Maybe this is the way cities are meant to operate — with residents taking charge to make sure the work gets done.
In April, Frances D’Emilio wrote at the Associated Press that the people of Rome, fed up with their dysfunctional government, had started filling potholes and tackling other maintenance chores themselves.
“Armed with shovels and sacks of cold asphalt, Rome’s residents fill potholes. Defying rats, they yank weeds and bag trash along the Tiber’s banks and in urban parks. Tired of waiting years for the city to replace distressed trees, neighbors dig into their own pockets to pay for new ones for their block.
“Romans are starting to take back their city, which for years was neglected and even plundered by City Hall officials and cronies so conniving that some of them are on trial as alleged mobsters.
“In doing the work, Romans are experimenting with what for many Italians is a novel and alien concept: a sense of civic duty.
“One recent windy Sunday morning, Manuela Di Santo slathered paint over graffiti defacing a wall on Via Ludovico di Monreale, a residential block in Rome’s middle-class Monteverde neighborhood. …
” ‘Either I help the city, or we’re all brought to our knees,” said Di Santo.
“Splotches of paint stained a blue bib identifying her as a volunteer for Retake Roma, a pioneer in an expanding array of citizen-created organizations in the past few years aimed at encouraging Romans to take the initiative in cleaning and repairing their city. …
“Calls and text messages pour into Cristiano Davoli’s cellphone from citizens alerting him to ominously widening potholes on their block or routes to work. On weekends, Davoli and four helpers – an off-duty doorman, a graphic artist, a government worker and a retiree – who call themselves ‘Tappami’ (Fill Me Up) load their car trunks with donated bags of cold asphalt and fan out.
” ‘Sometimes it’s the municipal traffic police who call me,’ said Davoli, a shopkeeper.” Imagine that!
Read more here.
Photo: Alessandra Tarantino
Retake Roma volunteers do the jobs that a dysfunctional government has failed to do.