For the past years, there has been a tendency: the bigger and smarter the city is, the better is. But are we sure? Is this quality of life sustainable? Are we creating the best inclusive society in this way? Probably not, as demonstrated by COVID-19 and the sudden rediscovery of small villages, their beauty, tradition and sense of community. But how can design contribute to exploiting the lesson and prevent it from being just as a passing trend? Let’s find out together, villager‘s word of honour
It’s been more than 150 years since the industrial revolution has broken out, we are worldwide connected but the message is quite the same: if you want opportunities, you need to leave small cities. It’s the “brain drain” of small villages. However, the Covid emergency showed the need of returning to high-quality life where tradition, nature, and community are the masters. How can design contribute to exploiting the lesson? Is it possible to link cities and small villages by creating a unique sense of belonging where the bridges are culture and traditions?
The idea is to connect cities and small villages through the craftsmanship of excellence, typical of the Tuscan territory. The innovative approach will consist in periodically attracting people from different cities for a short period of smart working (i.e 2 weeks) hosted in Tuscany villages in a formula that will be in between smart working and cultural trips based on community connections. Professionals or employees who are part of companies attentive to employees ‘well-being can do smart working in small villages and, when disconnected, they can explore the territorial realities by "seeing" and "trying" the more “practical” job of craftmanship in laboratories of excellence. This will mix the “tinkering” (typical of craftsmen located in the village) and the spirit of innovation (typical of professionals coming from big cities). In other words, there will be continuous contamination between different worlds for a unique sense of belonging: cities become guests of small villages.
A start-up will be created for connecting different European professionals and Tuscany craftsmanship knowledge, specifically in the territory of Val d’Orcia. The sense of community will be pursued through participative activities, cultural programs, and conviviality moments. The aim is to create communities starting from different peculiar characteristics of the participants.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context
Sustainability will be addressed on several levels, especially in the direction of environmental sustainability and social sustainability.
ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: THE SLOW PACE
Environmental sustainability is seen as a new paradigm to be strongly implemented: to learn and to disseminate the 'slow pace' typical of the selected territory is fundamental for the adoption of a new sustainable approach.
In a technological world that goes faster and faster, to "slow down" means to rediscover the typical rhythms of nature and manual work. Craftsmanship is an extraordinary example: the attention to detail and the required time for making each product unique is not a disadvantage but is its strength. Less big data, less readiness for the market but more direct contact with the product and the customer: sometimes we think that everything must be immediately ready but territorial excellences demonstrate the opposite. In some way, they “educate” the customer to wait and to be able to appreciate the uniqueness and the beauty that derives from the slow process.
Environmental sustainability will also be addressed through the adoption of cycle processes in which “waste” is the input for the design of new products. However, this approach that is usually considered innovative, has been daily adopted for centuries by the territorial realities under study where no waste has been set aside, also due to the paucity of available resources.
The project aims to start from the "traditional" concept of sustainability (linked to technical aspects) to "social sustainability". In this case, designers tackle the impact of design on the ecosystem intended as a whole, by including the effects on the community. As such, through this approach, the proposals do not come only from experts in the field but also from the community itself. The idea is to actively involve the citizens, by also replacing the term "bottom-up" with "community" proposal
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context
BEAUTY AND QUALITY OF EXPERIENCE AS CATALYSTS OF A SENSE OF BELONGING
The beauty and quality of the experience will be the cornerstones of the idea. These values will be intrinsic to the design products that will be the “fil rouge” of the sharing experience between the excellent craftsman of the area and the professional guests coming from different cities and countries. But these values will go even further. Beauty and quality will be permeated in the sharing experience itself guaranteed by the territories, meaning how the environment in which we live strongly influences design and craftsmanship.
DESIGN QUALITY AS AN ELEMENT OF COHESION BETWEEN DIFFERENT PROFESSIONALISM AND GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGINS
This is intended to give the design the role of listening to the communities. What the city professionals will first-hand experience is this: working immersed in nature, craftsmanship, beauty, in timeless places. Does the listen to the rhythms of manual skills influence their way of working? How will change, if it does, the result of their work? Furthermore, how will design and planning influence the way they operate? These values will therefore have a specific declination: the beauty of the places and the quality of the craftsmanship that derives from them will act as the glue between the local people and those from different cities and countries. Everything will take place with a view to creating a large community where the elements of union will be precisely the differences and characteristics of everyone: learning from others what we do not know through design, that gives a unique sense of belonging.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context
INCLUSION BETWEEN CITY AND SMALL VILLAGE
In this idea, the concept of inclusion will foresee a mending and a new connection between big cities and small villages. If the villager doesn't go to the city, the city goes to the villager. Because the concept of inclusion and engagement must be bidirectional. The opportunities must be equally distributed in the territories, and if this can be complicated in the reality, then human relationships and connections can help us and act as a bond. The project will be developed with this in mind.
INCLUSION AMONG DIFFERENT PROFESSIONALS
The inclusion will also include the intersection between different professional figures. The multidisciplinary approach typical of this idea will derive from a mix of knowledge that will be part of the project. But it won't stop there. Inclusion, getting to know each other, will take place through the design and the project itself: a manager of a large company will be able to get to know the excellent craftsmanship of the country which is probably far from the type of work he deals with. A village craftsman who has never left the territory will be able to get to know elements of innovation of his field of interest or in any other fields. Doesn't innovation arise from the contamination of ideas?
INCLUSION FOR THE COMMUNITY
There is a background behind the whole project: the whole community. Just think of the municipal administrations, the villagers not directly involved, the colleagues of those who will adopt the project. This will not be a “background” that indirectly witnesses change. Instead, it will be an active and participatory community that listens and promotes what it hears. Sometimes, although it may seem a less scientific approach, conviviality and informal events are the real spontaneous opportunities for change and innovation. And from there comes the most genuine inclusion, less planned but more effective.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary
The three dimensions have closely connected each other since the birth of the idea. The way to combine them is given precisely by the spirit of the idea itself: to exploit the beauty and the quality of excellent craftsmanship to create an inclusive community that goes beyond geographical territorial limits, allowing inland areas to make themselves be known and to know.
This approach can be exemplary because it allows keeping united the New European Bauhaus values through an innovative process of places and culture sharing. This project does not foresee that one of the 3 New European Bauhaus values will be more pronounced than others, just as it does not foresee a temporal succession or an exchange between one and the other. There is no inclusion and belonging to the community if these do not involve sharing the practices of sustainability and beauty, daily adopted by the host territories and their enterprises. It is an inseparable unicum.
None of the 3 values can fail, because each of these is an essential brick. By rolling one, they would all collapse. The idea is based on a multidisciplinary approach that brings together the social sciences, design, and business models. The moments of meeting that will involve the protagonists of the concept will guarantee a fusion between the parts already from the first experimentation.
Why should it be exemplary? Because a sense of belonging cannot be created without involving the community. And beauty is needed to be able to involve the community. This is not a design idea. This is not a business model idea. This is not craftsmanship or a co-working idea. This is everything. Indeed, this is the sum of all these approaches.
AN IDEA FOR VILLAGE'S SENSE OF BELONGING FROM ONE OF HER VILLAGE
The idea was born within a territorial reality widely known by who is proposing the project. Therefore, it allows being immediately applicable and spendable since it has already received first positive feedback from administrations, companies, and territories of reference.
SCALABILITY AND REPLICABILITY
This type of project is interesting because it is designed to be replicable and scalable asap, passing from a local to a global level. This project allows it to be spent in other European and non-European realities. The specific case of the Val d’Orcia, a very popular tourist place for its hilly landscapes and a tourist destination, will be able to make itself known for its excellent craftsmanship and a strong sense of community thanks to the sharing of knowledge. In addition to being replicable, it can also be scalable: more and more companies, more and more territorial realities, more and more administrations, and cities will be involved, guaranteeing a wildfire effect.
FROM A PLACE OF PASSAGE TO A CENTRIPETAL PLACE
A much sought-after holiday place becomes the “headquarter” of any work activity that allows smart working for a period. This formula guarantees those who want to be part of it to be able to "disconnect" from the city "tram tram" to immerse themselves into nature and the countries characterized by the slowness of life, beauty and high-quality design.
NOT A CULTURAL HOLIDAY, NOT A SMART-WORKING BUT A COMMUNITY ACCELERATOR
Unlike cultural holidays, there will be open artisan shops ready to make their realities known to the surrounding world without having to spend on expensive advertising communications and digital marketing strategies. On the other hand, those who will be hosted will have the opportunity to touch the beauty, sustainability, and sense of community of the host places by creating stimulating networks. This approach sees the design and small villages as community accelera
THE NEXT STEPS
The next steps, to ensure the success of the idea, are listed below:
• Creating an active and connected network between the various administrations and territorial realities of the Val d'Orcia, first experimental case
• Creating initial networking of companies and professionals interested in the idea
• Communicating through social media, journalism, and radio, the idea to spread the news and involve as many companies and freelancers interested as possible
• Creating links with other young people interested in adopting the idea also in different territorial realities, Italian, European, and not
• Spread this approach and expand it as much as possible like wildfire
All these aspects will also be achieved through the establishment of a start-up that will initially operate in the territory under consideration, but which will be developed, through networking, on a global scale. A project that since its origins has taken a step at heart: from the local to the global.
In case of victory, the initiatives will go hand in hand with what is stated in the development steps of the idea. In addition, festivals, events, and congresses related to the topic will be carried out to explain, already at a first territorial level, the importance of the topic. Furthermore, events with open artisan shops will be created so that the community itself, from 0 to 99+ years, can actively participate in the project. The very ambitious idea would especially need the support of the New European Bauhaus for the creation of networking. Specifically, the dissemination of the project through social media, interviews, advertising, and radio would allow the project to be born and rapidly spread. Many small realities present territorial excellence but they stay in the shadows as they are not easily findable as in large towns. The intervention of the New European Bauhaus would be crucial for this success. The initiatives would therefore aim to create networking, which is the most complex part that can be developed. In this case, the contribution of the New European Bauhaus would see the necessary push to contribute to the sense of belonging and create a strong European community starting from the excellence of the small territorial realities.
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