Pollica and the Mediterranean Diet: from cradle of culture and intangible heritage of humanity to a model and strategy for the integral development of villages
"Pollica 2050 - Mediterranean Living,” which focuses on the Mediterranean Diet as a model of Integral Ecological Regeneration, is a strategic project designed to enhance dormant resources. This initiative urges us to think and act in a systemic way, directing every action to the creation of inclusive prosperity starting from the integral ecological approach, tested over the years, and applied in every phase of the project.
This strategy has been prototyped in the field for a year, and today, thanks to the hypothesized management tools, aims to create a real ecosystem capable of feeding itself and regenerating itself to persist over time. It will diffuse in space so that the entire territory can benefit from it. Today, it is necessary to network and be networked, as such, it will go deep so that the impact will be truly transformative.
There are six concrete areas of intervention capable of safeguarding the environment, favoring the new generations, guaranteeing social justice for all, implementing a model of truly sustainable, participatory, and integral development.
Following a pandemic that has upset the equilibrium of the entire world and exacerbated the pre-existing problems of the system in which we live, the time is ripe to implement that long-discussed regeneration process. We talk about "regeneration" and not just "restarting," not by chance. After an entropic crisis like the one we experienced, it was impossible to think of resuming the games as we left them, with the same rules.
It is time to change, to distort, to re-invent. This is the only tuneful note in this story: although forced and dictated by necessity, Covid-19 has led to a general awakening of consciences, aware that this is perhaps the last chance we have, not only to make the Italian system survive, so rich and fragile, diversified and complex, but also to outline new and innovative guidelines for a future capable of safeguarding the environment, favoring new generations, guaranteeing social justice for all, implementing development that is truly sustainable, participated, integral. Therefore, there is a need for a radical and structural renewal, capable of involving the whole social fabric, on all levels. Regeneration is either collective or not. This is even more true for the South. And is even more true for our villages: small and unique baskets of biodiversity and ancient culture, today at risk of depopulation and therefore, of extinction.
For this reason, "Pollica 2050 - Mediterranean Living" is a candidate to become the pilot project for the Campania Region to make cultural stimuli the lever to trigger "the cultural, social and economic regeneration of abandoned villages at risk."
After all, Cilento has always been a place of strong cultural ferment: it is there that the Western philosophical thought of the Eleatic School took its first steps; where the very first socio-economic and environmental regeneration led by the Basilian monks took shape; where the Salerno Medical School was born and where, above all, the Mediterranean lifestyle was codified, the so-called Mediterranean Diet - today a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, of which Pollica is an Emblematic Community. This cherished lifestyle is capable of combining human health and environmental protection; protection of gastronomic pleasure and defense of biodiversity; pride in one's identity and awareness of being children of cultural crossbreeding; love for the sea and roots firmly planted in the earth. All this is the Mediterranean way of life, an approach to existence and to our "being in the world" which is based on the awareness that "everything is connected," the approach which is the basis of our project and which is rooted in the history and culture of Pollica, but which must be rediscovered, brought back into vogue and made into a model and strategy for innovative and sustainable development of the villages, in fact, "integral," which leaves nothing and no one behind.
For this reason, it makes sense to start from here: from the place where it is possible to touch and understand the complexity of the world in which we live and its infinite interconnections. From that concept of full ecology that Pope Francis explains in his Encyclical Laudato Si', where we are finally aware that every choice and action we make has an impact on our surroundings. A concept of which the Mediterranean Diet is a master, as it explains how much our quality of life depends on the quality of the environment we inhabit, the air we breathe, the time we dedicate to relationships, and the happy stability of a simple but tasteful life.
This approach is also applicable to the concept of development: for it to be truly sustainable, it is necessary to remember that there is no economic prosperity in a degraded environment; there is no tourism strategy that holds in places where the inhabitants are not happy and there is nothing authentic left to tell; there is no investment capable of working on its own, without someone on the ground willing, able, and competent to make it bear fruit in a meaningful and heartfelt way; there can be no demographic growth in a place where there are no services or cultural stimuli; there is no future or regeneration if policy does not project long-term. It's all incredibly connected, integrated, interconnected.
If the Mediterranean Diet is a concrete example of integral ecology, then Pollica is the perfect place to prototype and co-create the first model of integral development, able to translate the intangible heritage of the Mediterranean Diet into a new strategy of prosperity.
This different model does not focus on mere profit as an end in itself, but instead on the community, understood as the virtuous encounter between territory and people. However, to protect, trigger, and promote this meeting and the beauty that comes from it, it is necessary to start from the activation and empowerment of people in the area, giving them the right tools to do so.
And this is why - despite its history and potential - Pollica is in danger like many other small Italian villages. Where there is not the feared "brain drain," there is however a real "drowsiness" of brains due to a strong and paradoxical lack of stimuli: depopulation and desertification of hearts and minds are a cancer here too. If it is true that during the summer Pollica is perceived as a vital and virtuous center of seaside tourism, it is therefore difficult to imagine it as a "village at risk." But it is also true that the village goes into a phase of lethargy and dormancy during the winter period. However, it is necessary to go beyond what is perceived and base ourselves on concrete data.
During the period from October to March, the town empties, the activities and services that are strictly summertime close, jobs are lacking and only the inhabitants remain, fewer and fewer, older and older, while the younger ones no longer find reasons, incentives, or the tools to stay. The danger here is twofold: not only is the livelihood of the younger generations at risk and therefore of the village itself - which becomes a mere holiday resort - but also the boundless heritage, both tangible and intangible, that is intrinsically linked to this territory, its history, its human and natural biodiversity, its customs, and traditions.
To prototype a true regeneration process, one that works and can be replicated elsewhere, we, therefore, believe that it makes sense to imagine and work for Pollica 2050. From a challenging territory that can offer so much in terms of culture and nature, but that both risks putting to sleep and/or running away from its most precious resources, and equally risks selling out, focusing on tourism which, if the territory becomes corrupted and loses its authenticity, also risks losing value.
The objective of the project is more generally to remove the limiting role of the villages as a place for tourists, a "container" for seasonal events and passage, and instead to create a new model that makes the village itself an integral part of a self-sufficient and complex ecosystem. This ecosystem will offer opportunities to its inhabitants, not only seasonally, thanks to the prototyping of innovative and sustainable solutions applicable to production models typical of the Mediterranean basin, giving voice and support to those who "make" the Mediterranean Diet (farmers, fishermen, artisans), using technology as a tool to serve the community; but also thanks to the creation of a network with the other surrounding villages and - aware that innovation is an effort of cooperation - to the dialogue with different actors of the Italian and international productive and cultural scenes. Already**,** sixty potential partners are involved, from the academic world to the entrepreneurial one, from cultural centers to international start-ups.
Pollica 2050, as a pilot project, will have the burden and the honor to build this network, to create the digital tools (online, open-source platforms), to spread the word (through a Digital Academy), to put synergy into the existing realities of the territory by enhancing the platforms for the fruition of the tourist offer and the experience of the territory. It will build solid foundations for a participatory process that not only independently survives throughout time, but also serves as an example for other villages, becoming replicable and applicable without further macro-investments. Pollica 2050 does not simply want to be a project, but the beginning of a process with a positive impact: it wants to create the foundations, the humus, the basis for it to take root and build over time a new way of thinking, doing business, making innovation and more generally reviving the territory in a harmonious, conscious, connected projection towards a better future.
All of this has been going on for a while. In the height of the pandemic, the Municipality of Pollica, together with the Future Food Institute - in an already successful public and private collaboration - has co-created with the community an innovative concept of cultural, social, and economic regeneration. This process led in April 2021 to the concrete realization of the Paideia Campus, a permanent and international campus within the Castello dei Principi di Capano (Princes Capano Castle) dedicated to the dissemination of integral ecology. In this Campus, open to international students, the community of the village of Pollica is an integral part, actively involved in the creation of various activities - such as "Trame Mediterranee" - aimed at discovering the Cilento territory, exploring and sharing its intrinsic environmental, cultural, and social values and understanding its immense material and immaterial heritage. And it is just that awareness to create the necessary basis to trigger in the community, young and old, that "patrimonial pride" and that sense of responsibility indispensable to start the wonderful phenomenon of "restanza" (the act of remaining). The "restanza" is the courage not to seek fortune elsewhere but to stay, the will to give life to creative processes aimed at the care of the place of belonging, the consistency of not delegating to anyone the change you want to see, the strength of believing in themselves and their territory, the tenacity to commit themselves personally for the common good of the entire community, the pride of being an example for the entire planet and the awareness of needing a diverse but cohesive team.
But the goodwill of those who remain is not enough. It is also necessary to regenerate the many local cultural assets, transforming them into places of education that are alive, innovative, and in step with the times. It is necessary to give them the technological tools, the know-how, and the services to cultivate the future of the local community, networking them with the most diverse realities - not only of the territory. So that all this does not remain utopia, it is more necessary than ever to create a living laboratory spread throughout the territory: for these are essential structural investments, supported by wide educational projects that begin a transition that is first of all cultural, then ecological, and then digital.
The project "Pollica 2050 - Mediterranean Living" does not start from scratch. It moves in this context and continues what has been started. It consolidates a path already begun that has proven to work and that is, therefore, itself a guarantee of the feasibility and sustainability of the initiative, of the solidity of the tools applied and of the profound sense that new, possible, desired, and well-placed investments would have. Its ultimate goal is the realization of a complex and long-term initiative able to prototype a new strategy for a development that is eco-centric, involving not only Pollica but also the surrounding villages, applying and modernizing the founding principles of the Mediterranean Diet. Pollica then as a concrete example and as a model to strive for, but also as a cultural and open hub where to cultivate creativity, becoming a driving force for others, transferring knowledge, and replicating winning models.
The desire is to create a plural community belonging to the same Common House and that, therefore, is a community of destiny and intentions. A project that brings the village of Pollica to its etymological sense, that is to be the center of "many houses" (from the greek "pollai oikia" from which it probably derives its name), able to accommodate and enhance the uniqueness of each and to provide and make available to others the services prototyped, created, and tested.
In a historical moment in which we have understood the errors of the past and the limits of an ego-centered productive system, and in which we are increasingly in search of new answers and possible alternatives, we nominate Pollica to become an eco-centered hub that is itself a testimony to a different way of life, of this "Mediterranean living" in harmony with nature and with other human beings, creating a replicable model that makes the philosophy behind the Mediterranean Diet the strategy for an integral development not only of Pollica but for all the villages: from Pollica 2050 to Cilento 2050.
Pollica 2050 - Sustainable Innovability to Future-Proof Humanity
"Pollica 2050 - Mediterranean Living” is a strategic project that focuses on the Mediterranean Diet as a model of Integral Ecological Regeneration to enhance dormant resources. This initiative leverages the limitless power of creativity and innovation to build inclusive prosperity starting from the integral ecological approach.
This strategy has been prototyped for more than a year and through the hypothesized management tools is actively developing a tangible ecosystem capable of feeding and regenerating itself to sustain throughout time. The emphasis on innovation allows the project to branch out from Pollica as a hub so that the entire territory can benefit from it.
Touching on the five core themes of the Environment, Health, Agriculture, Tourism (art and culture), and Sociality, the innovation is grounded in the priorities of the Agenda 2030 while approaching the efforts from a framework of integral ecological regeneration.
Innovability, is the approach adopted in the co-design process of the Pollica 2050 - Mediterranean Living project.
Innovability. A word that stems from an inseparable pair today: the meeting between innovation and sustainability, essential ingredients to guide any regeneration process.
A process that encourages us to think and act in a systemic way, orienting all our actions towards the creation of inclusive prosperity.
Accelerating the Digital Transition, a sustainable, indispensable lever for the implementation of the true Green Deal that requires us to face a real Cultural Transition, which facilitates the acquisition of new Competencies and gives Heart to the digital, which is not the end, but a powerful means.
Where there is only one true imperative: Collaboration. Today patronage and collaboration between public and private are essential to accelerate innovation processes. An essential practice to spread, capable of generating opportunities for economic and social development starting from the territories, starting from the inland areas, from villages, from communities, real "Living Labs" to prototype innovative models of sustainable development.
The meeting between tradition, "heritage," and innovation of approach, product, and process are the elements that strongly characterize this project proposal and permeate in every area:
- The design of the new Municipal Urban Plan "FOODSCAPE" presents a highly innovative approach to the recovery techniques of the buildings covered by this call for proposals that aims to create super-efficient buildings.
- The Circular Economy implemented at an experimental and educational level through a plastic recycling laboratory located at the Castle of the Princes Capano, the"Philosophy Med Lab," but also thanks to the creation of an experimental plant for the production of electricity from Organic Fraction from Urban Waste (OFMSW) and algae from Poseidonia.
- The protection of biodiversity will take place through an experimental project promoted by the University of Molise which aims to monitor the health of the ecosystem rate of biodiversity through the study of the health of bees.
- The monitoring of environmental parameters will be taken care of by Strobilo that downstream of the experimentation will create an exclusive algorithm able to identify the key parameters of "longevity" and will be integrated with neuroscientific studies carried out on the resident population and a machine learning platform that will allow public administrations to make strategic decisions based on scientific data.
Wellness is an element of essential importance in designing healthy, inclusive, and sustainable cities, but also a new lever to promote the territory with new forms of tourism that focus on biophilia, wellness, and longevity. The Campus hosts, for example, the Mediterranean Mind Lab that through neuroscience and the constant monitoring of numerous environmental parameters, analyzes the benefits resulting from the relationship with the natural environment to structure a predictive model capable of increasing the competitiveness of the territory through the enhancement of the "Mediterranean Diet" as the set of benefits related to the food model, both the healthiness of the ecosystem and the lifestyle given by the traditional knowledge of Cilento.
But in everyday life, many aspects relate to the theme of prevention and public health, and new ways of providing health services are now possible thanks to the services of digital medicine designed for the new Community House through the implementation of software platforms that can manage multi-diagnostic medical records, allowing full support of monitoring and medical follow-up on the territory. Tele-medicine, Tele-assistance, and Tele-consultation will facilitate innovative solutions and perspectives for constant health care, offering advantages in terms of:
- Interaction between the specialist and the patient;
- Breaking down geographic and time barriers;
- Reducing travel by allowing the detection of parameters and values directly from the patient's home and in full autonomy.
- Ensure that critical patients can be treated promptly in case of need.
Also in agriculture, every aspect is touched by the whole ecological approach, which in itself represents a real innovation from the methodological point of view, the "innovation" is the predominant driver, necessary to:
- Enhance the local productions, the food and wine excellences DOC, DOP, IGP, Slow food presidia, and the iconic products of the Mediterranean Diet.
- Make products more healthy and safe for consumers.
- Increase sustainability for the good of the planet, protecting the essential resources of the ecosystem.
Starting from the experimental vineyard in the Municipality of Pollica, managed by the Mastroberardino Company, where the CNR, the Italian National Research Institute will settle and start experimenting with the Bioristor sensor, an Organic Electrochemical Transistor (OECT) able to detect the onset of water stress and, potentially, send a signal that it is necessary to irrigate, thus allowing a significant reduction in water waste and increasing the sustainability of agricultural production.
To then consolidate the many projects of the Paideia Campus there is a M.E.D. Lab that hosts open innovation programs, and that with Future Food will incubate AgriTech startups and programs promoted by the Faculty of Agriculture of the University Federico II of Naples. It will host pilot projects such as the one being developed in collaboration with the Global Innovation Team of Danone, that starting from Pollica will prototype a new model of product development and procurement coming from regenerative models thanks to a process of **co-design that will involve many partners of the project. ** This process involves: Future Food Institute, heroic farmers and guardians of the territory, agricultural companies and cooperatives, Coldiretti, Biodistrict, Rareche, Universities, and agricultural trade associations.
It represents a territory rich in excellent producers and products to protect and enhance, in Italy and worldwide. For this, the revolutionary technology of BluDev® will be implemented. It can create a bio-fingerprint for each product (BFP - Bio FingerPrint) and store this information in a distributed database using the paradigms of Blockchain, i.e., a type of data structure that identifies and tracks transactions digitally.
Tourism, Art, and Culture
The cultural redevelopment of the territory occurs through the promotion of a new model of tourism: aware, careful, slow, responsible, and sustainable. To discover the roots, relationships, and values of the Mediterranean Diet, to get to know the custodians of the environmental, food, and cultural biodiversity of the territory; to protect and at the same time make Italian heritage, archaeological sites, historical buildings accessible, but above all to create awareness, innovation, technology, and new models of edu-tainment become essential elements.
Like the "Trame Mediterranee" project, which starts in schools with innovative internship programs to train young explorers, storytellers, and ambassadors of the Mediterranean identity, and becomes a program of cultural animation with the "Food Theater - From the land to the banquet": food experiences that focus on the supply chains and the stories of producers. But also a "web radio" to give voice to the stories of the protagonists of the Mediterranean Diet and a web app completely integrated with the services, tourist and otherwise, offered by the Public Administration. Tourist information, e-commerce, and interactive technology to explore the area and literally immerse yourself in an experience that smells of history, art, culture, science, and taste. All animated by the young people of the territory who (as tested in the field during the first year of the prototype) will develop a healthy "capital pride" and the managerial, relational, and technological skills to enhance their land of origin.
A Virtual Museum of Italian UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage that, through augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and immersive projections with touch interactions, will take visitors on a journey of discovery of Italy's intangible wealth.
Painting, photography, sculpture, music, and cinema, with exhibitions, festivals, and shows to celebrate the "Mediterranean way of life" in the broader framework of integral ecological development; but above all, participatory art projects where the community becomes the protagonist in the creative process, as co-authors of the work itself, authentically expressing the values and identity of the "Mediterranean way of life."
But also new restaurant models that celebrate the true Mediterranean “convivio” offering solutions capable of involving the entire community with a home restaurant network organized by the Women of the Mediterranean Diet.
A community that in the last two years has been able to welcome, thanks to the experimental Living Lab of Cities 2030 - EU H2020 project (initiated by the Future Food Institute), numerous initiatives that are bringing positive cultural influence and training the community in active citizenship.
A school (the first in Italy) to train NEETS and Migrants on innovative practices of regenerative agriculture;
A women's house and a gender library to create awareness and accelerate processes of active participation in the political, cultural, and economic life of local girls;
New spaces designed to train entrepreneurship and creativity as the Incubator of Future Food attract new citizens with services for South Working and as the Fab Lab and the Media Lab located at the Castle of the Princes Capano, a Digital Academy to train citizens of all ages on digital skills and teamwork, a Residence for Artists, an ideal and evocative place, for those who want to seek new inspiration for their art entering in full harmony with nature.
This model sees the Sustainable Development Goals and targets set by the 2030 Agenda as reference points to which to aspire. An essential tool to address development policies and daily choices in a systemic way.
Each action of the project "Pollica 2050 - Mediterranean Living" hinges on one or more objectives and will be monitored to measure progress.