On 16 February 2005, the national radio station RAI RadioDue launched an energy-saving campaign called ‘M’illumino di meno’, meaning ‘I am illuminated with less’. This was a punning adaptation of the words of one of Giuseppe Ungaretti’s most famous poems, written in 1917, ‘M’illumino d’immenso’, roughly translatable as ‘Immensity fills me with light’. The energy-saving theme struck a chord in Italian society, and initiatives have since proliferated every year in mid-February, highlighting new and creative ways of reducing waste and promoting clean energy. The University of Foggia – a small university in southern Italy – has been an enthusiastic participant over the years, inventing novel ideas capable of firing the imagination of staff, students, families, the media, public institutions and business in Foggia and the surrounding areas. The following is an account of what we did this year to spread awareness of the need for frugality, respect for the environment, and a new ethic of consumption and waste reduction. At 17.00 hours on Friday, 17 February 2012, the Departments of Foggia University switched off their lights marking the start of the evening’s entertainment with readings from staff, students and members of the public. But not in total darkness. Light was provided by the readers themselves who rode a bicycle mounted on a tripod, generating enough light for reading by using an electromechanical system, thereby adding a new dimension to the concept of (re-)cycling energy!
The director of environmental policies explained the objective of the initiative: to encourage group participation and show the benefits for families and the community of reducing energy consumption. Even lowering the room temperature by one degree can cut annual costs by 10%. Excerpts were read from the first environmental report prepared by our University, establishing a 'point zero' from which to start monitoring our own consumption. An appeal made to the UN Assembly by a thirteen-year-old Canadian girl was read out. Other readings included the famous speech of 1977 by Italian politician Enrico Berlinguer on frugality, and extracts from works by 19th-century novelist Edmondo De Amicis and 15th-century humanist Marsilio Ficino.
An excerpt was shown from the 1973 movie Soylent Green directed by Richard Fleischer, starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson. The film was inspired by research carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the limits of growth, the first scientific study to document the emergence of environmental issues in global terms. Then film director Marco Dentici presented his documentary movie Caldo nero, caldo grigio (‘Hot black, hot grey’) about the hydrogeological disaster which struck Sicily (Giampilieri) in October 2009. Afterwards there was a debate on landslide risk and respecting the environment.
Other readings followed: excerpts from Women and cycling: a dangerous relationship? by Antonella Cagnolati, In praise of the bicycle by Ivan Illich, and Stéphan Hessel’s Indignez-vous!. The Rector read an excerpt from Andrea Segrè/Massimo Cirri’s Spreco di meno (‘I wasted less’). Before returning home, participants walked to Start Consortium Capitanata where they could taste local (so-called ‘kilometer-zero’) produce while the Rector announced the start of the "I am illuminated with less" competition which, for the 2013 edition, will award the University Department that has saved the most electricity during 2012 compared to the previous year. The assessment will be made by a committee of experts. The teaching staff, administrative staff and students involved in that Department will contend for a research fellowship, and there will be a bonus prize of graduate training worth 1000 euros resulting from the savings made. The aim is to encourage the entire university community to take responsibility for saving energy.
This annual event is targeted at the widest possible audience, in particular the young. The strategy known as the T.I.P.S principle – Tempting, Innovative, Popular, Simple – was adopted, creating innovative events that are engaging and easy to understand, capable of attracting people of all ages from various backgrounds. The events are suitable for schoolchildren, university students, graduates, families, companies and industrial associations, local and regional authorities.
Various media were used to publicise the event, including Foggia University’s institutional website (www.unifg.it) and the University’s profile on Facebook and Twitter. We also used adverts in local newspapers and magazines. We promoted the event as an annual opportunity for reflection about the importance of energy saving for the future of mankind. We contacted the entire student population (almost 11,000 people) and their families and encouraged a broad popular participation, particularly for those citizens habitually interested in the cultural activities of our university. Leaflets and posters were created specially for the occasion. Data analysis was carried out by a variety of methods, including questionnaires (on site and online), face-to-face interviews, and blogs. A Forum will be set up on our website to further involve staff, students and the general public in designing future editions of the event. To implement impact assessment, some qualitative and quantitative indicators have been defined. During the implementation phase other indicators may be defined.
QUANTITATIVE INDICATORS INDICATORS TARGET VALUES
Responses expected Number of people attending the event 500
Number of blog comments over 50
Public satisfaction regarding the activities planned Number of positive answers to
the corresponding questionnaire Over 75% of positive
Public satisfaction regarding the organisation Number of positive answers to Over 75% of positive
the corresponding questionnaire answers
Alert young people and their families to the issue of energy saving.
Increase the number of young people who want to reduce their own consumption.
Make local and regional policymakers and business managers more aware of the potential of local human capital and of scientific know-how for the local economy and enterprise innovation.
Increase awareness of support for research provided by the EU.
Suggestions on how to improve “I am illuminated with less”.
Media feedback has been uniformly positive. We hope to have more feedback from the general public for future editions. The experience has been – in an eco-friendly way – illuminating!