Building Back Better: Fostering Community Resilient Dynamics beyond COVID-19
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. The Case Study Merano
2.2. Data Collection and Analysis
3.1. Cultural Dimension
I do believe that resilience can be promoted in certain areas. I believe that cultural work, as we try to implement it concretely in our daily work, can lead a society, people, individuals, and certain groups, to become more open, more liberal, more progressive overall, or even more educated by fundamentally dealing more with social issues.(Interviewee I)
The red carpet is rather laid out for the so-called high culture, […] such as the Merano Music Weeks, the Grape Festival, where […] a relatively folkloristic image of our city, with bands, shooting parades, etc. is shown, while subcultures, etc., have little place, because they are more associated with non-conformity, loudness and possibly drugs and other images.(Interviewee I)
If people don’t take a step towards cultural events, then cultural events have to take a step towards those people […], I hope this will also be a big lesson of this period, to re-evaluate common spaces like squares and parks. […] Let’s say that the world of art and culture is used to having to be flexible, and in my opinion they are the ones who, where it was possible to do something, reacted the best.(Interviewee C)
So now a survey has been carried out, a self-census of artists in South Tyrol, people are participating on a voluntary basis, to create an association that brings together the entire world of South Tyrolean culture. […] The cultural sector is very divided. That is, sculptors mind their own business, writers are another world. There is no union, no representation, at least to talk to the institutions, in order to defend the artist category in the general sense of the term. And so now there is this intent, and certainly there have been collaborations between associations that have helped each other.(Interviewee C)
I would like for the two groups to mix […], while maintaining their own identity. I am not saying that we should water down who we are, but that we should get to know and respect others, and possibly take advantage of the mutual enrichment that contact can bring.(Interviewee C)
3.2. Physical (Health) Dimension
We see more eating disorders, more depressive disorders with suicidal ideation and more social withdrawal and phobic aspects […]. Isolation is a very serious risk factor for mental health, perhaps the most serious.(Interviewee O)
In other words, we have children, families and society weaker than they used to be. Children tend to mature later and slower, but find themselves exposed to the adult world earlier […]. This leads to a weakening of the subject.(Interviewee O)
3.3. Economic Aspects
(There is) a strong drive towards the future, and a commitment to move forward and keep developing, which many people here possess, perhaps also because Merano is a tourist town, […] always accustomed to adapting and carrying on […], so the people have a lot of drive and enthusiasm.(Interviewee N)
3.4. Social Aspects
We have seen many associations become active and reinventing themselves. For example, some young people have been strongly and actively involved in food collection, home delivery, etc.(Interviewee D)
On an individual level, (should a future crisis arise) we should protect even the weakest people. The older, more fragile people. These should be behaviors that we should certainly recall immediately or teach to those who have not experienced this pandemic.(Interviewee H)
Merano lives in a process of continuous change […] due to the arrival of new people, which is a possible stressor and therefore resilience factor […]. (A society) builds resilience if subject to trauma, stress, change […].(Interviewee O)
Merano is predominantly a tourist town. And as to where one reinvests this budget, this opportunity that is created, that opens the issue of thinking about the city’s prospects. Where one decides to invest in terms of schools, culture, and the construction of spaces.(Interviewee O)
3.5. Institutional Dimension
The administrative machine is slow and heavy and should be made more adaptable and faster. It’s a great challenge. Those who find themselves in government have an enormous responsibility but also a wide margin for maneuver. You have tools, such as the government’s Dpcm (i.e., a new ministerial decree), that bypasses Parliament, overriding procedures that would otherwise take weeks, if not months to have results and effects.(Interviewee D)
I really hope that […] we won’t fall back into business as usual as an administration, but we’ll use the lessons we’ve learned from this, the money we’ve freed up, so that it goes towards a good long-term development, and I’m thinking first and foremost about the climate crisis, of course. We need to set priorities and concentrate on this much bigger and important issue. As a community, as an administration, as private individuals.(Interviewee F)
In our society it seems to me that they (i.e., young people and children) don’t have a say and instead they should, because they have the right and they could bring alternative solutions. It would be important and wonderful to involve them more, also in relation to institutions. It is easier to accept (political) choices if they are taken through participatory processes. You have to actually do it, not just on paper, because shared choices are also more defensible. The views of children and young people should never be forgotten in these processes.(Interviewee C)
3.6. Ecological Dimension
In the spring of 2020, there was this lockdown and then in summer you could go outdoors again. Never before have we really felt how important green spaces are and what quality of life they guarantee to the urban population.(Interviewee F)
These access points to the water have a completely different appeal across the generations and for all language groups, for foreign families. This is a point of attraction that transcends all language groups and population groups. Water is a huge magnet.(Interviewee F)
But I don’t see it that way, that we have a sort of mingling. I don’t really see that so much now. It would have to be initiated more.(Interviewee N)
On the one hand we need more green spaces and on the other hand we need high-quality green spaces.(Interviewee N)
4. Discussion and Conclusions
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
See for example the annual classical music festival: https://www.meranofestival.com/en (accessed on 23 June 2022).
See for example a self-organized, multicultural no-profit culture club: https://ostwest.it/ (accessed on 23 June 2022).
See for example the artistic initiative “Improvviso”, with performances held in 2020 as presented in a local newspaper: https://www.buongiornosuedtirol.it/2020/07/improvviso-musik-und-theateraktionen-im-stadtzentrum-merans/ (accessed on 14 July 2021)
See local news article from March 2020 on the matter: https://www.rainews.it/tgr/tagesschau/articoli/2020/03/tag-Krankenhaus-Meran-Coronavirus-129abe89-33f8-41dd-a29d-4e164c29a8ba.html (accessed on 15 September 2021).
In South Tyrol, a declaration of linguistic affiliation is carried out by citizens at the age of 18. It serves statistical purposes and fosters the allocation of administrative positions by the respective language group.
See https://www.sdf.bz.it/2020/11/06/anna-bruzzese-ist-die-kommissarin-der-stadt-meran/ (accessed on 14 July 2022).
See for example https://www.suedtirolnews.it/politik/meran-bekommt-europaeischen-stadtbaumpreis-ecot-award-2022 (accessed on 23 June 2022).
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|Dimension||Definition||Key Informants’ Expertise|
|Cultural||The cultural fabric of the city and its diversity, fruition of arts and engagement in cultural activities before and during the disaster (Tubadji 2021).||Representatives of the cultural sector (theater, music, arts, literature).|
|Physical||Healthcare delivery during the pandemic; quality of care for physical and mental health with a particular focus on how hospitals and retirement homes weathered the pandemic waves (Barbash and Kahn 2021; Yip et al. 2021).||Public healthcare staff representatives (hospitals and retirement homes).|
|Economic||The economic fabric of the city, the direct and indirect costs of the disaster and the future outlook on the economic development (Belitski et al. 2022).||Local economic representatives in Merano (shopholders, entrepreneurs, public facilitators).|
|Social||Social networks among groups and individuals within the community. This also includes political engagement, volunteerism, feeling of belonging before and during the disaster (Jewett et al. 2021; Saghin et al. 2022; South et al. 2020)||Leaders and activists of volunteer groups and associations.|
|Institutional||Trust in political and religious institutions, health services, and media, and their (perceived) ability to provide assistance to citizens in the emergency (Abdalla et al. 2021; Esposito et al. 2021; Saghin et al. 2022).||Representatives of local institutions and media.|
|Ecological||Perception and use (or lack thereof) of green spaces—parks and promenades—before and during the disaster (Aerts et al. 2021).||Responsible persons for green spaces in the city.|
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Isetti, G.; Ghirardello, L.; Walder, M. Building Back Better: Fostering Community Resilient Dynamics beyond COVID-19. Soc. Sci. 2022, 11, 397. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11090397
Isetti G, Ghirardello L, Walder M. Building Back Better: Fostering Community Resilient Dynamics beyond COVID-19. Social Sciences. 2022; 11(9):397. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11090397Chicago/Turabian Style
Isetti, Giulia, Linda Ghirardello, and Maximilian Walder. 2022. "Building Back Better: Fostering Community Resilient Dynamics beyond COVID-19" Social Sciences 11, no. 9: 397. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11090397