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Fuga di Sapori: A New Way Of Living Prison – Interview To Carmine Falanga

A walk-in Alexandria brought us in front of a window with welcoming and unusual writing, “Come in to have a look is not a crime”. Needless to say, I leave from there with the Sbirra, a craft beer flavored with citrus fruits from the Prison of Syracuse… It is illegal not to drink it together with the Marshal, a crumbly and delicious traditional Apulian tarallo. The names of these products and many other delicacies that the shop offers, such as panettone Maskalzone and distillates Furbetto, Bricconcello and Malandrino, flavored with wild fennel, lemon, and mandarin, They made me smile and think so much about the importance of irony that allows us to confront a complex and unknown reality, such as prison, lightening the most painful part with a comic note.

A wall was knocked down and in two garages was born the Bottega Solidale, the first reality that comes from within, in the Prison of Alexandria. A project of Economia Carceraria and Circolare aimed at creating jobs for prisoners and giving life to new collaborations with tertiary realities in different Italian prisons, promoting the goodness and sustainability of what is produced.

How was Fuga di Sapori born and what is its mission? What kind of products can find who enters the world of Idee in Fuga? Are they made exclusively within the prison walls?

Fuga di Sapori was born after a visit to the prison and we noticed two empty garages and we asked the Director to open a shop, between the general amazement of those present and a thousand perplexities we managed to realize this project of prison economy. We have artisanal food and non-food products. They are made by coop active in several Italian prisons but not only. We are promoting a concept of prison economy 2.0 or even productions outside the prison with artisans who are attentive to social and sustainability using ingredients from prison. 2.0 is not related to the world of the web but to the fact that two different realities, united by handmade production, are put on the same level.

During our enriching chat, Carmine told me about the peculiarities of the products to which Fuga di Sapori gives visibility through its physical and virtual showcase. I was very impressed by the attention that some producers pay to sustainability. The beer is produced to finance Social Wood, the project that since 2015 has allowed activating the educational carpentry of the Prison of Alexandria that, starting from waste materials, produces quality artifacts in line with the principles of the triple R – recovery, reuse and reuse – and creates new collaborations with realities inside and outside the prison walls. An added value that explains the cost of these products, especially to those who still can not grasp the implicit value, resulting from being the result of an economic prison. Fuga di Sapori manages to build a bridge to unite “those who produce inside and those who produce outside”, with a view to environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness since handmade and sustainable products in prison are valued by those who produce out in full compliance with these two principles. 

The prison economy certainly helps to break down the most negative and rigid beliefs that hover around prison experiences, and proof of this is all the social enterprises and independent cooperatives that carry out virtuous projects throughout Italy. Unfortunately, however, mistrust and prejudice are always around the corner, especially when it comes to unknown and “distant” realities, such as prison.

What is the objective of the prison economy and what are the main difficulties that hamper its process? What is the perception of prison in the common imagination? And what could (and should) institutions and civil society do to support it? 

Give work to break down the recidivism and give income autonomy to prisoners and former prisoners. The difficulties are linked to the restricted environment but it is part of the game and slowly you learn to live with and consider alternative solutions to those not practicable in prison. The stigma is useless to hide but many people, also thanks to our initiatives, are appreciating our commitment and participating in our events.

Your Social Cooperative, Idee in Fuga, thanks to the work of the prisoners of the Prison Institute “Cantiello e Gaeta” in Alessandria, has opened two stores, in addition to the online shop, one inside the prison walls and the other, smaller, in the center. Currently, you are carrying out a crowdfunding campaign for the realization of a new project, which will affect especially those who love beer like me… The creation of Hope, the Luppoleto Galeotto, within the House of Imprisonment in Alessandria to offer work to prisoners and quality that has the taste of solidarity to consumers.

We want to produce a semi-finished good and in particular, we thought of our beers. With the Hope project, we want to cultivate biological hops in the prison. A crowdfunding campaign is going on to support this project and anyone who wants can support us on Eppela!

Voltaire said that “work takes away from us three great evils: boredom, vice, and need”. Three great evils that the prison attracts mercilessly, in a cyclical and constant form. Work, fair trade, can be a “way out” of many conditions of sadness and discomfort, such as the malaise caused by the condition of detention, the distance from the family and the inability to share happy moments with loved ones, forced cohabitation with other people and the difficulty in expressing one’s emotions with fellow prisoners. Work gives those who are “inside” the opportunity to create something beautiful and good, giving hope, motivation, and moments of happiness.

Carmine, what’s happiness to you?

Happiness for me is…growing two guys who see everyone with the same eyes without ever discriminating against anyone because in my conception of life there are no “categories” but only people.

Ph. Credit Fuga di Sapori

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