Naples has a long, proud history as the cultural and spiritual capital of Southern Italy
. The city and surrounding region has also suffered from government incompetence, corruption
, bureaucratic apathy, and its citizens’ frustrations. For several years stories about trash piling up in the streets of Naples and the surrounding provinces, due in part from diminished landfill space, have shocked the world and embarrassed Italians.
They are not embarrassed any more. Napolitanos
are taking action and are cleaning up their city, making it even more beautiful in the process. Their activism and unity are not only inspirational, but serve as as a model for communities around the world who are tired of their governments avoiding their responsibility to provide safety and services for their cities.
In my research for an upcoming article on Guardian Sustainable Business, I have come across three organizations that are making Naples the center of culture and tourism the way this region should be. Ambiente Solidale
, a local civic society, is establishing a bevy of programs that is taking on waste diversion, recycling, and creating jobs in the process. Friarielli Ribelli
(“rebel broccoli,” a play of words on a local vegetable) arms themselves with hoes and rakes in their battle to create more green spaces, and with their guerilla gardening tactics, are beautifying the city and restoring pride throughout Naples. And CleaNap
leverages flash mob-like tactics to organize locals young and old to purge the city’s stunning piazzas and scenic streets of garbage that too often has accumulated on street corners.
You do not need to understand Italian to understand how motivating and inspiring these organizations are. Below, the video tour of Naples and surrounding regions demonstrates how beautiful southern Italy is and reminds us that the bad memories of Naples’ streets descending into filthy chaos will soon only be bad memories. Watch for more postings and videos on this subject in the coming weeks. Enjoy the pictures, too.
Cleaning up Naples, courtesy Friarielli Ribelli
removing trash from a Naples piazza, courtesy CleaNap
Getting ready to garden, courtesy Friarielli Ribelli