Agrogeneration road to Bergamo: A lexicon for sustainability

Sustainabilty is one of those elusive words that never seem to have the same meaning for everybody. “Un-sustainability” is evident not only in the food we eat, but also the water we drink and the air we breathe. As we consider how unsustainable our daily life has become, the need to take action to stop or reverse those destructive trends becomes so overwhelming. That is how the meaning of sustainability gets inculcated into what we aspire to create for the future.

Cave painting created by the San people in the Cederberg Cave near Stadsaal. Source:

Reversing the unsustainable trends in the food sector requires tools that we haven’t used before to give a meaning to the words we use. We need to learn how to be more sustainable, and this is how learning happens: Giving a meaning to words. For millennia, before writing became a thing for our species, we used art to create meaning. Long after the invention of writing, art continues to convey complex ideas with such wholeness that words cannot substitute, but only complement. How often is art is used to communicate scientific findings, or convey the core messages of a case study? For this reason the Future Food Institute is teaming up with the Lexicon of Sustainability lab to design our latest didactic offer: the Future Food Lexicon Lab. This program is designed to prepare a new generation of sustainability advocates who will bring stories from the field to life using art, and a rich lexicon to rewrite the food consumption and production narratives, together.

This multi-layered educational experience will take place in Reggio Emilia — right at the heart of the Italian Food Valley — from the 25th of September until the 15th of October.

The educational journey will start with an intensive online course in August that will craft the vision of a more inclusive and regenerative food system, starting from the students’ homelands. Participants will learn to map their food systems, identify local food producers and their sustainable practices, then turn the findings into information artworks to share with the local communities and beyond. To conclude the course, students will present their works as an artworks exhibition that premieres at the upcoming AGRICULTURE G7 meeting in Bergamo, Italy.

The exhibition will then travel to Bologna, where the city will host the Bologna Award for Food & Sustainability 2017, see the previous edition here. Students will make public presentations of their work and share their ideas with policy makers and a global audience.

The Future Food LEXICONlab represents a concrete interpretation of the work streams of the G7 Italian Presidency, with its core mission: “Building the Foundations of Renewed Trust”. The three main pillars of the program: Agricoltura, Alimentum and Ambiens are so intricately interwoven with the mission of the G7 Italian presidency. By the end of the course the students will have a rich and wide vision of these issues, with a special focus on sustainable local food systems.

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