30 October 2015

Slow Food journey starts with new friends, challenges and energy

From 21st to 30th of September 2015, GEYC took part to Foodology bilateral youth exchange organized by Zagreus Association in Cosenza, Italy in the frame of Erasmus+ programme.

Dear Reader,
let me first start with the link to our project trailer, so you can have an idea of the beauty of this project, and on how creative you can actually get with...food!
Foodology Teaser - "Creating With Food" 
"Sono un albero che cammina, un albero che cammina!" (*translation from Italian: I am the tree that walks, I am the tree that walks). And by the time you finish this reading, you will also become one!

When I first engaged with the Foodology project in Cosenza Italy, Calabrian region, a project backed by Maria Scalese, one of the project managers of Teatro del Acquario, I had no idea how many artists will be involved in this, and... little did I know about the journey of bio food, as perceived by Italian artists and producers, who are actively involved in sustaining ortho-gardening. Pretty much what our grandparents were doing here in Romania, only that the Italians involved in this project, are doing it to support and connect local producers with their artisan products, and also to help the Italian economy, who had a lot to suffer following the mismatch between the back label of products made in Italy, but that were actually made in other countries.

Romanian team introducing Romania at the intercultural night
Involving artists in the promotion of bio food, brought nothing but extremely creative and cute ideas for filming and capturing the process of slow food. The entire project was an unbelievable adventure, almost a fairy tale (after all the Danish term for adventure is "eventyr", which actually means fairy-tale), sprinkled with heart melting coincidences, drama moments made by "Drama Queen" (me, the writer) and temporary "Drama King" Gabriel Brezoiu, the General Manager of GEYC, who happens to have an unbeatable humor. 

We also had fire shows and trumpets, a Paraguayan film maker on board, and...of course Biagio Accardi, with his female donkey named Cometa Libera (*Free Comet). You don't know who Biagio is? Well..He is an artist, musician, traveler and songwriter, that searches and processes sounds inspired by the ethnic Mediterranean panorama. He thinks life is a slow journey (la vita e un viaggio lentu) and he wanders the cities in a cantastorie (music story), alongside Cometa Libera. His compositions are a fresco at times, poetic and psychedelic mesmerizing, and at times haunting for their strong and intense nostalgic power. Just by sitting a few hours with him, he quickly became an experiential learning, so watch his epic character and creation spheres here. And transcend the human nature with his music

Enjoying Casa del Caro: Andreea Lupu and Dumitrița Nucă

Biagio lives on a mountain in Tortora, Italy, and the legend says the ancient God Apollo was driving his carriage from that mountain straight into heavens. Biagio came with a Casa del Caro concept- which literally means: The House of the Carriage. Some of his artists friends painted a huge sun on the walls of the house, and a wheel shape inside it, with ancient symbols. Performances take place there, as the place is also a space for Cattiv Teatro, an Italian Brazilian cultural association.

Learning how to cook in a traditional way
He also has a garden for bio food that he takes cares of, and cooked himself for the 45 people from Foodology project on the day we visited him! My connection with this artist was somewhat surreal, at some point people took a break from the activities, and they went on the mountain. I was tired and cold so I decided to meditate on the front terrace. Some kind of divine slow music started to play. I though I was dreaming, than I realized Biagio was still in the house, he must have been on his way upstairs when he saw me from a window. He played for me a Byzantine/ Mediterranean lira to help my meditation process. The guy is very genuine and creates experiential learning in an Aristotelian fashion of teaching.

Later on, he was explaining us how Aristotle was walking with his students in the nature and in the cities while also teaching them. In the evening while he was giving a musical performance, and was showing us different instruments: from Calabrian drum with bells, to the Campana simple one, he also explained why he chooses to give performances in the cities with his donkey. In the past, music and singing had certain specific purposes:
  • to help people working in the field, so their time passed quicker
  • to ease pain
  • to make a baby fall asleep... or
  • to give serenades to your loved one
Music was a story, that's why Biagio creates now cantastories...or music stories, and also stories about food. He thinks that we built so many cars, garages and streets that we forgot how to exercise our natural ability of walking. All his performances, even when he moves from one city to another are done by walking. He doesn't want to bother the urban dwellers so he walks in a very ...slow way, tip toeing and heel-plates going. You can't see him unless he wants to be seen, and that's when he brings miss Cometa Libera in ... people start asking where the show is gonna be and they follow him. 

"Digital storytelling" workshop - delivered by Gio Guggiari
We also spent a whole day at Teatro del Acquario, we even ate there and had access to backstage and to the stage itself, with Maria's help. At Acaquario we had a wonderful trans-media storytelling lecture held by Gio Guggiari, the Paraguayan film maker who joined the filming crew of the project. She is famous in her country Paraguay, for analyzing through film the life of 4 Paraguayan women from different generations, but same family (grand-grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter) so she received a scholarship in Calabria University on dramatic arts and cinematography, where she focuses on trans-media storytelling ( taking different realities and merging them to create something entirely new) using the vision of the famous Pier Paolo Pasolini, an Italian film director, poet, writer and intellectual.

Andreea Lupu and Gio Guggiari
I worked directly with her and I learned so much in creative terms from her, that she quickly became one of my mentors. She is involved in a story of seeds for slow food journey, where she came with the idea if personifying two seeds, and from there on to how they go up the mountain, how they are planted and grow. She also coordinates a group of students at Calabria University, in coming up with a new dimension on sensory theater, while focusing on finding a definition for the essence of the human being. The group is very diverse comprising students from different parts of the world, as Calabria University has about 700 international students. It is also one of the best campuses I have ever seen, with all the reddish buildings connected by a huge bridge, American style. 

On the last day, me and Gio met accidentally in a restaurant and I left with her and her friends at her place, which was one of the best residencies for foreigners, with a 180 degrees view on the Calabrian mountains, and with an immense balcony. We chat for 2 hours, she was explaining a lot about commedia dell'arte, cinema storytelling and theater. Than, we got to deep democracy and inevitably the Israel/ Palestine subject came up, but interesting enough as we were talking...on the balcony below us..she showed me 2 people that were Palestinians. Gio is so authentic in her ways, it was a pleasure to observe her, she even planted a corn plant in front of her residence, a Paraguayan corn, In the immediate vicinity of a blueberry tree. 

On another note, Italians are probably the only ones that when an university starts, they throw a giant party: 10 000 people walking on the university bridge, live concerts with bands from all over Italy including a brilliant one from Naples, and fire shows with trumpets, where artists literally jump in the middle of the public, and than engage the audience to follow them wherever they walk.

Speaking of music, this project was so unique, that we also had choir lessons, on an ancient Venetian song, with the help of two music teachers who taught us how to the hit the notes and how to sit properly on the chair for a better voice sound. The song was about liquors, but in the spirit of slow food! One of the teachers we had is Elisa Brown, a musician and choir singer, and she has an incredible powerful voice, with a metallic earthly touch to it. She is also incredibly modest and has something magical about her.

Let's talk about slow food

I really believe in the symbolism of things, and that there is no encounter meaningless, that we all can be teachers and students when we are opened to the new and that some things are more powerful than the others. In the last night in the Calabrian campus, at Martensson Social Center, I wanted to give some sea shells from the Black Sea to an actress, a clown girl and a fire girl, that was also in the project and as I was putting forward my hand for her to see the gift and take it, she was doing the same with something she wanted to give me: a cute glass with colorful sand - a charmer for success; we did it in the same time.

Key words related to the food market

Last, but not least, I'd like to thank Maria Scalese for her involvement in organizing the project, and for a night of "fire in the kitchen"- where she brought a fire artist to give a performance for all the people involved in the Foodology project. Long live slow food journeys, and don't forget to listen to Biagio's last musical album: L'albero che cammina. So, dear reader, may you also become a tree that walks, and don't forget that the Forest really does contribute to the existence of food on our tables. I wish you good luck in applying for projects that GEYC has partnerships in, and read below other wonderful statements from participants at Foodology!

A story moment of Andreea Lupu (”Drama Queen”)

Some words to remember:

Gabriel Brezoiu: "Foodology" was indeed an experiential moment: diverse, intense and inspiring. It was a story about challenges, new habits, new ways, new friends, new life perspectives. It was a great opportunity to stop for a while and then start all over again, and again, slowly. And "slow" is good!

Alexandru Dogaru: Sharing experience made me more open to different circumstances, which led me to become more familiar with the people, customs and Italian regions. Knowledge of other cultures has given me the opportunity to mold my personality for the better, so participating in this exchange, was the first chance to go away from home and parental guidance. I learned more about real life, about what it means to be responsible and how ingenuity can help survival. No wonder that most students who return after an exchange project, bare significant growth in their personal development.

Ramona Neculoiu: I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this project. Following this project, I improved my communication skills, I enriched my knowledge of another culture, also I met new people who have become a part of my heart and with whom I still keep in touch. Firstly, this project helped me to develop as a person. I learned a lot about what it actually means to eat healthy. And last, but not least, I discovered the true taste of pasta, of pizza, coffee, and of friendship. 

Diana Neculoiu: Taking part in this project and being part of a supportive team like ours, was the best feeling ever. Thank you, GEYC, for this amazing and life-changing experience.

Iulian Mușat: It was a week full of new experiences, with wonderful people, full of energy and always ready for fun. I had the opportunity to meet new people, both romanians and italians. I learned very valuable things about food and Permaculture, Sinergicultura and how to live healthy, as we had a day with our artist friend, the singer with the donkey ( Biagio Accardi). For me this project was a big win, with GEYC team, and I hope to take part in the future in the same kind of activities.

Georgiana Cocuz: Good food, great people and an amazing place! I couldn’t wish for more, but an everlasting project! Foodology was the perfect combination between learning, creating, having fun and making friends and also the best choice for summer ending. Thanks to the nice, funny, open, friendly, crazy and beautiful participants, who made this experience an unforgettable one!

Aurelian Grigore: We spent 10 days in the reggion of Calabria, together with 40 young people (from Romania and Italy), we exchanged ideas and shared good practices of growing food, and on how we can develop a sustainable entrepreneurship that sells healthy food. Also we learned about local food producers that use permaculture for growing the vegetables and visited local social businesses that produce bread, and rent the field for growing your own vegetables. The whole experience was amazing, and I learned a lot of new things, made new friends from another country and gain new competences.

Camelia Mănăilă: "Foodology" Just a funny word, meaning nothing special before those 10 days. Now, I can tell you that for me, Foodology means friends, knowledge, not only about food and healthy lifestyle, but also about culture, human relationships and the beauty of Europe. Now, it's a special word which will always remember me about this awesome experience and the people I will never forget.

Foodology was a story about tolerance and mutual understanding. Differences make us richer and better.