THE VALLEY OF LIFE: A Sustainable Community in the Dolomites

Luca De Gol and Samir Bhowmik

 

INTRODUCTION  by Silvano Agosti

Always, when a draft of a new and different organization of society appears and is described, brings some relief to those who get to know about that.

Then it takes over a natural reflection “Is it possible that the good sense haven’t appeared before in human history, leaving forever everything intact, in the whole of the horrors that now seem to be the necessary and inevitable price of any real society: war, destruction of the natural environment, drugs, exploitation and genocide. ”

A real devastating fury instead of a peaceful and creative coexistence. In fact I am deeply convinced that such projects of change of the social condition could be answered and fulfilled only by ensuring firstly to all the inhabitants the certainty of food and a place where to live. I think that human beings can truly express their unique quality only if they are not forced to harrowing stunts to get a job, usually hostile in the quality and hours and then secure the food and a warm bed in which to spend the night.

Do not forget that with a small part of the military costs could be offered a house and two hot meals to all humanity. It seems that in the Project Dolomites, in this bright Valley of Life, this could really happen. In expressing my wishes for this initiative, I am proud to see that seems to be enriched by a different conception of the distribution of goods and resources: “The Community of the Valley of Life protects and managed its own rich material resources in a sustainable way. These resources: such as soil, subsoil minerals, water, plants and animals are governed by collective decision to the benefit of the entire community.”

The Valley of Life is therefore welcome and slowly contaminate the entire Planet. Today more than ever it has become possible. I propose to proceed in strict confidence, letting a natural time to allow this beauty to be real and operational. And the thought that this could be achieved moves me. It would be the beginning of a new era, the era of creativity.

Silvano Agosti

 

CONTENTS

  1. THE DAY OF CREATION: BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FRAMEWORK
  2. GARDENS OF THE MOON: PROTECTED LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES – SITE RESOURCE AUTONOMY
  3. THE GREEN PLAYGROUND: ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY TRANSIT SYSTEMS
  4. A COMMUNITY OF LEARNING: CROSS-DISCIPLINARY KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION
  5. MOUNTAINS FOR MEDITATION : PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
  6. PLAYING WITH ZERO: RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CLOSED LOOP MATERIAL USE
  7. A SOCIETY OF REUSE: RESPONSIBLE ECOLOGICAL PRACTICE
  8. A CULTURE OF MAKERS: INNOVATIVE AND SMART COMMUNITY
  9. DO IT WITH OTHERS: EMPATHETIC HUMAN
  10. RETHINKING EUTOPIA: A REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE, A HUMAN SOCIETY

 

1. THE DAY OF CREATION

BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FRAMEWORK

“… is enough being able to imagine an island so that  this island really begins to exist.”

Silvano Agosti, Lettere dalla Kirghisia

Background

In 2011, the Municipality of Sipoo (Finland) prepare an international competition for regional and urban planning for the development of a sustainable community in Sibbesborg.

The area covered by the competition, is located in the municipality of Sipoo around the urban district of Söderkulla and the area of ​​Sipoonlahti. The aim is to propose a development plan for a community of 70,000 to 100,000 residents, with particular emphasis on the center. In addition to this, as a further objective is to outline the first steps of the wide implementation process.

The aim of the organizers of the contest is to establish as Söderkulla and Near Sipoonlahti should be developed to meet the needs of local and international sustainability in the present and for the future.

These are the main drivers of the competition, then supported by an enormous amount of information, statistics, studies and geological maps and surveys made from within existing, albeit small, community in Sipoo.

We decide to participate

From here everything starts. We are two architects friends, an Italian and an Indian, both living in Helsinki and we decide to enter the competition.

We understand now that a contest of this kind must be addressed in a new way, too many problems afflicting modern society nowadays and we decided immediately not to focus only on technical aspects, urban and architectural design, but at the same time addressing social problems.

In the first meetings, preparation and development of the project, there are many books in our hands, one of them is “Lettere dalla Kirghisia” by Silvano Agosti.

 

The Kirghisia as I have described, is any country where the center of each initiative, is based on real wealth of human beings, the only goal worthy of any real social project. So this is not an utopia, but of a project.

Reading between the lines of this book, small but intense, we find the importance of the human being and his life on Earth.

Reading the main points of one of the documents of the competition  we are shocked by the proximity of the themes of the book by Silvano and the results of a workshops of professionals for a vision of the future Sibbesborg.

Virtually all of the points are aimed at designers saying in an indirect way: “Attention, Sibbesborg must be a residential area, work and leisure, where the chance of life for the human being is crucial.”

Immediately understand that sustainability is that you go searching in this new wave label, in many areas, has to do primarily with the welfare and happiness of life for a human being.

The project starts, the book of Silvano is always in our hands and when deciding the name for the project, there is almost automatic call it “Letters from Sibbesborg” where Sibbesborg becomes a sort of real Kirghisia to which we architects have tried to give physical character.

How did it go?

  • “Letters from Sibbesborg” was awarded an honorable mention in the awards ceremony held in Sipoo on January 16, 2012, by an international jury of architects and engineers, for showing the potentials of a process of local development, empathetic humans and the formation of community.
  • A presentation on February 2, 2012 in Rome at the “Cinema Azzurro Scipioni”. The evening also included the presentation of the book “Lettere dalla Kirghisia” by writer and director Silvano Agosti.
  • Lecture “Letters from Sibbesborg: A Sustainable Community” at the University of Helsinki, Network for Urban Studies Department on 16/08/12 as part of WDC World Design Capital Helsinki Summer School.

From “Letters from Sibbesborg” to the Dolomites comes “The Valley of Life.”

“Letters from Sibbesborg” is not a project end in itself, but serves as a prototype that can also be used in different places and under different circumstances than the competition in which it was thought.

Precisely for this reason the reflections that follow examine the geographical area of ​​the “Comunitá Montana Feltrina – where one of us was born and lived until 23 years – and try to develop a model urban, architectural, landscape close to the land, the environment and consequently the human being who is part of it.

The “Comunitá Montana Feltrina” includes the administrative territories of 13 municipalities, of which 5 are partly included in the territory of Belluno Dolomites National Park. Geographically it extends to the south-western edge of the province of Belluno, on the right bank of the Piave (average Piave Valley locally called Valbelluna), point of contact between the Dolomites and the Venetian Prealps, it borders the Region of Trentino Alto Adige and in part by the provinces of Vicenza and Treviso.

How not to begin from the Dolomites?

The fact that the Dolomites were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO is of enormous importance, and makes it clear how important the role of nature in all its aspects: from those linked to the ecosystem, the relationship with the ‘ humans and animals, and purely aesthetics.

Now, our spatial plan, which has as its main aim to create an environment as much as possible tied to the land and the nature, is addressed in the first instance to the human being, having as objective the welfare and happiness of life.

The combination of man and nature buy now important in an area such as dolomite, and how nature becomes a World Heritage Site, we would like to confirm the request, already submitted by Silvano Agosti, declaring the human being World Heritage Site.

Dolomites and human being, these are the two starting elements that we decided to take into account in this plan for the development of a sustainable community in the Dolomites, which we will call: The Valley of Life (Agosti in the book calls the living areas “Valley of Life”).

Introducing the Valley of Life……

The Valley of Life is a real project: a human project that encompasses and spans communities, economies, eco-systems and lifestyles. It exists in the north of Italy, dominated and protected by the great mountain ranges of the Dolomites. In this harsh and paradoxical nature, a paradigm of human existence, a vibrant community thrives, not far from the historic city of Venice and the border with Trentino, at the foot of the most beautiful mountains in the world, the Dolomites, where an ancient river flows, the Caorame, surrounded by thick forests, which in turn are part of the Belluno Dolomites National Park. In this new land of promise there is no single ideal community, but communities that coexist within the territory of the Community Valley of Life. The people of the Valley here have reinvented happiness through a series of community projects over time and through the fruition of these projects has helped the community to realign and re-adapt to the regional nature.

 

2. GARDENS OF THE MOON

PROTECTED LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES – SITE RESOURCE AUTONOMY

“The local scale is a virtuous way to combat the impoverishment and the crisis of the present way of living the Earth.”

Carlo Petrini  ( Slowfood )

The Valley of Life is a story of community efforts and the re-adaptaton to nature. And one of the starting community endeavor has been the Gardens of the Moon. These are gardens and farmland surrounding the settlements, carpeted with flowers, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. These gardens are owned and managed by the community throughout the growing season in the region. As such, the community is self-sufficient in food production and depends, for the most part, from its own regional landscape.

The Community of the Valley of Life protects and manages its own rich material resources in a sustainable way. These resources  such as soil, subsoil minerals, water, plants and animals are governed by collective decision to the benefit of the entire community.The citizens who live here have taken the opportunity to become involved in land and natural resource development of the Valley. Community involvement is deep and extensive in the Dolomite region. The power over its own resources is exercised by the local people in assemblies and cooperatives they chose to form and express the consensus of the community.These associations maintain complete control over local project parameters besides working in cooperation with the local government. Collaborative effort between the community and outside experts has also provided new specific skills and/or financial assistance, thus creating suitable conditions for mobilizing sustainable projects. This autonomy in the resource management of the Dolomites can be considered to be within the guidelines of the communities own historical development, and as such the local communities have regained control over their societal and cultural fate.

In the Dolomites, subsistence agriculture is practiced in the Valley of Life, with an emphasis on local varieties of food crops, local domesticated animals, and traditional agricultural and animal husbandry technology. A House of Agriculture in Feltre promotes and educates the community through practical food growing projects. Knowledge of farming and crops are strengthened through online knowledge foundations and training forums specifically created for the dolomites. Bio-centers play an active role in plant and species protection and documentation. A traditional knowledge of local flora and fauna has also been revived. Hunting, gathering traditions have been revived to collect Herbs & wild berries and fruits.  Non-agricultural sources of food from hunting, fishing and gathering has extended the nutritional capacity of the region. Throughout the year, a continuous exchange of experts and biologists between the region and outside has resulted in new innovative technologies being introduced. International conferences and workshops on land and natural resources are also organized annually where the community is collectively involved.

Water saving programs are already in progress in the Valley of Life. A majority of the programs are Water Reuse proposals. A Dolomite  eco model loop allows for water to be re- circulated, and waste harnessed to regenerate energy.

In the area of Smart forest management, steps have been taken towards saving the forest land, prevent soil-erosion and deforestation. An existing mechanism of distributing benefits from eco-system services to people evenly providing a comprehensive picture of ongoing land use and ecosystem changes. The community combines its traditional forest conservation practices with sound environmental management techniques to ensure that the land and its resources are not mismanaged.

Illustrated Projects:

  • A House of Agriculture in Feltre promotes and educates the community through practical food growing projects, forest management programs and education to the community.
  • Bio-centers play an active role in plant and species protection and documentation.
  • Community water saving and re-use projects based on the Dolomite eco-cycle model.
  • Sustainable building workshops under the guidance of experts teach people about local building materials, techniques and use.
  • A Dolomite Calendar combines the importance of seasons with monthly community activities.

 

3. THE GREEN PLAYGROUND

ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY TRANSIT SYSTEMS

“In this moment, the major perceived difficulty has to do with the courage to look toward ideal projects and the capacity to overcome obstacles often caused by unsuitable legislation, by political and economic vested interests, by the inertia of habits and cynicism that see change as a futile effort or even a threat.”

Aldo Cibic

The center of the Valley of Life is an all encompassing greenway system called the “Playground” that runs throughout the territory. This “Playground” is based on the natural environment and not on transit connections. It connects the villages, the community centres and the natural parks to each other. The existing Heritage sites are part of this playground generating tourism and cultural activities. This new green center or park system has developed along the river Piave, the Belluno Dolomites National Park and centers of historical interest for cultural events and activities.

The villages in the Valley are conceived and designed in close connection with the Playground, taking into account the geography and history of architectural and urban planning of the area, and creating connections between all the smaller older communities and the new Valley of Life. Each village has a wide range of multi-family housing, townhouses, private homes, apartments and laboratories for study or work. The construction of these homes and community buildings have an emphasis on the use of local materials, construction techniques and architectural styles. Each village is managed by a cooperative that oversees the farming, maintenance, daily activities and festivals. The majority of people work from home and in their villages and communities, devoting more time to agriculture, arts and crafts, and new technologies. The Playground connects them to resources, community centres, farms and gardens.

The Playground also facilitates the disabled and elderly people and is fully accessible to all. The transit connections further north and south of the Community are guaranteed by existing roads, made safer and faster, to improve the flow of traffic which is dramatically lower due to less physical travel needs of the people. The local transit is based on trams and mini-electric buses. Three main circular rails guarantee access to all major points of interest of the Community and are free to use by citizens.

The Community of the Valley of Life is focused on people and not on transport, on more exchange and less movement. Automobiles are almost nonexistent, except for shared vehicles of the community and those that are needed for agriculture and small craft industries. There is a proliferation of bicycles, three wheeler rickshaws powered by solar energy, trams and other vehicles that run on renewable energy. Fuel free vehicles are promoted by the community and the government offers a tax reduction to the residents who use these vehicles.

Illustrated Projects:

  • A Greenway system links all the communes and the villages in the Valley.
  • The Old Town of Feltre, and the center of Feltre is closed to cars, planning the introduction of public electric buses and  bicycle sharing system.
  • Electric light rail commuter connects communities
  • A Government Tax reduction to residents for using public transportation
  • Bicycles and other fuel free vehicles are promoted
  • Car-free zones near the centres of the communities
  • Local farmers markets in every community center in every neighborhood reduces movement
  • Ecological corridors have been created by recovering minor railway lines

 

4.  A COMMUNITY OF LEARNING

CROSS-DISCIPLINARY KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION

“Overpopulation and superorganization produced the modern metropolis, in which has become almost impossible a full human life, made up of multiple personal relationships. So who does not want the spiritual impoverishment of individuals and society, leave the metropolis and give new life to a little provincial community; or humanize the metropolis by creating the urban equivalent of a small provincial community where individuals meet and cooperate as complete human beings and not as mere embodiments of specialized function. “

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The Community of the Valley of Life is a community of learning. Cross- disciplinary knowledge combined with a network of learning is encouraged and practiced here. In this direction, the Houses of the Community or simply the local Community and Resource Centers located around the greenway system or the “Playground” play a valuable role in the knowledge gathering, training and awareness of the residents. They have been built, managed and maintained by the local community.

These Community Centers manage the local economy, create jobs, subsidize local businesses, organize education for all, at all levels, a center of innovation and development for the whole community. They contain museums, educational centers, workplaces, stores and outlets, cafés and restaurants, libraries and day centers. Each center is specialized in a particular subject and serves as a resource center for that particular field. The Houses of culture, arts and heritage, for example, are the engines of cultural and artistic growth for the Valley for the Community of Life. There are no separate institutional schools for children and adults in the Valley. Education here is about playing and learning in the Community Centers that are all located in the Playground. Both adults and children play, work and live. The Valley of Life is about life, living through nature, learning through playing and working towards a happy community.

Open knowledge foundation of the Dolomites: a forum for free accessible knowledge is run by the local community to promote open and free knowledge in the region. All archives, libraries and information centres are fully accessible by the residents. This knowledge is useful in the daily learning and activities of the local children and professionals. The regional  existing businesses, institutions and communities also provide free courses and education. All of this accessible knowledge has been made public and connected to the residents educational and training plans.

Illustrated Projects:

  • A learning map & website shows the various learning opportunities in the area.
  • Tourism is connected to learning, an exchange of learning from a visiting tourist to the local community.
  • An online open knowledge and training forum for agriculture and bio arts.
  • An international and local exchange program for scholars, experts and students.
  • Annual Conferences and workshops for discussion of Dolomite land and natural resources.

 

5. MOUNTAINS FOR MEDITATION

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH

“Man has become a superman … But with his superhuman power has not reached the level of a superhuman rationality. More his power grows and more he becomes a poor man … Our conscience cannot be shaken by the realization that the more we grow and become superhuman, the more we are inhuman.”

A. Schweitzer

Humans as World Heritage as proposed by Silvano Agosti is inherently connected to the Mountains of the Dolomites being a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is of prime significance to the Community of the Valley of Life. Combining the elements of the Human and that of Nature is the first step towards harmonizing the relations between the residents of the dolomites to that of their regional ecosystem.

The Community of the Valley of Life is deeply connected to this natural heritage of the Dolomites. The mountains are considered as meditative and spiritual spaces in the lives of the residents. As such proper maintenance and care has been taken to protect the ecosystem of the dolomites, to create projects that promote reforestation, ecotourism, community wellbeing and protection of the adjoining landscape.

The Community also promotes tourism that include mountain & nature therapy, that connect tourists to the locals. Such as Mountain holidays are promoted with the local community for people coming from other parts of the country. So that the Dolomites are enjoyed and appreciated in a local cultural context leading to a wholesome experience and feeling of wellbeing. These ecotourism projects in the Dolomites have been developed and run by the Community of the Valley of Life.

Illustrated Projects:

  • Dolomites Ecotourism projects run by local community cooperatives, revenue is used for land and water management.
  • Houses of well being in the mountains for the purpose of mental and physical well being
  • Reforestation Project participated by children and adults.
  • Open health discussions based on the regional climate and mountain weather.
  • Local food is encouraged, a balanced local diet has been created through discussion in community, this diet is published as book.
  • Open food day is organized every month by community Food Clubs.
  • Cleaning days are organized when the entire community clean their houses and immediate surroundings.
  • Local sports is promoted in the community

 

6. PLAYING WITH ZERO

RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CLOSED LOOP MATERIAL USE

“What we measure affect our actions. If we use the wrong directions, we strive to achieve goals equally wrong.”

Joseph Stiglitz

The Community of the Valey of Life is a holistic community in a sense that it has attempted to tackle environmental issues from the standpoint of personal and community lifestyles, daily routines, social interactions within the neighborhoods and spaces. The technical issues of handling wastewater, generation of renewable energy for machines and transportation has been solved by its own regional ecological model: the Dolomites Eco-Cycle Model: a model that is a part of a larger pattern of localized regional environment that guides the process of its establishment, maintenance and development. The ecological principles allow a cycle in which energy is renewed, the water is re-circulated, and waste are exploited to regenerate energy.

Every aspect of life in the Community Valley of Life is part of the ecological cycle. Play, work, eat, recycing to create new products, recreation and many other activities are all integrated in this cycle. Every resident action has its implications for the ecology of the Valley of Life and for this reason the built fabric and public spaces are also designed to work within the Eco-model. The dual aspects of energy-efficient houses and self-sufficient sustainable life has allowed for playing and recreation, and that as a universal activity for children and adults has created a stress-free and refreshing environment not dependent on excess use of energy.

Towards the goal of energy efficiency, a regular discussion about energy consumption takes place in the community through an Community Energy Network. Solutions and methods are debated about how to reduce consumption, and also how to create new renewable energy resources that are contextual. Experts in energy-use guide the residents about saving energy and also about carbon emissions. The Community of the Valley of Life has significantly reduced energy consumption, is now self-sustaining and off-grid (not dependant on any Power Company) and has become one of the first carbon neutral community in the world.

Illustrated Projects:

  • Community Energy Network where residents publish and donate energy to each other and exchange skills and knowledge based on consumption of energy, here discussions happen among community about daily energy use.
  • Community Renewable Initiative: Renewable resources are discussed and built.
  • Carbon Neutral Effort where carbon emission reducing projects are discussed.
  • Wind Energy Co-operatives that tackle harnessing wind energy.
  • Hydroelectricity Projects built in cooperation with businesses and municipalty.
  • Solar Clubs that are groups of residents interested in solar power.

 

7. A SOCIETY OF  REUSE

RESPONSIBLE ECOLOGICAL PRACTICE

“In the villages there was no competition. A potter produce an abundance of containers than it could buy the villagers and they bartered with the farmers in exchange for food. A potter was enough, and worked with the lathe by hand. But now, with the electricity, can produce many more of those vessels that serve the village. What do I do with all these pots? He has to go somewhere and try to sell them, and this creates competition. It’s the same with diamonds. Electrical machines have made possible the cutting of the diamonds on a large scale. A diamond does not change, does not age with use. So, cutting a growing number of diamonds, the people must always use more. What can you do when you have a diamond for every finger? Technology leads to a surplus production, which leads to competition, on the death of the village economy and trade, and consumption for the sake of consumption.”

Suketu Mehta, Maximum City

The Community of the Valley of Life is a society of reuse, recycle and repair. The central idea of the community is never to throw away anything but to utilize and re-utilize daily objects of use in various forms. They have no waste. The creative residents recycle almost every possible material in the Valley, and repair clothes, instruments, electronics and all other necessary things. The children have been taught to upcycle, collect diverse recycled elements together and create new innovative community products.

Sustainable centres have been built for teaching, research and workshops for community in the Valley are acting as hubs for learning and action on sustainable living. The approach is to involve networking, joint projects and events between local community centres, and other partners, such as businesses and community groups.  The focus of this work is to enable communities to learn about and take action on sustainability themes.

Repair Cafes and Fairs are held regularly in the Valley in the various communes and villages. Residents repair each others clothes, shoes and objects of daily use. Experts provide guidance and train the people to recover their objects. These events are great for children since they learn quite early how not to create waste and creatively upcycle existing materials.

On a bigger scale, older unused building complexes such as courtyard houses and farms have been brought to use for such events. These places have become centres for repair, upcycling and reuse.

Illustrated Projects:

  • Sustainable centres for teaching, research and workshops for community
  • Repairing cafes & fairs are held regularly in the Community centres.
  • Upcycling centre for guidance to the community.
  • Rural building complexes rejuvenated serve as Upcycling centres

 

8. A CULTURE OF MAKERS

INNOVATIVE AND SMART COMMUNITY

“In reality, until the problems of social reconstruction will not take, at least in part, the place of interest in science and technology, which currently occupy the best minds, the human imagination will not be able to embody a new and realistic alternative.”

Erich Fromm

The Community of the Valle of Life cultivates and pomotes a contemporay “Culture of Makers”. The residents of the valley are all in a sense “Makers”, that is they make their own articles of daily use sourced from within their own regional ecosystem. These objects of daily and creative use are not mass-produced in a factory, rather they are custom built by the community suited to the regional context,  to make things in smaller scale for the local community.

The Maker Culture of the Valley stresses on new and unique applications of technologies, and encourage invention and prototyping. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively. Like-minded community individuals share ideas, tools, and skillsets for the betterment of the community.

Since most of the products are locally made and manufactured by the community members, the concept of the factory life has completely disappeared. The 9 to 5 daily workers life has been replaced by a more freeform approach to daily working times. People decide among the community about when and at what time scale they need to make things for local use. There is no overpowering heirarchichical structure or monopoly of business corporations that guide the daily times and lives of the residents. People of the Valley now have more time to freely spend their time playing and learning with their children and families.

Local handicrafts have been strengthened by local craft schools and institutions. Local manufacture for domestic use: including pottery, basket-making, spinning, weaving, woodcarving, etc. with an emphasis on the accumulated knowledge of the materials, techniques and styles have been employed. Old skills are preserved, new skills and technology have been added to reconnect with the present and the future of the Community of the Valley of Life.

Illustrated Projects:

  • Maker Culture clubs and Fairs promote and help in making local objects of daily use.
  • Community powered Maker projects promote maker culture
  • Local crowd funded and sourced projects
  • A Centre of handicrafts and local manufacture for domestic use.
  • Online Resources Bank for community learning, training , funding and Making.

 

9. DO IT WITH OTHERS

EMPATHETIC HUMAN

“Synergy is the highest activity of life; it creates new untapped alternatives; it values and exploits the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people.”

Stephen Covey

“We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.”

Bill Clinton

In the Valley of Life, the community work with each other on common joint projects. They share their ideas, knowledge and objects of use among the community. Instead of the personal, the focus is on the collective. Groups of residents work together since most of the Community’s assets are commonly maintained and owned. This has resulted in a gradually increasing sense of collective empathy among each other. Doing things with others has led to kindness and appreciation of the other.

A Sharing culture has also been introduced through a forum where sharing of goods, tools and equipment are done. Residents share and borrow out their equipments and tools to others in need. This has reduced unnecessary manufacturing and exploitation of minerals in the region.  All extra tools, equipment and appliances are shared among the community. Children even share their toys with each other at every Sharing Fair, that is held twice a month at a local commmunity center. Intergenerational dialogue and interaction workshops allow for the older generation of the Valley to transmit the region’s intangible heritage to the children. In this way, the children of the Dolimites grow up to being sharing and empathetic to their elderly and also to other children in their community.

A Donation system is also in place in the Valley where excess goods are donated and collected for the underprivileged in the region and abroad. The community believes in a lifestyle based on simplicity and creativity, and as such extra unnecessary things are usually given away to the people and communities in need.

Illustrated Projects:

  • DIWO(do it with others) projects where community groups get together to work.
  • Sharing Forum connects members of the Community to each other for tools, skills and needs.
  • Hunting-gathering associations for medicinal herbs, berries and fruits from the Dolomites region has revived old collecting traditions and communal activity.
  • Intergenerational dialogue & interaction workshops: older generation of the Valley gives knowledge to younger.
  • Art Centers make local community art involving residents.
  • Local Historical Centers save the common heritage of the Dolomites community through community sourced activites.
  • Local festivals are held, performance & oral traditions, old knowledge of crafts are documented and exchanged in Community gatherings

 

10. EUTOPIA (RETHINKING EUTOPIA)

A REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE, A HUMAN SOCIETY

… in front of this swarm of artists and children, and people in various ways cheerful, I ask what festival they are celebrating: “None, here every day we celebrate life.”

(Lettere dalla Kirghisia, Silvano Agosti)

The Community of the Valley of Life is a prime example of a post-industrial society and a community that has returned to its roots with the earth, with local crafts, with a network of knowledge that is shared and where children are not locked up in schools or adults in the stressful workplaces. Here, a revolutionary change from a mass-production system towards a system of production only to real needs has taken place. The consumer approach has been abandoned in favor of a more egalitarian approach. This has led to a new level of existence for its residents.

This new system has allowed the creation of a balanced environment that not only promotes physical and mental health, but also a responsible and sustainable approach to the natural conditions and ecological environment of the Dolomites. Being dependent for the most part by appropriate local technologies, the Community Valley of Life  has been able to plan a place on earth where sustainable practices are rooted in the daily life of its inhabitants, a new and modern indissoluble alliance between man and the region, a real territorial mountain community in the Dolomites.

Illustrated Projects:

  • Centre for Development Studies: Dolomites as a laboratory and example for an alternative growth and development.
  • Local Timebanking Project: residents share time and goods within the community.
  • Local Technologies Center: Appropriate regional technology is developed.
  • Coperative Local Government: local laws are enacted by the community and a system for opinions and voting on community projects by the community residents.