An extraordinary sense of organization
The first thing I notice I have forgotten every time I get to Italy is how transportation is “different” from here. Trains are everywhere, in every direction, presumably all leading to Rome one day. Turin (Torino) is the host city of Terra Madre, a Slow Food event which attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees and delegates from over a hundred and fifty countries every other year. In 2012 Terra Madre barely contained the aura of five hundred youth delegates dancing with Carlo Petrini, the sexagenarian founder of Slow Food.
I landed in Turin and took a pretty cheap bus from the airport to an even cheaper train from the south end of Turin to Bra. They’re 2 quick rides, made quicker by the entertainment I am finding in people-watching along the way. I arrive in Bra a scant hour after leaving the airport, and with a gleam in my eye I head to the parking lot. There’s a really good feeling coming off of the two people who have picked me up from the train station in Bra. Ludovico Rocatello, an employee of Slow Food International, is there waiting for me with my local host, Yorick, who attends the gastronomic university.
We are headed to a beautiful house to meet and greet with the twenty-four other representatives to whom the Slow Food Youth Network has extended an invitation. As for all that awaited inside, I can only give what seem vague and disjointed explanations of all the subtle magic that happens when people eat great food together. I cannot explain this on my own, and I am a culinary professional. The Italians I asked about the phenomenon could not explain it… and they’re Italian!
On the second day, we regrouped at the picturesque University of Gastronomic Science (UNISG) in Pollenzo to attend a seminar hosted by Carla Coccolo, the head organizer of Terra Madre. To me, she is the woman who organizes one of the most magical events the world has ever seen. She unhesitatingly and organizedly shared her techniques for effectively running a volunteer organization on a very large scale. She started with introducing the value of having a great and original idea. Creative execution is the key to a successful project.
Her strongest recommendation is to create the dream team for any project, no matter the costs. She places ultimate importance on finding and placing the people who are most reliable in the positions which require the most reliability. Finding appropriate positions for each level of skill and dedication is of key importance, as well as making sure everybody knows their own responsibilities, and, equally importantly, the responsibilities of the rest of the team.
What she never failed to highlight is the benefits of self-organization. Having a strong creative idea, an accurate budget and a dream team are all small-scale methods of organizing oneself, but the magic is that these things translate well to large-scale projects and teams. The Slow Food Youth Network committee that organized this seminar could not have chosen a more appropriate, informative, or poignant speaker.
Read more about Darl’s experience at the international Slow Food Youth Network meeting in our next newsletter – stay tuned!