Salento’s Changing Landscape: Learn More About #noTAP

Last fall I wrote a few posts about Melendugno, a rural town outside of Lecce, Italy. Read this to learn what you can do in the fight between citizens protecting their beautiful seaside town and those profiting by building a natural gas pipeline.

Or this, about my experience farming three years ago in this land of ulivi (olive trees).

The struggle continues for locals in the Salento region (of Puglia) to be seen and heard. Please follow and like “Movimento No Tap” on Facebook to see the opinions of people in this fight everyday.  I try to read the Facebook posts in Italian but, for those non-Italian speakers who support the environment, Google translate does wonders with whole hunks of paragraphs. I support #noTAP because I believe any economic investment in fossil fuels today is not a healthy or sustainable choice for the generations to come. I want to leave this world a little bit better than how it was when I came into it.

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In 2015 Melendugno felt ancient and a little dusty but full of life. Neighbors were miles apart. The farm’s dogs would follow me between the loose stone walls, for 20 of the 30 minute walk to town, until I shooed them away. I learned how to ride a bike, on the winding roads between the olive groves. The ulivi felt endless. Riding east the road became tighter, houses appeared instead of stones, and I had to choose between falling into bushes (several times) or into 30 mph traffic on the main beach-side drag.

I experienced the town in February and March. Which meant lots of rain, the smell of pine and eucalyptus firewood, cups of darjeeling tea, and movie nights on the couch. I was able to see the sea a few times, but never experienced the way it’s meant to be, under the summer sun.

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(That’s Nikki up there. She came from Florence to visit me one weekend.)

Until I can visit Salento again, personal stories over Facebook and WordPress keep me informed. I hope to pass along and reiterate info I learn to anyone who’s interested in environmentalism or Italy.

This is what Melendugno used to look like and my experience of it in 2015. These are results from a Google image search for “Melendugno”:

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This is a Google search for “Melendugno ulivi” a.k.a Melendugno today:

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That is the difference three years makes. The region has been ripped apart, physically and socioeconomically, during these initial months of TAP construction. In the next month I will be doing a photo-based series of posts about the towns I was fortunate enough to visit in Puglia in 2015 Otranto, Lecce, Ostuni to celebrate the beauty and life of this region. To fight for something means you see hope and power in your actions. To hope you need something to believe in, a glimmer of a near-future possibility.

This past week, curled up in the small photo-book library of the International Center of Photography (in NYC, it’s open to the public!), I rediscovered this Emily Dickinson poem in Masao Yamamoto’s photography book “Tori.” It feels appropriate.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

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