It was important and pleasant to finally meet in person and get into the heart of the project together. The splendid welcome of Vila Nova de Famalicão, the very pleasant location at the Casa do Território in the Parque da Devesa produced the ideal atmosphere for the group's work. A big thank you therefore goes to the city and to our guests.
The first day was dedicated to the presentation of the partners through the Pecha Kucha formula, twenty slides and twenty seconds of explanation for each slide. An agile way of starting to deepen mutual knowledge that has allowed us to explore the wealth of contributions and experiences that this group is able to bring.
A first observation of the participants: we have many things in common despite the fact that we come from different corners of Europe, this will make our exchange of experiences very interesting, it will be easier to give and receive.
The Europe we Need
A final brainstorming session was dedicated to a first free reflection on the Europe in which we would like to live. What are the demands of the territories and citizens? What do we need? What expectations do we have? What urgencies? It was a first round of instinctive reflection with the promise to return to explore the theme the next day after the speeches of the expert guests. Below you can see the result ...
Day 2: setting the EU scenario
The second day of work began with the interventions of Lorenzo Benini (EEA) and Marta Mattioli (Mattioli Consulting) who helped us to outline the current scenarios and challenges to be faced at a global, European and local level. We are in an extremely complex historical phase, there is no doubt. There are risks, uncertainties, a great need to reorganize our economies and a great delay in proceeding despite the fact that science and experience indicate the priorities quite clearly. Climate change, the biodiversity crisis, the overcoming of planetary boundaries, the consumption of resources do not wait and already produce heavy effects in everyday life. But certainly there is still room to change and seize the opportunities that the situation presents and it is on this perspective that we must focus.
You can follow the audio recording of their speeches on our podcast channel.
With these elements we therefore faced a more intimate session, because there is no doubt that uncertain scenarios have heavy impacts on everyone's emotional sphere. We therefore want to pay attention to this dimension and be sure that there are adequate spaces for processing so that negative emotions can be treated and positive ones find expression.
We used the Fish Bowl technique to discover that in this group, and more generally in our communities, there is certainly fear of the future, mourning for what we are losing, a sense of helplessness, but also hope and desire to react, positive energy that can find expression and bring about great changes. This is testified by many of the local experiences represented here and by the dedication of many associations, organizations and local businesses that are already engaged in paths of evolution and transformation.
Some new words to add ...
After all of this we went back to our initial brainstorming to see if any changes were needed to our list in light of what we had heard and processed. In fact we felt the need to add and highlight some new elements:
culture, health, happiness, time, education, safety, hope, money, freedom, primary need satisfaction
Experimenting a first tool
There is so much to do, great challenges await us, so let's start equipping ourselves. Navigating through complexity is not easy, but you can help yourself with appropriate tools. We therefore immediately experimented with the "Senge Scheme", a rather simple conceptual tool but of great help when it comes to analyzing complex problems. In summary, it consists in analysing each problem by identifying a symptomatic solution, applicable immediately and with rapid effects to reduce the impact of the problem, and a radical one that requires longer analysis and implementation times but definitively solves the problem once and for all.
This approach was suggested by Professor Peter Senge of MIT in Boston and is really quick to internalize and effective in use. We have divided ourselves into four working groups for a quick practical experimentation on real problems that are being faced in our communities at the local level, a good way to become familiar with this way of proceeding that will then accompany us in other phases of the project.
The second day ended with a quick exploration on some tools coming from the Local Transformation Toolkit (LTT) methodology which is designed to support the work of communities to make the radical change we need easier, more effective and more probable. In particular, we mentioned two components integrated in the method: Sociocracy 3.0 and the Cynefin framework. We will talk more about this in dedicated posts later.
Day 3: the visit
The last day of the meeting was dedicated to a study visit. The partners got the opportunity to interact in an informal register and to learn more about Famalicão while visiting some of the main cultural facilities of the city.
The visit started at “Casa do Território”, a cultural facility whose mission is to be a space for dialogue, participation and learning about the territory of V. N. Famalicão. The participating partners visited the exhibition “Time, Space & Being – Territory of V. N. Famalicão” an interactive showcase that displays elements of the territory, from its history, to its equipment’s and industry, to historic landmarks, to water and forest resources, among others.
“Casa do Território” is located in the “Parque da Devesa”, an urban green space with 27 acre. The visitors enjoyed a walk through the park and afterwords went to visit a bakery that is part of the Famalicão programme – “Commerce with History”, a bakery with more than 60 years of history where the visitors could enjoy traditional pastries. The visitors then proceeded to the “Cupertino de Miranda Foundation”, a private foundation of general interest, whose activity has been relevant both in education and culture by means of the support that its valuable Library provides to the community as well as in the systematic programming in the Fine Arts sector. During this visit, participants had the opportunity to learn more about some prominent Portuguese figures with very important roles in the progression of Portuguese society.
This visit somehow marked the beginning of the project as it was an opportunity to share experiences and create bonds between all participating partners.