Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

domingo, febrero 08, 2009

The Kind Of Local Government I Want

After it was destroyed by an earthquake, the town of Salemi in Sicily decided to revitalize the center of the town by doing something daring. According to today's NY Times, the plan required the appointment of a new kind of government, the kind of local government I want to experience in Hudson, New York:
According to the report, an ancient town in western Sicily called Salemi had initiated an unusual renewal project. Founded around the fourth century B.C., the town achieved brief renown as the site where Giuseppe Garibaldi first planted the country’s tricolored flag in 1860 during his quest for a unified Italy.

But Salemi’s moment of glory lasted only a day before the place slipped into oblivion. A devastating earthquake in 1968 proved the final blow, and for decades, the historic center sat abandoned, the town largely forgotten.

Now, an ambitious effort was under way to reverse the damage.

The town had invited prominent artists and intellectuals to assume control of the government. An art critic and onetime anarchist named Vittorio Sgarbi was elected mayor. A prince was put in charge of town planning, and a performance artist was officially declared alderman to nothing. The provocative Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, whose ad campaigns for Benetton included a series on AIDS patients and inmates on death row, was named alderman of creativity.

Did you see that? "Alderman of Creativity."

And, as if that wasn't enough, the Town sold buildings for 1 Euro provided the purchasers repaired them within 2 years. And, naturally, the Town became the home for the legendary video collection of Kim's on St. Marks in the East Village, the reason why the Time's covered the story in the first place. In other words, Salemi wasn't just talk. It actually embarked on its arts and revitalization project.

So my proposal: Hudson, New York needs to learn from this creative approach to local government. At the very least, we need an "Alderman of Creativity," and it wouldn't hurt to go further and invite prominent artists assume control of the city's government. This would serve twin purposes. It would dispossess Hudson's entrenched, Neanderthal politicians (thank goodness for that), and it might actually provide just the artistic lift the city was seeking when it embarked on its recent misguided, idiotic, and now hopefully forgotten project involving dog sculptures.

Is this too much to contemplate?

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Blogger Melissa Stafford said...

what a great article - Salemi sounds fascinating! I would love to see something like that here in Hudson

11:51 a.m.  
Blogger Melissa Stafford said...

what a great article - Salemi sounds like a fascinating town. I'd love to see something like that happen here in Hudson.

11:52 a.m.  

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