A family-oriented professional, Cettina Martorana initially didn’t want to run for office in the Sicilian regional elections of 2022. Her kids challenged her with a question – “How come you tell us to do what’s right but you aren’t taking that advice when you are asked to run?” The result? Martorana is a candidate in the upcoming regional elections. Her philosophy is one of regeneration, she claims. What exactly does that mean? And, can politics truly be regenerative? We tracked her down for this interview.
How did you decide to run for office and what makes your campaign different?
Unfortunately, our political world is not in sync with reality – especially when it comes to the concerns people have with the impact of fires, floods, draught, and the unbearable temperatures that are coming. Instead, we see a dismissal of climate science and an intentional obfuscation of facts to slow the adoption of legislation to fight climate change.
We’ve created a psychological climate of eco-anxiety for the young. I know this because I have three children.
When Caterina Chinnici [the candidate running for president of the Sicilian Assembly] asked me to run on her ticket, I refused at first, but my children and my husband both convinced me to run. My campaign is about regeneration, and I believe it is truly the only way forward.
What do you mean by regeneration?
My understanding of regeneration is based on what we learned from COVID. As you know, COVID destroyed our tourist economy in Sicily. Now, with Sicilian families in trouble and our planet in danger, we cannot simply go through another cynical cycle of politics. What this means that we must rethink the very idea of “left” versus “right” and come together to solve problems.
We have to act. For our children and our children’s children.
Last year, when I was councilor for economic actives of the Municipality of Palermo, the Mayor and I invited the Regenerative Marketing Institute to Palermo; we wanted to learn about different approaches to community regeneration which went beyond the sustainability and circular-economy paradigms which sound good on paper, but achieve little in terms of actually stopping our climate crisis.
We also learned that the climate crisis is also an economic crisis and a social crisis. In a polycrisis world, we cannot focus on one issue at the expense of another. The real shift is what we do to move from an economy of exploitation and extraction to a regenerative economy. Nature must become a priority. Or we will no longer have an island to live on.
We must ask ourselves – is politics making our world better or worse? Our communities? Our future… If the answer is no, then we must make the shift to regeneration.
Can you give us some details?
We use a metaphor based on the olive tree – which is a familiar one for us in the Mediterranean:
What we call the “tree of regeneration” is simply an olive tree which connects the community together, from the foundation or roots – based on tolerance, rights, and justice, to the three fruits we hold dear: family, honest work, and nature. Our communities are connected – and how we treat the weak is a measure of our strength.
How would we act if we were truly serious about doing something about the climate crisis?
Would we keep doing what we’ve been doing? Paying lip-service to the Planet and little else?
Why are you using comics in your campaign?
How do we get young people to listen to our vision?
By including them in the vision-making process.
But first we must explain what we stand for in a way that attracts attention, and our comics do that for sure.
How did you come up with all the answers?
That’s it. We don’t have the answers. But we Sicilians do have a spirit to solve problems. That’s why Sicily has survived for over the centuries.
I’m not saying the left has all the answers either. But in Italy, the parties on the right were until recently telling their constituents to cut the South loose – that we didn’t belong to Italy. And now they’ve shifted from south-bashing to immigrant-bashing. The reality is we need to all work on finding solutions, not polarizing people with hate.
Our vision is not division. It’s regeneration.
To young we say: bring us your ideas. We hear you!
Let’s see together what we can do to regenerate Sicily. I invite your readers to learn more at cettinamartorana.it.
INTERVIEW BY CHRISTIAN SARKAR