The beauty of working with two fine publications, The Guardian and Triple Pundit, is that I have close to carte blanche to write about whatever I want.  Lots of good work and fantastic stories are out there, but the story of citizens taking brooms, hoses, and shovels into their own hands to clean their beloved Napoli (Naples) stole my heart.  The nightmare of trash accumulating in the streets has turned from humiliation into inspiration.  Social innovation has found its center in the Napolitania region of southern Italy.

It all started with Wanda Halbert of Euclid Network, who piqued my interest.  At the time I was distracted and sidetracked, but Ms. Halbert wrote a guest piece to share this story.  The more I read, the more I was fired up, and thankfully after I made my pitch Guardian Sustainable Business ran the piece today.  Well, the same day that another article I wrote for Triple Pundit also ran this morning.  My apologies to both, though I think the buzz has been pretty equal for my UK & US outlets!

Plenty of organizations deserve attention, including:

Oceanus, which for years has fought to clean up the water and land around Naples and has led the fight against soil contamination, a result of indiscriminate trash disposal and incineration.

CleaNap (a play on the words clean & Napoli), which uses flash mob tactics to spur local citizens group into action.

Friarielli Ribelli, (in English “Rebel Broccolini,” after a local variety of broccoli), which uses guerilla gardening tactics to clean up old green spaces while creating other fin examples of urban acupuncture.

Ambiente Solidale, a civil society that has turned Naples’ trash crisis into opportunity and has worked with organizations to create economic opportunity--recycling one of them--for those who need it the most.

And Euclid Network, which is sponsoring a competition to spark additional social innovation ideas in late September.  Alas, I will be in Detroit then.

Special thanks to Napolitanos who spoke, emailed, and chatted with me.  Their passion, while living in the center of Napoli or live abroad, like Filippo De Luca (who gave me an hour of his opinions via Skype!) made this experience one of the best journalistic experiences I have ever had.

I will visit Naples someday, even though I feel as if I already have!

Photos are from both CleanNap and Friarielli Ribelli.

part of CleaNap's artillery

part of CleaNap's artillery

Friarielli Ribelli's soldiers cleaning up another public area

Friarielli Ribelli's soldiers cleaning up another public area

Friarielli Ribelli takes on dirt, trash, and scarred open space with pride!

Friarielli Ribelli takes on dirt, trash, and scarred open space with pride!

San Giovanni Maggiore, before and after (courtesy CleaNap)

San Giovanni Maggiore, before and after (courtesy CleaNap)

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.