Pollica 2050
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Pollica 2050

Food As An Instrument For Peace

Ukrainian Humanitarian Crisis Requires A European Solution

The Mayor of the Municipality of Pollica, Stefano Pisani, the President of the Future Food Institute, Sara Roversi, and the Founder of Mygrants, Chris Richmond Nzi, signing an official declaration of intent to provide a safe place to live, training on the principles of the Mediterranean Diet, and the development of employment opportunities for Ukrainian refugees.

Municipality of Pollica, Future Food Institute, and Mygrants welcome Ukrainian refugees in the small villages of Cilento, the homeland of the Mediterranean Diet, to build peace through the culture of food.

Together with the Italian Women’s Union (Stati Generali delle Donne), the Future Food Institute has been identified as a focal point of the Ukrainian Government. Giving voice in this delicate and dramatic phase, to consolidate institutional relations in Italy, through the development of a tangible diplomatic bridge that unites the two entrepreneurial ecosystems, with specific reference to female entrepreneurship, youth, innovation, and integral ecology. With this mandate, and in full harmony with European, national, and local institutions, we have built two institutional agendas with 50 referents from institutions and civil society, to support each other through concrete actions to make peace, via multiple opportunities for collaboration that exist between the two countries.

This alliance fosters and facilitates the implementation of many initiatives, not only for solidarity, but also for economic, entrepreneurial, civic, investment, and training opportunities.

Transforming Crisis into Action

There is an old proverb that says “Necessity is the mother of all invention.” In essence, it means that the primary driver of creative solutions is need. In the small Italian hamlet of Pollica, located in the Cilento area, famous for being the birthplace of what we now refer to as the Mediterranean Diet, the redevelopment needs of the local community have collided with the urgent humanitarian crisis of fleeing Ukrainians. The resulting invention born from these necessities is a novel idea to build a school for peace, through the healing power of food.

People, Project, and Place

Aligned through a shared vision to bring sustainable development to a rich cultural area, and the need to provide humanitarian assistance, the Mayor of the Municipality of Pollica, Stefano Pisani, myself, and the Founder of Mygrants, Chris Richmond Nzi, have signed an official declaration of intent to provide a safe place to live, training on the principles of the Mediterranean Diet, and the development of employment opportunities for Ukrainian refugees.

People

The Future Food Institute, an international social enterprise dedicated to food system sustainability, has been working in partnership with the Municipality of Pollica for several years on initiatives related to sustainable agriculture, Mediterranean values, and economic redevelopment. In 2021, we inaugurated the Paideia Campus, an innovative Living Lab built upon the intangible heritage of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Situated in the historic Princes Capano Castle in the heart of Pollica, this campus co-creates community, education, and innovation initiatives focused on sustainable development through a model of integral ecological regeneration.

We had the great fortune to meet Pollica, the Emblematic Community of the Mediterranean Diet and City of Women, and it was here in Pollica that we learned that convivio, the table where daily bread is shared, has great power to unite people. We intend to leverage this traditional value to welcome the women and children of Ukraine, who will arrive with broken hearts, fear, and an uncertain future, but also a wealth of talents, knowledge, and stories. An immense value to our collective communities.

Mygrants, a BCorp, online platform that uses data to generate economic, social, and humanitarian benefits, has been working on the integration of migrants and refugees by mapping individual profiles and talents to the needs of host communities. Through this collaboration, they hope to provide an opportunity to grow the local Pollica community, while providing a safe, healthy, and peaceful place for the people of Ukraine.

“With the crisis in Ukraine, we decided to translate all our information and training content to promote a full awareness of rights, duties, and functioning of the asylum system, and to facilitate the identification of the skills of Ukrainian people already arrived or arriving in Italy. The goal is to ensure that all the skills and talents can be useful not only for job placement in specific sectors but in particular for the repopulation of all small villages,” said Chris Richmond Nzi, founder of Mygrants.

Project

Inspired by the principles of the Mediterranean Diet which include the enhancement and respect for diversity, the protection of resources, sustainable agricultural practices, conviviality, symbiosis with nature, and the repurposing of ‘waste,’ this project goes well beyond one of welcome. Instead, it is built upon the concept of Food Diplomacy to build a School for Peace. The project encompasses social, cultural, and economic regeneration to create the future with the citizens of tomorrow, through the connective and healing power of food.

The Ukrainian women and children who will join this project will be offered the opportunity to not onlly learn about the Mediterranean lifestyle, grow an edible garden and orchard for their own food production, and integrate with the diverse, international community, but also to acquire skills that may lead to job opportunities in the future.

This project is made possible through committed diplomatic action that requires strong and trustful relations and a passionate and dedicated network. Between 25–28 March, the Ukrainian public relations regional coordinator of the Commissioner for Human Rights Verkhovna Rada, Maria Novitska, met with the President of the Ukrainian-Italian Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Massimo Ferrara, along with European and Italian organizational representatives as part of a program organized by the Italian Women Union (Stati Generali Delle Donne) and the Future Food Institute, lead by Claudia Laricchia, the our Director of Institutional Relations. These meetings were an opportunity to develop institutional ties, enhance cooperation, and promote dialogue aimed at building peace. Through these efforts, the process of selecting the families that will participate in the project has already begun.

The collaborative School for Peace is an initiative representing the best and most human of values — coming together in support of those in need and tapping creative ingenuity to solve seemingly impossible challenges. Through the most basic and humble of resources — food — the project aims to lift some of the heavy burdens from these displaced families and provide them with the resources they need for a fresh, and peaceful start.

Reinforced through the experienced, and best-in-class leadership of Mygrants in supporting the successful transition of refugees, the project has already launched a crowdfunding campaign to financially support the Ukrainian people, enabling them to earn money based on the quality of their training. The project aspires to not only generate awareness, but also the possibility for the refugees to demonstrate their skills and achieve economic and financial autonomy, as a starting point to return their independence.

Place

Representing all the values of community, connection, and regeneration, the Paideia Campus in Pollica is the ideal landing place for this initiative. And with the unwavering support of Mayor Pisani, the myriad training and engagement programs available, a uniquely welcoming host community with available homes and land, Pollica can support the needs of these families and equip them with resources and tools for a brighter future. Young people, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders from all over the world are already being trained on the themes of sustainability and food, powerful tools for inclusion. From here, in this cradle of history and culture, a project of great impact to create bridges and welcome, to create a future together, can be born.

“Once again, the marginal areas of Italy answer the calls of crisis. They did it during the pandemic and when we realized that the empty spaces of depopulated villages could be a solution to ensure an adequate quality of life during that difficult time. Now marginal areas are called to take on another challenge: to be inclusive. Just the villages, with the important spaces they have, could welcome in the best way the refugees escaping from the conflict in Ukraine. We want to give the dignity of life to these people who need a modicum of daily normality. We must welcome with great solidarity and willingness to help the people forced to leave Ukraine. And we have to address them by thinking about a project that will allow them to stay on our territory for a more or less long period of time.

We want to do it with an inclusive and welcoming approach that takes care of people and their potential, creating conditions in which skills can be developed in the path of building the future, for the people and our territory that welcomes them. Through training, we will break down language and cultural barriers, welcoming not guests, but temporary citizens, keeping intact the dignity of each one and offering them the opportunity to cultivate and increase their skills,” said Stefano Pisani, mayor of Pollica and coordinator Anci Piccoli Comuni Campania.

The Path Forward

As the teams continue with their preparations to welcome and integrate these Ukrainian families, it is clear that this initiative is not happening by chance, but by design. A network of organizations, each bringing unique but complementary skills, knowledge, and resources to the initiative, and a town at the forefront of implementing creative solutions for sustainable redevelopment, these qualities are colliding into a novel approach to supporting the displaced people of Ukraine not temporarily, but potentially into a new, Mediterranean, future.

“Pollica 2050 — Mediterranean Living” is a strategic vision that focuses on the Mediterranean Diet as a framework of Integral Ecological Regeneration to enhance dormant resources and build a model of inclusive prosperity to foster an ecosystem that is capable of regenerating itself for future sustainability. The initiative is led by the Mayor of the Municipality of Pollica (Cilento, Italy), Stefano Pisani, and co-designed through a long-term collaboration with the impact-driven entrepreneur Sara Roversi and her global social enterprise, the Future Food Institute.
👉 pollica2050.org

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sara roversi

sara roversi

Don’t care to market-care to matter! With @ffoodinstitute from @paideiacampus towards #Pollica2050 through #IntegralEcology #ProsperityThinking #SystemicDesign