I got to Barcelona a few days early in order to settle in a bit, meet an old friend and prepare the trip. These first days I've already had some great conversations about activities happening in Barcelona as well as across Spain. It seems that the economic crisis, with all the struggles coming from it, has given rise to a lot of citizens-led initiatives and changes happening.
Yesterday, during the celebrations of the day of Saint George in Barcelona, I stumbled across a stall in Plaza Real by “1010 ways to buy without money”. There were lots of books for sale, however the prize was not of monetary value, but of actions. For example, you might have to arrange a picnic for 5 or more kids, bake two cakes and share one with a person on the street, make a joke, start a chain of favours, go to the theatre this month or tell a story to your granddad. The value of a book can be such that you might not be able to pay, for example “write about 1010ways in your magazine” or “give a job” is not something everyone could fulfill. This trading without money concept is a powerful tool and reminds of similar initiatives emerging in countries across the world, like timebanking or trade schools.
In Spain, a number of large networks are active at national and regional levels. There are the "círculos podemos" ('We Can' Circles), a movement proposing an alternative politics at the European level. The objective is to create candidatures organized from below with citizens standing as candidates for election in the European Parliament end of May. They organize in assemblies where they try to define their programme amongst everyone through consensus. These "círculos podemos" unite many existing movements, also connected with the movement 15M (15th of March).
Many people I talk to report about the political situation in Spain and its regions being a disaster, with corruption and despilfarro (waste of public funds) widespread. In response, lots of concrete struggles have formed, such as the platform for public education ("Marea Verde") or the platform for public health ("Marea Blanca") which both have been successful in influencing policies at the national level.
Another considerably strong movement is the "Plataforma de Afectados por las Hipotecas”, la PAH, which fights against evictions of people from their homes. La PAH Valencia will join us on the ruta del despilfarro (the route of the waste of public resources) on Friday 25 April, together with Asociacion Victimas del Metro, Salvem el Cabanyal and Cooperación/ Caso Blasco.
And people are uniting in masses against many more issues, for example in opposition to the new law against abortion, something that is also being discussed and fought against in Portugal.
Although the cuts to public spending and continuous privatization throw many into a situation where they struggle for existence, a large number of people have resorted to alternative ways of influencing the politics of their lives. They are remembering the power of community, grassroots and concerted efforts. It is inspiring to see such a wave of creative, passionate actions thriving and rising up to the challenges they are facing.
So interesting! I'm a little late but see you guys soon in Jaume I
Inspiring! Safe trip....