Reflection from Back to Roots: Training in Calabria


Here is a blog post written by Swedish participants; Alice and Lucie with an overview of their experience in the Back to Roots training


Tuesday 22nd of October

Arrival : Several organizations from different countries introduced themselves to each other on the first day in Lamezia : Itaka, the hosting organization (Lamezia, Italy), Kairos Europe (London, United Kingdom), Oneco (Sevilla and Cadiz, Spain), Amurt (Covilhã and Fundão, Portugal), CPA, Connect Abruzzo ( Lanciano, Italy), and Mobilizing Expertise (Sweden). The organization of Kairos Europe introduced its projects. Kairos Europe is an organisation which helps migrants, unemployed or other people to improve their skills to make it easier for them to find a job. The members organise exchanges between European countries and the aim is to promote integration and equality through arts and culture. They arrange internships in London, study visits for professionals in companies, schools, colleges or universities and study trips abroad for people who want to improve their language skills. The organisation introduced an activity on the consequences of depopulation that exist in our own countries and in Europe in general. All participants were allowed to share their examples and ideas through brainstorming done in groups. Dinner : The first dinner was planned in the Masseria I Risi restaurant (Farmhouse) in Lamezia Terme. All members of all organisations ate local food together and enjoyed a nice time.


Wednesday 23th of October

Regarding to Chapter 7, all the associations explained a project or a case of their own country. Brexit And European Identity, by Itaka : The Itaka association presented its reflexions about the consequences of Brexit on the European identity. It demonstrates that Brexit had an impact on the sense of European Identity for citizens who live in the UK. For the proEuropean people, Brexit helped them to rediscover and reaffirm their sense of European Identity.

The case of Belmonte, by Itaka : The association introduced how cultural heritage and migration can converge and how is it possible to join problems of depopulation and migration. In Belmonte, a small town in the region of Calabria, population moved out of the village and Mediteranean migrants arrived there at the same time. The organization called La Rivoluzione delle Sepie, has an impact on local level by helping the town and its community to develop. Through local cultural heritage, it makes it possible for migrants to develop a European identity. This humanitarian project suggests solutions for these two current problems : depopulation on one hand and migration on the other hand. The Ananda Café, by AMURT : The Ananda Café is a place where the activities are proposed to create relationships among people. Every month, a different cultural activity is suggested. For example, an evening in a vegetarian restaurant, a mexican party, etc. The main idea is to create a good atmosphere. Agriculture and territory, by ONECO : The ONECO association presented described a 3 years project on agriculture and territory. The main idea is to promote cultural heritage and to connect local communities. For example, people who are interested in the Arts have been invited to participate in this project in order to create an artistic movement at the local level.


Mediatore Museale, by CPA : It is a website which helps to develop both cultural heritage and tourism. The website was created to end difficulties met by people who work in museums in Italy when sharing cultural information. It offers tourist information, language information and training about culture. K-Samsök website, by Mobilizing Expertise : K-Samsök is a national cultural database. Each museum or cultural companies in Sweden can use the pictures and information on the website to create an application or their own website about the culture and the history of Sweden and around the world. K-Samsök is affiliated to Europeana, a database which lists all cultural information from other countries in Europe.

Cultural Visit : Participants were able to visit different places during their free time. Some went to Tropea, a touristic village in Calabria. This village has been built during the roman antiquity. Now, people appreciate its beaches and its historical monuments, such as the Santa Maria dell’isola, a church built on a 50 meters rock. Others went to Pizzo, a small village near our training place, where it is possible to see the Piedigrotta church and a fortified castle.


Thursday 24th of October

The Sustainable Business Activities, by AMURT It could be defined as a reflexion on how to attract people to a region, how to create jobs in there, and how to make them stay. 80 % of European territories are rural, so there is an important risk of depopulation. The main goal is to highlight economic and social development and develop rural skills.

Think sustainably : It could be defined as a way to develop a region without compromising the future of the younger generation. The sustainable business is measured in an ecological or social value and not in the highest economic return generated by the service/product. Horizon 2020 is an EU program which aims to emerge a rural business model.

Act sustainably : The goal is to make people coming back, attract other people in depopulated areas and to increase the number of tourists who are looking for a rural area to spend their holidays. If tourism is a threat, ecotourism can be an opportunity. The success of rural tourism is only possible if there is a balance of interests between opportunities in local development ( improvements in social and economic development for local people) and development of ecotourism (responsible tourism in natural areas). The organisation showed a report about an area in Ireland which has developed ecotourism.

Build sustainability : Amurt also showed natural buildings in Portugal and a permaculture project. At the end, they described a case study on Aldeias do Xisto, which is a case of best practice in the development of sustainable tourism and rehabilitation of remote villages.

How re-population is connected with employment in rural areas, by ONECO

The aim of the presentation is to show how employment is an important factor to make people stay in the area. Economy and employment in rural areas across Europe : After increasing between 2008 and 2013, unemployment decreased in rural area in Europe. Key development challenges in employment : ONECO showed a video about networking and about the European agency for rural development. Emerging policy responses and strategies for repopulation from an employment perspective :The organisation presented a video about European support on smart villages concept.