On February 21st, while news of the first Italian outbreak of what would become known as SARS-CoV-2 was spreading online and on social networks, I was holding a design contest with the students of a vocational school (CFP, IeFP, in order to understand each other). I was, as expected, in FabLabLodi, a place that YATTA helped open between 2018 and 2019, in the lodigian area, thanks to a call from the Cariplo Foundation, giving life to the Digitalo.lodi.it project.
During the meeting, the teachers who had accompanied the class brought themselves up to date on the news and gave me some strange looks. Then, during the break, the facts came out: an outbreak was discovered in Codogno, about 25km south of Lodi. It was clearly bad news and we were uncertain about what to do, especially because of our geographical location at that time. At the end of the lesson, after a brief consultation between its organizers, the contest was suspended.
Overall, that activity involved meetings with four classes among a total of three schools, one of which was the Ambrosoli Institute, located right in Codogno. It was already scheduled in the calendar that I would have to go there the following week, a random overlap because it could have fallen during the current week or the previous one.
Will activities continue?
Looking back, that day it was very difficult to think with a cool head, decide what to give weight to, what to do and what to avoid. First we closed the FabLab until a date to be defined. But we had another engagement that day in the afternoon, and after the contest, I headed to Lodi Vecchio. I had to give a robotics lesson in a lower secondary school within the Community in LAB project. It was a new, recently started project with a three-year duration to be carried out in the Lodi area.
During the morning, no provision for closure of the structure had been made by the school, perhaps due to the presumed distance from the territories of the “low” (i.e., essentially, from Codogno). So the meeting took place and it also went well. But two days later, since Sunday as is known, all school activities stopped in the Lodi area and in any other area and school structure—a big problem for us, but very small when compared with what was looming (and which is now happening with great fury) throughout the area, the region and the country.
As far as we are concerned, little or nothing has since started again through the tools designed for distance learning: the need to re-establish the flow of ordinary lessons has rightly taken precedence. But also because many of our classroom activities are of the “laboratory” and interactive type, therefore not easily reducible to what can be transmitted via a monitor.
We will return to Lodi.
I will devote a separate reflection to the interrupted activities, to how they were going and the results achieved so far. Instead, I would like to remember the commitment (small or large it is not for me to say) that, since 2017, we have brought to the Lodi area, to spread digital skills and at the same time create opportunities for social liberation (these are almost always projects with a double value).
If initially it was a question of assignments on small lectures, over time our presence has been strengthened with increasingly structured ideas and projects, thanks to partners and professionals who have supported and helped us (nothing is done alone, of course). And all this must be resumed as soon as possible, as soon as the minimum safety conditions are met, perhaps in rethought or new forms. But it’s too soon to define it now.
Marco / YATTA!
cover image credit: The Met (Objecti: 315231 / Accession Number: 1987.394.169)
Testo Originale di Marco Lanza / Traduzione: Peter Briggs