Drab Grey Nights


Town peripheries house peripheral people, but nevertheless important ones. Far away from the historic town centres and the residential quarters, the outlying peripheries have a social function. They are the city’s trash bins. Those that live there are the dregs of society, those that are often swept under the carpet of indifference, such as the non-EU citizens, the druggies, the pensioners living on the minimum state pension, the unemployed and the temporary workers.
Town peripheries have no Christmas lights, nor do they have soldiers patrolling the streets. Oftentimes they don’t even have streets. You are unlikely to ever hear anyone say: “Let’s go for a stroll in the periphery”. There are no lights, shop windows or stars in the night sky in the town periphery. There are no trees either. The periphery is neither a town nor is it a village. It is a state of being, but those living there are not dead souls.
Nothing will grow on a bed of diamonds, but flowers do grow on a bed of compost, and that is why the rubbish dumps are always situated in the town peripheries. The gulls and the crows and the rats live in the town peripheries. The poor people and the illegal immigrants and the gypsies live in the town peripheries. They are capitalism’s new ghettos. The bus service doesn’t go out as far as the town periphery, nor do the Police’s squad cars. Stolen cars are abandoned in the town periphery, where they become makeshift homes.
The people living in the town periphery are all very different. Withn the town itself, the people are all very much alike. The buildings in the town periphery are all also very much alike. Tall, grey and ominous buildings, facing onto a dirty pavement and designed by an architect who specialises in designing prisons. Town peripheries are growing constantly, but they will never grow enough to become a town. They can, however, become a community. The town periphery is a place where, in order to survive, people need to help others and accept help in return. Town mayors organise “White Nights” (all night shopping) in their towns, including bright lights, excesses and gifts. All that happens in the town periphery, however, are the drab grey nights.
For tonight, I have organised the first “Drab Grey Night” as an alternative to the “White Night” arranged by the Municipality of Genoa. This is the first of many to be held throughout the whole of Italy. It will be held, starting from 21h00, in the “Centro Edilizia Popolare” (Public Housing Estate) at No. 14, Via della Benedicta, at the premises of the Consorzio Pianacci. It will take the form of a public meeting to discuss the degradation that is occurring to the west of Genoa. The meeting will also be attended by local priest Monsignor Giorgio Parodi and bio-architecture expert, architect Alberto Sasso. Entrance is free and any donations received will be handed over to the Sisters of Saint Maria of Calcutta and to the local Aid Association that is hosting the event.
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