Be VERY careful with coworking in villages

 

Seriously. Please.

“Small and remote but digital: coworking takes to the mountains and attracts workers fleeing cities”. This is the title of a piece by an italian newspaper about how…

“In Piedmont, localities with a few dozen inhabitants are being equipped with spaces and internet connections to allow visitors to stay beyond weekends, to combine relaxation and professional activity. This is a trend that in the long run could counteract the depopulation of the valleys” and “inaugurate a new frontier of tourism marketing.

Be VERY careful with coworking in villages /img/coworking-in-villages.jpg

Allow me to complete this enthusiasm with a few facts:

  1. Yes, thousands of small villages all around Italy are going desert, as it happens in much of the world. Just faster, due to Italy’s demographic structure
  2. This is bad also for “nature”, which I put in quotes because, Like everywhere else in Europe, in Italy there is very, very little real wilderness, still left as it was e.g. a thousands years ago. Many natural places here are what they are thanks to human work
  3. But those places need physical workers to return what they were, and generally to stay alive. Not just white collars
  4. Also color me skeptical about a pair of not-so-hidden promises in that article:
    • “combining relaxation and professional activity” is basically the same promise of most car commercials that show folks driving not in traffic, but in Edens without humans in sight. We know of that ends
    • “a new frontier of ANY marketing” is much more likely to erase serenity than to enhance it
  5. If they are just repopulated by mere exporters of city neuroses, remote areas will lose their unique characteristics and attractiveness. It takes really little to turn a nice valley with a little village into one more giant, gentrified non-place, just sprawled
  6. This does not mean that native residents of remote areas do not deserve broadband. But it should be for them, if nothing else for invformed voting. Not to erase them.

This is nothing new, of course. Just see what I wrote one year ago about “experiential tourism” here and about family-based tourism here.

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