And so we finally met in person in Hernani with a busy work schedule that was inspired by the many activities undertaken by this local community. Since the mayor's warm welcome at the city hall, the commitment that the community and its administration are dedicating to finding solutions to the various challenges that present and future confront us was evident.
This commitment is also accompanied by a spending capacity and support demonstrated by the local administration which is probably not found in the contexts of origin of the other project partners.
Most of the following activities took place at the Feminist Intercultural Center, housed in a splendid building renovated by the municipal administration with Passivhaus standards. The first working session was dedicated to the presentation of the gender equality policies implemented in Hernani with a focus on the general strategy adopted and one on women's empowerment activities. The very creation of this center is an integral part of the process set up by the community to support cultural evolution in a feminist sense.
The presentations touched on crucial aspects of the female role such as democratization of care-work and violence against women which seem to resonate intensely with the sensibilities of all the partners. In fact, many conversations on these topics also continued in the convivial spaces of the following days, a sign that many problems are common even if the levels of maturity of the answers widely differ.
The morning ended with a collective reflection to focus on the respective local situations and note down elements and stimuli received during the presentations.
The day then continued after lunch with a session that had intercultural policies as the main theme. Like many other places in Europe, the city has to manage a certain amount of migratory flows. Hernani presented three lines of work, the first focused on his reception plan "Hernani Reception Town", the second based on a project on school integration and finally a collaboration with the AMHER-SOS association aimed at countering racism.
The final session, on the other hand, presented an interesting approach to gender equivalence through the valorisation of the feminist perspective in the choice of personalities after which to name streets or other significant places in the city. A visiting tour of some key places allowed us to discover the significant stories behind the characters they are dedicated to today.
The morning of the second day was dedicated to illustrating the multiple activities that make up the Hernani sovereign initiative. Work began with a general description of the program and its aims. Basically a plan to increase awareness, action and control over some aspects considered fundamental in the life of the local community. You can download here a general description.
Four insights on specific projects were presented:
The Neighbourhood-care programme, which seeks to bring support to the most fragile and lonely people in order to always guarantee the levels of primary care even in difficult situations.
The Food Sovereignty action, aimed at emphasizing the importance of the production and distribution of local, high-quality food produced according to criteria of minimal environmental impact.
An initiative aimed at Energy Sovereignty, which is developing a local Energy Community for the production of renewable energy. Interestingly, this approach does not directly refer to the European Union's RED II (2018/2001) legislation.
Finally, a project for the development and dissemination of a Local Complementary Currency to support the local economy.
The second half of the day was dedicated to a group reflection on what was presented and to the exploration of the Zero Waste project. During the reflection, the differences between our local realities clearly emerged which, with respect to the topics covered, are found in diversified positions in the path of analysis and search for solutions. This produces many ideas on which to organize the next project meetings.
The approach to the Zero Waste policy was instead tackled through a pleasant walk to touch the different solutions adopted: the public composters, the wet waste collection containers, the various collection stations for other types of waste, etc. Also interesting is the project that provides for the redistribution of surplus food from a local school canteen, managed directly by the students.
The morning of the last day was dedicated to the study visit of the splendid park museum CHILLIDA LEKU. The collection of works dedicated to this extraordinary artist conveys a set of values that link the local to the universal. The signals that art is able to launch can sometimes be very effective in helping political and administrative reflection. In this case we have observed and touched many of the concepts that we touched in the previous days. In fact, the artist explores the "inside" and the "outside", the “permanent”, the “impermanent”, “inclusion” and “exclusion”, the “necessary” and “inevitable” change and transformation of materials over time. A great conclusive and inspirational moment.