Monday, 13 March 2017

What goes around comes around

Roma - La Dolce Vita: well, quite hard work really. But some good developments, and exciting new things on the horizon.

Beers on Termini balcony
So, on Thursday two of us arrived at Fuimicino’s new terminal 5 (extremely curvy and sensuous – but quite a hike to passport control and baggage reclaim) and one at Ciampino (the RyanAir destination). The cost for a third ticket to Fuimicino, ten days in advance, was going to be an unbelievable £800 – so RyanAir it had to be. But everything worked smoothly, and the two talks were polished up over a beer on the Termini station balcony.

The meeting and talk on Friday was for the first all-Italian Annual Forum for their Community of Communities equivalent, and we wrote our paper on ‘The Third Position’ – eventually to be written up and published. Fiona, Jan and Rex presented – Rex was told to keep mostly out of the way - and they had a very good reception. While experts by experience are already widely used in Italian services, the audience seemed to be were very enthusiastic about the progressive and non-paternalistic way we do this work.
Simone and Jan on the platform
Somebody described the cultural (primarily Catholic) social milieu which makes it difficult. In the afternoon, in the usual Italian hurly-burly, Simone the magician and Emelia, his Pre-Raphaelite magician’s assistant, delivered a blizzard of multi-coloured and muli-logo’ed certificate to continuous applause from an appreciative audience. A Italian trattoria, virtually taken over by us – with tables squeezed into impossible corners - ensured a good dinner and much jollity for all.

In working on the Third Position paper, Rex remembered what he had written for the 2004 Maxwell Jones lecture, which seems very apposite to our current struggles – and to the depth and difficulty of doing this work. In some way, it gets to the heart of the necessary ‘creative chaos’ that needs to be contained (and even celebrated) in therapeutic community work.
“So we have a pragmatic argument that the problem of personality disorder may not be a problem as we know it; and the solution anyway is to live together, tolerate and grow from difference and disagreement, and create an environment in which that can happen.”
There is more detail about these theoretical points in the paper: “Charismatic Ideas: coming or going?”  Haigh, R., Therapeutic Communities, (2005), 26, 4:  367-382. It’s a theme I want to develop some more – as it links to the horrors of performativity and ‘New Public Management’. Here’s a link to the pre-publication version of the 2004 lecture:

The auditorium
On Saturday Fiona, Jan and Rex presented at the ‘scientific congress’ – and our subject was ‘Enabling Environments and Greencare’ – here’s the link to our Prezi:
Many Italian TCs are involved in different sorts of greencare and social farms, and the audience was very enthusiastic – we had a long and rich discussion afterwards. The discussion about how to incorporate greencare into the local community was fascinating, if only for the parallel between what we are trying to do in Slough, and what they have been doing for some time in Caltagirone. With five partners involved in each (no mean feat), what they each give and get is so similar. The five partners are (1) mental health (2) local authority (3) education (all statutory sector); and (4) not-for-profit organisations and (5) local businesses. I can feel a diagram cooking!

Then something we weren’t expecting – we were invited to lunch in an organic social farm a few miles outside Rome, where we had a stunning meal set up by Marino de Crescente (who runs a Rome TC). He also organised a tree-planting ceremony to mark the inauguration of an International Network of Greencare Organisations. Fiona helped with the planting ceremony and watered the tree in. Then she suggested that we also plant a tree in UK – their logo on the plaque for the tree is almost the same as our GBL one. We also agreed to share website links and keep in touch.
Planting the ceremonial tree

Quite a lot of other wheeling and dealing went on during the proceedings – particularly about resurrecting the International Network of Democratic TCs. The provisional plan is to hold an autumn colloquium  in London – and devise a structure where the leadership of it is shared between Italy (Sicily, Rome and Tuscany) and the UK (including TCTC, CofC and the journal). Watch this space.

There were also preliminary discussions about how the Italian TC work might be connected to the group analytic training and the central organisations, and the wider groups like EGATIN and GASI. Although this is a bit rareified, it could link up with the Aarhus discussions last November and the hopes to build a group analytic training presence in Bangalore, especially as Shama is going to the big GASI meeting in Berlin later this year…

No comments:

Post a Comment