Day 114-XL, Potenza
Potenza, February 29
Our group is growing stronger. We have been joined by another Neapolitan, we have almost reached the mountain top, and we are seriously starting to focus on Greece.
Things got a lot more relaxed ever since comrade Marianne left. In the end there was complete incommunicability between her and many of the French.
The French, like I said, are the soul of the march. Two of them have been on the road all the way from Nice, and others have been with the march for most of the time.
Aside from them there are two persons who are true pillars of the march. Comrade Max, and comrade José Miguel.
Max is Sicilian. He is an indefatigable organiser of popular assemblies. He is also a translator with an admireable ammount of patience. He is our main link with the Italian population.
José Miguel is from Barcelona. He speaks perfect Italian and he is a charming communicator. Wherever we arrive, he goes to the bar, and he starts to chat with the locals. It’s the most effective way of doing diffusion. He is also the last to leave the square whenever we move on. He wants to make absolutely sure that we leave the place cleaner than how we found it.
Max is a biologist, José Miguel is an archeologist. Both of them left university to come along with the march.
There are many more people who make a fundamental contribution to the march in different ways. But me, I’m not one of them.
I don’t cook, I don’t do a lot of diffusion, I clean my own things but little more, I don’t push a cart with common stuff, I don’t translate. I walk, I observe, and I write. That’s all. So if the march becomes a success, it won’t be because of me.
Today, however, I increased my level of participation a bit. We held an internal assembly about the route to Bari, and about the great controversy… The date of arrival in Athens.
For once, I volunteered to moderate the assembly.
I can’t remember the last time we held an internal assembly that didn’t turn into a farce. So I prepared some things in advance. First of all I talked to the Old Man. He can be reasoned with, and I’m actually starting to appreciate him. The other day, when everyone - me included – loaded his or her stuff onto the van of the protezione civile, the Old Man refused. He pushed all of his stuff up the mountain for fifteen kilometres. I made a deep bow when he arrived.
We talked about the proposed route to Bari, he made a few corrections, and I presented it in the assembly.
We reached a consensus in eight minutes. I don’t know if it’s a record, but it was definitely better than the five hours it took to reach a consensus about the route to Potenza.
It was the first time I moderated an assembly. Normally, the moderator has to guide the proces of collective reasoning, without making use of his role to highlight his own opinions or try to impose them. This sounds very horizontal, but if the moderation is too weak, it leads to chaos.
So I did away with it. I started off with an appeal to the assembly to bear in mind our common objective: arrive in Athens as a group, to the greatest possible satisfaction of ourselves, of the people who are expecting us, and of all the people who are following our march or have contributed to it in any way.
I forced the assembly to focus and to be constructive. Maybe I was a bit too strict, but in the end my moderation was appreciated by almost everyone, and within two hours we finally reached a first consensus about an approximate date of arrival.
We aim to be in Athens somewhere between April 26 and May 5. In a future assembly we will try to narrow it down further.
One of the people from Potenza offered us a bottle of rum to celebrate the consensus. But we shouldn’t get carried away. There’s a new controversy looming. The port of arrival.
There are two options. Igoumenitsa in the north of Greece, at over 500 kilometres from Athens, and Patras at just over 200. Many people seem to be in favour of Patras. They fear that Igoumenitsa is not a reasonable option, given our current pace.
Others say that Patras is too close to Athens. After marching through Italy for almost four months, we can’t really take ourselves seriously if we only take a short stroll up to our final destination.
So, our troubles are to be continued. Finding a consensus will be hard, maybe impossible. But for now, we have a reason to rejoice. The popular assembly this evening was a success. Despite the strong wind, people resisted. And yet again, after Salerno and Vietri, the locals decided to start their own assembly.
The appointment is for March 8, at five clock, in the faculty of Letters and Philosophy.