Smart Regions speaks to the director of a pioneering social cooperative in Vicenza seeking to give used items a second life while also offering jobs to the disadvantaged.
The Insieme Cooperative in the Italian city of Vicenza is in the business of giving second hand items and fresh start.
Smart Regions spoke to Director Cristiano Pavan to find out more about the cooperative's work and social mission, including its participation in a European project called SURFACE, which seeks to cut down on the amount of waste used.
"From the start, the goal was to create jobs for people who were out of work and on the streets,'' Cristiano explains.
"The second major objective was to ensure this work was closely linked to the environment. This was handy in Vicenza as there was nothing of its kind in the city, so this idea of welcoming people and giving them a second chance was important."
Insieme is one of several so-called “Smart Re-use parks" that make up SURFACE. The European project has a total budget of €2.16 million of which €1.78 million comes from the European cohesion policy.
Our participation in SURFACE has led us to hold events in the city, build a café here at the Insieme site, and hold other public meetings and events with the municipality of Vicenza, and environmental groups like Legambiente," he says.
Summing up the cooperatives popularity among local residents, Cristiano says: "Everybody in Vicenca knows about the Insieme Cooperative. Visiting the cooperative is natural. You could find an architect looking for designer furniture or a rich man or woman in search of an important opportunity inside the cooperative. You might also find an immigrant looking for a second-hand suit.