“Absolutely inaccessible by fair means!” Albert F. Mummery
A boat and a man go across Europe
On the rivers of the Old Continent to take man back to nature, nature back to man, man back to man. For a New man.
The questions. Can we continue to “use” the Earth without limits, without sense? Can we continue to destroy, consume, throw away? Is a “sustainable” life possible? Are conferences, campaigns, grapevines on the internet enough?
Is there not perhaps a need for a simple yet epic gesture? A new and ancient gesture?
The facts and figures. 5,200 kilometres, 6 months on a rowing boat, day and night, 1 million oar strokes on the Rhine and Danube from the English Channel to the Black Sea. And to help him across 15 countries from London to Istanbul, and passing through Italy (boat launch), England, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Ukraine and Turkey, there will only be the wind and a sail. All of this not for a sporting achievement but to build a new relationship with nature, water and rivers.
It is the feat of 44 year old Giacomo De Stefano, born in Asti but Venetian by adoption. He is more than just an environmentalist. He defines himself as a “new world traveller”. The miracle of the feat is written in the budget: 0 euro. It is centred on a “gift economy”, cost-free. Private businesses, friends, partners: they are working with him, providing him with tools and ideas; they are creating conditions to make possible something exceptional.
Man on the river. In April, “Man on the River” will begin in London. Six months in a rowing boat, using only his arms, the arms of a man who describes a new humanism, beyond the technology of engines with a thousand horse-power.
Why “Man on the River”?
For centuries, rivers have been the principal thoroughfares for linking civilisations, and of supplying water to human communities. It is no coincidence that almost all major cities have grown on the banks of a river. Today, most waterways are left to themselves, favouring other forms of polluting and costly transport and, worse, dumping both urban and industrial waste and sewage into the rivers, bringing a slow death upon river life.
With “Man on the River” Giacomo wants to give centrality back to the rivers that flow through Europe: beginning in the Thames, he will cross the English Channel, follow the French canals to Strasbourg, then enter the Rhine up to Nürnberg; he will then enter the Danube, crossing Vienna, Bratislava and Belgrade until he reaches the Black Sea. From there on to Istanbul for an expected total duration of five months.
In the wake of his boat he will also try to trace life in a new world, the way to new economic opportunities, a form of tourism which is more respectful and sustainable. Demonstrating that not only can one travel with little and respect nature but that this form of tourism is immensely more emotionally-rich and satisfying.
Change if you can. “Man on the River”: a journey across the heart of Europe, a green heart that is searching to destroy a black and polluted heart, with the cry “Change if you can”.
Could it be the original and alluring European version of the American “Change”?