The 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit at around 4am local time on Sunday, 20 May 2012, in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy between the historic cities of Bologna, Modena and Ferrara. Within that triangle lies the town of Carpi, the home of our partner organisation Anziani e Non Solo.
The quake was almost as powerful as one which devastated the central region of Abruzzo in 2009, killing more than 300 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Although there were far fewer casualties from Sunday’s earthquake, it was felt as far away as Venice, the German-speaking South Tyrol region of far northern Italy and the Friuli region on the border with Slovenia.
Thousands of panic-stricken residents ran out into the streets in their nightclothes, as statues crashed down from centuries-old palazzi and the roofs of churches collapsed.
The ministry of cultural heritage in Rome said damage to historic buildings and the artistic treasures they contained was “significant”.
Emilia Romagna is renowned for its balsamic vinegar and prosciutto ham, and the region’s culinary icons did not escape damage either. The balsamic vinegar loft that we had visited in Carpi only months earlier was destroyed.
Enzo Boschi, a reputed seismologist, said it was the biggest earthquake to have hit the region for centuries. And as experts warned of the dangers of aftershocks, a strong new quake of 5.1 on the Richter Scale hit the region in the afternoon, with further aftershocks following for several days.
(Acknowledgement for some of the above to Nick Squires: The Telegraph – online, 20 May 2012)
We have always said that like the Richter Scale that measures movement in the earth, our own Rickter Scale® measures movement in people. In this instance, by using the Rickter Scale® it was also possible to measure the impact that the earthquake had on the people of Carpi – at least those who were the clients of Anziani e Non Solo.
Our partner’s headquarters and training facilities were so damaged, and their activities so badly disrupted that no client interviews could take place for three months. However, once the Rickter Scale® interviews resumed, it became apparent just how much the May 20th earthquake had impacted on the lives of ordinary people.
The Rickter Scale® does not only measure how people reflect the circumstances of their lives by simply scaling those responses from zero to ten. For each scaling, the individual is recording precisely how they are thinking and how they are feeling about their own personal experiences, and by that means they tell their life’s story.
And so in the months following the earthquake, the team of practitioners at Anziani e Non Solo were learning exactly how much their clients had been in a heightened state of stress, how they felt altogether more vulnerable and anxious, not only in terms of fearing more aftershocks, but in their personal lives, economically and socially.
On the Richter Scale, the earthquake had measured 6.0. On the Rickter Scale® that same event had subsequently been recorded as having a far reaching and highly significant impact that touched every part of every individual’s life who experienced it. Even client’s responses to the employability questions which were part of our Transfer of Innovation project – each client’s quantitative scalings and qualitative narrative interpretation, clearly show how the people of Carpi were affected.
The Rickter Scale® Process does not only record the individual’s present state, but offers the opportunity to make informed choices and take responsibility for setting goals and agreeing action plans for the future. It may just be, as a result of the partnership being caught up in this devastating event, that together we can develop a new Frame of Reference – a specific set of cue questions that can be put to those who find their world turned upside down by similar disasters anywhere in the world: an adaptation of the Rickter Scale® Process that could effectively help to lay the foundations for rebuilding the lives of both individuals and communities: a means of creating hope and determination out of tragedy.