New Humanity Movement

Politics and P.A.




How can you revive a city where everything seems to collapse? We spoke with Franco Gallelli, who tells us of the common commitment in his home town led by a group of people who believe in the universal brotherhood.

By Paolo Balduzzi

If you follow the Salerno-Reggio Calabria in the south, we find ourselves at some point, on a strip of land only 30 km long, which separates the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Ionian Sea.

A rich land, extraordinary, beautiful, home to one of its settlements also the "city between the two seas" is Catanzaro, an ancient settlement now one of the most important centers of Calabria. From its pinnacles it’s possible to take a glance at the Aeolian Islands, similar to the immense Ionia as it washes its shores, or enjoying the wind that beats strong in these areas.

The wind comes when you least expect it, I gather, it slows you down, but can also give you the boost. And what has happened and is happening even today, Franco Gallelli, who knows this city well, has decided to live and raise his children.
Since he met the young people who introduced to him the ideal of universal brotherhood, Franco spends time doing "his best" to witness this joy of life at work, with family, and with friends. But not only, Franco, experiences this life with many other people, with whom he has begun to "inform" about brotherhood in his newspaper sites. A life seemingly simple and ordinary, but in reality is fraught with constant innovations and discoveries.

Where does your story begin?

"My story begins in Naples, where I was born in a beautiful family, simple but united. I lived in a very poor neighborhood, my parents "were pulling a living" as they say, doing odd jobs. So I was able to learn as a child what suffering was, what it's like not knowing if in the course of the day you can eat or not. I noticed the difference in life with those who lived uptown in the city and I think it’s because of this story since my youth, that I felt the intense need for social justice. "

How did you satisfy this need?

"Like so many young people at that time, I approached the far-left groups, in the midst of which I thought I could achieve my life ideal. Great battles, struggles, governing the party, do not forget that we are in the late sixties and early seventies, a period already quite intense because of the youth protest. I lived through those years so intense, with a great passion in everything I did, because we strongly believe in the choice we made. "

And then what happened?

"I soon understood, thanks to harsh and painful experiences, that my dream although based on a positive ideal, collapsed under the blows of a way to manage and understand justice that perhaps, excluded the love of neighbor. I remember I was in Bologna, for one of our meetings "against repression". I saw friends who were fighting one another, that maybe they were blinded by other things that took them way over good intentions. I felt that that life was not for me, but it was tough, a disappointment that, like a sharp knife took everything away, depriving me of my ideal".

To bounce back after these disappointments is not so easy ...

"Of course not. I can say that I was lucky. Engrossed in darkness, I was able to see the only light; I met a group of young people in my town that lived for an ideal, that of universal brotherhood, which has kidnapped me. With these young people, I built a wonderful relationship through which I had the possibility, which I still appreciate today, to live for a superior ideal".

Franco-serataFrom there, everything changed I guess...

"It began an adventure that continues and that led me to visit all the villages in my region to bring this ideal. I remember the nights spent in the car, and having to run the next morning to work with heavy eyes from lack of sleep, but with a joy in my heart that compensated for everything else. But not only that, living for this ideal has given me the opportunity to really open my eyes to the reality of my city, to understand where its hurting, and to know that the destiny of every street, every neighborhood, every person suffering was mine too, it depended on me and not just the politicians or administrators. It helped me to understand that as people we already have a great heritage to draw from on how to relate with each other and thus improve our every day. How much, how many initiatives, especially for the poor, the marginalized. Struggles, still struggles, but different, yes they had a concrete result. "

How did you end up in Calabria?

"I went to live in Calabria for a business meeting. I was not yet married but in love with this extraordinary land, together with Floriana that shortly after would become my wife, we decided to stay there. "

What situation did you find when you arrived?

"I found a Calabria hospitable to strangers, I also met some dishonest people of course, but the vast majority of Calabrians was and is beautiful. Passionate about this revolution that I knew, I helped to foster the ideal of a united world, again going in the most remote villages. This was also a very adventurous life, I seemed to know no weariness because everything was very powerful. "

And Catanzaro what type of city is it?

"I would say that either love it or you can’t stay there. Catanzaro ravishes you not only with its beauty too often underestimated, but it conquers you with its hurts resulting from a history of oppression and exploitation common to the whole area. No one has ever allowed these people to decide for their own lives and the destiny of their land. Yet the sweet and strong reaction of the Calabrians, a rebellious people, was not long in coming. We must know how to listen, immerse ourselves in this story and reporting without bias; it’s like polishing a precious stone, and freeing it from the sand that oppresses it, thus showing its splendor. "

What have you learned from these experiences?

"I learned to believe very much, indeed, in relationship with others, to be almost certain of the impossibility for humans in their solitude to solve problems. That's why I realized that a response to the social problems of poverty, immigration, and crime that are still strong in our cities, is to come together, making it in such a way as to become protagonist of our own destiny. "

How did you go about it?

"Entering into this culture, binding with many people, I realized it was necessary to immerse myself in the society. "New Wind" came to life, a civic education that led the mayor and several councilors to begin a process of rebirth for the city. The successive groups that came after continued this work and the city has experienced a new era. "

The era of Calabria Protagonista?

"Calabria Protagonista is an association of citizens that intends to move along the lines of these path. Starting from the "creed " of relationships, to understanding the tragedy and the enormous opportunities in our area, and enhancing people's skills, giving space to their imaginations and to base the confidence of someone who wants to do good to the city , to give concrete ideas for health, education, culture, and politics. "

(to be continued)

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