That’s Absurd! The “Assurd” risto-pub experience with sustainability
On average, income inequality increased by 11 per cent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010.
Disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs and specifically in those related to growth and employment, education, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs.
Specifically Goal 4 focuses on inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all focuses on eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities. In addition, the proposal calls for building and upgrading education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and also provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
Goal 8 promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, the international community aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
Closely linked is Goal 10, which strives to reduce inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities.
Goal 11 would work to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable. To realize this goal, Member States are called upon to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, such as persons with disabilities. In addition, the proposal calls for providing universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for persons with disabilities.
Goal 17 stresses that in order to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, the collection of data and monitoring and accountability of the SDGs are crucial. Member States are called upon to enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS), which would significantly increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data that is also disaggregated by disability.
In Potenza, a small town of southern Italy, since 2013 the Social Cooperative “Ricco Dentro” is working for the reduction of inequalities related to disabled people. Ricco Dentro was born from the ten-year experience gained by two operators (Dino and Michele) in the projects carried out by “AIPD - Italian Down People Association” (https://aipd.it/what-we-do/our-services/routes-for-autonomy-education/aipd-courses-on-autonomy/). It is composed of 4 members who later decided to start a restaurant, also providing employment for people with Down syndrome. It was called “Assurd” and it is now a risto-pub where a person with Down syndrome has been permanently hired, while three alternate in his management (https://www.facebook.com/Assurd-1388234148091581/).
The idea of the social business arises precisely from the experience gained within the AIPD that deals with generating autonomy paths for Down people, providing them with the tools for an independent life, trying to simplify and thus make the surrounding environment accessible.
At the beginning the cooperative clashed with the red tape and bureaucratic complications that represented the real limit to the opening of the pub (hence the phrase "But that’s absurd!” - “assurd” in local language). Fortunately, a mechanism of "horizontal solidarity" was set in motion, so that, thanks to the voluntary collaboration of sectoral experts (food technologists, specialized consultants, safety engineers, cooks, bricklayers, etc.), it was possible to overcome obstacles placed by the bureaucracy. So they reached the opening of the premises in a really short time and without any support of public funds. Furthermore the cooperative decided to assign the name "aSsUrD" to the restaurant, highlighting the key-word “SUD” (South of Italy). That was because they decided to maintain a strong link with the south, especially with the local territory. So the products offered to the customers have been carefully selected and they are almost exclusively local.
The risto-pub has therefore combined criteria of economic, agri-food and social sustainability. The management method has focused a lot on slow food and not on take away, with the aim of supporting the Down employees during the meals production and distribution process. Small adjustments have also been realized up to facilitate the table service for them (such as the order that is not taken by them because it would slow down the times, or the ergonomically shaped cup holders).
Author: Alessandro Zito - Materahub