The little dwarves worked hard to deliver each piece on time and support nature and dying out species with their tireless production…the little house stood in dark at the hedge of town, unknown to most people, who passed in front of it every day, without even imagining what was going on there…lights did not fade at night and yet you could spot hectic shadows moving beyond the small window sills…no shouting or mess, but a calm and ordered production line…. ‘Dreams become true at Christmas! Never stop dreaming’, says Santa… It’s hard to believe this when you are adult.

Giovanna was working hard to make her social cooperative survive during the appalling crisis period. The little workshop produces paper-machè souvenirs in Viareggio, the giant floats Carnival parade town in northern Tuscany. This is a major event in Italy which takes place from late January to March, according to Lent calendar, for 4 weeks of sheer fun and laughter. The paper-machè production here reaches the highest level f perfection, not only for the century old tradition, but also for the great passion of paper-maché masters and craftmen/woman.

When the social cooperative was created about ten years ago, Giovanna left her job as counsellor and mediator to join some ‘less fortunate’ men and women in the creative world of paper-machè. Dreams could not be sufficient to manage the whole activity and Giovanna made her best to find deals and new clients, which could guarantee a salary to the coop employees. She has left family, money and personal interests behind to fulfil this project, believing that her efforts would finally turn the coop into a successful story.

Gifts were ready, smooth, freshly painted and shiny before Santa rushed out on his sledge to make some special deliveries…artists, musicians, actors, showbiz people, sportsmen and women, writers and many other famous celebs could personalize gifts to be sold out in giveaways and beneficence auction. Giovanna stood working in her little workshop right beside the fan which gave her some relief from August heat, while brushing some paper-machè shapes, to be painted and sold at artisanal markets, when a young lady came in and looked around…Giovanna wiped out some glue from her hands before welcoming the young lady, who lately turned out to be working for a marketing and communication agency, presently scouting new gadgets and souvenirs for a worldwide association, better known as WWF!

Soon after that very first meeting, the coop received the green light to-go signal and started out the new production of little paper-machè pandas. They gained a thousand pieces order, which sounded like a huge achievement to the four-mates coop…to be delivered before Christmas.. From the tiny art shop in Viareggio, hundreds figurines left Tuscany to reach every corner of Italy and possibly of the world to save nature, animals and Earth. ‘It’s hard to believe that dreams can come true, when you are an adult and suffered several hurdles in work, handicaps, family affairs, mental disorders, like our coop members did…but this story taught me not to stop dreaming, because your efforts and belief can make other’s lives and environment better’ Giovanna asserted, before we greeted each other and wished ourselves holiday greetings.

This year google ‘panda gift’ or simply click on the links Panda gift and buy yourself a dream, not just an object. If you travel to Tuscany in February 2014 don’t forget to stop in Viareggio to attend Carnival parades and meet Giovanna and her crew to put hands on clay, paper and glue like little Christmas dwarves did with pandas…Happy Christmas!

For more information