Wall to wall. In Avellino a test of brotherhood, Italian style.
Avellino is a land of ancient pride and recent trauma. WWII and an earthquake left an indelible mark on the urban fabric, hiding many traces of a rich historical past.
On Wednesday 14 December, Palazzo Victor Hugo, prestigious home of the local Alliance Francaise hosted the “Des murs entre les hommes” exhibition. Its opening included also a discussion panel about the visible or metaphorical barriers that all of us are facing today. We also introduced “Which are the next walls to fall?”, an online contest recently promoted by <ahref Foundation and its partners AltraTv and Falling Walls Foundation.
The discussion focused essentially on brotherhood, one of the three pillars of French Revolution and more in general of the contemporary democratic zeitgeist. In 1962, Senegal poet-president Léopold Sédar Senghor brought her message to Florence and to the rest of the world. As the mother of all continents, Africa has always affirmed a strong willingness to reject irrational behaviors and to sustain its faith in a future filled with reconcilation and universal brotherhood. This reference was an open invitation to honor the victims of the recent racist attacks in Florence and Turin.
The debate revealed a dynamic scene unfolding in Avellino, with several opportunities and training options that are specifically tailored for young people. In this perspective, the Alliance Francaise is a powerful engine that involves local volunteers and, for specific events, even French youngsters. In particular, Professor Wanda Cappa revealed her strong passion for education and her spirit of service and generosity in the local community.
The Mayor of Avellino, Giuseppe Galasso, conveyed his friendship and closeness both at personal and institutional level with the Alliance Francaise and its on-going presence in the local cultural environment. He also promised to implement a restoration plan for Palazzo Victor Hugo, particularly for the addition of a small but precious auditorium – given the lack of social spaces for younger people.
Students Luca Cataldi and Andrea Siani were awarded for their participation in "La Plume d'or 2011", an International contest for French readers. We also presented some excerpts from the videos participating in the “Which are the next walls to fall?” contest, such as the winner video by James Kirchick, about discrimination against gay people in Belgrade, another one covering everyday challenges for women living in Bethlehem and a third video on the current situation in Belfast.
The ensuing open discussion highlighted the vivid curiosity and engagement of dozens of citizens still grasping with a fragmentation in their personal lives and the social structure, mostly due to the 1980 earthquake and the still unfinished reconstruction efforts. We talked about the new opportunities provided by the Internet and the initiatives carried out by <ahref and timu, as examples that can provide strength and visibility to local projects and decentralized communities in a collaborative fashion. Eventually the discussion gave way to a final question: how to fill up a chronic gap dividing Northern and Southern Italy? How to push down the walls of inequality and lack of opportunities?
Among the possible answers, emerged the strong need to work together and to create shared storytelling spaces. Our hope is that many of these personal and public stories will be posted soon on timu, a step that could help toward the creation of a community that is constantly redefining and reinventing its core values, while building a broader brotherhood -- in Avellino and elsewhere.