Site Visit to Las Palmeras, Cordoba
On April 20th and 21st, Lorenzo and Luis Miguel in representation of the team of Tesserae visited Córdoba accompanied by University of Reading, Book on a Tree and Design for Change in the frame of the IN-HABIT project. The team had the chance to full-immerse for two days into the reality of Las Palmeras, the neighbourhood where most of the activities of the project are focused on.
Tesserae’s role in IN-HABIT is to coordinate the process of engagement of local stakeholders across the 4 partner cities (Córdoba, Riga, Nitra and Lucca) as well as to support the co-creative process of hard and soft solutions. More particularly, the visit was the perfect opportunity to experience the local context and to engage in very fruitful exchanges with local partners and inhabitants.
The first day started with a meeting with Vicente Martín, the General Coordinator of the Social Area in Córdoba’s City Hall, and Germán Moreno, the director of the Community Social Services Center ‘La Foggara’, which provided us with a great overview of the year-long process that has been going on in Las Palmeras. Directly afterwards, the team went outside on a walk to see and feel the pulsation of the neighbourhood.
Las Palmeras is organized around 5 U-shaped housing blocks that form 5 different and unique patios, with a main square as a nodal point between them. Most of the housing was built between the 80s and the 90s and its unique morphology attracted our attention from the very beginning, even if the effects of 30 years of deterioration were more than present. As we walked around and discussed problems and potentialities of the neighbourhood, we could understand the stigma associated to living and growing up in Las Palmeras. However, as in any other story, there is always another side to the predominant narrative, and Las Palmeras’s chaos and modesty is also a huge source of vitality, pride, and solidarity, as we later discovered in closer contact with the inhabitants.
After exploring Las Palmeras and getting to know some of the local organizations that collaborate with IN-HABIT (Red XXI, Estrella Azahara in between others), we rejoined our partners from University of Reading, who were meeting at the City Hall’s House of Equality, to have lunch in the neighbourhood with some of the participants of a workshop that would take place later in the afternoon. Until then we had only heard the whispers in between the palm trees, but in the lunch time we had the luck to hear the actual voices of Las Palmeras. Voices that spoke with passion and conviction about their environment. But also voices that celebrated the long-awaited defense of the master thesis of a young woman of Las Palmeras, or the excitement for the upcoming events in Córdoba after two long years of COVID-19 restrictions.
In the afternoon, we joined a workshop planned by the local committee to organize the construction of a Cruz de Mayo (Cross of May), typical celebration of Córdoba in which every neighbourhood creates crosses with artistic decorations. The workshop was once again a great opportunity to get to know the motivations and dynamics of the group. Parallelly to this, the team of Tesserae together with Book on a Tree went for an interview in the local radio. The day finished with the feeling of wanting to contribute as well to the construction of the cross and feeling somehow adopted in Las Palmeras.
The second day aimed to wrap up all the impressions from the previous day, starting with a meeting from Las Palmeras Committee in which the organizational details of the coming days were discussed. Following that, Tesserae provided some input around the concept of integration. The explicit aim of this presentation was to promote synergic actions and to identify on-going challenges as well as lines of action to solve them. Later, University of Reading discussed together with the group the best use of behavioural games for the local engagement process. The day finished with a workshop on communication by Book on a Tree, and an internal wrap up.
We want to thank enormously to Isotta and Javi, the Local Community Activators, for organizing such an enriching exchange and we cannot wait to see the advancements that will follow in the next months.