Sunday, October 25, 2009

the President visits Venice!

It's official!

The President is coming to Venice this fall on an official visit! He will be bringing a message of Hope and Progress for our beleaguered city that this week has seen its population drop below the 60,000 mark.
Could this visit inspire us to look for real alternatives to the mass tourism economy that monopolizes our lives? Could Venice really become the new capital for "immaterial production" as was once again discussed at "Venezia Camp 2009" this past weekend? Or are Venetians doomed to extinction as many fear? Are we going to become mere amusement park entertainers hired by Disney to give visitors a verisimilitude of authenticity?

Are we expecting too much of our president?

We shall see.

President Berkey of WPI will be hosting an alumni event in Venice on Thursday November 12, 2009, to mark the end of our 20th anniversary celebrations. He will be in attendance, together with his wife Cathy and Dexter Bailey, WPI's Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations.

This is the first time a WPI president visits the Venice Project Center, so it will be an honor for us to have a chance to show him, and all alumni who will attend the event, what we have accomplished in our twenty-one years of operation since the distant 1988, when we humbly started our quest to "leave Venice better than we found it". I think we can confidently say "Yes we did!" and, with his influence and stature, we also hope that he can help ignite the next phase of our pursuit for a lasting legacy in my hometown: Venice 3.0. A new era of applied research for Venice, based on the solid foundation of knowledge that we have established thus far. A legacy that will hopefully outlive me... and the president.
Can we inspire a radical new direction of progress in this gem of human artistry and engineering and inject new hope in its dwindling population?

Yes we can! (and we will...)

(Obamicon of Pres. Berkey courtesy of Kyle Miller)

All prepped and ready to blog

Today marked the arrival in Venice of 27 WPI students who will be here until December 19. It is the final group to officially mark the end of our protracted, multi-year 20th anniversary celebrations. As indicated in my blog entry at the beginning of the preparation term, these teams are tasked with completing some long-standing project themes, as well as with breaking some new grounds to set the stage for the next 20 years of projects in Venice.
The students have moved into their apartments, which are located in the more "Venetian" sestieri of Castello and Cannaregio and they have probably already had their first gelato and panino... (and who know what else?). Having learnt our lesson from last year's flood, we did not rent any apartments on the ground floor this year...
It is always fun to see the wide-eyed students, finally setting foot in the city they have been reading and studying about for the past two months. Venice is such a surreal place... even for me.
Tomorrow, we'll have our first group meeting at the Settemari club, and then the projects will begin in earnest. We have an exciting array of topics this year, all of which have been blogged about by the respective teams as they prepared their project proposals back in Worcester.
I will dedicate a new blog entry to each project in the days to come, as the teams zero in on the full spectrum of activities to accomplish their respective missions.