Il Villaggio della Gioia

So much so say… so much going on.  I’ve arrived in Italy and moved into the “Joy Village”  Il Villagio is a project of Fede’s community, a progressive catholic association called Pope John XXIII.  They have all kinds of projects all over the world, from a puppet theater troupe for deaf-mute people in Chile to the Operazione Colomba peace corps to this here Villagio. I’m learning a lot about it really fast, but some of the things I find most interesting so far include:

1.  Bobby McFerrin was a major supporter of this project and organized a big fundraising concert in Milan to help make the final push for the completion of the fund drive.  It had been 10 years since the original idea had begun. Don’t worry, be happy.

2.  It’s very much a work in progress. I live in one of 3 houses filled with 3 very large families in one compound in the outskirts of the city of Forli, Emilia Romagna.  My family, the last to arrive here, only moved into this house in October.  The idea of the Villagio is that these families will serve as core supporters of other families struggling to raise their kids (for whatever reason).  Some of these struggling families may be offered the chance to live here by the Italian social services system and will therefore be able to stay with their kids while getting direct support from one of the core families.  At present, there are only a few families sort of doing this because it’s so new.  The few I’ve met are single dads and they don’t even have custody of their kids all the time so they’re here always but the kids cycle in.  The houses are big ( 2500-3500 ft2) and there’s a couple of apartments in them for families.  (or single hangers on figuring out their life paths.  booyah. ) in the future, a whole other block of apartments will be built nearby.  There’s still construction materials and muddy yard all around.

3. The location is definitely “Italian suburbia”  But I’m impressed by how cool that seems.  We have a field of grapes out back, a horse farm across the road, fruit orchards of some kind on one side and a wierd funky ass scraggly fruit/grape/? lot out front.  I’m been working on refacing some of the walls with this dude Enrico in the bitter cold the last few days and I’ve seen wild rabbits (BIG!), a pheasent, an acrobatic flight show over the airport not far away, Bruno (the one [semi] domesticated animal in il villagio) and and and and….. a whole lot of Italians of all ages wandering between houses, smoking, running around.. etc.  It’s great.

4.  My host father, Sergio, is a stay-at home dad and runs the community “bodega” in this area.  Donations from grocery stores of pull date foods, clothes from drop boxes and confiscated body products from the airport(!) all come to my garage to be distributed to members of the community and those they serve. As I sorted withered vegetables my mind wandered back to fond memories of sorting dumpster produce with the anarchists in NC.  Ah, those were the days. My host mom, Elena, runs the “Difficult Maternity”  program for the community.  There’s 7 kids and I’ll talk about them some other time.

5. I found a natural food store, bought new pants, and helped deliver baby goats born at Federica’s farm in the last few days.  Filling my time and getting shit done.  yeah.