A forum on shifting scenarios in communities and cities, New questions, what answers?
By Francesco De Biase, Rimediare/Ri-mediare
We all live in an everchanging world, in complex times where uncertainty and risk seem to be hunting our today and our hopes for what tomorrow may bring. Climate change, the pandemic, inequality, wars have let down the dreams of many. How to respond to these challenges?
Some people from various backgrounds in Italy have decided to come together and talk about these themes openly and in dialogue with each other. This is how the Rimediare/Ri-mediare group came to life, made of sailors of art and culture in their widest sense, to build a workshop of ideas and practices for a shared vision of the future. The group has already published a collective work titled Rimediare, Ri-mediare (edited by Francesco De Biase, Milan, Franco Angeli, 2020), to open a forum of discussion on the Western concepts (and acts) of economic, social, and political development that are continuously showing substantial weaknesses, and to promote new possible paths for a more equal and sustainable future. The necessity of coming together from different fields, regions, working positions and experiences was deeply felt in a context where current challenges do not leave any field untouched and clearly ask for a transdisciplinary effort of imagination.
The most recent product of the group is the book In dialogo. Appunti per una cultura della complessità (Milan, FrancoAngeli, 2022), a sort of collective travel journal that gives a voice to some considerations on the present and on the challenges of what comes next but is already ongoing. The book is miscellaneous and aims to present notes on a journey that has not come to its destination (if there will ever be one), yet has already crossed common fields but also explorative paths. This step has reinforced the shared conviction of it being necessary to include more people in the journey, to expand the exploration, learn from each other and define new challenges that can be faced together.
On July 5th, a forum named In dialogo, promoted by the Rimediare/Ri-mediare group, took place at DAMSLab in Bologna. The forum was intended to be an occasion to meet, discuss and exchange between networks, associations, and experts from all over the country. People from different backgrounds, working experiences and public involvement were called to participate in the discussion (artists, teachers of all grades, people from public administration, researchers, activists etc.) and bring the specificities of their disciplines (ranging from medicine to psychology, urban studies, sociology, art, education, design, philosophy, law, media studies, anthropology and much more) in a shared table of knowledge and competences. The call included an invitation to a discussion on three areas that are fundamental to the Rimediare/Ri-mediare group:
- Places and their creation: places are not just about regeneration of what exists. Thinking about places means creating strategies and practices about living, reconversion of urban spaces, transformation of the cities, building of virtual and hybrid realities. Some traditional paradigms and living conventions do not work anymore and there is a need for new unconventional ways of living together. Some proposals are already being tested around the world: smart cities, human cities, sustainable cities, innovative cities, creative atmosphere; they all have the common goal of attracting creativity within the urban spaces and spread the values of coexistence, inclusivity, sharing and empowerment. Since culture is social, collective, exchangeable, and interpersonal, the confinement experienced during the pandemic has shown how fragile many cultural chains can be, as in the case of workers in live performances and the world of associationism. The challenge of a collective recovery is thus compelling.
- Care and proximity: the pandemic has intensified the consequences of social inequality by ruthlessly unveiling the weaknesses of sanitary systems and the fragility of many social groups. It is important to address the question of how to strengthen the capabilities of people and communities of intervening in their cultural and social environment with positive and meaningful change, starting from the tools and competences that are already accessible. How is it possible to care for people in different contexts such as education, childhood and youth, environment, labour, medicine, culture, and to increment resources and methods to enhance the quality of life of every human being? Care is a statement. It is a learning process of oneself and of others, it is responsibility and participation to the growth of other people and to the development of relationships. Research on the human wellbeing is complex and goes far beyond healthcare systems and medical treatments, but embraces all processes of the human being, both on the individual and the collective level.
- Education and learning: it is nowadays important to design and develop new educational paths that can go beyond the traditional division into overspecialized subjects. Paths that include with full rights the themes of interdisciplinarity, complexity, relations, and the functions of art, culture, and law in everyday life. The pandemic has sharpened many of the inequalities in the access to education all around the world, which means that entire classes of people are being denied access to fundamental cultural rights. It is necessary to rethink education, starting from the learning processes and not from a vertical transmission of knowledge. We need to re-learn to learn, and to ask ourselves, with Edgar Morin, how to operate in a complex society by being responsive to dialogue, cooperation, and solidarity. People should feel free to fully develop what Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum have called “capability”, that is the access to the possibility of building capacities, while developing potentials and desires.
Implicit in all those themes is this underlying fundamental question: which direction will change go? Every crisis opens possibilities; it is for us to recognize and develop them and everyone is called to participate in and contribute to the journey.
The next step of Rimediare/Ri-mediare includes a new Forum to be held in Turin on November 4th this year. For more information, please address the group via firstname.lastname@example.org
These people are currently part of the Rimediare/Ri-mediare group: Giulia Allegrini, Simone Arcagni, Lucio Argano, Riccardo Balestra, Laura Bigoni, Alessandro Bollo, Annalisa Cicerchia, Francesco De Biase, Saura Fornero, Aldo Gambarini, Alma Gentinetta, Maurizio Grandi, Francesca Labita, Francesco Maltese, Ezio Manzini, Monica Marcasciano, Roberta Paltrinieri, Loredana Perissinotto, Debora Pierri, Renato Quaglia, Matteo Serra, Fabio Viola.
translation by Laura Bigoni.