Monday, February 24, 2014

Festa degli Alberi

We were very flattered to receive a hand-made invitation from the local primary school kids to attend the “Festa degli Alberi” (festival of the trees). This event was a celebration of environmental education held in the local woods. A number of people in the village know that we both worked for the National Forest Service in the USA. Plenty of adults were on-hand to applaud the bambini and the presentation which culminated in a symbolic tree planting. The kids put a lot of effort into the whole thing including nifty posters. They presented a “skit” wherein each child spoke a line of text about the forest and trees. Some had very long lines to remember! They sang, also, a couple songs. The kids' presentations were at a level of Italian we could understand well! Both primary and middle school kids contributed to the program.
I bambini della Scuola Primaria, Santa Domenica Talao
We believe the school program is excellent and they are taking strides to teach the kids new values that are needed in Calabria – respect for the land; values about not littering; learning that allowing or causing fires is not good. We have reported how littering is a problem throughout Southern Italy, as are the arsonists that start fires in the hills each summer. 

The Protezione Civile Nazionale is made up of volunteers who help fight small fires, provide first aid and ambulance services, etc. The agency operates the Canadair “fire planes” that do 95% of the fire fighting.


Fire prevention
The middle school kids brought some entertainment. In addition to these boys, the others brought their “harmonica” instruments that have a simple keyboard and a hose to blow into.





The Corpo Forestale dello Stato is a police agency that enforces natural resource laws. They arrested two men last year for arson nearby. Doug shared with the officer pictured here that he used to have a similar job.  







The Associazione Nazionale Forestali is, as best as we can tell, a non-profit organization that promotes protection and stewardship of the parks and forests of the country much as similar organizations do in the US.




Pre-schoolers want to help plant the trees!

The Italian agencies with responsibility for environmental affairs are different than in the US where vast tracts of land are owned by the national government. Here, much of the land is private, but the agencies control what people can do on their land such as logging or even cutting down a tree for firewood. Our entire village of Santa Domenica Talao is inside the Pollino National Park – the largest in the Italian park system that was started in the 1990’s to protect a native species of pine from extirpation. 


To My Friend the Tree

“Hold tight to this land
Grow more free than in a greenhouse
Touch the sky, bring it to us
Hold your dreams as high as you can
And if someone wants to rip you away
Give me a call”

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Viva la Musica

This post goes back to a day in our Italian language class that occurred before Christmas. After learning about Italian writers, artists, fashion designers, inventors and musicians, we were asked by our teacher what great things did our country give the world? We had just a moment to think of something. We were kinda dumbfounded because there is so much stuff America can be credited or blamed for! And no one country really starts anything by itself. Di came up with Hollywood and how America brought big film-making to the world. I mentioned Henry Ford and his assembly line to manufacture autos. 

Good ideas?  I was fortunate to help manage Timberline Lodge in Oregon when I was with the Forest Service. It's not just a great historic building--Timberline was built by the government during the great depression to put people to work while creating valuable properties. The Work Projects Administration and Civilian Conservation Corp programs gave meaningful jobs to hundreds of thousands of people. Their work created hydroelectric dams, trails, libraries and even mountain ski lodges that have benefitted the American public to this time.  Maybe that successful model/idea of government spending to create growth is something the EU Parliament could try today – instead of austerity that is not doing so well?!


In hindsight after the class, we both agreed that America also introduced some great music to the world. Jazz, blues, and rock & roll. Today, that music is global and still going strong, including in our village of Santa Domenica Talao: 


Sorry there’s no sound. The band is called Infinity. They remind us of a similar band in Oregon we enjoyed called Cheap Local Band that also featured “mature” musicians. The drummer from that group watches Facebook and may have to comment! An Italian-American, he was the “kid” in that band.

Our friend and plumber, Gigino, is lead guitar.  Because this show was in the village parking structure, I asked him and Angelo if they were a “garage band”. Once they understood me, they thought they are a “banda di magazzino” which is a storage place, work room or sometimes a parking spot. Gino switched between 3 different chitarre and played well on each.
Domenico, our electrician on keyboards, is from Papasidero. Singing is Franco. Drumming is Angelo. Bass guitar is Teo. These three ragazzi are from Scalea. All five are very good. 


Early in the show I was humming along to a song I remembered, but couldn’t place because of the Italian words. The song was “Eve of Destruction” from about 40 years ago. Original lyrics by Bob Dylan. I saw Barry McGuire perform the song when I was at university in the state of Utah. 

Now we were listening to our local guys in Calabria play it again. Cool. I wonder if this type of music will live on along with the classical music of Europe. I wonder if they know about the anti-war movement that Di and I lived through with this music? Remember Vietnam?
American folk music may not have been important to Europe. It was good for us in the 1960’s and this week we remember it with the passing of the great Pete Seeger who inspired so many musicians.

It was a rare fun January night in Santa Domenica Talao. By the way, they started at 1830. In summer, most entertainment starts after dinner around 2200, so this was different. Grazie InfinityViva musica!!   Ciao a presto, Guido

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