I thought it was appropriate to spotlight We Are Here Venice (and other Venice-based activism groups) while I am in the city. We Are Here Venice is a campaign to save the city from the damaging tourism industry (which so many of us, including me, are guilty of) and coastal damage and pollution. The surrounding lagoon’s ecosystem is compromised by negligent boating and water pollution, but this isn’t the only problem the small city is facing according to Venice the Future. More Venetians are leaving the city, leaving a dwindling native population to make room for a more demanding tourism industry.
The managing director of We Are Here Venice, Jane Da Mosto, moved to the city in 1995 after growing up in South Africa and London. According to Mosto:
“Working on my book opened my eyes and made me more concerned for the future of the city [Venice]. When you analyse it in detail, you realise how much isn't functioning properly. Take the lagoon. The presence of deep navigational channels for tankers and cruise ships has caused strong currents that wash away vital sediments. Huge tracts of salt marsh are disappearing very fast. And it's impossible to remain oblivious to the impact of tourism and the precipitous reduction in permanent residents. One month you go and visit someone in their office here and the next, you find they have moved to the mainland.” (You can read more here).
According to Da Mosto and other activists, Venice is facing many problems that go relatively unnoticed by the larger population as a result of increased tourism and industrialization. Many organizations have formed in response to this crisis to protect Venetian culture, history, and art. For instance, Save Venice is one of these organizations. With a focus on Venetian art, Save Venice funds many restoration projects to preserve the city’s treasures. The work of groups like We Are Here Venice and Save Venice are important in protecting Venice from its current obstacles.
Remember that if you are visiting Venice, be respectful. According to the International Business Times:
“Venice welcomes millions of tourists every year, and on any given day in the summer its residents are outnumbered by visitors. With few industrial opportunities existing in the island city, tourism has long been one of its main sources of income. Most of the revenue there is booked through hotels, museums, restaurants and tours. However, as tourists increasingly exhibit bad behavior -- sleeping on bridges, swimming in canals and tagging churches with graffiti -- some Venetians fear the visitors who keep their city alive could also be slowly destroying its culture and history.
You can read more about the problems facing Venice through We Are Here Venice and Venice in Peril.
Places we've gone, things we've seen, stories worth telling