Statement signed by: Gruppo 25 Aprile, Collettivo Ca’ Bembo Liberata, Comitato Ambientalista Altro Lido, “Comitato” Gasometri, Comitato S.Anna, Generazione 90, Italia Nostra, Poveglia per Tutti, Venessia.com, Venezia Cambia, Vida.
Charter for Public and Collective Heritage.
A City at Risk
The fact that our city is at risk is certainly nothing new; there is even a market for the decay of Venice. But something in recent years has signaled an acceleration that is without precedent. Entire swaths of the city have been transformed in a few months, with the sound of suitcases suddenly substituting the shouts of children, and the tables set up for bars taking up space in places once unthinkable. In the view of those who know the city and return after a brief absence, the homogenization that this urban and commercial fabric is undergoing does not fail to surprise. The variety that distinguishes a city from a commercial center has here begun to fade, almost disappear. The 24 hour city of the bed and breakfast, the four hour city of the Cruise Ships, and finally the two hour city of the Spritz, are clearly visible in a new urban map, no longer divided by sestieri. The unravelling of social relationships that follows affirms the idea that this is a case of all against all. With destiny as an excuse, we are surrendering to the power and the temptations of the tourist industry which is advancing and imposing.
The Role of Administrations
Public administrations and bureaucracies demonstrate a clear and total inadequacy. No rules have been made to stop this leveling. They blame the spirit of Venetian storeowners to hide the clear inadequacy of their systems. Where fragments of the city persist, with public property or property used by the public, here the process of abandonment is advanced, ready to be sold for tourism. Even institutional offices are being sold to become hotels, in an overwhelming process that is allowed to continue.
A City of Great Resources
It is in the fabric of volunteerism, in the community, in the recovered places, in the corners of our campielli, that the sense of the city survives. Viewing Venice today with transparency, it is in this texture where we find the authentic resistant spirit, narrative voices and ancient wisdom. It is a spirit that is typically social and at the same time political, because it is closely concerned with the people, the forms of the city, often unconsciously, out of good sense. From the smallest neighborhood charitable groups to the society of rowers, from the associations who defend collective assets and natural assets, a richness lives underneath that which everyone calls ashes. More than resistance is maturing, but also a spirit capable of building, of changing the direction of this march.
Due to its very form it is a place of meeting, and those who live here leave positively contaminated. The many people who choose to live here bear the costs because it concerns quality of life. And this is its secret. The meeting spaces, the offices, the new gathering places, the public parks and the green spaces, these are the oxygen of this community.
Today we declare that:
-Whoever sells these public spaces or gives them over to private use, for any purpose, with the result of taking them away from the use of the residents of Venice, is committing a crime against this city and will see this vital and close network mobilize.
-Whoever sterilizes, by means of their administrative roles, the rich civic fabric of the city, through laziness or inertia, with malice or guilt, violates their mandate and abuses their functions.
-The communities that are rediscovering their city and are working for its care and participatory management have without any doubt more credibility than those who are working on high, evidently in the opposite direction. For this they have our total solidarity.
VENEZIA, 15 February 2018