Our Appeal for Venice

[Note: this is the document that launched this project in August 2016.]

Allan Gurganus           Paul Rosenberg

Campaign For A Living Venice

Friends of Venice, the City needs you now!

    Venice is visited by 30 million tourists a year; only 50 thousand brave citizens still live there. Cruise-line tourism is killing humanity’s crown jewel. As recently as the 1950’s, 150,000 Venetians kept the city alive, various, habitable. Now, 90 thousand tourists can daily surge ashore from massive cruise ships. Complicating the ecological disaster of a rising ocean, far too many people now descend on the city. Locals cannot get to their jobs, schools, or hospitals. Tourism has gained a monopoly, rendering Venice a hollow Disney-like destination. Massive harbored vessels dwarf the Piazza San Marco. Many tourists spend the day ashore then depart. They leave behind vast amounts of garbage but scant financial benefit. Venetians are left to clean up. Meanwhile mega-ships keep causing great harm to the lagoons, straining Venice’s already fragile architecture and eco-systems.

Adding to these woes, today’s tourists show a coarsened disregard for a city whose delicacy constitutes its ageless charm. Groups have begun arriving with bicycles and scooters, oblivious to narrow canal-side walkways meant for feet only. Some pitch tents in Piazza San Marco itself!

   UNESCO has served notice: Venice will be moved to World Heritage Site “Endangered” status if the governments do not take swift corrective action in the next 6 months. Thus far, however, despite years of warnings and alarms, the local, regional, and national governments have remained largely silent.

The citizens of Venice have had enough of this, and are busy organizing to save their city. Organizations like Gruppo 25 Aprile, #Veneziamiofuturo and Generazione 90 are gathering both online and on the streets to demand change – they want to live in Venice, the living city, not be pushed out of Venice, the tourist haven.

The Campaign For A Living Venice seeks to support Venetian citizens’ courageous struggle to reverse a critically worsening situation by adding our voices to theirs. We live far away, yes, but Venice is a special place that has become a part of our lives, each in different ways. The city and its people need our support. We hope to gather enough signatures to demonstrate to the authorities that the world is watching what they do with this precious jewel, but we also hope to show the courageous citizens of Venice that they are not alone, that we who love their city stand with them and are willing to speak out.

Thank you for your support.

The Appeal is also available to view in French.