Time to dare, time to give
A 24-hour ‘Hackathon’ in Caserta, Italy, targeted the creation of a digital platform fusing technology with social and environmental sustainability, plus the capacity to promote the concept of “gift”, “circular economy” and other values.
It was sparked off by the Bishop of Caserta, Mgr Giovanni D’Alise last October when he challenged young people “to commit yourselves to transforming your dreams into actions; become Christians who know how to ‘get your hands dirty’.” One response to this challenge came in the form of a practical proposal to generate a digital platform of solidarity which is ‘social’ not only in label but in effect, placing the person and their dignity at the center, and which takes into consideration the needs of those in difficulty, creating links with those who choose to give what they don’t need to keep.
The Fondazione Mario Diana, the Diocese of Caserta and Caritas linked up to launch an intriguing and ambitious project under the working name of “Time to Dare”. This project has brought together different forces for good in the region, all with something unique to contribute. Their combined efforts led to two innovative events: the digital “Hackathon” which took place over 24 hours from 17-18 January at 012Factory, and a dynamic discussion Forum on 22 January at the magnificent San Leucio “Monumental complex of Belvedere” in Caserta. In selecting the 22 January date, the organizers picked the exact centenary of the birth of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement and the Economy of Communion project, as well as primary promoter of the “culture of giving”.
Both events were geared towards creating a prototype digital platform, based on a traditional e-commerce model, which allows people to give material and other goods. The project title “Time To Dare” was chosen because the English word “dare” calls to mind the Italian word with the same spelling which actually means “to give”. So “dare” is a key word in this project, in both its meanings – to risk and to give. And the platform devised during the Hackathon is to be called E-GIVE, short for economy of giving, with all the semantic content of sharing, solidarity, sustainability and technology.
Seven teams of programmers, developers, graphic designers, students of economics and social sciences took part in the Hackathon. They were tasked with presenting a proposal for a platform combining technology with social and environmental sustainability. They had to include a capability for valuing the concept of giving, promoting the “circular” economy and giving new life to objects and goods, thereby reducing landfill and incinerated waste.
In a tightly-contested competition, the GiveKit group offered the winning proposal, convincing the jury with a story based on the traditional Neopolitan motto: “Fa ‘o bbene e scuordate” -“Do something good and forget about it”.
On 22 January, the winning team went on to present their plan to the Forum held at the prestigious San Leucio Belvedere, thanks to the patronage of Caserta City Council. The 100 plus participants discussed social economy, sharing, gift and solidarity in what emerged as a true laboratory of ideas, experience, thought, proposals and questions, relevant to all those active in society in the areas of poverty, in promoting peace, universal fraternity, solidarity, sustainability in the environment etc, mainly young people who believe in an economic culture imbued with communion, freedom (the economic concept of gratuity) and reciprocity.
The great strength of the Forum was the high proportion of youth – some very young – among the participants and especially the organizing team, which included teenagers from Rome, Naples and Padova as well as Caserta, mainly youth members of the event partners such as Focolare Movement, Catholic Action, AGESCI, Salesian Network, Ex-Canapificio Social Center, and Policoro project in Caserta.
The youth were supported by experts such as Sister Alessandra Smerilli, professor of Political Economy at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium in Rome, a University department which is among the leading partners of Time to Dare.
The “Time to Dare” Forum was one of the preparatory steps towards “The Economy of Francesco” event in Assisi 26-28 March 2020, convened by Pope Francis. Young people from 115 nations are gathering to generate a more just, fraternal, sustainable economy today and in the future, marking a new protagonism which has not been seen up to now.