By Antonella Ferrucci
from "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.32 - December 2010
November 6 in Portugal was a beautiful, sunny day. We're in the middle of an Indian Summer, that last wave of summer weather before heading into winter. The climate is mild, and the sky is particularly luminous. It seems that this land can feel that today is truly a special day as it joins us to celebrate. Arriving at the small town of Arco Iris, headquarters of the Giosi Guella Business Park, one can perceive the anticipation for the big even about to take place. Yes, because this Business Park has undoubtedly been long awaited, since 2000, when a group of EoC entrepreneurs felt the need to buy a piece of land next to the small town in order to build the Portuguese business park there. Ten years later, having overcome many obstacles with determination and consistency, the day has finally arrived to open the doors of this house for EoC entrepreneurs in Portugal.
Leo Andringa, Luigino Bruni and Alberto Ferrucci arrived representing the International Commission. The program began with a morning of formation in the EoC, for entrepreneurs, students and others who wanted to know more about the EoC, including participants from all over Portugal. It was a chance to highlight a few of the reflections that the project has provoked since its birth in 1991, when Chiara Lubich first had the intuition of the EoC and launched it throughout the world. One can understand why Chiara wanted the business parks to be located in the Movement's small towns. It's because her goal with the EoC was not only that of resolving the poverty in the favelas of Sao Paulo. She also wanted to change economic culture. Poverty has always existed in the history of humanity, and today there would be enough resources to resolve it. Rhe scandal is that this is not being done. The small towns are places in which reciprocal love put into practice brings about a culture of fraternity. That is why they are also places that witness to the fact that a different kind of economy is possible. When a business park is started, it is born with the vocation to be "a laboratory of a new economy". The morning went ahead with experiences of entrepreneurs, a presentation of the life of François Neveux, which moved many who were present, the presentation of the 2009-2010 EoC Report, which is in the phrase of being printed, and a beautiful dialogue with the audience.
In the afternoon, about 250 people were present, including some local and national authorities, like the mayor of Alenquer (the village where the small town is located), university professors and a few members of Parliament. The program unfolded in a solemn atmosphere. There was a greeting from the co-directors of Arco Iris, an introduction by Luigino Bruni, an interview with Luis Felipe Coelho and some of the entrepreneurs that own the first businesses that located to the Giosi Business Park: Ecnal, 18.20 Sagec and RedCap. Manuela Silva, economist who has studied the EoC for years, gave a well-appreciated presentation in which she underlined the vital importance of this reality, highlighting Chiara Lubich's prophetic vision. "When the Economy of Communion is put into practice," she affirmed, "it is destined to be a far-reaching light in the darkness of modern society, like that of a lighthouse in the midst of the ocean."
Just before heading out in a kind of "procession" to the Business Park, located nearby, there was an unexpected surprise: a video conference via Skype with the Lionello Bonfanti Business Park, in Loppiano. President Eva Gullo sent everyone their best wishes for this important moment for the Portuguese EoC: "Thinking about this conference call, one of the entrepreneurs here at our business park reminded me of a phrase that Chiara Lubich said when the Lionello Business Park had still not yet been built, when it was still just a project. She said, 'a light in the midst of the darkness, as small as it is, can be seen even from far away'. So we want to tell you that here, in Italy, we see your light! We are illuminated by the light that comes from Giosi Guella Business Park in Portugal, and in this light, in the vast array of light that guides us and sustains us, we send a big embrace to everyone. We send our heartfelt thanks because you are there and our biggest wishes for all that you will do."
Finally, there was a celebration at the inauguration of the Business Park, with the unveiling of the sign that says "Giosi Guella Business Park" by the mayor and a visit of the various locations and businesses in the business park. It was an hour of simple but very joyful celebration. We left the small town of Arco Iris with the certainty of having participated in an historical moment, for Portugal and the EoC in the world.