ORA! and the grassroots ecological transition: Saturday, December 2, 2023 open assembly

ORA! and the grassroots ecological transition: Saturday, December 2, 2023 open assembly

Do you want to join us? The assembly is open to everybody! Fill out the form to register: https://forms.office.com/e/4amM3x4b62


  • Intro and presentation of the tables/working groups 10-11 am (available also online)
  • Tables/working groups 11am-1pm
  • Plenary session 2.30-4.30 pm (available also online)


This spring, after the flooding in Romagna, we gathered in the Research Area of Bologna to reflect on the multiple signals of the ongoing eco-climatic crisis and on how to take action, as researchers, to change course. From that initiative, ORA! – Officina della Ricerca per l’Ambiente developed, along with an appeal on the eco-climatic crisis, supported by over 1000 people. The appeal is just the starting point: we have the utmost urgency for concrete and collective action.

We want to contribute to the many initiatives already out there, connect with and to pieces of society, and try to organize together a true grassroots ecological transition. How does an appeal translate into action? We would like to understand it together with you, along with all the people who still believe that it is within our power to avoid the eco-climatic collapse and that another world of peaceful coexistence is possible.

The scenario

The ecological transition poses questions and necessities without historical precedents; only a profound rethinking of the economic and productive system can bring about change. The hesitant moves of some political quarters toward a few green-oriented ideas have clearly shown their inadequacy in addressing the problems they aim to solve, as they leave the substance untouched, putting growth and profit as a first priority, above everything else. Notably, geopolitical tensions and the escalation of historical conflicts, from Ukraine to Palestine, have quickly sidelined top-down discussions on ecological transition, bringing back to the forefront the quintessential strategic resource – fossil fuels – and the rationale of warfare. We already glimpse the direction that looms for the near future, a direction that many, deep down, have already accepted with cynical resignation.

Faced with all this, many tend to a feeling of “there is no alternative”, which leads to accepting even eco-climatic apocalypse (and global war). Our response wants to motivate and have the courage to go in the opposite direction. To imagine the “impossible,” discussing it and giving it substance, building from the small and starting from our time and skills to build an alternative system, while activating the emergency brake of this infernal machine. A widespread and tenacious mobilization, conscious of its enormous ambition as well as its necessity, can take the first steps towards an alternative path, for a different history, and perhaps, a happy ending.

The assembly

For this reason, we are organizing a day of collective discussion on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at the Research Area of Bologna. The purpose is to think together on how to get in motion and embark on the path towards a true, radical, and effective ecological transition.


We would like to understand together with all of you how to move forward from here, how to be useful and support those who are already active, how to stay connected, and how to ensure that all of this becomes not just a side note but a central element of our lives and our way of working in research institutions and universities. At the end of the day, we hope to have identified various ways to proceed, concrete action plans supported by people both within and outside the realms of research, education, work, and activism.

Organization of the Day

We have planned to organize the discussion into 4 parallel tables/working groups, converging into a final plenary session.

1 – Ecological Transformation and Adaptation of Urban and Rural Territories

The theme of territory and its governance is central to the ecological transformation. The uncontrolled expansion of asphalt and concrete exacerbates the risks of climate change in cities, while green spaces are reduced to mere ornaments to be removed/added/moved at will. A revolution in urban space is necessary to break free from the dominance of cars and related emissions. On the other hand, rural areas constantly face increasing pressure from intensive agriculture and livestock linked to large-scale distribution, that are themselves responsible for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions. The urban and rural issues converge on the theme of land, choked by asphalt on one side and exploited to impoverishment and alteration of its physiological cycles on the other.

2 – Building the Transition with a Bottom-up Approach: From Energy Communities to Climate Communities

To promote a radical and effective ecological transition, active and conscious participation of every citizen is necessary for the shared and sustainable management of resources. From energy communities where citizens, businesses, local public administrations, and companies decide to join forces to produce, exchange, and consume renewable energy at the local level, to climate communities as laboratories to address all the environmental, social, and productive aspects of a grassroots ecological transition. We will delve into these topics with those laying the foundations for an energy community and with workers personally committed to realizing a sustainable industrial conversion, where the only top-down response is shut down of companies and mass layoffs. Keeping these two perspectives together is crucial to truly attempt to rebuild a local and ecological economic environment.

3 – How to Halt the Emissions Machine: Environmental Movements and Common Strategies

Various approaches have been proposed by environmental movements, and many practices have been implemented. Without aiming at concluding in an hour a decade-long debate, we would like to identify useful postures and practices in this particular moment, within the context of our country, starting from our life and work environments. In particular, we want to understand how we can be useful to each other and what kind of positive interaction we can establish, convinced that this is the fundamental point to refine strategies and strengthen environmental movements.

4 – Ecological Transition: the Role of Scientists

The separation, in terms of culture and methods, between the scientific community and other compartments of society now reveals all its flaws and problems, but how can we overcome it? Does the ideology of the neutrality of scientists’ activity hold? How can we build new relationships between scientists and social communities, considering talents (qualities, competition-cooperation), values (equity, transparency, gender, listening-inclusion), economic interests (strong and weak), power relations (violence and nonviolence)? Many complex topics: the minimum goal of the table is to present stories, proposals, and avenues for experimentation and practical implementation of solutions.

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