5000 seeds to dream!!!
The Barcelona residency took place at Espai Germanetes, a plot located on the left side of Eixample District (Barcelona city). Espai Germanetes used to be an empty plot near the Compte Borrell and Consell de Cent streets in Barcelona. The City Council acquired ownership of the plot in 2006 and promised that public buildings and services would be provided there to meet the longstanding inhabitants’ claims and demands. Since then, the plot has been abandoned.
The original project of the City Council was to build an elderly care home, social housing for youth, a high school, and a nursery. None of these proposals have been started nor even planned. Only a row of private apartments built and sold.
Currently, Espai Germanetes is part of the “Plan Buits”, a plan promoted by the City Council to allow temporary use of 19 empty plots in Barcelona (including Espai Germanetes). Public institutions, grassroots associations and other non-profit community- based stakeholders are allowed to use the space temporarily. In April 2013, Recreant Cruilles won the competition to manage and use Espai Germanetes. Recreant Cruilles, the host organisation for the Barcelona residency project, emerged from the Assembly of Eixample district, and was driven at the same time by the “indignados” social movement associated with the activists who were camping on Catalonia square in May 2013.
Since that time, people engaged in Recreant Cruïlles grassroot movement started managing Espai Germanetes and have delivered many activities to help revitalise the space and the social life in the area. This community-based collective aims to develop a new approach to politics which is underpinned by citizen participation, and which pays special attention to public space management. Recreant Cruilles has always worked to empower citizens by influencing public institutions and has ensured communities have a central role in decision-making processes associated with public space.
The Barcelona residency provided an opportunity to strengthen the Espai Germanetes project and Recreant Cruilles movement using participatory arts as a method. Different workshops throughout the 8-week residency have been delivered to promote civic engagement and capacity building in community arts like horizontal gardening, painting and recycling. The community artists were appointed after a participatory workshop with community residents. They selected Anka Zawadzka and Janek Dowgiallo (mech) who are architects, sociologists and artists.
A community steering group formed by member of the host organisation and residency staff from University of Barcelona coordinated the 8-week residency project, starting 8th April and finishing 3rd June 2015.
“We want the residency project to be a real opportunity to reach more people in the neighbourhood, bringing them close to Espai Germanetes project and sharing our political message: neighbours can (and should) play an active role at defining, shaping and recreating the city.”
In summary, the Barcelona residency core actions have been:
Finding time to develop and get to know the community
It was crucial to adapt the initial artist proposal to develop it with the people of Espai Germanetes Assembly. In the initial proposal the selected area to deliver the participatory arts residency was an empty space surrounding the Espai Germanetes, a space that could strength the project.
However, City Hall started to move land with excavators at the start of the project so the project plans needed to be readjusted.
Seed bomb workshop
In order to visualise green space, a seed bomb participatory workshop was delivered during which people were invited to use seed bombs to “combat the dragon”. This workshop was done on Saint George’s day, a popular day in Catalonia region. The legend says that George fought the dragon and won, so in our case bomb seeds were launched onto the space where excavators had started to work.
The idea of creating a mobile garden was generated by the Assembly. Some workshops targeting different community groups were designed and facilitated with elderly people, small traders and children.
Trojan horse action
At the end of the residency, a Trojan horse was created; this horse is a symbol of fighting and how small groups can influence big majorities.
Pictures and more info: https://www.facebook.com/recreant.cruilles?fref=ts