Gigi Frassanito came to Slow Food after completing a Masters at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and took hold of a new project, or rather, a new brainchild: the Earth Markets, a network of farmers' markets that express the Slow Food philosophy.
It was one of those chaotic moments were we had many ideas but no idea how to organize the work entailed. There was no money, and everything had to be arranged with very limited resources, but Gigi was never discouraged. He did everything that needed to be done: He networked experts from different sectors and discussed every detail of policy documents. He visited Earth Markets in Italy and then all around the world, debating and mediating with producers from Lebanon (for the Earth Markets in Beirut and Tripoli), Israel (Tel Aviv), Latvia (Riga), Austria (Parndorf), Bulgaria (Cherny Vit), Puerto Rico and so on. He came back from every trip with new ideas to improve the project - adding a missing piece, correcting mistakes, modifying a rule that proved too strict, and did so with such success because of his ability to observe and listen.
Over the last few years he worked to strengthen Slow Food in his region, Emilia Romagna. Last October he came to the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin, even though he'd been unwell for some time, and, again, did all that needed to be done.
After the event, he sent us an email with a summary (because this is what he was like - a serious worker, who would take notes on every detail of his activity). It was testimony to all of his energy, optimism and willpower.
"During the meeting on Italian markets a lot of questions and experience were put on the table," he wrote. "It was one of those moments that you could really see the network!... I met Gul Girlsman from the Foça market in Turkey. She's a very enthusiastic woman with a lot of goodwill... I spoke to Nada Karaivanova and two other convivium leaders from Macedonia. Their situation is a disaster, but they gave me a very good impression, they see very clearly what needs to be done to launch the market... And then I met people from South America. It was a useful meeting because it made me understand that I need to simplify the project communication to give a better understanding of its value in those countries... Anyway, beyond specific situations, the big events have the wonderful advantage of creating true relationships among people, so we can remember that behind the projects, websites and policy documents there are real faces and real people."
He died yesterday on March 20, at age 44.
This is how we like to remember him, and as he was - delicate, ironic, intelligent - and we will commit to continuing his work.
So long, Gigi.