e. the attempt to accomplish the big dream of democracy through the daily practices of thousands of human organizations. This is happening at Solferino 2019. The day, organized in the context of the International Youth Meeting, is the result of the partnership between the Italian Red Cross and Cittadellarte, which organized the activity dedicated to the younger participants at the Red Cross Camp. In the course of the workshop, they were invited to elaborate possible individual actions to be carried out in order to have greater impact on the territory, drawing inspiration from the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Innovative – it says in reference to the workshop – are the criteria used for the works of the meeting. Under the coordination of the director of Cittadellarte Paolo Naldini and the Italian Red Cross staff, the youths have in fact followed the demopractic method in developing a constructive debate about sustainability, change, art and responsibility, drawing inspiration from the United Nations and the Italian Red Cross 2030 Agendas, as well as from the 7 principles of the movement. Different points of view emerged, but only one was the objective: sustainable change. At the end of the event, a charter was drafted listing possible actions each participant will review and verify for feasibility within their own National Society. Defined as art for the third millennium, the concept conveyed is that the world is governed by the behaviours we assume (or don’t) and the decisions we take (or don’t) in our own world”.
A step forward in the partnership between the Italian Red Cross and Cittadellarte has been taken. We don’t need magic to change the world: we are the secret weapon, since we are the ones in the position to determine and trigger a responsible social change through our actions. Starting from now.