Contentions and Delays
The woeful history of environmental management in modern Venice has resembled a contact sport characterized by prolonged time outs in which wounded parties retreat back into their respective corners while public officials seem incapable of speeding up processes of decision making and implementation. Optimists contend that all problems are manageable and that the best way to insure that the city is really not sinking as some t-shirts promote (1) is to embrace the MOSE flood barriers. Pessimists rankle that the review process has been flawed beyond belief through being mired in corruption and in ignoring the voices of the many who remain opposed to MOSE and whose protestations on banners (2) or graffiti (3) can be seen about the city, including even out on the construction site itself (4).
Pavement heightening and infrastructure renewal projects carried out around the city by Insula engineers have been worthy examples in how to capitalize on construction site fencing to spread the message about Venice's environmental problems and remedies (1, 2). One can learn, for example, about the herculean extent of the reparations (3) and the actual processes involved (4,5,6). The most extensive set of information boards were those posted near St Mark's Square which identified problem areas (7), provided historical reference to flooding incidence (8), explained the mechanisms in which high tides affected the area (9,10,11) and the interventions underway to mitigate these (12,13), as well as the overall project goals (14). Elsewhere, interpretive signs provide rudimentary information about historical and natural attributes of the lagoon (15).
Along the Fondamente Zatterie can be found one of the remnant suggestion boxes into which concerned citizens in days of the Republic would deposit their ideas about how to save the city from its, even then recognized. environmental problems (1). Once. on a whim, I placed a long list of prescriptions in this box and returned a year later to see it still lying there on the inside floor, ignored. The biggest question facing Venice concerns precisely who the city is to be saved for. Some international observers have suggested that the only hope is for the city to be completely surrendered to tourism and that some organization such as Disney should run it as a theme park by charging admission. Disney is certainly interested as can be seen by their advertisement on the back cover of the prestigious Harvard Magazine (2), sent out to thousands of influential people around the world, and the fact that they have already established a beachhead in the city (3) near the Rialto Bridge. Meanwhile, megalomaniacal city officials and tourism planners contemplate modernizing the city to make it more friendly for rapid transit (4), catering to what is expected to soon be more than twenty million tourists a year. Venice's future is therefore very much in doubt as a result of being loved to death. symbolized perfectly by a t-shirt logo depicting heartshaped eye sockets on the skull atop the gondola ferro-shaped crossbones (5).