Cultivating the public spaces

The project is to restore the social fabric of a sector of neighborhood spaces and common green areas, which are potential public spaces, through experiences of participatory design and construction of urban gardens, urban gardening as a tool for social transformation.

Emiliano de la Maza, Santiago, Chile

The neighborhood El Aguilucho in the commune of Providencia, a wealthy and traditional district of Santiago, is one of the neighborhoods with lower investment in this commune. What impacts the sense of security in the neighborhood, as the dismantling networks of mutual support, and organization. However it is a very rich in their diversity sector here live people who have lived all their life in the neighborhood and youth who are just beginning college life, commercial premises with a history in the place there, yet many trades and craft workshops plus new cafes and restaurants are developed.

Part of the problem of abandonment is in the public spaces in the neighborhood, not having a sense of belonging and acceptance with the environment, are the green areas which suffer neglect by their surrounding community. Are neighborhood public spaces, places that can promote the encounter between individuals, neighborhood relations and interactions that generate greater confidence among the local community.

The project began door-to-door invitation to the neighbors, who were invited to participate in workshops to learn how to make a garden in practical classes. The “platabandas” calls, It is the space between the sidewalk and the street, which are usually abandoned or neglected: more days of learning the culture technique is then performed with who were interested first day of basic concepts and imagining a garden design in public spaces in front of their homes worked. The implementation of a home composting and manufacture of seedlings in these collective dynamics were you creating relationships and was such that the participants found that Felipe was a neighbor who lived 70 years in the neighborhood, when there were only farms also worked as a plumber independently, Catalina was a goldsmith's workshop in front of Felipe, Trinidad was a drama student who had come to the neighborhood a few years ago and realized theater projects with seniors, Giselle wife of Juan, received her father from the south who brought back seeds of beans and potatoes and the "Blue House" had a foster home receiving people from Easter Island who came to get medical treatment, who spent months away from home, found in the garden one relaxing space amid the busy city.

So by practicing the garden, these neighbors who did not know began to relate to and feel part of a community. Each time you leave your house to water the garden there are other neighbors who approach them to congratulate them on their initiative by flowers, children come to ask and enjoy watching the tomatoes in their home and sunflowers moving around the sun, the gardens have become a recognized landmark in the neighborhood and their neighbors caregivers of these new public spaces. In the garden spaces, people interact with nature and from this. When a neighbor looks something valuable that is outside of your home, stay tuned to observe and maintain the place, this in situational prevention, surveillance naturally, these experiences are connected with those who care for these gardens. Besides intergenerational relationships, where what a first discover other connects emotionally with his past when Santiago was a rural sector.

They are 86 m2 of “orchard – garden” in public places care for 9 neighbors that among other benefits include the contribution to biodiversity, attracting pollinating insects, oxygenation of the soil so that the infiltration of rainwater into the groundwater , natural surveillance by neighbors who come to take care of their gardens every day, the contribution to a healthy diet and the use of medicinal herbs, walking paths where is complemented by the beautiful view to the garden creating interactions and a quieter walk where attention is placed on seasonal flowers, tomatoes, or butterflies.
This is a very low cost methodology that small interventions of recovery of public spaces achieves important interactions and links between the local community of a neighborhood.

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