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PSJM is a team of creation, theory and management formed by Cynthia Viera (Las Palmas G.C., 1973) and Pablo San José (Mieres, 1969).

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La Hoya Original

NEIGHBOURHOOD PERFORMANCES

 

The Neighbourhood Performances are part of a participatory process that our team has recently started with the neighbours of the area of ​​land houses in Hoya de la Plata, framed in the project “La Hoya Original”. After the successful process developed in the area of ​​the urbanization, which is already working autonomously with the neighbourhood and cultural association La Hoya Horizontal, the association Hoya de la Plata Original has been founded in this other area ─based on this project and also with a high participation rate that has surpassed all our expectations─. The association has been named Hoya de la Plata Original because it is the area where the neighbourhood was born. Our aesthetic-social team, just as we did with its sister neighbourhood, has provided symbols of identity to the community, such as the logo of the association, based on consultations, debates and deliberations on the identity signs that they feel are theirs.

Dressed in canary-yellow work overalls and the logo of the association printed on their back, the neighbours have made three striking urban actions. Each of these neighbourhood performances puts the accent on one of the most urgent needs discussed in the participatory diagnosis that our team did in the neighbourhood.

 

«LIFE OR DEATH»

The first action “Life or death” draws attention to the great danger ─in terms of road safety─ that Hoya de la Plata has on the road that goes up to Salto del Negro, the street Párroco José C. Quintana Sánchez. This route turns out to be a street very busy by neighbours, for which children must cross daily, and by which vehicles drive at high speed. A speed breaker is demanded: the so-called sleeping policeman or speed humps.

 

 

 

«THERE ARE SMELLS THAT KILL»

The second action “There are smells that kill” denounces the bad smells to which the neighbourhood is subjected, due not only to the proximity of the municipal landfill, but also to the circulation of garbage trucks that are not properly sealed. The stench reaches the interior of the houses and it becomes unbearable. A change of route or any other solution to this public health problem is demanded.

 

 

 

«THE INVISIBLE PLACE»

The third action “The invisible place” affects one of the main problems that the citizens face in order to organize themselves and to carry a neighbourhood life: the lack of a social space in which to develop the activities of an association that is proving to be very active. The participatory design and construction of a building that welcomes these activities is demanded.

 

 

These aesthetic-social actions of a protest nature are presented as a visual reminder to the municipal authorities that visited the neighbourhood at the beginning of the participatory process and renewed their positions after the elections: the mayor Augusto Hidalgo and the councillors Javier Doreste, Lourdes Armas and the now councillor Prisco Navarro. We trust that these reminders will help to have the problems solved promptly.

The actions have had the support of the Department of Citizen Participation of the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, thus assuming the institution that this area of the municipal government has to promote the democratic quality of the city and therefore considering the claim and constructive criticism as a democratic and participative value.

In the process of creation and execution of these performances, the creative and productive contributions of neighbours have been a constant, taking the level of participation in contemporary art beyond the mere assistance and performance by the public that assumes some rules previously dictated by the artist. Although they are based on ideas and aesthetic elements proposed by the PSJM team, which act here as technical experts in both art and participation, the debate and constant deliberation have granted certain degree of freshness and a very satisfactory aesthetic democracy.

LA HOYA ORIGINAL: THE PARTICIPATORY PROCESS

«La Hoya Original» is an initiative originated in the participatory process that began more than a year ago in the Hoya de la Plata neighbourhood. We arrived there to boost and dignify the life of the neighbourhood through citizen participation, art, architecture and imaginative forms of protest and organisation. Currently, it can be seen how the great retaining wall, the first step of the integral rehabilitation, is already finished, and that the neighbours, through the cultural and neighbourhood association La Hoya Horizontal, operate autonomously with a management team perfectly and horizontally organised.

However, Hoya de la Plata is not only the area of the blocks, which, strictly speaking, is called Hoya de la Plata Urbanization, but also extends to a large area of single-family land houses, the first houses that were built in the area: Hoya de la Plata Baja, as they usually call it. We prefer to give it back its value by calling it La Hoya Original.

It all began in a meeting of La Hoya Horizontal, in the urbanization of Hoya de la Plata. Nardy Barrios, who was in the middle of a political campaign for her candidacy for mayor of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, called the neighbours of Hoya de la Plata Baja to this meeting. At the end, at the request of neighbours, we were asked to initiate a participatory process similar to the one that has had such good results in their sister neighbourhood, and it was possible to start it thanks to the support of the Department of Citizen Participation of the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

It should be borne in mind that the context of La Hoya de la Plata Baja is completely different, since it concerns private land houses and not neighbouring communities, and the mobility problems are different, so the project had to be dealt with in a different way. To begin, we mapped the neighbourhood, taking pictures of all the areas with structural needs and contacting the neighbourhood agents.

Thus, a first assembly was convened in which PSJM introduced ourselves and we showed our work with the project La Hoya Horizontal. We analysed the needs of the neighbourhood and discussed the design of the poster and the organization of the printing at the Suárez Naranjo Civic Center.

In this first assembly of presentation and debate, which would serve to outline a diagnosis, there was a significant participation by neighbours. It was obvious that there was a desire to participate, as well as thrust and enthusiasm on the part of a whole neighbourhood that wanted to take responsibility for common things.

Of the many shortcomings that were collected in the first diagnosis, the assembly found three priorities:

1) The creation of a new neighbourhood association.

2) The construction of a social space where they can meet and perform the activities of an organized community.

3) The visibility. Recover the identity of the neighbourhood and make it visible. Make the neighbourhood exist for the city, for citizenship and for institutions.

In order to solve the first problem, a General Assembly was convened. We designed the poster and organized its printing at the Civic Centre Suárez Naranjo.

In an assembly that overflowed the space of the parish hall that the Church lends them to meet, about 90 people voted (between ballots and delegates, as there are many neighbours with mobility problems who could not attend, but who were very interested in dignifying the neighbourhood). There was unanimity and consensus.

Consequently, in a very short time the new Neighbourhood and Cultural Association was created. The self-management workshop was transformed into direct advice to the new governing board. We prepared all the documents required in the Register of Associations in the Government of the Canary Islands, for the registration in the Tax Agency, accounting, minute books, register of partners, etc.

From there came a very active governing board; an excellent team. They also decided to adopt the term we proposed, the name of the participatory process (La Hoya Original), but varying the noun, so it was finally named AVAC Hoya de la Plata Original. In that meeting we gathered a series of symbolic aspects and concepts with which the people of the neighbourhood felt identified in order to be able to offer them a work of visual identity that they felt as theirs. The result was a seal and logo of digital lines and traditional composition that highlights the maritime origin of the neighbourhood, which would be used for the neighbourhood and cultural association.

Initially, we went to the Town Planning Department to find information on the ownership of the land of the existing social establishment in the neighbourhood and clarify some doubts. We also advised the governing board regarding the foundation, management and other procedures that should be carried out in the Registry of Associations of the Government of the Canary Islands and the Tax Agency.

We showed the neighbours the application of the City Council “LPGC Avisa”, which can be used for specific problems. A WhatsApp chat with neighbours was created and problems and solutions were raised in it. The neighbourhood and cultural association also created a Facebook page, AC/AV-Hoya de la Plata Original, where they can communicate and keep up with the project.

The work was developing rapidly in Hoya de la Plata Original. The governing board worked tirelessly and the rest of the neighbours gave their support incessantly. In a short time, we managed to receive the first visit from the public office, the councillor of Citizen Participation, Sergio Millares, who toured with his team the labyrinth of streets that make up the cliff of Hoya de la Plata, taking good note of all the shortcomings (many) that the neighbourhood has in order to inform the different areas of municipal government of the state of abandonment the neighbourhood lives in. Prior to his visit, meetings were held at the house of one of the neighbours because there was no official meeting place at the time. In these meetings we planned the route that would be done with the councillor.

The cleaning services also examined the area. Only a day later came the mayor of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Augusto Hidalgo, accompanied by his team and the district councillor Lourdes Armas.

Also, the town planning councillor Javier Doreste visited the neighbourhood later and paid attention to the problems and undertook to find solutions. We had to rely on the political will to see our objectives achieved.

In the month of April, we invited the neighbours of Hoya de la Plata Baja to the Council of Citizen Participation on the occasion of the participatory budgets so that they would become familiar with them and meet the team, even if the neighbourhood was not in time to present a proposal. It was a very constructive experience and they met representatives of other neighbourhood associations.

We also met with the minister and the technical team of the Regional Ministry and the technicians of the Landscape Laboratory of Cabildo de Gran Canaria. As a result of that meeting, it was agreed to try to organise a meeting with the Ministry and the neighbours in order to integrate the needs raised in the first meeting of the neighbourhood within the landscape rehabilitation project of the area.

Finally, we have coordinated with the internship team of the Department of Citizen Participation and they have conducted surveys in the neighbourhood for a sociocultural study, in order to detect activities that could potentially be of interest for the neighbours. Through this study, we have confirmed that the sociocultural and economic profile of the neighbourhood is medium-low, and demographically aged. Therefore, we can confirm that the investment of institutional resources in the area is necessary and totally justified.

On May 8 a new assembly was organised. We took care of the poster design and management of the printing at the Suárez Naranjo Civic Centre. Taking into account the tastes and preferences declared in the surveys, the Citizen Participation team proposed a week of activities that included artistic activities. We used that week to teach the Neighbourhood Communication Workshop: Communicate, Motivate, Excite in a very practical way and with immediate results.