14.09.2017 | fondazione zegna

Roots and wings

From the Zegna Baby Forest to Mongolia: new trees for the future

There is a place a long way from here that is inexorably and rapidly becoming a desert. Its name is Kulun Qi, an agricultural area in Inner Mongolia around 700 kilometers north-east di Beijing, in the Prefecture of Tongliao. Eastern Asia’s huge Gobi desert is advancing, bringing its sands to places which only a few years ago were farmlands. From the city of Kulun-Hure you can look north across dry fields and high dunes. The destiny of that land might not concern us here. But the destiny of the Earth does. The fate of agriculture in Kulun Qi should be worrying us in fact, because building the future is only possible through global awareness of local problems, and vice versa. There are no buffer zones. There is no longer anything that doesn’t concern us: in the "village" everything has the same value at every point on the map. Lorenz’s beat of a butterfly wing applies to us all, as do its effects, for better or worse. A project to save the Kulun area has been in full swing since 2007. The "Million Tree Project" is part of a wider program of environmental protection being carried forward by "Roots & Shoots", an organization founded by Jane Godall in 1991. Planting a million trees to make China green again is a mission that Ermenegildo Zegna Group too has been committed to since 2012.

Ermenegildo Zegna Group’s engagement in remote Inner Mongolia with its "My Zegna Forest" project follows in the footsteps of Ermenegildo Zegna’s initiative in the Trivero area. Munsù Gildo shaped the landscape in the Biella mountains with conifers and flowers, reforesting and embellishing a territory that was exhausted, barren, desertified by excessive exploitation in the 19th century. His offspring and theirs have never ceased to concern themselves about the environment and plants, and have turned an idea into an Oasis. Awareness has grown in recent years of the necessity to maintain equilibrium in a system that doesn’t live on plants alone but also signs and symbols. So trees become bearers of values that are no different from the original ones but extend their significance in a wider educational context, re-elaborating them in the light of a completely new ecological conscience, 3rd-paradisiacal, based on restitution and compensation. The case of Kulun springs from a previous experience, local in geographical terms but global in thematic relevance.

On Friday 15 September, the Bielmonte "Baby Forest" (inaugurated in 2010) will be welcoming some new “babies”, small trees grown by Ermenegildo Zegna Group employees testifying not only to their sincere ecological sentiments but also, and above all, because it’s important to have somewhere to put down roots. A physical, indeed symbolical place where the trees of the future can take root and resist the social desertification threatening us just as much if not more than the Gobi. Zegna "trees" have never been purely botanical ones. The theme of taking root and growing in the right habitat is key to understanding the gift of flight. Paradoxical it may seem, but you can’t fly without roots. Wings are useful later, but before taking off you need your feet firmly on the ground, the right ground.

From 10 September to 29 October, the exhibition at Casa Zegna - “Roots and wings. Building the future, from Centro Zegna to the world” – provides ample food for thought on welfare and the safeguarding and development of the new generations. This exhibition in Zegna’s cultural center focuses above all on the theme of education, as seen in the metaphor of a tree sinking its roots in the here and then but extending its branches and fruit in all directions and into the future.



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Via Marconi 23 - Trivero - tel. 015 7591463

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