Sunday, 14 May 2017 from 11:00 to 20:00 and

Wednesday, 17 May from 17.00 to 20.30, with a guided tour open to all.

Isola Pepe Verde Community Garden, Via Pepe 10, Milano

During the celebration of Isola Pepe Verde, Isola Utopia presents:

Isola Pepe Verde: a long journey, an exhibition curated by Angelo Castucci.

Texts by Edna Gee

There are birds in Isola Pepe Verde, the self-managed community garden. There are the birds (some pigeons, a common blackbird, and some visiting swallows) that add to the biodiversity of the garden…and then there are the active dreamers.

When the Stecca and the adjacent park were demolished to make space for the new buildings, the neighborhood was left with not even one garden. While the Association Isola Pepe Verde was formed in response to the real need for a green space in a neighborhood filled with building sites and no park, it served also as a symbol of resistance against the top-down urban planning and gentrification. The association and its members have been actively changing their conditions, constantly searching and trying.

The archival exhibition presented in the office space of Isola Pepe Verde is a testimony of this journey from its beginning up to today. It is a recount of how far it’s come but also where it hopes to go next. It’s no longer just a garden, it is not a park but a social space where inhabitants can actively participate, propose projects and cultivate. The journey itself will continue, there are many hopes and ideas. The most pressing hope is to change the urban destination of the garden’s space from built to green/public space.

Photos: Barbara Barberis

Dal cielo alle strade

Una parata svolazzante del quartiere Isola by the art Ruggero Asnago with Teatro in scatola e Isola Libri with the support of Isola Art Center.

At 15.30, the public is invited to participate in a parade consisting of giant fantastical birds that will be carried by big and small inhabitants of the Isola neighborhood, accompanied by the local brass band. The parade will part from Isola Pepe Verde and follow a route through the streets of Isola, concluding again at the garden in time for a snack.   The giant bird marionettes were constructed with parents and children in April, during the public workshops developed by the artist Ruggero Asnago. The Parade is a moment to take the celebrations out into the neighborhood, to use and defend our public spaces, and to celebrate the return of the birds and summer in Isola Pepe Verde.

When the weather starts to change migratory birds fly thousands of kilometers to find the best ecological conditions and habitats for feeding, breeding and raising their young. They take this arduous journey and face many threats which push them to their limits, becoming ever more difficult in face of the deforestation and other human activities. Despite all the difficulties, the migratory birds are seen every year in migration never losing their drive to find these better conditions. The journey itself is a spectacular vision of aerodynamics and community. Their survival is dependent on their group as a synchronized collaboration. When they fly in V formation the flaps of their wings are timed perfectly to respond to the wing path of their nearby flock-mates as to capture the right upwash air.

Today it is becoming ever more difficult to feel like we can react to events or politics and actively shape our reality, especially within a global setting and under these limitations that our society and the economy knowingly and unknowingly impose on us. Utopia is a continuous and arduous journey in search of better conditions. We are the migratory birds moving along, taking that difficult flight that gives us a possibility to look at it from the distance and move, make changes, to better our conditions. It is not a lonely journey but one that needs a community.

It is not that we are fleeing to some non-existent ideal place but it is a search to change our conditions, a route that improves our world. And, we, like the migratory birds, do not stop in that new destination forever. We continuously retake the journey once conditions start changing, always reacting, struggling and thinking, defending our environment and the right for people to change their own realities, for self-determination, and to imagine and actively participate in shaping their future.

Edna Gee

Photos: Barbara Barberis