November 2011 at Pari Center, Italy
Our first common meeting began with each organization introducing itself and explaining its particular projects, approaches and how they plan to work in collaboration with the other members of the Unigrowcity groups. They also discussed the setting up of a communications system, website and blog, as well as plans for future meetings. In addition to fruitful discussions amongst the members, the groups also interacted with members of the Pari community.
Dr. Mario Apicella, an agronomer, explained how he had been cataloguing varieties of plants and seeds in the area, some of which had been cultivated for many generations. The group visited an olive grove where Carlo Barbieri explained the traditional culture of olives and vines. In addition, via Skype, Dr. Arthur Cordell in Ottawa discussed the impacts that new technologies will be having on society.
During an evening meeting with members of the village, the group heard how the local small farmers are deeply frustrated by a variety of E.U. regulations that make it difficult to continue their traditional lifestyles. They also learned of the Gaia project in which a small Portuguese village of older people with many empty houses had been given a new lease of life thanks to the work of young volunteers. Members of the Pari village association, Sette Colli, expressed the desire to forge a closer relationship with this village in Portugal.
Following the departure of the Unigrowcity groups, people in the village began to discuss a variety of projects that could improve their lives, including classes on such things as instruction on the use of computers, making soap from olive oil, the possibility of a community vegetable garden, the clearing of some of the traditional walking paths around the village and the creation of a map of the area for visitors.