ItaliaCamp: when a BarCamp opens your mind

27 June 2013

If opening your mind means being willing to listen to points of view different from your own and encouraging dialogue and discussion in order to enrich yourself and others, then we can say that the ItaliaCamp Association came into beingexactly three years ago, on 22nd June 2010, when a group of 20 under-35s had the idea of encouraging some “open-mindedness” in hundreds of other youngsters and young adults.How? By importing the “BarCamp” into Italy and experimenting with it for the first time one Saturday morning in November 2009 at Rome’s LUISS university. The BarCamp is an American methodology – “unconference” – which allows participants to express their own idea regarding a common theme in 5 minutes, then open it up for discussion with those present. That November Saturday, to our great astonishment, 1,200 people took part, including students, researchers, businessmen, financiers and representatives from national institutions and companies. They were all there with the desire to compare different outlooks, opinions and viewpoints in order to generate ideas. This gave rise to the idea of setting up an association – the Associazione ItaliaCamp – aimed at helping to produce ideas and projects for the development of civil society in the context of an innovative process of social innovation and through the “Your idea for the country” competition. These ideas could be valorised through the participation of the BarCamp’s originators, with their implementation then fostered through the support of partner companies and institutions. In 3 years, through the, site – Italy’s first placement for ideas – I’ve been sent more than 2,300 projects: 50 of them are being developed at the moment and 15 have already been devised and put into practice. There’s the simplified Srl law for instance, which grew out of “Srl for all”, an idea presented at a special BarCamp organised for ItaliaCamp by an Italo-American, which, since August 2012, has made it possible to create over 8,000 new business activities. Over the years, the associated payoff “Reverse the trend”, with a 360° representation from a great number of touching palindromic products, has attracted almost all the Italian universities – there are more than 80 partners at present from the world of academe – as well as national institutions and companies, into the ItaliaCamp network.

A network created in the local areas for the local areas, as demonstrated by the 20 regional camps that support the innovative ideas and projects from key figures in those areas, enabling dialogue and meetings with the companies and institutions of reference. Trend reversal, open-mindedness, change – three ItaliaCamp elements profoundly present in the latest initiative, the 2013 General Assembly, when, last 1st June, over 800 members invaded the Marche town of Ascoli Piceno and the institutional opening was carried out by President of the Senate Pietro Grasso, as well as in the activities presently underway. These include the 3rd edition of the “Your idea for the country” competition, which aims to find the best Italian project in terms of having a decisive impact at an international level. In November 2013, meanwhile, a road show will be organised in the USA, during which ItaliaCamp will present the best policy and business (startup) ideas selected from those sent to the website by 5th August. “Open your mind and let your idea fly,” as the Americans might put it!

Gaia Marcorelli graduated with a degree in Political Science from LUISS Guido Carli University in April 2005, which included a thesis dealing with semiotics and, in 2004, work experience as a public relations co-assistant for the TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association) in Washington D.C. In 2005, she studied for a Master’s in Marketing and Web and New Media Communication.  From 2006 to 2010 she worked in the marketing department of various companies: for weekly magazine TV Sorrisi e Canzoni of the Arnoldo Mondadori publishing group (2006); the newspaper L’Indipendente (2007-2008); the Gruppo NBC Universal Global Networks Italia Srl (2009); and Endemol SpA (2010). She was also in charge of the Press Office for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions of the United Nations simulation RomeMUN. Since 2010, she has been responsible for Media, Press and Public Relations for the Associazione ItaliaCamp.