As a part of my study abroad program, Arcadia offers optional Co-curricular Learning Certificate programs during the semester. When I found out that there was one for photography I knew I wanted to do it. What really stuck me when we were talking about our theme for the project ‘Vita di Quatiere’ was the element of community commerce, which became the basis for my theme food roots. Food roots is that every different type of food comes from different places. This doesn’t mean different types of culinary culturally but literally the different categories of food are all found in different shops. They all have their own origin of either being grown (produce), from land (meat and poultry), from the sea (fish), being baked (patisseries), then there enotecas (wine stores), and another shop for spices, the list goes on. What is really more interesting about all these specialty shops is that because they are more community oriented than I am used to. They aren’t commercialized shops that have one stop shopping, but there is a sense of community in a lot of these places. The owners of the store run their business and are involved with customers and have meaningful interactions with them.
They know their customers like friends because they see them several times in the week. I’ve become a part of this culture in a small part, the woman and man who run the produce stand on Via Benzoni know my roommates and I. We go there and always get a warm welcome, I always see them interacting with their customers, they help us out in the stand. I hadn’t been confident enough in my Italian skills to say anything more than “Boungiorno” or “Ciao” up until recently, I asked the woman how she was and we had a small conversation with the Italian I have learned just this semester, but it really meant a lot to me to feel apart of this community just a bit.
I found myself thinking about these nuances that create a community a lot as I developed my theme. I would look into storefronts when walking around to see if the community aspect was present in other places being a ‘fly on the wall’ wondering what some of these interactions were (since they are usually in Italian). This project and my theme helped me have a deeper understanding the meaning and creation of community.
The photos that I have selected were originally not my favorite; I saw that in one of the first ones, the proprietor of the shop I was photographing was blurry which made me want to discard the photo. But then I was looking at the rest and noticed that in all of the ones with workers in them were blurry, but it wasn’t just blurry the image is clear the person is just in motion. You see how hard they are working for their job and with a smile too. This was not part of my intent but these became my favorite images and opened my eyes to even more about community.