Building a fraternal and caring economy

In Sicily, Paola Gurrieri, together with her brothers, heads La Mediterranea, a leader in the cultivation of chrysanthemums, Cecilia Seppia from Vatican News reports.

The company is the first in Italy to adopt water vapor soil sterilisation and to have adopted environmental and social sustainability strategies such as free preventative health screenings for employees and providing housing for foreign workers who, like Italians, are hired on an equal-opportunity basis.

A degree in Philosophy from the University of Catania in 1999, a career launched as a teacher, a plan to leave for Rome where she would finally become a tenured teacher at the Albert Einstein High School, and then the turning point: a few years ago, 51 year old Paola Gurrieri unexpectedly decided to go work together with her father Salvatore and her two brothers, Francesco and Piero, in the family business “La Mediterranea Srl,” a leader in the cultivation of chrysanthemums.

Accustomed to reflecting on profound existential questions, on the meaning of life, knowledge, mindfulness and language, Paola suddenly found herself dealing with numbers, turnovers, production, mortgages, contracts, marketing.

But Paola accepted the challenge, rolled up her sleeves, studied new things, and became passionate about the idea of a company that as Adriano Olivetti said, “cannot look only at the profit index, it must distribute wealth, culture, services, democracy.” In other words, a company built for man, and not a man made for the company, a company that takes care of its employees and the environment.

Homes for foreign workers

But how does one manage to do this in a world dominated by money and goods?

In fact, La Mediterranea is a home for all, a true community for its workers. “We have about 180 employees,” Paola says, “including 50 foreigners, hired with the same contractual conditions as the Italians; we house them together with their families in 18 apartments which we built and have provided for them on free loan.

“This, too, was my father’s wish: to allow the workers to be together with their families. Among them are Pakistanis, Tunisians, Romanians and now several Ukrainians. Ensuring housing is a way to give them dignity and credibility, to foster their integration, and this also has a positive impact on their work. An ethical decision inspired by the desire to care.”

Sicily’s first energy-based community

The decision to establish a solar energy community is part of the same logic. Two years ago, three energy-based communities were created in Acate, a municipality with just over 10,000 inhabitants in the Ragusa region of Sicily; it was the first in Italy to involve farms. 

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The applied philosophy of caring (Vatican News)

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