Have you seen the Coca Cola advert which was broadcast recently? The one in black and white which fastidiously recounts the history of the drink? It begins with the pharmacist who invented it in 1886 and kept its recipe a secret, and ends with a 1950s Roman mother (followed by a Parisian mother and then others from all around the world) who decides to serve it with lunch. The underlying message of the campaign is that Coca Cola has gone global, bringing joy to our households because of its innate formula for happiness. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, the campaign is called “open happiness” and the Coca Cola company has literally bought the word “happiness”: No one in the food and beverage industry in any country can now use the word. Does that seem crazy to you? Selling a feeling, after buying the word which describes it; selling the signified, buying its signifier, as Ferninand de Saussure would have said.
Why am I telling you this? Because this is quite clearly not the approach described to us by Matteo Ricci, President of the Pesaro-Urbino province, when we went to interview him about his “Plans for a happier community”. The President claims that during times of crisis it is important to “get our priorities back in order” and to this end he has drawn up a development plan with environmentally sustainable town planning, improvents to infrastructure, quality of education, safety, legality, resolving inequalities and many other areas which Pesaro is working on to create, together with Istat, the BES (Benessere Equo e Sostenibile or Fair and Sustainable Wellbeing), a new indicator to measure a population’s quality of life.
The highlight in the calendar for this scheme, where the Pesaro-Urbino province is Italy’s prime example in a now international trend, is the Festival della Felicità or Happiness Festival. The first edition took place last June and the second is now in the planning phase. It highlights questions about quality of life as well as the beauty of Le Marche, revealed through the particular attention paid to tourism in the Pesaro development plan.
Paradise Possible can only agree with Presidente Ricci’s approach to the “public sphere of happiness”, which is fortunately changing the attitude of citizens who have always considered institutions intruders, perhaps because they impose taxes. In the case of P-U province, institutions are turning to individuals and asking, “How are you?”, making sure their lives are good and discussing possible improvements for things that aren’t working well. The public sphere of happiness, Ricci explained, is the “Common Good”, which amounts to creating private spheres of happiness for every individual.
Here at Paradise Possible, as you will know, we love the idea of Travel as geographical movement, but also and especially as reinventing our horizons. It was no coincidence that Marcel Proust claimed “a true journey of discovery does not mean searching for new countries, but seeing through new eyes.” Well, we think that Matteo Ricci has new eyes, which are looking in the same direction as ours.
The Paradise Trotter
1 comment(s) so far...
By Grazia Neri on
Re: Matteo Ricci’s “new eyes”
Grazia Neri via Maroncelli 14 20154 Milano
Saluti alla mia amica Grazia Grazi che ho conosciuto tanti anni fa. A presto. G.Neri