Monday, March 28, 2011
Man on the River
My compatriot and citizen of the world, Giacomo de Stefano has announced that he will resume the journey he was forced to abandon last year due to ill health.
For those who don't yet know Giacomo, he is the person who rowed and sailed the Po river in Italy as a demonstration of how travel and commerce could be accomplished with minimal impact. Along the way he discovered that cultural exchange was part of the process. He met and shared his passion for protecting the river from the ravages of industry with so many like-minded people that the journey became a cultural event.
I met Giacomo here on DoryMan. His boat for the Po river trip was a Ness Yawl, designed by Iain Oughtred and I was fascinated by the versatility of that seaworthy vessel inspired by the ancient designs from Norway. Giacomo's use of such a design is not far removed from the original. The simple, beautiful and ultimately utilitarian lapstrake double-enders were the sole transportation from one community to another for centuries and Giacomo was determined to show that they could be useful once more, not just an attractive anachronism.
So, I joined the effort to promote Giacomo's new adventure - the ambitious navigation of Europe by rivers and canals that he initially called North Sea to Black Sea. As the project grew, he found sponsors and volunteers to build another Ness Yawl (his first one was borrowed from his friend Roland). Many people in Italy became enamored of the project and as it grew, it became Man on the River, a journey from London to Istanbul by fair means.
But as Giacomo and his friend Jacopo left London and headed down the Thames he began to feel weak and listless. As fate would have it, pneumonia gripped Giacomo in a life struggle and the journey was canceled.
Back in Venice, Giacomo has spent the last year recovering from his illness, but his dream never died. His Ness Yawl, Clodia, moored patiently in Ramsgate, waits for his return.
Once again, like a phoenix, the Man on the River cultural project is underway. I am concerned that Giacomo is not yet well enough to tackle a six month journey of such proportion but he is the judge of that. I do know that he needs our support. The Man on the River is not about just one man, but about the future for all of us. Can we find the courage to live in harmony with our environment and with each other?
That is the simple, yet intricate message of this endeavor. To build a global community around a paradigm of a world much more loving and supportive than the one we live in today.
You may say this is utopian, but I say it's possible if we want it bad enough.
I invite you to join us as we travel with the Man on the River.