The Mariapolis stands out for the green vegetation in which it is immersed and the harmony of its buildings. Its over 200 inhabitants come from all over Brazil and from several different countries: Italy, Congo, Portugal, Holland, Germany, Peru and Ecuador.
Since the beginning of the sixties Chiara Lubich dreamt of setting up model towns like this, not only with houses, schools and churches, but also with factories, examples of how to live together in communion, governed by reciprocal love. And it was here that the first Business Park was started fulfilling this “dream”. It was here in fact in 1991 that Chiara launched a project that proposed a new approach to economics, the Economy of Communion; and founded the Business Park, which is a prototype of a renewed economy, right here in the vicinity of this little town. In a prophetic way she outlined its role: “A small town like this,” she wrote in her diary, “In Brazil, where the division between rich and poor is a massive social scourge, could become a beacon and a sign of hope.”
The heroic faith of the first pioneers and their supporters, helped that prophesy become a reality. With its six companies, the Business Park is a focal point for academics and economists and has attracted the attention of high level politicians: from Hon Franco Montoro, a Councillor of the Republic and ex-Governor of San Paolo, to Dr Marco Maciel, the Vice President of the Republic; to a group of politicians from different parties, members of a multi-party commission for the battle against and elimination of poverty.
Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti are here on the last leg of their trip to Brazil. During their visit to the Park, a businesswoman present recalled Ginetta Calliari, one of the first young people to follow Chiara, and to whom much is owed for the spread of the movement in Brazil and the development of the Economy of Communion. Maria Voce underlined the key to its success: “It is communion, which comes first and is the proviso for productivity.” This communion governs relationships at all levels – between the managers and workers within the company, between the companies in the Business Park itself and with other similar Business Parks throughout the world.
In an attempt to help solve some of the social problems in the area, since the end of the seventies some direct action has been taken in two areas around the Mariapolis: in Jardim Margarida, which is right in front of it, and in Bairro do Carmo a neighbourhood with mainly people of African descent. Two community centres cater for children and adolescents during out of school hours, keeping them away from the risks of violence and drugs that try to ensnare them. The results are surprising. The changes in behaviour, brought about by the pedagogy inspired by the “art of loving” which is a characteristic of the different activities – from sport to I.T. – also influences the local schools and has awakened a growing interest in the municipal institutions giving rise to many forms of collaboration.
Actions aren’t enough to bring about change however, ideas must also be spread through the media. This awareness has been there for over 50 years, when the Publishing House and Cidade Nova magazine were set up and whose Head Office is at present in the Mariapolis. The Publishing house has not been unaffected by the crisis in the world of publishing brought about by the digital revolution. The President and Co-President gave it a new impulse. “Brazil is developing very quickly,” Giancarlo Faletti observed, “We need cultural media that knows how to straddle history, that is not bowed down by it, but knows how to interpret and enlighten it with the charism of unity.”