Appreciation and understanding of your place of birth as a source of inspiration to bring people together. Tatiana Pais Becher, the person behind the Embrace of the Tre Cime, speaks about her relationship with the Dolomites, today a symbol of Peace, Freedom and Justice for everyone around the world.
I have always thought that being born in the Cadore Dolomites, in the town of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, was not only a great privilege, but also an opportunity, something many people unfortunately do not realise. I was lucky to have parents who conveyed their deep love for the mountains to me from an early age, teaching me to respect and appreciate the unique environment we live in.
When I was still in pre-school my father, who was an Alpine guide, began taking me and my brother to the tops of the magnificent peaks which surround Misurina, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Paterno, Cadini, Popena and Cristallo. Up there where the earth touches the sky, I was able to widen my outlook to distant horizons, realising that the mountains are not simply a barrier separating one valley from another, but a source of inspiration to make dreams, build bridges to reach out to other worlds and tear down walls and boundaries. This profound understanding has accompanied me throughout life, during my studies in Ireland and my foreign travels, showing me the way back home, to my roots, my “peaks”, a privileged viewpoint over the whole world.
The start of the new millennium was a turning point in my life, because I experienced the thrill and responsibility of becoming a Mum, and my awareness that we live in a world full of injustice, inequalities, violations of human rights and abuse of the poor was also heightened. This led me to take an active part in the launch of Pope John Paul II’s “Jubilee 2000” campaign and the “Drop The Debt Campaign”, which was also supported by Bono Vox, the rock star who had made such an impression on my adolescence and who I had the privilege of meeting when I was writing my thesis on the links between Irish literature and the lyrics of U2 songs. This was the spark that led me to wonder what a woman, born and raised in a small village in the Dolomites, mother of three young children, could do to help make the world a better place and focus the spotlight on certain issues, raising awareness. One sleepless night, the idea came to me: why not combine my love for the Dolomites with the dream of changing the world, coming up with the idea of forming a long human chain of 6000 people in a symbolic embrace around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The Tre Cime were destined to go, in a very short space of time, from frontier land where 100 years ago thousands of men fought in the Great War, to not only a symbol par excellence of the Dolomites World Heritage, but also a natural trinity which I hoped would become a symbol of Peace, Freedom and Justice for everyone around the world.
I kicked this idea around for years, mentioning it to people who either thought I was mad or a visionary, before meeting my friends Daniele, Francesco and Piergiorgio from the NGO in Belluno “Insieme Si Può”. They helped me turn my dream into reality, creating a working group of over 200 volunteers and a truly impeccable organisation.
The first Human Chain “The Dolomites Embrace Africa” was formed in 2009 just a couple of days before the G8 summit in L’Aquila, while the second one “The Dolomites Embrace Human Rights” took place in 2015, to mark the 40th anniversary of Amnesty International in Italy. The global media resonance of the second event was intensified by the support of the international association Art For Amnesty and its chairman Bill Shipsey, who involved A-list stars from the music world such as Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Sting, Joan Baez and U2, who published a photo of the Tre Cime on their official website U2.com, inviting fans to take part in the embrace. This symbolic act was beamed around the world in a couple of hours and the video taken by Giovanni Carraro’s drone recorded 500,000 views in just a couple of days, entering the Top 10 of the most watched videos of those produced by the various Amnesty organisations around the world www.dolomitidirittiumani.org.
I would love to see the Dolomites interact with the entire world through artistic, social, environmental and cultural events in the future. Internet and social media have helped put an end to physical and mental divides, so now instead of the historical boundaries that lay along our peaks, we are witnesses to smiles and handshakes of tourists who flock here in increasing numbers from all corners of the globe to admire the incomparable peaks, spires and pinnacles. Now that UNESCO has recognised the Dolomites as a World Heritage Site, it is up to my generation to heighten our own awareness of the unique nature of this landscape and convey it to future generations, handing this legacy down intact so they can become the all-important guardians of this priceless treasure.
This goal can be reached only if we have a global, open-minded vision, if we come up with new projects involving international performers which keep the eyes of the world clearly fixed on our mountains, creating important moments for collective reflection and enhancement of the UNESCO Dolomites Property. Art and culture could well be the most effective way of attracting as many people as possible to this heritage, which belongs to each one of us but especially to the generations to come.
Tatiana Pais Becher