The CARAVAN Project originated from reflection on some significant features of the current socialcultural
context in Europe, in particular the following three aspects:
1. The international economic and financial crisis
In the first decade of the third millennium, Europe, same as the entire world, is living an era of crises and transformations. As pointed out by the President of the European Commission Mr. José Manuel Barroso in the Preface of the Europe 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth published in March 2010, the economic and financial crisis “has left millions unemployed. It has brought a burden of debt that will last for many years. It has brought new pressures on our social cohesion”. Indeed, the crises are not only economic, but also on social and cultural dimensions, where the repercussions are more profound and agonizing. Some places suffered more deeply than others, especially those where the service sectors prevailed the traditional forms of industrial production and forced the latter to be abandoned, thus rendered the life of people there, particularly the working class as well as the older and younger generations, became more difficult and complicate. Defined as “places of crises” in the CARAVAN Project, these places have lived, or are living, a typical situation of social decay and marginalization derived from the economic crisis.
2. The sprout of strong sense and spontaneous actions of solidarity
The places of crises, however, may possess a historical and symbolic value to the communities living there, especially those places such as degraded urban quarters and historic buildings, squares and railway stations fallen into disuse, former military arsenals, old hydroelectric centers, abandoned mines, towns hit by natural disasters (L’Aquila for instance) and so forth. These “places of crises” can become “places of renascence” given the awareness, willingness and actions of the communities living inside. In fact we see in recent years many outstanding examples of solidarity, with which people of a community, a quarter or a town can resist the economic and social crises, the decay, the poverty and the exclusion with dignity and significance.
3. The benefits and importance of fostering the awareness of European cohesion in such context
Those places which are hit by crises but, along with loss and pains, have developed rich experiences of solidarity hence hope of “renascence” are worthy to be a model of civilization and culture at European level. Europe is in search of solidarity for combating the crises and finding hope for future, as, for example, the year 2011 is designated as the “European Year of Volunteering” to underline and strengthen common European values such as solidarity and social cohesion. The CARAVAN Project, in fact, will carry out cultural interventions and artistic performances in these “places of crises and renascence”, so as to give prominence to the value of such places, contribute to them more visibility, and spread to other places in Europe their stories and thoughts, tears and smiles.