Interrogativa no. 12

¿Y después qué?

What next?

2021

Dalia Milián Bernal

About a year ago, I was sitting with three women at a bar in the city center of my home town, Queretaro (Mexico). Four years before our meeting, they had been my students in their first year of architectural education, but I had not seen them for a long time because I moved to Finland in 2017. Now they seemed so grown up, drinking beer, planning their final projects, and telling me all about their amazing topics of interest. 

Throughout the evening, our conversation diverged from one topic to the other, at times becoming profound thoughts about how architecture contributes to unjust processes of urbanization, how little such issues are brought up in architectural education, and the lack of spaces to discuss them in general. We also talked about us, women in architecture, and how our voices are constantly muted – this is particularly true in Mexico, but continues to be a global issue – and what we could do about it without money and being so far apart. 

It was this fruitful discussion that motivated the creation of the blog Interrogativa, a platform that provides a collective space for women to bring-up and discuss issues related to processes of urbanization. Soon after its creation, other women joined the team. The blog kicked off on January 2020 with thought-provoking posts related to women and the city, including contributions of women from Mexico, Finland, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Italy. In February, the list of contributions grew in a blog-post full of words and the meaning each author attributed to these concepts. I must confess, the February blog-post is my all-time favorite because it crystalized the idea of a collective blog – that month the blog received 10 contributions. 

Then came Covid-19 and a pandemic. Our energy was low, but other women stepped in to write about urban activism , women’s marches in Mexico, thoughts of life in cities post-pandemic, the representation of women in urban art, discussions about racism and colonization of the Americas, women all over the world sent a song to create a playlist about cities in music, and a friend shared a personal experience about the meaning of home in times of Covid. Other women decided to send us an ‘interrogative’ they wanted us to explore, and I was challenged to write a poem about a special place.

So: what next?

Now it is time to reflect on the aims of the blog, what needs to improve, and how to move forward.

One of our main concerns is that the blog is misunderstood as being for women only or that it discriminates based on sex. We want to make something clear, while it is true that we publish the thoughts of women, we hope that everyone, regardless of gender, reads this blog, because we truly believe it broadens the discussions of urban issues. Interrogativa is not to be seen as a gendered space, it is to be understood as a platform where women of all backgrounds can share their thoughts with society at large because we feel such a space was missing. Particularly in Finland, it is hard for my colleagues to understand the need for this space because women and men are thought to be on equal terms. Yet, as I have brought up before, until recently our school of architecture had not a single woman professor, gladly this has changed, now there is ONE (an awesome one by the way).

A big task ahead of us is to continue to work on our aims to make this blog more inclusive, please do share your ideas with us on how to achieve this. In the meanwhile, we decided that in 2021 we will move towards action! We ask: What are women doing to contribute to better and more just cities? The year kicks-off with a text by Anna Kobierska who writes about Urbanismo Feminista*. Stay tuned!

In addition, Interrogativa will become a quarterly blog, publishing posts every three months and the interrogatives will be asked in English only. However, interrogatives may be answered in any language. We will also continue to develop our website, invite women from all over the world to share their thoughts and experiences, and reach out to other groups to join us. If you would like to contribute with an interrogative or to answer one, you may contact us any time.

Last but not least, to all of the women who contributed to this blog in 2020, thank you so much for your inspiring words, links, images, and thoughts, we hope this is only the beginning of a long and adventurous road ahead. My best wishes to all of you for 2021.

*Urbanismo Feminista by Anna Kobierska will be published January 31, 2021.

Estándar

Interrogativa No. 11

Un lugar antes de ahora y en el futuro, ¿es diferente?

A place before now and in the future– is it different?

Pensamientos | Thoughts

Reflections about a place called home?

Anna Koskinen

Last summer I moved into a new apartment. Finding it was not an easy task; none of the numerous apartments I visited felt just right. When I went to see this one, I was half an hour early (by mistake, I had written down a wrong meeting time with the realtor). There was not much else to do than just wait. It felt awkward to just stand there right next to the entrance, nodding shyly to the people entering the building, who took a quick glance at me saying “why does she just stand there?” Luckily, there was a bus stop right opposite of the entrance, so I took a few steps forward and pretended I was waiting for a bus, while still keeping an eye on the entrance, in case the realtor would arrive early. I noted a few other people arriving about 10 minutes prior to the meeting time who had the same awkward appearance as I had; an appearance of a person who knows being on someone else’s territory.

Finally, the realtor arrived. We climbed up on the third floor with the two other people who came to see the same apartment. Since we lived already then in the pandemic world, we could enter only one at a time, me having the chance to be the first one. I stepped into the apartment through a dark entrance and immediately felt a that I needed to have this place. The apartment was still taken over by the previous resident’s furnishings; I remember her beautiful oriental carpet and how it was placed diagonally on the floor. I didn’t take any pictures, it didn’t even cross my mind, since it felt wrong to take pictures in a stranger’s private space. I made a little round in the 29,5 m2 apartment, posed some random questions to the current resident who was standing near the wall in between the kitchen area and the living room, and then rushed out to tell the realtor that I would like to rent the apartment.

It was the special atmosphere in the apartment that won my heart. The building is built in 1920’s. Its walls have seen so many bigger and smaller pieces of different lives. Previous residents’ steps have made the same wooden floor to creak and their feelings, dreams, fears and longings have absorbed to the walls, between the layers of different colored paint. These memories can be sensed when the apartment is naked – emptied from the previous resident’s belongings, waiting for the new resident’s belongings to take over the space. Moving in is a brutal action, and for a short while, the apartment resembles more of a dump than someone’s home. But then, little by little, furniture starts to find their place, cups, glasses and plates get hidden behind closets’ doors, books are places on the shelves and clothing is hung on hangers. And tah-dah! The apartment is now the home of someone new, waiting for her/him to add another layer to its story.

A home is often not just a shelter, where we fulfill our basic needs –sleeping, washing and feeding ourselves, to mention a few. It is also a place for self-expression. We surround ourselves with objects that appear beautiful to us, remind us of something or someone and/or are useful for a certain purpose. Then we arrange them in a way that is best suitable for us. When we make a place to feel like ours, it also creates us a sense of safety. At home, we can be the purest version of ourselves. Behind the wall, the street creates a striking contrast to a home. Outside we become strangers, just other people standing at a bus stop, taking a dog for a walk, lingering in the shops, having a picnic in a park. Our window is just another window in a row of windows to the random passers-by, anonymous people on their journey from A to B.

The current state of the world has made many of us to rethink our relationship with our closest surroundings. People have been forced to spend much more time at home and this has evoked inspiration to redecorate or even change a home. Many of my close friends have recently bought or rented a new place, some because or even in a wish for a life change – a home can also represent that to us. New area, new home, new me?

Estándar

Interrogativa No. 10

¿Puedes descifrar la ubicación?

Can you figure out the location?

Juego urbano | Urban game

This is an urban game! I have written a poem about a particular place that fascinates me located in the city of Tampere, Finland. I have dared a friend to find it by following the poetic riddle. As soon as my friend finds this place, he will take a picture that will be added at the end of this post.


Anonymous place: A poem
by Dalia Milián Bernal

I don’t belong here
I am stuck
Not only in place
But in time

I am small 
And defenseless
Yet, I have been left behind
Forgotten, forsaken
At the crossroads 
Of life, game and prayer

I am forever confined
To the sound of the bells
To the smoke of the cars
To the noise of traffic
So close to the exit
And no way to get out

If I stay one more day
I will learn the teachings of Luther

If I go
I will miss the laughter of children
And the sound of the balls
And the sound of the snow 
And the sound of the sleighs

If I could move
If I could choose a path
I would take a walk 
On the Viinikan Park
I would zig-zag along
The colorful homes
And in winter enjoy 
the smell of burning wood

I like what I am
And what I have become
I like that 
In a way
I have no beginning 
And no end
And that I have faces

The bus stops 
People get out
Walk past me
But nobody looks
Nobody sees me

Yet there I am

Stuck

Not only in place
But in time

Lasten kiska, Viinikka, Tampere (Finland). Image by Ville-Pekka Säkkinen, 2020.
Lasten kiska, Viinikka, Tampere (Finland). Image by Panu Lehtovuori, 2020.
Lasten kiska, Viinikka, Tampere (Finland). Image by Panu Lehtovuori, 2020.
Estándar

Interrogativa No.9

Conoces algún cantautor(a) que describa ciudades en sus canciones como si fuera un etnógrafo urbano?

Do you know any song-artists that describe cities in their songs as though they were urban ethnographers?

Video musical | Music video

Made with Padlet

Click on the + sign and add a music video in which the city is one of the most important elements of the song or the video. You can also go directly to our Padlet board Music & The City and add a contribution there.

Estándar

Interrogativa No. 8

¿Qué pasaría si las mujeres fuéramos monumentos?

What would happen if women were monuments?

Ensayo | Essay

If we were women of public art?

Laura Uimonen

I will discover the question with an example from my everyday neighborhood from the Hämeenpuisto esplanade park at City of Tampere in central Finland. A young woman is described standing, hair open and wearing a long skirt. Today, at the very special spring, she is wearing a mask on her face. On the pedal we can read her name, nothing else – who was she and what if we would be like her?

At first, not even thinking why, if we were Minna Canth we would be celebrated more than 50 years after our death in the city we were born, but not really lived in. This baby girl was born here in my hometown as Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnson at Puutarhakatu 8 at Tampere to a working-class family in 1844. 

Fourteen years before a Scottish James Finlayson had arrived to small town of Tampere and started the cotton factory Finlayson, which was an entire society inside the town. Minna had an opportunity to get into school as a part of factory-working society. This background of industrialization lies behind the rather long development where girls got  finally a possibility to have an education and to study, to work and to live a independently thinking persons in the society. This development to improve rights of female sex is intertwined in Finland to the born of independence of the small nationality of Finnish people. She is celebrated as part of the development where her work and choices represent radical activism. Her statue stands for the unusual era of a female novelist, playwriter and first female journalist using Finnish language. She has got several statues and streets named after her, several studies and analyses have been published about her life, career and artworks. She is the only female in Finland celebrated with her own flag day 19th March. The blue-white Finnish flag represents the special self-conscience of young independent nation with the long history under first Swedish King and later as autonomic part of Russian empire. The role of independent women in the society with right to vote, study and work in any profession have been important part of the development of democracy in Finland.

Generally Minna Canth seems to be rather an institution of cultural activism than a woman of flesh casted in the bronze. Maybe because the Finnish language was neglected by the ruling government, it became even more important and cherished treasure for the fight of own culture and in Minna’s life a powerful tool for critical realism.

So, back to the original thought of role play as a public art: if we were Minna, we would be known after the words we put on the paper with strong critical views in our mind and for the unusual courage in our time. In her shoes we would now ask what is wrong now and where we can tell it loud? She put her words in to work in novels, in plays, some of them written with secret name. The titles of work tell a lot: The wife of a working man 1878, Poor people 1886, Kids of hard luck 1888 and Anna-Lisa 1895 dealing a murder of a newborn child. Behind the statue is carved an act of the novel Anna-Lisa begging for mercy.

Trying to adjust myself into her position and aims I browse and find an audio chapter of her book Poor people. I listen, look to inner courtyard at the same city she lived in. Her words start to draw images in my mind of a mother and her child’s. While listening the words outspoken she becomes alive again. She would speak for the old people in their homes alone right now, pale faces in the window, she would write about people feeling poor in their lives with problem of the too many things and troublesome Kon Mari-principle. She would worry fragile minds of this time, of homeless and paperless people in the shadows of the city.

So, if we were standing here in the park as a statue, we might be remembered for the not for success but the compassion for the people, in Minna’s case for women and children. She visited prisons and among most poor people with empathy and curiosity of the real life in all colors and shades.

Statue is from year 1951 by sculptor Lauri Leppänen after a competition by Tampere foundation and several woman societies. Funding for the statue was started by a female factory owner 1950s.

Thinking of the bold life of Minna I must envy her courage. At the same time, I find myself crawling into a shoe as a creature in the micro-scale statue at the other park nearby where small little statues surprises people walking in the park. Tiny sculptures have interesting role in the city playing with the scale and tradition of monument as opponent for the classical monument. Minna’s monumental gaze in the park makes me rethink monuments, a monument for a brave girl, a brave mother and wife, a brave colleague, a brave human for another.

***

Próxima interrogativa | Next interrogative

Conoces algún cantautor(a) que describa ciudades en sus canciones como si fuera un etnógrafo urbano?

Format: Comparte el enlace del video | Fecha límite: 19 septiembre 2020

Do you know any song-artists that describe cities in their songs as though they were urban ethnographers?

Format: Share video Link | Submission deadline: 19 September 2020

Estándar

Interrogative No. 7

Qué procesos de urbanización ayudan a exacerbar el problema del racismo en nuestras ciudades? Y, ¿qué se puede hacer, o se está haciendo, para revertir dichos procesos?

How are processes of urbanization helping exacerbate the problem of racism in our cities? And, what can, or is being done, to revert such processes?

Dalia Milián Bernal en comunicación con la historiadora Florencia Quesada Avendaño.

Dalia Milián Bernal

He estado siguiendo las protestas que han surgido en Estados Unidos en contra de la violencia policíaca. En breve, se pide se desmantele un sistema corrupto y violento, pero sobre todo, racista. 

Aunque ahora es inevitable quitar la mirada de lo que sucede en Estados Unidos por lo resonantes que son, en parte por la forma en la que el gobierno ha respondido, o sea, con violencia, pero en parte también por lo que parecen estar logrando. Uno de esos logros, creo yo, ha sido insertar en nuestro imaginario el concepto de ‘abolición de la policía’ y lo que eso significa e implica (muy inspirador, por cierto, tema para otro post). Otro logro ha sido que todos nosotros quienes no nos considerábamos racistas, reflexionemos sobre nuestras propias prácticas racistas. 

Regresando al tema de las ciudades, sobre el cuál estamos invitadas a escribir, me ha llamado mucho la atención la petición de quitar las estatuas y los monumentos de la Confederación de vías y espacios públicos, y reubicarlas a museos en los cuáles puedan ser explicados y contextualizados. Obviamente, no puedo evitar recordar nuestras primeras historias sobre las protestas en contra de la violencia de género y la reacción del gobierno para proteger los monumentos históricos de la Ciudad de México. Pero también me hacen pensar, querer entender, saber más y querer discutir contigo la ciudad colonial latinoamericana, y te pregunto ¿de qué manera, si siquiera, se compara o diferencia de esas estatuas y esos monumentos de la Confederación?

Florencia Quesada Avendaño

Gracias por la propuesta Dalia, justamente he estado reflexionando mucho, por el debate de las estatuas y varias polémicas que he seguido en diferentes ciudades del mundo desde hace varios meses.

Al hacer una analogía con las estatuas de la Confederación, quizás lo importante es no perder de vista que son contextos históricos muy diferentes. Claro que la atención mediática que ejerce Estados Unidos sobre el resto del mundo siempre es abrumante y hasta monopólica y tiene un mayor impacto.

No obstante, en Chile, con las protestas sociales que comenzaron a finales de octubre de 2019, la demolición de muchos monumentos ha sido habitual en muchas ciudades chilenas, pero no ha tenido la misma atención mediática mundial. Por ejemplo, en Temuco, capital de la Araucanía, se han derribado diversas estatuas, dentro del contexto de las protestas sociales. Una de ellas, la del conquistador español del siglo XVI, Pedro de Valdivia. Al caer la estatua de Valdivia, los manifestantes comenzaron a pisotearla y a golpearla con palos de madera, como si aún estuviera vivo. Otra estatua que derribaron en Temuco fue la Dagoberto Godoy, quien fue un militar y aviador chileno, el primero en sobrevolar la Cordillera de los Andes en 1918. Los manifestantes colgaron su cabeza del brazo de otro monumento, en honor al líder mapuche Caupolicán, y pusieron la bandera Wenufoye (bandera mapuche) cubriendo el monumento. Caupolicán fue el toqui (jefe militar) mapuche que lideró la heroica resistencia indígena contra los españoles. Es interesante notar que aunque Godoy no tenía ninguna relación histórica con los españoles, fue “víctima” simbólica del descontento social por ser un militar. En la ciudad de Concepción, fundada por Valdivia en 1550, derribaron nuevamente el busto del conquistador en la Plaza de la Independencia, estatua que había sido donada por el gobierno español para la conmemoración de los 400 años de Concepción. Las protestas en Concepción se iniciaron por el asesinato de Camilo Catrillanca, un año atrás, ahora dentro del marco de las protestas sociales nacionales. Catrillanca era un joven líder estudiantil mapuche de la comunidad de Ercilla a quien le dispararon por la espalda en la cabeza y que se ha convertido en un símbolo de las protestas en Chile.  En la ciudad de Collipulli, el busto de bronce del general Cornelio Saavedra, quien lideró la sangrienta “pacificación” de las tierras mapuches en el siglo XIX, tuvo un destino similar. Estos actos simbólicos contra monumentos, es necesario entenderlos como expresiones de descontento del pueblo contra un Estado opresor, autoritario y violento. Y en el caso del pueblo indígena mapuche históricamente marginalizado y reprimido. Son formas simbólicas de respuesta y resistencia dentro de una aguda crisis social y económica en una sociedad profundamente desigual y elitista.

Más en relación con tu pregunta, lo que es necesario entender, es que el inicio de la construcción y la introducción de monumentos y estatuas en las ciudades en América Latina es más que todo un proceso que comenzó hacia finales del siglo XIX. Como parte de importantes transformaciones urbanas en la ciudades latinoamericanas con la creación de avenidas, bulevares y parques modernos a finales del siglo XIX, fueron estos nuevos espacios públicos que se colmaron de estatuas y monumentos en honor de esos líderes o “padres” de las naciones en construcción. 

Estos monumentos, dentro de un contexto actual de crisis política y económica y de fuerte represión militar como en el caso chileno, se convierten en blancos materiales del descontento social, como símbolos materiales de poder en el espacio público.  Es importante relativizar la idea de que los monumentos son sagrados e intocables. Los monumentos responden generalmente a procesos llevados a cabo por las esferas de poder para materializar en el espacio público una concepción ideológica del momento.  Y, como tales, pueden preservarse o también reubicarse, o desaparecer como ha quedado muy claro con las estatuas del rey Leopoldo II en Bélgica. Uno de los más sangrientos y brutales colonizadores de lo que hoy es la República Democrática del Congo. 

Estos movimientos de protesta contra monumentos y personajes específicos en diferentes partes del mundo, son también una excelente ocasión para conocer la historia de esos “personajes” y hacer una crítica de la labor que tuvieron. Y repensar esas figuras, como símbolos de colonialismo, racismo o represión, como en el caso de Bélgica. En California, más recientemente, se removió la estatua de Cristóbal Colón en la ciudad de San Francisco, dentro del contexto de las protestas del Black Lives Matter. Es interesante subrayar que la decisión de quitar el monumento a Colón en San Francisco fue decidido por el comité de artes de la ciudad, antes de que fuera derribado durante alguna protesta social.  Según las propias palabras del comité, se justificó la decisión de remover la estatua: “ya que no va en línea con los valores de San Francisco y su compromiso con la justicia racial” (San Francisco Chronicle, 19 junio 2020).  

En Costa Rica, otro ejemplo de este tipo de discusión y controversia en torno a un monumento público, ha sido la estatua del expresidente León Cortés. El monumento se encuentra ubicado al inicio de uno de los bulevares de entrada a la ciudad: el Paseo Colón.  Un abogado inició una petición en línea para remover la estatua del expresidente justificando su propuesta en el pasado fascista de Cortés. La petición generó una gran polémica pública. Se ha defendido a capa y espada que el monumento es un símbolo intocable en San José y un referente urbano por su tamaño, diseño e ubicación. El monumento, tiene unos leones al pie de la estatua, donde generaciones de niñas y niños se han subido al lomo de los leones para jugar o tomarse fotos. Me llamó la atención, dentro de la discusión, las muestras de afecto de mucha gente hacia el monumento de manera física, justo por este lazo afectivo infantil. Aunque la propuesta no prosperó,  lo interesante es que la polémica ha permitido discutir y hablar sobre ese pasado fascista de Cortés, poco conocido, sobre todo para las nuevas generaciones. Aquí en Finlandia, un grupo de activistas también ha planteando que se quite la estatua del “padre” y mariscal Mannerheim frente a Kiasma..

Ya para concluir, lo que ha sido interesante de este activismo contra monumentos, es que se han generado discusiones públicas en muchas ciudades alrededor del mundo en cuanto a los personajes de estos monumentos y su representatividad, a la luz de protestas y luchas sociales. Y como resultado muchos de esos “personajes” han caído por tierra. Como ha quedado claro, los monumentos no son sagrados, ni intocables. Pueden ser demolidos o reubicarse en museos donde se explique su historia. Discutir, reflexionar y repensar la historia es siempre un ejercicio indispensable y un derecho de las sociedades democráticas.

***

Próxima Interrogativa | Next Interrogative

¿Qué pasaría si las mujeres fuéramos monumentos?

Ensayo por Laura Uimonen.

What would happen if women were monuments?

Essay by Laura Uimonen.

Estándar

Interrogativa No. 6

Si el futuro es femenino, ¿por qué no defender a todas las diseñadoras femeninas? Será que podemos redefinir el éxito y diseñar una profesión basada en el cariño hacia nosotras mismas como hacia los demás?

If the future is female why not stand up for all female-identifying designers? Can we redefine success and craft a meaningful career caring for us and others?

Pensamientos | Thoughts

 If we want to change the way architecture and planning are practiced, we first need to change the way they are taught

Dalia Milián Bernal

About a year ago, I attended the master thesis defense of a friend of mine, an Iranian woman, who is a feminist, an activist and an architect. The aim of her work was to develop a method inspired in Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed that would facilitate non-verbal communication in participatory planning processes. To test the method, she opened a call in different languages inviting people from different countries to attend a meeting that would take place inside a yurt, as to create a more intimate environment. The yurt was placed in a suburb about 7 km from the the European city where I live and according to my friend, the activity was well attended. The stories she told about the experience were quite interesting. She had found that the method had managed to bring together migrants from different parts of the world with locals and to communicate with one another through movement, not words. She then explained, that after testing her method, she analysed her experience through a Foucaultian lens – namely through power relationships. Needles to say, I found her work and presentation fascinating. 

Then it was time for her opponent to take the stage. At the beginning, the critique was good, the opponent, a male professor of planning, confessed it was the first time he had heard of the work of Foucault and he found the theoretical underpinning very interesting. However, it seemed to him that the method was a bit naive, because at some point in planning verbal communication is needed. He also argued that in the process of planning there are “very nice people” but also “very mean people”, such as urban developers, and asked her why she had not invited them to the table. 

Let me explain what is at stake here: there he is, a male professor of planning telling the female student that things cannot change! That above all, the status quo shall prevail. 

To be clear, an urban developer should not be invited to the table, first and foremost, because urban developers are not elected entities, they do not represent the interests of the folk nor the interests of the planet, their interest remains in making money, regardless of the method and completely uninterested in the consequences. That a professor of planning asked such a question represents the locus of the problem, if we want to change the way architecture and planning are practiced, we first need to change the way they are taught: often completely isolated from the communities that surround them and the different disciplines that are implicated, constantly rewarding individual performance, and continuously feeding and reproducing the same neoliberal system, a system obsessed with competition and growth.

The year my friend graduated, non of the professorships of the school of architecture where she did her studies were held by women professors, not a single one! Maybe we should begin there, but let us not stop there. Let us start talking to students of architecture and planning about the power structures that are at play when we plan cities and produce buildings, not to work with them or around them, but to change them! Let’s stop teaching them how to “negotiate with clients”. Rather, let’s explain to them why cities and buildings should not be treated as commodities to be consumed, why in treating them as such, we are damaging the livelihoods of many, depleting the natural environment and exacerbating the climate crisis. Let’s stop teaching them to view the world through a monitor, because then they cannot see for themselves that there are real people living in the most inhuman of conditions; that there are neighbourhoods in the city that lack the most basic infrastructure; that there are public spaces that have been completely privatised: and public spaces are the spheres that we use to achieve change, that is why they cannot be conceived of as spaces for consumption. Let us teach them that public spaces are part of the political arenas where we can all demand our egalitarian rights. Let us teach them about Lefebre’s and Harvey’s notion of the Right to the City, and then, let us learn together how we can, in the words of David Harvey, exercise our “collective right over the processes of urbanization”, and in doing so, lets transform ourselves and our role as architects and planners within our societies.

***

Próxima Interrogativa | Next Interrogative

¿Qué procesos de urbanización ayudan a exacerbar el problema del racismo en nuestras ciudades? Y, ¿qué se puede hacer, o se está haciendo, para revertir dichos procesos?

Formato: Varias voces|Recepción de textos: 31.07.2020

How are processes of urbanization helping exacerbate the problem of racism in our cities? And, what can, or is being done, to revert such processes?

Format: Various voices|Submission deadline: 31.07.2020

Estándar

Interrogativa No. 5

¿Cómo será? La vida después de Covid-19

What will it be like? Life after Covid-19

Cuento corto / Short story

On the future of the relationship between home and workspace. A tale of two neighbours working from home.

Pauline de Vathaire

Our cities are the convergent nods of our territories, a great amount of our flows, may it be humans, food, goods or traffic, goes to them, comes from them and derives from them. The attraction of living in the cities comes from the vast panorama of facilities they host, their historical value, the connectivity they offer and the labour markets they sustain. This last one in particular, the employment capacity, is definitely greater in the cities and even greater in the bigger ones.

But, for some the city life fulfills it all and for others it lacks. It lacks in nature, in proximity, in large spaces. And for a portion of them the main, if not the only, reason anchoring their living habitat in the city is the physical location of their work.

With the rise of new technologies and the social transformations that came with them, a new way of working that didn’t need one’s presence in order to accomplish his work started to emerge for some, the home office. The living space and the working space could become one entity and transpose itself, potentially, anywhere.

And small steps by small steps, the paradigm of the dependence between living and working could have switched very slowly, due to the gradual acceptance of home office, in the course of the next decades, if it hadn’t been for the striking current pandemic we were experiencing.

All of a sudden the workplace has become a place of danger, of possible contamination, and our governments emphasized that anyone that could do so better be working from home.

So what if the current situation we were thrown in could indeed end in an opportunity to revise the relationship between home and workspace and how would that affect our cities?

Here is a case, in the form of a short story, of two neighbours living on the same floor, sharing a separation wall, and getting along well together. Let’s call them A and B.

From the moment the lock-down was declared A and B started working from home. And as A couldn’t go out, she spent the late afternoon after work at her balcony, B did the same and they went on to share a few drinks and conversations from a safe distance, A on her balcony and B on hers.

As time went by the situation settled in, A and B got accustomed to work from home. One night they were discussing this new lifestyle and both agreed it could work for them in the long run, maybe not all the time but mostly like this, and it definitely had its advantages.

A then realised that if home office was an option a few years ago she wouldn’t have moved to the city. Yes, part of her liked it, but an even greater part of her wished to stay in the small town she came from. As there were no work opportunities there she had to make the move. But she was missing her family, she was missing doing gardening on the weekends in the backward of the house she had, she was missing how everything was a short walk away. And being locked inside her small city flat she kept thinking about it all night. A night full of what if. What if she could again, in the future, chose to stay or to live where she truly wanted to. What if living where your work is wasn’t a sine qua none for getting the job?

The next day A told B that if her office would be open to the idea she would make the move back. B was saddened by the idea that her neighbour would no longer be. But what neither she, nor A, could realise was what would ensue following this move. Because A wouldn’t be alone in taking this step. Hundreds, thousands and eventually hundreds of thousands others would do the same.

And the move of, even a small, portion of the city population, would in turn have a growing effect in the places they went to. For more people are coming to live in a small place and more groceries shops, medical facilities, etc. are needed which spurs the dynamic of the local job market. And more people would find work connected to these places. The move would then become synonymous with a revitalization of the small towns, the villages and countryside.

Should we push further the narrative of this exode and fast-forward in time, we would see that this transfer could also enhance the quality of life of those staying in the city. As the demand for housing estate lowers a bit, more living spaces could become available, and potentially more affordable. Home office would also lead to less traffic that could in turn lower the levels of pollution in the city center.

So will it happen or will this stay merely an utopic vision towards freedom of lifestyles? For all the pessimist predictions couldn’t prepare us for what happened in these difficult times and uncertainty keeps looming, we might as well chose to imagine possible optimistic outcomes for they give us something we are in dire needs of : hope in what is to come.

***

Próxima interrogativa | Next interrogative

Si el futuro es femenino, ¿por qué no defender a todas las mujeres diseñadoras? Será que podemos redefinir el éxito y diseñar una profesión basada en el cariño hacia nosotras mismas como hacia los demás?

Formato: Varias voces

Recepción de entradas: 21.06.2020

Publicación: 28.06.2020

If the future is female why not stand up for all female-identifying designers? Can we define success and craft a meaningful career caring for us and others?

Format: Various voices

Submission deadline: 21.06.2020

Published: 28.06.2020

Estándar

Interrogativa No. 4

¿Qué pasaría si las mujeres fuéramos monumentos?

What would happen if women were monuments?

Ensayo fotográfico / Photo essay

Monserrat Loyola

El día 8 de marzo, en Querétaro, fue un día histórico pues miles de mujeres salimos a las calles a tomarlas, gritarlas, caminarlas, y hacernos vistas y escuchadas. Durante la marcha al llegar al Tanque, un Monumento simbólico que fue pieza para la fundación de la ciudad, fue pintado como símbolo de protesta, los medios de comunicación no tardaron en evidenciar el “vandalismo”  que había sufrido dicho monumento, la ciudadanía enfureció y argumentaba que “esas no eran formas” ¿formas de qué? De decir ¿no nos maten? , al siguiente día, el monumento estaba limpio y pintado, ya no había evidencia de lo que ahí estaba escrito.

Bajo este acto, nace la interrogativa , ¿qué pasaría si las mujeres fuéramos monumentos?

***

Próxima interrogativa | Next interrogative

¿Cómo será?

Formato: Cuento corto

Recepción de entradas: 23.05.2020

Publicación: 31.05.2020

What will it be like? 

Format: Short story

Submission deadline: 23.05.2020

Published: 31.05.2020

Estándar

Interrogativa No. 3

¿Qué movimientos sociales de oposición conoces, que transforman y democratizan el entorno urbano de manera innovadora, pero continúan estando ausentes en los discursos dominantes, en las conceptualizaciones y en la práctica?

Which innovative and oppositional social movements do you know, that transform and democratize our urban environments, yet stay absent in mainstream discourses, conceptualizations and practices?

Autoras / Authors

Katja Pellini, Dalia Milián Bernal, Stefania Biondi

Resistance – Eteläpuisto activists’ plight for a better future

Katja Pellini

The moment I met two Eteläpuisto activists in the public library of Tampere was beautiful. The sun was pouring in through the large windows, but the light that announced the arrival of spring also carried a weight of time. Our conversation was rich, with nuances of the past and hopes for the future, not visible in an ordinary day. Because of the worldwide pandemic, a new reality was only then starting to shape its collective presence in the consciousness of the City of Tampere.

“A growing city needs dense urban construction; people need houses, and the city needs people. It is environmentally friendly to build compact cities. High-rise buildings are a symbol of progress!” This has been a dominant storyline in the City of Tampere for the past 10 years. However, an alternative narrative is building up, slowly but with determination. 

Eteläpuisto is the oldest park in Tampere. It is also a quiet battleground marked with lines and changes in architects’ drawings, city planning documents, maps and court decisions. These events mark the five-page list of bullet points I received from the activists outlining the struggle to protect and develop the park. Eteläpuisto activists have a goal. They believe that the park has a history that is worth preserving and a future that is worth fighting for.

Glamorous banderols or flashy slogans do not support the resistance of these activists to unrestrained change. Their days are spent mostly waiting, staying alert and being ready when action is required. 

This is a story of purpose, friendship and perseverance. First, I learn about a tasteless remark about “overactive pensioners” published in a local newspaper, Aamulehti, in 2015. This ill-fitting line sparked outrage and brought more revolutionaries to the ranks of the resistance, despite its initial intentions.

Then we moved on to discuss the 2017 communal elections. The group demonstrated the reality behind architects’ drawings by marking the trees in the park destined to be cut down. This changed public opinion and re-shaped the political debate. Before plans could be executed, they launched a social media campaign to list all decision-makers in favour of the change. Most politicians changed their minds before the election.

I was amazed to see their spirits were not dampened by the numerous delays in preparing for a comprehensive plan for the park (and its advancement). Friendship has united them, but it is wisdom from the past that has given them the strength to continue. They are old enough to know that similar battles have been won, even in this city, and even against all the odds. They are determined to go on, no matter how old they might be when the struggle ends. 

It has been a long battle, fought since 2014, but luck may be on their side once more. With the delays that have frustrated them, they have been able to buy enough time to have more people than ever embrace their goals. On November 25, 2019 the group handed over petition directed to the City Council with 16,102 signatures to preserve the park.

With the global crises, such as the pandemic we are facing now, Mother Earth has brought nature back to the centre of our attention–not as something to conquer, but as something that demands our respect. 

Eteläpuisto activists know that losing this place, so central to the history of the city, would undermine its promise for future generations. They know that we need cities to embrace green areas and grow around them.

If cities we build alienate us from the environment, we will not have a chance to make peace with it. It is time to respect Eteläpuisto, the green heart of the city.

Thank you, Maisa Heiskanen and Otto Siippainen. More information https://etelapuisto.fi/

Aguas, que en tiempos de crisis se suspende la democracia

Dalia Milián Bernal

En los últimos dos años, me he dedicado a estudiar activistas urbanos de distintos rincones de América Latina que transforman espacios vacíos o abandonados en diversas formas de espacios públicos. Con creatividad, ingenio, pocos recursos y sus propias manos, transforman pequeños lotes baldíos en cines al aire libre y enormes lotes baldíos en centros de agricultura urbana, casas abandonadas en centros comunitarios, edificios vacíos a punto de ser demolidos en arte urbano y edificios que ya han sido demolidos en jardines para niñas y niños. Temporales por naturaleza, gracias a la perseverancia de sus autores, algunos de estos proyectos han podido lograr cambios permanentes que van más allá del sitio, incluso logrando influir en la ley para el beneficio de muchos otros. A través de mi investigación, he tenido la oportunidad de conocer a las personas detrás de estos proyectos, quienes me cuentan sus historias, historias que escucho una y otra vez, y que nunca dejan de sorprenderme e inspirarme. Dentro de lo mucho que he aprendido de ellas, quisiera hablar de un aprendizaje en particular: lo necesario que es crear lazos y alianzas con otros grupos y organizaciones para lograr cambios radicales que modifiquen o irrumpan el sistema y nos acerquen como sociedad a una más democrática. Y pongo esto en la mesa ahora, porque en tiempos de Covid-19, sucede que no podemos vernos, y por ende, es más difícil aliarnos y organizarnos. Sin embargo, es un momento en que debemos estar más vigilantes que nunca, ya que en momentos crisis tiende a suspenderse la democracia. Contestando a la interrogativa: 1319.TreceDiecinueveArte Nómada, Brigada Puerta de Tierra, Casa Taft 169, CultiCiudad, Dérive Lab, La Cuadra, La Gestoría, La Maraña, Lavamoatumbá, Cinema Paradiso, Ocupa tu Calle, Taller Creando sin Encargos.

Las brujas volvimos

Stefania Biondi

¡Ninguno! No conozco a ningún movimiento social con las características indicadas en la pregunta.

Veamos: un movimiento social tiene que ser visible, hacerse presente, ser público; por tanto debe tener un lugar en el espacio público, virtual pero sobre todo físicamente. De otra manera sería una secta. Los movimientos sociales, pues ocupan el espacio urbano y, más que transformarlo, lo sustantivan, le otorgan la dimensión de público.

¿De manera innovadora? La innovación es, a mi juicio, otra trampa del sistema patriarcal-capitalista: la competencia por ser o producir algo novedoso, diferente y triunfador, ensalzada en este sistema, es a mi juicio antagónica a los movimientos sociales, en cuanto contrapone unes y otres, no vincula sino enfrenta.

Ahora bien, en el texto de introducción a la interrogativa se cita, con mucha razón, al ´68, proponiendo así una perspectiva histórica que implica sí transformaciones, pero sin excluir las permanencias. ¿Quiénes estaban en las calles en el ´68? ¿Quiénes permanecieron en o volvieron a las calles? Estaban los obreros, les estudiantes y las mujeres. Los coletazos violentos del capitalismo neoliberal de las últimas cuatro décadas han intentado barrer con todes elles, han querido inducirles a una retirada en el espacio privado que facilitase el control individual y colectivo.

Sin embargo, ¡las brujas volvimos! Y el grito “pónganse a temblar porque las brujas están de vuelta” torna a retumbar en las calles y en las plazas. Regresamos a ocupar físicamente el espacio urbano para hacernos visibles, estar juntas, reconocernos, apoyarnos, solidarizar, sororizar, exorcizar la violencia.

Los obreros no han vuelto (todavía), les estudiantes no han vuelto (si no de manera esporádica). Las mujeres hemos vuelto, con la mejor de las compañías: los movimientos LGBTIQ+.

Pues pensándolo bien la comunidad LGBTIQ+, con toda su riqueza y elaboración teórica, tal vez sea el único movimiento que responde a la interrogativa inicial. ¿Por qué?

El discurso dominante ha intentado apropiarse y controlar las ideas feministas y las demandas de las mujeres. Los intentos por jinetear el movimiento en ocasión del reciente 8 de marzo y del paro del 9M han sido desvergonzados y vergonzosos a un tiempo, han sido de miedo… miedo de los que sienten que el movimiento feminista está ganando terreno y quieren encaramarse al tren para no perder territorios y, con ello, votos.

Las reivindicaciones femeninas están presentes en las conceptualizaciones dominantes y en una que otra práctica oficial oportunista. Pero a todo hay un límite, más desde un discurso derechista y patriarcal, acostumbrado de alguna manera a lidiar con y a sujetar las mujeres, y por tanto en disposición de hacer una que otra concesión paternalista. Ninguna concesión, pero, hacia los demás, los que se escapan de la lógica binaria del sistema, los que no encajan en la visión blanco/negro. Por eso los movimientos LGBTIQ+ son los únicos no “contaminados” ni instrumentalizados por el régimen despótico.

***

Próxima interrogativa | Next interrogative

¿Qué pasaría si las mujeres fuéramos monumentos?

Ensayo fotográfico por Monserrat Loyola

What would happen if women were monuments?

Photo essay by Monserrat Loyola

Estándar