tv Witness LINKTV January 5, 2022 3:00am-3:31am PST
■ú [mikael colville-andersen] whenever i think about milan, i've always thought about a diva. a classy, respectable, aging opera singer who's led a long life and has so many stories to tell. this city is standing at a crossroads, just like every other city in the world, in this growing age of urbanism. but here, the conversation is amplified. there is a growing hunger for real urban change. i want to find out which path milan is choosing and how it will future-proof itself using the power of urbanism and community engagement. milan, show me what you've got.
- let's be clear. milan isn't rome or venice. there are no gondolas here and no never-ending lines of tourists waiting to visit the colosseum. but something is happening here: a newly found desire to stand out, a quest for a modern way of developing a city. once considered the bland financial capital of the country, milan is now proving its capacity to redefine itself.
its industrial past left almost indelible scars on the urban fabric, but the 2015 world expo sparked change. skyscrapers, new public and private initiatives, innumerable urban renewal projects have since popped up on almost every block. some, of course, are more successful than others. one thing is for sure: decades of open-mindedness and of open doors to immigration have made milan the most multicultural hub in all of italy. to me, that is a good place to start. hey! giacomo! ciao! ciao! - good to see you. this is actually the border between italy as it was and the modernity. and you keep pointing right here. right here! future, past. future, past. exactly! that, to me, is milan as it was ten years ago. from sicily, to rome, to naples, all our history, our piazzas,
the city the rest of the world thinks it is. this, here, is the modern milan. the laboratory of modernity started right here ten years ago, building a new kind of city. - giacomo is at the helm of secolo urbano, "the urban century". formed by more than one hundred city enthusiasts, the group is raising awareness about urban issues on a national level. and this is city life, a residential and commercial complex in northwestern milan. more often than not, these places are made by and for the wealthy and have a detrimental effect on the surrounding urban fabric. so naturally, i regarded the place as the epitamy of the fundamental problems behind too many flawed urban developments. but giacomo sees it differently. in his view, this project represents what milan is
and wants to be: bold and audacious, keen on trying new things even if the result is not always perfect. now we are leaving the border and heading into this street, which to me is very interesting. i think it's very important to see what milan was. for example, this street is full of cars. it has no greenery, is filled with graffiti, but it has a lot of beauty with the mixed views and the openness. and this is the new milan. this new experiment. we have a gate and a building with no mixed views, but in exchange, we have larger sidewalks, no parking spaces because there is a garage, and a large park. we see nothing but fences. i can't get into what looks like a very nice backyard. it's inaccessible, almost like a gated community, whereas over here, i can talk to somebody through their window and ask for coffee or something. we still have to find a balance between this model and something
more open, something a bit more mixed. to me, the main point is milan, amongst all other italian cities, is trying. that's the surprise. a little hole in the gate offers a whole new perspective. of course, it's very different from what we had in milan. mostly, you don't have perspective to something desirable. we used to do it centuries ago. we built monuments, castles, cathedrals. then we shaped the city so people could see something representative of it. for things to change, we have to prove this new vision, in my opinion. a lot of the newer urbanists want to have pedestrian promenades, they want to have bigger parks. i think in a strange way, this contemporary urbanism
is affecting in exactly your direction the old fabric of the city. - giacomo and i have clearly connected on the fact that a city has to adapt to its citizens' needs and not the other way around. like me, he sees the city as a process where individual goals can be transformed into morsels of collective well-being. the old milan, old european cities, even old american cities were individual. if we needed a building here, some guy paid for it and they built a building. now we are in a different age. the process has changed. now there are developers with enormous amounts of power and working with "star-chitects". is this a threat to the future development of our cities? that we are leaving it up to very wealthy groups that we cannot really influence the same way that we could influence the organic nature of cities back in the day? yes, this could be a real danger,
but as far as you're combining the old and the new and as far as you accelerate this process of city creation, you can check and balance better. at the end, you should and you could avoid this loss of control and this loss of vision by real-estate owners and mix up things together. so maybe the city there, the old city, is the only effective watchdog that can prevent the new part from being detached from reality, from the common good and from the people. very efficient. everything is all in here. now we are arriving on the first floor. this huge place we call "the galleria."
wow! it's beautiful! yes. so from here you can see how close we are to the building. in the middle. this is a good point of view. - paola bonara is a very busy woman. she's a doctor, a mother, she sings in a choir and she's one of the citizens who fought for years to transform cascina cuccagna, a 17th century abandoned farmhouse right in downtown milan into an open space. the idea was to preserve this heritage building in a way that would turn it into a functional place for locals. all in all, it took paola and friends more than 15 years to get this show on the road, but the result was a game changer and an inspiration for citizens all over the city. and that's a good thing, because there are 18 other farmhouses in a state of total abandonment just waiting for similar
projects to bring them back to life. there are so many people! this is really alive today, you know? for us, the most important thing is that this place is open. it's open to everybody. people come here for some cards or a project, to go to the movies, to listen to a concert, to do bookcrossing, to discuss sustainability or circular economy, that is one of the most important points of our project. this is the grapevine. oh! it's very nice to spend time under the grapevine. yeah! in your mind, is this public space? in my mind, it's my space that i give to them. we are the guardians of this place. if a child comes and breaks a tree, i can tell him not to do it. but sometimes, the parents are strange
and say it's a public place. is that not the best success? that people think it's a public place? yes, it is a good success, because we are trying to be invisible. we want them to feel there is something more than this nice place because we want them to participate with us. we are doing something for the town and we would like for other people to participate with us in this project and contaminate their projects with our project. - the work of the good people of cascina cuccagna is not only important for this neighborhood. it's also having a positive impact on the entire city. they had the bright idea of opening the doors of their old farmhouse to refugees, women who had just arrived with their children. they fed them, housed them, provided them with healthcare. that's what this inclusive project is all about.
it's a place for the people, by the people, to be used as the community sees fit. we try to do all these things with simplicity, but it's difficult to be simple. it's very difficult not to impose rules. maybe it's hard to make it simple, but if you do that, there are no limits. the results are the best. - cascina cuccagna is host to many citizen initiatives. one of them is donatella's giacimenti urbani, a kind of urban environmental lab. today, they're holding a restart party, bringing life back into broken objects. and yes, i think i'll need paola's translation skills for this.
- it's simple. people write their names on this board, along with the object they brought, so that they can keep track of the quantity of potential waste that was avoided. this hand mixer is fixed. yes. we avoided one kilogram of potential waste. okay. so we saved it. we saved one kilogram of waste. yes. a microwave oven. a microwave. a microwave. a microwave oven. couldn't save it? we couldn't save it. it couldn't be saved. is that fixable? yes, yes. so you'll get a smiley face? sure. - the complex subject of waste in milan resonates in many different spheres. the city has now implemented a policy aimed at reducing food waste and is at the helm of the milan urban food policy pact.
it's basically an agreement on sustainable urban food systems signed by the mayors of 130 cities around the world. and that's great, but if i've learned one thing it's that smaller, simpler citizen-led ideas can often be even more inspiring. they are packing up, so sales are already closed. let's see... - okay. ... if he's going to give us something. okay, cool. grazie mille. - ciao. grazie. grazie. - rebecca is not a chef. she's not a policy maker. she is, however, a very concerned citizen. seeing people rummage through trash consisting mostly of perfectly edible food, discarded at the end of each day, well, that bugged her. how could so much food go to waste? so she asked the merchants if she could collect their unsold produce and distribute it
to the people of the neighborhood. simple as that. it all began in one small market and now recup, that's the name of the project, has spread to 11 of milan's numerous markets. ciao! this one? yes. when we have a cargo bike, it'll be easier. do your volunteers have a relationship with the merchants here? do they know each other? oh, that's recup. they're coming here now. yes, they know, because at the beginning, when we decided to start covering the market, we just came and explained the project to all the merchants. if you want, the next week we'll start and we'll come to you. the market sellers think they can't sell this. they can't sell it, but it doesn't mean the food is not edible. as you can see, maybe we can cut it here, but the apple is still good. the cauliflowers look good. yes. the avocado you'd have to eat today and not tomorrow. yes.
before, at the end of the market, people would go through the rubbish to rummage and take all these things, actually, or the leftovers from the market that the merchants throw away. look at that. it's an absolutely perfect cucumber right there. - to collect data about food waste, recup's volunteers weigh the recovered food. milan is hoping to use this information to better analyze the situation and to find a large-scale solution. we've actually scavenged 161 kilograms of food just today in just one market. everybody's going to know how much you weigh. cinque. cinque. eight. otto. otto. do you just weigh the total or do you weigh how much broccoli, how many... it depends on the market. like here, they weigh the total. hello. biongiorno, signore. what do we have today? we have some lettuce, some oranges, apples, avocado...
all over the world. but this one is a bit different and rebecca insists this is not charity. it's not the rich giving to the poor. it's simply everyone working together. those coming to take food also help collect it, sort it and distribute it and the volunteers take food home too. sometimes, when there are people not respectful with the others, when they rummage through all the rubbish, i stop them and give them a box and tell them to give it to the others. this way, little by little, the people that come here start speaking to each other. so from being in a way anonymous and just looking at the people digging through the garbage, when you stop to talk to them you give them dignity and then you include them in a circle of many types of people. and they feel part of the project. that's the last link of the chain. but in the future, we have a lot of dreams and ideas.
we want to give jobs to people. we'd like to create a social enterprise and also transform the food. we already make marmalade for some small events and we make some for ourselves. but we'd like to sell the marmalade. who cooks the marmalade? we can call all the old ladies, all the people and pay them. of all the social movements that i've witnessed in cities around the world, it's as though the ones that tackle food waste are rocking it more than anything else. it's simple, it's intuitive, you get it when you see the kind of food that's being thrown out, you understand that we have to do something to reverse that. but it's projects like recup that mix food waste with social inclusion and with strengthening the urban fabric that i love the most. i was here a bit earlier and there weren't so many people
and now people are finished work and are coming down to the canal. - the concentric layout of the city centre reflects the navigli, the system of interconnected urban canals that was created between the roman era and the early 19th century. i meet pier-francesco maran, deputy mayor for urban planning and green areas at the naviglio grande, one of only three canals still open. all the others, some of which were designed by a certain leonardo da vinci - you might have heard of him - were coverted up and transformed into, you guessed it, roads. but hey, the good news: the city plans to reopen eight kilometers of these forgotten treasures. tell me about the actual process.
it seems like an enormous project to uncover all of these canals. i guess the citizens also deserve that you explain the consequences, right? do you find that a lot of the milanese are surprised to learn that there are canals under some of the roads? the younger generation maybe doesn't even know about this. they know?
historically, did you have the same problem of flooding in the north and agriculture in the south without much water? were the canals... okay. but that's the point. okay. could this be a new identity for this city, bringing back the canals? you have already tested it in a way. what was darsena like before you redesigned it?
- this is porta romana. it's basically 200 000 m2 of nearly abandoned rail yard. from the look of it, you might think i'm lost in some dodgy suburb far from the city centre. but nope, not at all. the largest of milan's 7 abandoned rail yards, it now sits between two bustling neighborhoods. these railyards once separated the city from its industrial zone. but over the past decades, milan has sprawled so drastically that it's grown far beyond this former frontier. piero is the city's chief resilience officer and he sees these derelict places as blank slates as unique opportunities to create something new and better.
then you have the prada foundation with its big fancy building. it feels like... i see something like that and i wonder if they're coming. is this going to be a fancy development with huge companies moving in? okay. - the city has convinced the national railway company to put this land to better use, to give it a new lease on life. so they've established a master plan. a third of the land will be devoted to housing, including social housing, and 65% will be transformed into green space.
milan has a reputation for being one the most welcoming cities in europe for refugees. they talk about the milan model, but now the tendency is waning because of politics and many other aspects that we are seeing not only in milan, but cities around the world. i'm going to meet some people here in zone 8 who are trying their best to reverse that tendency and insist on making refugees feel welcome. the exchange between people is a richness and we are trying to make a bridge and to escape or avoid the fear amongst people. - there are three large scale refugee camps in this neighborhood alone and they're home to almost 500 people. for alessandro and his friends, that's how it all started. they just wanted to get to know their new neighbors and to make them feel welcome. what better way than sharing a meal? so they organized a dinner, and then another one
and another one, inviting refugees and people that had been living in zone 8 their entire lives. we have three kinds of african foods tonight, from somalia, from sierra leone and from gambia. you are from somalia? and when did you come to italy? [somalian] almost one month... one year. sorry. one year. and you? me, about one year. one year as well? like that? alright. is that good? that's good. next. next. there you go. that one will need a different sauce. alright. gambia on one side, somalia on other side. and does everybody vote on which one is the best? you're hoping for sierra leone. yeah, alright.
gambia. my kitchen is so boring compared to this one, believe me! this is sierra leone. sierra leone? and gambia. - after the food is served, i chat with alessandro and his friends: selam, cofounder of zona 8 solidale, kamara and rahim from sierra leone and mohammed from gambia. that was intense! that was wild! that was just... the kitchen, everybody, the volunteers... who are a lot of the italian volunteers? those people are mostly from zone 8, who are organizing