The Italian project Solidarity Wall from Como/Brunate experimented with innovative social and territorial innovation paths. This was possible thanks to a large local network in which each partner contributed with its expertise that ranged from nourishing a welcoming culture, managing reception services and facilitating work integration up to organizing creative walks to valorize the landscape surrounding Como and promoting dry stone walls. While managing to restore two terracing that had collapsed, the initiative succeeded in stimulating a fruitful interaction among asylum seekers and local inhabitants, and fostered trust relations among the actors involved.

This measure tackles various challenges. Firstly, it paves the way for a positive change in attitude of the local community towards asylum seekers. This is particularly relevant in mountain territories notably distinguished by a strong social polarization. Secondly, the training sessions that were provided enabled to take stock of the informal, implicit practice-oriented skills of asylum seekers and contributed to raising awareness about the agricultural heritage of the territory and the valuable function that dry stone walls play.

“Our measure stimulates the interaction among asylum seekers and local inhabitants, paving the way for a positive change in the attitude that local communities have towards asylum seekers”. Starting from April 2018, three African asylum seekers will grow ancient vegetables and fruits at risk of extinction (i.e. Brunate onion)

According to the organisers these are the main lessons:

  • asylum seekers are endowed with unrecognized practice oriented skills that can be employed to support initiatives that are of interest to local communities
  • whenever they are offered the possibility, asylum seekers are more than willing to work than other youths, especially when they feel they are part of a collective endeavor.

 

"Thanks to a joint community building effort, a piece of land that had been abandoned for over 50 years was regenerated: it is now ready to be cultivated and start produce agricultural products again, as it did for centuries”.

Solidarity walls won the second prize of the Alpine Pluralism Award in the category land use and environment #PlurAlps