A producer of organic seeds, a builder with clay, a textile entrepreneur who works with raw materials from the region: The book "Hands of Transition" unites twelve notes about people on a journey of transformation. The objective of the journalist Romano Paganini: to feed those who are out of breath.
"Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to reappear: with the body, the emotions, the soul, the essence." Thus begins the book by Romano Paganini, who found himself in the basement with his profession as a journalist after an investigation into monocultures in Argentina. For four days he was on tour between Rosario (Santa Fe) and Selva (Santiago del Estero) interviewing doctors, chemists, agronomists, neighbors of agricultural fields and fumigators. He wanted to feel, see, smell and hear what has been written and criticized for decades: the agro-industrial system. And the reality surpassed his imagination. He knew that agribusiness is a dark chapter in the history of the planet, but he was not aware that it was what the affected neighbors call silent genocide.
The four days in the monocultures altered the journalist's life profoundly. What am I doing? he asked himself. Is it necessary for me to communicate something so dire since there is already enough bad news in the world?
Colucci, Portela, Belanko
The trip in 2012 was the beginning of the change in his approach, not only as a journalist but as a human. He realized the constant manipulation of the media, also because before arriving in Latin America he worked for ten years as a journalist in Switzerland, where he was born. Knowing the mechanisms within the apparatus of the mainstream media, he realized the vicious cycle that the media is creating. And he did not want to collaborate anymore.
Thus began his search for other issues, issues that exist but are rarely communicated. For example, the work of the neo-peasant Damián Colucci in Tandil (Buenos Aires), who since 2001 has planted his fields of wheat and corn on horseback. Or Gustavo Portela from Tilcara (Jujuy), which produces organic seeds, one of the few in all of Argentina. Or the builder Jorge Belanko from El Bolsón (Rio Negro) who transmits ancestral knowledge about the construction of houses with natural materials such as mud or straw. About those people Paganini wanted to write. And so his journey began.
"Take an evolutionary leap"
The book recounts the personal transition of the author as well as the multiple transitions that are taking place between America and Europe. In the interviews, reports and notes, architects, inventors, peasants, former fumigators, mayors, journalists, anthropologists and residents of the neighborhood speak. The journey takes the reader from Chile to the United States, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and from the south to the north of Argentina; Most of the twelve texts take place in the Río de la Plata. The central question is almost always the same: How can we return to live harmoniously with our environment, be it the earth or humans?
“Manos de la Transición” wants to encourage those who are disappointed without having lost hope to materialize Good Living. "May the twelve stories be an inspiration for the empowerment of the reader, that he finds his own gifts and potentialities", writes Paganini in the introduction. “It is time to (re) -activate the‘ collective genius ’as the permaculturist Grifen Hope (New Zealand / Chile) says and‘ take an evolutionary leap ’as highlighted by architect Isabel Donato (Salsipuedes, Argentina). According to German post-growth economist Niko Paech, we are not too far off: 'we have everything to start with the transformation.' "
"Good Living is being done with what you already are"
The last text is located in April 2017 again in Tilcara. After seven years of apprenticeships, it was also the author's last station in Argentina; Since then, he has continued his search for Good Living in Ecuador, the first Latin American country to consider the Sumak Kawsay worldview in its Constitution. Just before continuing his trip, he received a lesson from an indigenous anthropologist in Tilcara. "Good Living is being done with what you already are," says the last title of the book. The quote is from René Machaca, consultant at the Ministry of Education of the Argentine Nation. During long talks at home, he focuses on the implicit power of each human and says:
“If you think that power is in the government that does not solve your things, the power is outside of you. But I have, for example, the power to grow my own food, at least vegetables. Look at the llama wool I have here on the couch. I bought it from an artisan in the puna. If there is a possibility for him to raise the llama, that he can dress and feed thanks to the llama and also sell a blanket, we do not have the need to ask for the synthetic fabric that the large multinationals sell you. Produce something with your own hands: there is the real power. "
“Hands of the Transition - Stories to empower yourself”, 205 pages, Editorial Notes for Citizenship, Quito / December 2017. The book began to be printed in Ecuador and is bound by hand. The publisher and the author are seeing how to produce it directly in Argentina; thus, financial and environmental costs are reduced. Orders to: [email protected]