By Antonella Ferrucci
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 comes together 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 been undoubtedly long awaited, since 2000, when a group of EoC entrepreneurs felt the necessity 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, today 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 coming from all over Portugal, who wanted to know more about the EoC. It was a chance to highlight a few of the reflections that it 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 is because her goal with the EoC was not only that of resolving the poverty in the favelas of Sao Paulo but also that of changing economic culture. If, in fact, poverty has always existed in the history of humanity, today there would be enough resources to resolve it, and the scandal is that this is not being done. The small towns are places in which reciprocal love, lived out, brings about a culture of fraternity. That is why they are also places that give witness that a different kind of economy is possible. When a business park comes about, 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 hall.
In the afternoon, about 250 people were present, among which some local and national authorities, including 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: a greeting from the co-directors of Arco Iris, the 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. The well-appreciated presentation by Manuela Silva, economist who has studied the EoC for years, 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 sort 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 their best wishes to everyone for this important moment for the EoC in Portugal: "Thinking about this conference call, one of the entrepreneurs here at our business park reminded me of a phrase that Chiara Lubich said here at 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, 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 - 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.