Care* ,

After thinking many times about it and after having seen beautiful examples and shapes it can take (like this or this), we finally took courage and decided to send out our first (news)letter. We would like it to be more of a letter than a collection of our latest news (which it will in part also be): we want it to have that intimate tone and content that the most beautiful friends’ letters have, that tone that makes you dedicate a special time to read it! We thought that it could maybe be interesting for you readers to discover something more about us – the Robida family – to know what each of us personally thinks and reads while going through this Robida journey (or through life’s journey itself)!
We cannot really promise that this and the next letters will have this tone (if they’ll get too boring, ahiai, you can always click the button at the bottom of the page and - ups - unsubscribe).

Anyway – here’s our first experiment, let’s see if it works, if you can find interesting insights or suggestions or just that feeling of not being so far away from us, but instead sitting around the table of Izba, chatting together!

* We start with this word which – pronounced differently – has two beautiful meanings in Italian and English. In Italian it means “dear”, when addressing women.

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It’s the end of November and still this letter looks like an overview of the just passed summer. Outside, here in Topolove, it is snowing for the first time this season but it still seems like the voices of the people who inhabited the houses and the village-as-a-house this summer resonate, in the now empty rooms and streets. Maybe because of the intensity of these encounters, maybe because of the depth of some reflections which were just opened back then and now still find some other places where to be developed – maybe not through sharing conversations but on the paper or on the screen.
For many of us these past spring and summer were quite a revolution and a revelation. Those who are following us through other channels know about the many guests we had in Topolove over these last months and maybe about the new projects we imagined and are still imagining together.

It is nice maybe to just mention all their names, going back in time, starting from those who left Topolove the last Jesse, Tymon, Silver, Kim, Alvise, Elena, Francesca, Jack, Philipp, Lenn, Rosario, Mercedes, Antoine, Vid, Jan, Mara, Giuditta, Natalia, Tommaso, Matteo, Bașak, Johannes, Curdin, Sabina Enéa, Egor, Dan, Elia, Guglielmo, Ola, Pola, Marcin, Niklas, Selina, Benny, Felina, Sasha, Viola, Marta.

Words which went a lot out of our mouths and thoughts in these last months were: care, forest, margin, radio, dwelling, flourishing, seeds, laboratory, embodied, practices, listening, toolbox, village, izba, community, seasonality, butter, site, residency, utopia, academy, calendar, place, school, boundaries, polyrhythms, reading, stillness, horizon, rhizome, support structures, hospitality, conviviality, walk, rituals, daily routines, landscape, mulino, island.

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November has been full of exciting news of future projects, grants and challenges.
Here’s a quick resumè:

Robida 8 Island Otok Isola – Open Call We published the open call of the 8th issue of our magazine! You can find it in pdf on our new (yes, actually quite new!) website – which is still, as it is written, in becoming. On the website you can also play with some words connected to the topic of the island – you can move them around and group them and you can also add new words! Some have links to interesting books/films/artworks/projects/articles…
The deadline is the 6th January 2022.

BIO27 With our dearest friends Kim Lang, Elena Braida, Franca Lucchitta, Vid Skbinšek and Philipp Kollmann we were chosen to participate on a production platform of bio27, biennale of design in Ljubljana. In the next months we will work on a research about a phenomenon that was born from an essential need for food and later propose a project which will be exhibited (and performed) at the end of May in the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana.

I-Portunus After the end of the symposium Care of Margins, which happened in Topolove in September, we enthusiastically embraced another residency-related project with the title Village as House – A Dwelling Project. In spring 2022 Robida will host in Topolò Philipp Kolmann, Jack Bardwell, Francesca Lucchitta, Studio Wild and Janja Šušnjar who will work on some different projects while exploring how an artist residency in Topolove (as in other similar post-rural places) could look like! More soon!

Publication of Care of Margins Vida, Kim and Francesca are working on a small publication which will contain reflections born in the few days of the symposium Care of Margins. It includes words by Lenn Cox, Philipp Kolmann, Mara Usai, Jack Bardwell, Studio Wild, Laura Savina and Tommaso Garavini and many more! Out super soon!

Academy of Margins This is the title of a new project we have been working on and thinking about since quite a while! The title alone might reveal something but that’s what we can share right now!

Radio Robida The radio is working well and you can listen to it every second Saturday (the next date will be 11th December). In the meanwhile there is Vida who started again her early morning readings and Kim who left Topolò some days ago and will move her radio practice to Switzerland, maybe reading in the morning too. Follow her and our IG to be updated about the Radio.
Here you can check the archive of our shows. And since yesterday you can also find Radio Robida on this super cool platform:!
Radio-related: here you can listen (in Italian) to our interview on Radio Onda Rossa in Rome, the coolest radio place where we have ever been!

IZBA Our newly opened collective space, located on the top of the village, will be open also during the winter. Pass by to drink a cup of tea, eat Dora’s or Caterina’s cakes or just leaf through Robida’s archive!
Izba is open during the weekends.

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"The woman has always been a monster. Female monstrosity creeps into every myth: carnivorous sirens, furies that tear men apart with razor-sharp claws, leanan sidhe that enchant mortals and then drain their souls. These figures represent everything that men find threatening in women: beauty, intelligence, anger and ambition."
from Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power by Jude Ellison Sady Doyle

Last week Robida arrived in Rome. Like a monster indeed, with its many faces and its thousand hands, its different voices, the languages of the world. For me, Laura, as I do not live in Topolò, meeting the editorial staff 'at home' is always an exceptional event, a magical and precious interlude in everyday life. The presentation took place at Tuba, the Libreria delle Donne in Pigneto, where I bought Jude's book. Like all revolutionary texts, it makes your hands itch and triggers thoughts of struggle. It is snowing here today and all is silent, but her words echo from within, like marching drums. Can one learn to be a feminist without traumatically and perhaps inauthentically changing one's habits? Does one have to train in this discipline as one would learn to play tennis or chess? Feminism entered my life in a whisper, through the back door, without being announced. If I have recognised it, it is also thanks to the friends I have around me, who are practising it without being aware of it, each in their own way. Sometimes I find myself wondering what the (generic) males are talking about while we are talking about rights, social justice, fear or discrimination. And I wonder in what way I am contributing, and if I am, to broadening the dialogue.Without citing more challenging texts, I would like everyone, but really everyone, to start with a really simple little book that is as short as it is fundamental, We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It takes 20 minutes to read, you have no excuses :)

I am writing this from my new house in Milan, where I have just moved back after a year-long break in my hometown of Cividale del Friuli. Last weekend, while in Rome for Robida’s presentation at Libreria Tuba, one of the things we most talked about to our Roman audience was Topolò, and this meeting between a small mountain village and the city we evoked with our talks was striking, but also, somehow, full of potential: the city has inspiration and energy to offer those who come from outside it (and in fact, we came back from Rome with a haul of feminist essays, French books and a new drive to manifest our ideas), while the village fascinates beyond its promise of an escape, in its concrete offer of a radically different mode of life. As I clean up and settle in my new place in a city, while it snows “back home” and I can glimpse some less familiar snow capped mountains from my dirty windows, I think that I have not yet made a final decision – but also that this is my 10th new house in about 9 years, so final decisions can wait some more, thank you very much. I do not have a bedside table at the moment, but on the floor next to my bed there’s The Years by Annie Ernaux. I am savouring it slowly, marvelling at her ability to capture the passing of time and the life of an entire generation. Places play an important role throughout it and the whole “city vs countryside” discourse was already there, but I believe it changed significantly since then. One last thought before returning to my cleaning: will there be a novel one day that can speak so aptly about our own wandering generation? In the meantime, hopefully, Robida could perhaps offer a glimpse of it.

“We need neither words nor promises but the steady accumulation of small realities.” from How to Start a Fire by Anonymous

I dedicate a lot of thoughts to Robida lately, to what it could be and to what it is. I said many times in these last months that since the spring I see Robida as a plant that is almost sprouting or that I feel it flourishing. And because of this feeling I decided to not move out of Topolove this September – I was accepted at a Master’s where I decided to not go. And now I am here, with the snow outside making everything slower, imagining futures for me, for my inhabiting this place and for Robida too. November was the month of sharing the round table with Kim, who was in Topolove for one month, to pack her things and find a working/writing/swimming/cooking/thinking/talking rhythm together. We found new favourite words like with-ness or ecopedagogy and read texts that opened fertile reflections. This past month was in fact a quite intense time of studying above all and I came out of it with a new vocabulary and a reinforced ground on which to build and learn more. In this month I also discovered the power of readers (I read live on Radio Robida every day the Climate Care Reader 2021 – Rewilding Years for 30 days and now I began the Whitechapel reader The Rural ): usually we always extrapolate from readers the texts that interest us and read just those but the strength of curated readers (in latin a reader would be called florilegium, a harvest of flowers – beautiful) is that when reading them from the beginning to the end you encounter the unexpected and from that unexpected you learn the most. From the Climate Care Reader 2021 I carry with me a beautiful text about supportive boundaries, a sad but real analysis of how academia works nowadays, some precious lines about vulnerability and capitalism (which, when heard the first time, sounded really touching), the connections between wilderness in America and masculinity and - super text! - the relation between Marx and ecology.

Since I am reading a lot at the moment, I would like to share here other four texts: Situated Knowledges by Donna Haraway – shared by Rosario here; A School Is A Building With a School in it by Paul Elliman – sent by Jack via email; How to start a fire by Anonymous – shared by Franca, the fire comrade; Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water by Astrida Neimanis – which came to my ears already many times and finally I read it. Other, non-booky suggestion: the film Z Wody (Of Water) by Zakole group from Warsaw, a beautiful and immersive film on a type of landscape where I have never been in my life, a wetland – Zakole Wawerskie in Warsaw. The film will be included in an exhibition at Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana which opens in December. Special!

I’m afraid to celebrate too loudly, as if something could fall down. In a chaotic and cold time I managed to finally instal a bathroom in my house, where I've been living for almost three years. Last year I had a new roof and in winter water also arrived inside my four stone walls (and not only the cold water!). I’m conscious of living in an anachronistic dimension and to have got slowly used to this but every progress seems to me a big achievement and sometimes this makes me proud - probably the only thing that now can really fulfill me - but at other times this can exhaust me. At the moment I’m trying to balance these two feelings and sometimes I try to come to some conclusion, to abstract my situation, to rethink this choice (or no choice) of living in Topolò: the possibility of shaping a place for myself, of which Robida fills an important part.

Quite often over the last year I have faced a situation where my thin female voice was challenged by a male world, the specific workmen’s world where you - as a young female living by yourself - are not considered strong enough (physically) or experienced enough to take a decision about how your home, your everyday life should look like.
Can I put together my own Ikea closet? Can I speak about pipes and valves? Or is it all just a sexual word game?
It might seem that this is normal, but it is not. I can read a thousand-page novel, I can communicate in different languages and understand philosophical texts but not follow a manual of instructions? Education is the basis of respect in every work environment and female voices should scream in every situation just to prove that we are able.

This is a never ending fight, exhausting but sometimes it resonates where we wouldn’t expect: last week I watched the Netflix series by Zerocalcare (Tear Along the Dotted Line), who I know is able to present everyday situations which are far away from my environment and at the same time able to relate to it.
Is this a male perspective on the same issues? Or maybe is it not a problem of gender's POV but of awareness of everyday situations which provoke us to become citizens of a possible better world?
Or maybe I’m exhausted and a bit paranoid?

“What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us.” from Approaches to What? (1973) by Georges Perec

This month brought together both Foresta Collective’s Dojo session - in which Vida and I talked about the concepts of the horizon and staying still - and the first anniversary of my column On the small things, published twice a month in the local newspaper Novi Matajur. The combination seems fitting, regarding the context. Wintery coldness came to Topoluove; it became frosty and icy. Now I spend even more time in my working chair; and sitting down and staying still brings me to a point of observing the small things: One day I got fixated on the wooden frame with loads of different sized glass storage containers with seeds, herbs, and spices. A miniature of the out-sides inside. I saw a rat near the stairs; it thinks of this house as home, too. The refrigerator is an ecosystem of its own. These instances tell me that “there isn’t one space,” as Perec wrote. This fragmentation of space, of which I am usually unaware, could lead us closer to what Jane Bennett writes about in her book Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (2010). She says that things are not dead matter, but rather vital forces. Things occupy space, just as we do. They group themselves into creative and effective assemblages, just as we do. We mostly do it together, hand in hand. Reflecting on this, my world is slowly getting re-enchanted. I like that.

I graduated a few months ago in architecture (in Venice). The months after graduation have been months of wondering "Where do I go/what do I do now?". Typical.
I felt, for a variety of reasons, that the venetian interlude needed to come to an end. I needed my own place, my own home, my own nest. In a less poetic way, I needed a place where to move all the objects I had accumulated over the years. So I decided to buy a house, and where else but in Topolò.

In these months I am therefore experiencing the "wanted" solitude in my new house (which is not new, indeed!). My spaces, my rhythms, my thoughts. Sometimes I stop, sit down and daydream about the transformations I'd like to make. I am not very impulsive: slowly things will change.
As nature slowly changes, day by day (I really missed having a direct and synergistic relationship with nature), so does the idea of life in a village like Topolò.

There is a lot of energy in the air.

I am lately trying to find the alignment and follow the paths that seemed clearer after the symposium in September. At that time it felt like the wind would send the fog away, but as always it comes back in the days of November.
I just climbed out of the cave of a respiratory infection (that sadly disabled the Rome expedition for me) during which I was given plenty of time to think: To rethink my current daily occupation in the form of working in an architectural office - what are the motifs, how can I learn even more, what are my limits and how to get to the point where this work would seem feasible-, I had time to think about a possible tomorrow that would embody my beliefs and needs, to think about the new engagement with bio27 and grains and a team that makes me extremely happy and there was also time to think about knitting patterns and knit some of them, to think about the books that I had read and films that I had watched. Lately I’ve been reading novels from the Balkan territory that help me broaden the horizon of the recent past, personal histories and questions of identity. At the same time I have a great tendency of intensely imagining and visualising those places whether it be the ones that I know, or some that I haven’t heard of yet. In November I’ve read The Address (Adresa) by Dalibor Velikić and The father (Otac) by Miljenko Jergović.
The second thing that I’ve been reading is almost sacred, since the book On The Necessity of Gardening was really not easy to get anywhere near me. So I first listened to Kim’s reading on Radio Robida and knitted while grasping her words. However, I was blessed enough since Urška brought it for me from her trip to the North and handed it to me while I was on a construction site in her hometown. (It really was an extremely beautiful moment- getting out of the container in which 5 men were shouting, to receive a beautiful book about gardens from a precious friend :)). I continued listening to Kim but I was able to re-read some of the texts and follow her with visual material. We also agreed that this knit’n’read combination should be continued in some manner!
At the moment I have a little book by Gion Caminada on my nightstand - On the path to building - in which he narrates the stories about new life in old villages and how his concept functions in cooperation with committed citizens - I never get enough of this topic.

Since I don’t cough anymore, I have a bit less time to think and to knit peacefully at home but I can meet friends and share ideas and thoughts with them and contemplate while walking around during those short winterish days, whistling songs by Spiritualized and Radiohead.

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Ok, this was extremely long! Check the news related to Robida on our IG page (updated often) of FB (updated less often)! If you received this letter, it means that you subscribed or that someone among us thought about you and added you in! In any case, if we were booooring, you can unsubscribe!

Hugs hugs hugs
Robida Fam