Community: Living salt and yeast of the Slow Food Movement

“The term community belongs to our history, as the concept of the communities as local groups connected to the network has existed since the first edition of Terra Madre. We reiterated this message in 2017 at the Congress of Chengdu, where we talked about Slow Food Communities and called for their creation and development across the world. But we need this message to be even more pervasive, an ever-stronger catalyst for the transformation our movement needs in order to carry out its mission.”

During the most recent meeting of the Executive Committee of Slow Food the path towards the next International Congress and Terra Madre Salone del Gusto was discussed at length: the two events will be held simultaneously in Turin from October 8-12, 2020. There were lots of reflections shared: from policy to practice, from the Slow Food vision to the structure of the organization, and a collective recognition that as Slow Food will be called upon to respond to more complex challenges in the future, it will need to count on an ever wider, ever more articulate and diverse global network.

Community, Community, Community

Carlo Petrini reiterates the political direction which we must all agree on, the distinctive elements both at the project level and the wider organizational level. “We must be conscious of the Communities as an ever more active part of the process of transformation, we must take the road of inclusion with ever greater courage, because this is only way we’ll be able to evolve.”

“The logic of the community must become the living salt and yeast of the movement, and in Turin many of them will be present with their own contributions, to show once again the incredible force of the network. As Slow Food, we must have more courage in recognizing them, legitimizing them, and creating space for forms of aggregation which aren’t easily identifiable with a rigid structure. We can’t continue to wear the tailor-made shirts of yesteryear as our body continues to grow.”

The characters that define the communities have been part of our vocabulary for a long time: “the communities are emotional intelligence and austere anarchy, and these elements must be the essence of the next Congress and of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto. Emotional Intelligence means strongly asserting the paradigm of cooperation and solidarity instead of competition. Austere anarchy is the pride to declare that our network is biodiverse because it finds (and accepts) ways and forms of expressing itself which are extremely diverse, from all across the world. It means giving people and groups the power and the capacity to express themselves. It means overcoming the conservative tendencies which cause our movement to struggle to renew itself, which often render us unable to intercept the groundbreaking political developments of our times.”

For these reasons, these five days in Turin are fundamental: to convey and pass on our pride in this great common project to the communities, as well as the awareness of our individual and collective power to contribute to this process of transformation. We can’t afford to miss this train.”

Food for thought to inform our actions

It’s just as important to understand the horizon we’re moving toward, and to define our priorities. It’s crucial that our actions, whose goals should be in line with the three strategic objectives of the Call to Action, are a direct response to the complex global situation. There are grand unifying themes among these objectives which must be our priority in the coming years. So how should we direct our actions and what should we concentrate our efforts on? As Carlo Petrini said:

  • The climate crisis, because it’s impossible not to realize that we’re reducing the planet to a dying body. The Cop 25 congress in Madrid was a failure, and the Cop 26 in Glasgow risks failing before it has even begun.
  • Migrations, because we can’t be indifferent to the movement of peoples across the planet; we cannot be interested in it. People migrate for lots of different reasons: war, human rights abuses, lack of resources, and the devastating effects of the climate crisis.
  • The communities, because to save biodiversity and construct a resilient society we can’t depend on the actions of governments or of individuals. The change must be global, and the base unit can be none other than the community.
  • The necessity of a new economy, because it’s evident that the environmental disaster is caused mainly by the capitalist economy, which is destructive, and because it’s impossible that the paradigm shift takes place within the capitalist system itself. The citizens must mobilize and become active subjects capable of designing and implementing a different future.
  • The right to pleasure, because this is where our story began, and this is still a political declaration.

We are ready to accept the challenge of inclusion and to make our actions more coherent with our political objectives than ever before. From October 8 to 12, 2020, in Turin, we’ll have the chance to discuss how to do this, together, and shape our path forwards with determination.

In the coming months, in this newsletter and at slowfood.com we’ll guide you every step of the way on the path towards the Congress, inviting all of you to take an active part.

by Silvia Ceriani, internationalcongress@slowfood.com

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