"...a working example of what is possible if individuals and groups come together with a common dream"
If you have been keeping up with our blog posts you know that Dialogue has been having some eventful months. Maybe now would be a good time to look back at where it all began. For those of you who do not know, we are currently situated in the FOQUS building located within the Spanish Quarters of Naples. Before we were a team of individuals, partners and start-ups and before many other organizations called this building home, it was a monastery. No longer in use and open to renovation, the sisters in charge, with the cooperation of FOQUS, saw an opportunity to provide the local community with a new and positive addition to the neighborhood. Dialogue Place and Project Ahead took it a step further and renovated the last level of the building to bring forward a sector of social care that had not been included yet, social innovation through incubation.
A Few Statistics
The Montecalvario district, where the Spanish Quarters is located, has a population of 29,917 which is four times larger than the average population concentration. Of that population 19.1% are immigrants 16.4% are women, which is one of the highest percentages of females in the city. Though 10% of Neapolitan minors live in the district, only 0.2% are in families that request access to children services. The district also struggles with having high levels of deviant behavior at an early age, the highest percentage of school dropouts between the age of 8 and 14, which leads to the highest rate of unemployment. With a community so densely populated and disadvantaged, lacking spaces of positive change can leave neighborhoods isolated from the rest of city.
Who We All Are
The beauty of the monastery was the respect it held in the community, with untouched walls and clean spaces. Even through much renovation would be needed in order to turn it into what the building is today, this gift of an open green space in a crowded and dense area was an unexpected yet extremely stable place for FOQUS to start the process of urban regeneration in the Montecalvario district. By restoring this building FOQUS provided well-structured and flexible spaces for public and private institutions to form into what exactly they needed. From nursery and primary school to The Napolista, an online newspaper, and Istituto di Formazione Musicoterapia, the FOQUS building in the Spanish Quarters nurtures the prosperity and growth of 20 organizations.
Where We Go From Here
What we at Dialogue are able to do alongside all the other organizations is a working example of what is possible if individuals and groups come together with a common dream. For all of us it was, and still strongly is, positive social change in all its forms. For Dialogue we focus on social entrepreneurship and supporting start-ups while others function to provide care services to the community, increase educational opportunities that lead to high rates of employment, and create a more diverse range of institutions and operations that thrive in Naples. From the outside of the Spanish Quarters looking in, one may not see the enrichment and potential. However, if the transformation of this building is anything it is an example of the shifts that are occurring to provide the people and overall community the social care it deserves.
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