Más allá del simulacro: redacción colaborativa de la EDUSI del barrio del Cabanyal-Canyamelar-Cap de França (Valencia)

EXTENDED ABSTRACT 1. INTRODUCTION. PARTICIPATION AS AN ASPIRATION Although in the 60’s participation linked to urban development was not much more than an intellectual intrepidity of spirited authors like Lefebvre (1967), currently in the OECD countries or in Latin America, it is assumed that, somehow, the citizens should be part of the design of cities, insomuch that some authors refer to it as an ethical “obligation” (López Liñán, 2008: 196; Friedman, 2010: 17; Basulto, 2012: 117-118). Va Cabanyal! Is the team who has designed the Cabanyal-Canyamelar-Cap de França ISUD4 strategy in Valencia to attract European funds. What we want to present here is the collaborative redaction process of a strategy together with the citizens. This experience has been carried out under difficult conditions (very limited time, strict regulatory framework of the call), which were taken over as a starting point for the further development of an intense participatory process (to be implemented in 2016) to deploy knowledge and paths of action from the actors themselves. 2. CABANYAL-CANYAMELAR-CAP DE FRANÇA NEIGHBOURHOOD Cabanyal-Canyamelar-Cap de França neighbourhood is today one of the most remarkable urban districts in the city of Valencia. Historically, it has been a seaside town with a strong identity character, with its own traditions and characterized by its civic vitality, the variety of its population, its heritage and its architectural and urban value. This neighbourhood has undergone a continuous urban assault during the past seventeen years for the attempted expansion of an avenue splitting the district into two, which has significantly deteriorated its image, both at an internal level and at a city level, generating a strong physical and social destruction. 3. METHODOLOGICAL EXPLANATION The team who wrote the strategy opted for the action-research method and the participatory methodologies to collectively build the strategy together with the stakeholders (RodríguezVillasante, 2010; Martín y Rodríguez-Villasante, 2007; Martí Olivé, Montañés Serrano y Rodríguez-Villasante Prieto, 2002; Reason y Bradbury, 2001). From a complex and enriching conception of urban reality, the central priority of this work is “the recovery and enhancement, from a social, cultural, economic and environmental point of view, of the neighbourhood identity and diversity, as a integrating element of the actions and the citizen empowerment,”, but is important not to forget for a moment that the actions defined must be capable of being accepted by European funding mechanisms and therefore fit the philosophy in which the Europe 2020 targets are based. The methodology is structured under several workgroups like the Coordination Technical and Process Management Group, the Driving Group, the Communication and Broadcasting Group and the Technical-Administration Group, as well as several participatory workshops and canals like the participation office, established in the very same neighbourhood, the web page (vacabanyal.org), twitter (@VaCabanyal), e-mail (vacabanyal@gmail.com) and an explanatory questionnaire which was left in shops and was also handed to some neighbours by the Driving Group. Moreover, three big workshops were organized which coincided with each one of the three parts of the process. On the other hand, a specific place for participation was set up for young people, “Va Cabanyal! For kids”, which carried out activities in four schools situated in the neighbourhood. From these activities the vision and worries of the youngest about the neighbourhood were gathered. These workgroups and participatory areas meet in a process developed in three stages: 1. Analysis and co-diagnosis of the neighbourhood, 2. Making of proposals, 3. Definition of the curse of action, operations and prioritization. Stage 1. Analysis and co-diagnosis In this stage the technical work and documentary collection is carried out, as well as the redaction of the analysis of the jurisdiction together with the field work focused on the elaboration of the social actors mapping, the beginning of individual and group interviews, the beginning of the driving group activity and the broadcasting work. This stage is completed with a general workshop. The objective was the collective construction of a SWOT diagnosis of the neighbourhood, formalization required by the rules of the competition. Stage 2. Elaboration of proposals During this second stage the technical team systematizes the SWOT analysis and adds them to previous data, that way the co-diagnosis and the strategy structure can be drawn up. The field work continues with meetings and interviews with the local agents and municipal services by gathering needs and direct proposals. An in-between workshop is called in order to deal with and complement current ideas and proposals, building thus a common perspective and detecting disagreements. Stage 3. Definition of courses of acttion, operations and prioritization During this stage the resulting proposals are transformed into operations, they are structured and the courses of action are built according to the specific objectives set by the official call (see beginning of part 2). These courses of action and operations are presented in a last workshop in order to return, contrast and modify the proposal together with the citizens. 4. ASSESSMENT Despite the fact that projects like Va Cabanyal are effective when achieving objectives, we think that these processes should not only be thought to face the mandatory requirement of participation -included in strategy and planning calls of any scope (from local to supra-state)- but to be able to give the proper importance to the participating citizens (not forgetting those silent voices who do not demonstrate and who are essential to reach a complete vision of reality), above all during the subsequent implementation, which is the exact moment when the neighbours start harvesting the fruit of their interventions. If not, these kind of processes would just be that “simulation”, an organized participation, a start-up -or a staging- by those who take decisions, i.e. the mayor and the councillors, who are advised by their team of experts and helped by obliging associative leaders. (Busquet y Garnier, 2011: 10). That is why these processes need a wide range political framework in which the citizen co-responsibility is enhanced when building the city, as well as the establishment of the necessary conditions for their empowerment. In order to do that we need first to give our political system a radical democratic shade of light.