Ivrea: giving wings at the roots

Civil economy isn´t only a utopia: Ivrea may be just the place to show it

Ivrea: giving wings at the roots

By Cristina Zaccanti and Carla Maruelli


On November 3, at the Golden Hall of Ivrea (province of Turin, Italy), the Dictionary of Civil Economy was presented in the presence of Mayor Carlo della Pepa and an attentive and participative auditorium. After a few words of welcome, the mayor laid out the delicate and complex Eporediese reality (referring to those who live in Ivrea), in which the municipality must protect the lower class from exploitation and provide services to the unemployed. It was possible to gather through his polished and calm words, though not silent to the objectively dramatic reality, the inkling of a new prospective, expression of a constructive attitude. He highlighted how the Eporediese territory, which is still mourning the reality once created by Adriano Olivetti, can still be rich with innovative experiences.

The presenting professors, Roberto Burlando (Ethics of Economy, University of Turin) and Roberto Burin (Comparison of Public Law Institutions in the Valle d´Aosta), provided an image of the academic world that is open to innovation. They both expressed the urgency to welcome a new vision of the economy, as can be understood through the Dictionary of Civil Economy. It´s a vision that starts from ethics and surpasses individualistic and utilitarian consumption, pointing towards a life project that protects people and helps them live and dwell in the world, to feel at home, to build a sense of family.

091103_Ivrea_dizionario__economia_civile_2Through the figure of Adriano Olivetti, Professor Alberto Peretti, president of the "Vita Eudaimonica" Association of Ivrea, re-launched the model of entrepreneurs who: are capable of creating existentially fulfilling conditions beginning with work and are able to create harmony and complementarity between people who see themselves linked by a greater good which transcends them.

After having recounted a brief anecdote and a few effective historical references, Luigino Bruni, professor of Political Economy and the University of Milano-Bicocca a co-author of the Dictionary, outlined the essential aspects of civil economy and the characteristics that should signal it´s radical innovation, based on the values of reciprocity and fraternity. He gave particular relief to two aspects of gratuitousness. First of all, he described gratuitousness as the free responsibility of completing things well, out of respect for the other and independently of the advantage one might obtain from it. He also described it as the quality of being charismatic, having the capacity to see beautiful things and transform them through a positive, illuminated, far-seeing vision that places material means at the service of spiritual ones like truth, justice, beauty and love.

The presentations followed one another throughout more than two hours and in an atmosphere of deep listening and attention. It was the fruit of the visible understanding between the presenters, which took in the public as well. In fact, the audience was also asked to participate. Various participants shared life experiences dense with the practice of Olivetti´s thoughts, including confrontations undergone and survived in a small business environment and also expectations and hopes. One entrepreneur present pointed out the difficulty of intergenerational exchange and, with the expression "...we´re missing the raw material", alluded to the evident difficulty of pinpointing new entrepreneurial figures.

The minister of instruction caught a gap on the part of education, and he proposed a sort of Hippocratic Oath to be taken on receiving a degree in Economy, which, through the high symbolic value of such an act, would underline the ethical vision that the academic world ought to recognized and stimulate.

091103_Ivrea_dizionario__economia_civile_3Even after the session ended, a small group continued the discussion, putting into evidence the price necessary for the utopia to become a reality: the capacity to sacrifice and the commitment kept alive through hope. The minister made himself available to continue the exchange, seeing these topics as starting points for a cultural project necessary for our youth, who are often not very motivated.

All that took place in the Golden Hall denied the idea that civil economy might only be a utopia. As Luigino Bruni underlined, there is a place where it exists, and it´s Ivrea. From the prophetic climate that day, it is now possible to move on to facts, certain that a fraternal world open to public happiness is already at the door.


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