Passopomo – Ravine update

On Thursday morning, we managed to get to the council offices in Zafferana to try and deliver our letter about the pollution in the ravine. This is the first day in the new year that the offices are open after the festive season, and we feel a bit bad to come with such ugly news. Quite soon, we have found the right office, where a very receptive woman listens to our story, and others are gradually gathering around us too. Eventually, the vice mayor arrives, and it turns out that he is a real champion for the cause: he is the founder of the local group “PuliAmo Zafferana” a group of volunteers who meet once a month to clean an area of fly-tipping in the region. He promises to come and view the ravine this afternoon.

On our way out of the offices, we come across a great set of class photos from the times when the building was a school. Check them in our flikr album.

True to his word, Giovanni arrives in the afternoon, accompanied by Sergio, an advising lawyer, and  together with Giacomo, the helpful neighbour, we take them on a little walk to show  what we have already cleaned, and how much more work there is to be done.

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This is by no means an easy situation. Although this Ravine is not in the area of Zafferana, Giovanni, the vice mayor, says he will try and do something about it. There is no government money to do a clean-up like this. And once it is clean, how can further fly-tipping be prevented? Giovanni feels that people have to be caught and held responsible for their actions. Personal dumping attracts a fine of 500 Euros; if a business dumps, it is a punishable crime. However, he has made good experience with a solution of an interesting and more personal nature. Once, after PuliAmo Zafferana had spent a whole day cleaning a part of a wood, he found a whole new lot of rubbish in the same spot. Against the advice of his wife, he donned rubber gloves and successfully searched the rubbish for personal evidence. He rang the person and told them that he would not press charges on two conditions: one, that he would go and clean the place better than it was before, and two, that he would join PuliAmo Zafferana for three consecutive sessions and work harder than anyone else in the group. The person agreed, joined the group, changed his habit and became friends with Giovanni!

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We must stay long enough in the area to join PuliAmo Zafferana for one of their action days! Removing rubbish is an intensely satisfying action, especially when done with a whole lot of people. You become one with the piece of land, you feel it breathing out and coming to rest. The name of the group plays on words: Puliamo means we clean, but using the capital A in the middle of the word makes it sound like I love a clean Zafferana.

We are intrigued to see how the story with ‘our’ ravine goes on.


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