Barcelona is one of the cities in Europe that has been the most understanding of the drama of the refugees, and it has also been a magnet for immigration in southern Europe. The communities of people from abroad living in Barcelona today are bigger and more diverse than ever.
Today, Barcelona houses more foreigners than newcomers from other parts of Spain. Globalization has irreversibly changed the demographic face of a city that became a magnet for migratory movements from all around the world this turn of the century.
In contrast to what happened with other migratory communities, the economic recession didn’t cause the sacrificed, money-saving and hard-working Chinese inhabitants of Barcelona to return home or leave for other destinations: the immense majority of them remained. The recession only slowed their arrival.
Whether we’re buying food after hours, catching a taxi, getting a shawarma in the Old City or buying a drink from a street vendor, it’s very probable that we’re interacting with members of the Pakistani community. But what do we know about these discrete new Barcelonians?
Since my arrival in Montcada i Reixac in 2006, the number of Pakistani women living in Barcelona has increased considerably. Nevertheless, the problems they face have not changed much.
Citizens of Moroccan origin make up a very large community as a result of the migratory movements of the seventies. Morocco is just an hour and a half away by plane, but sometimes it seems much farther away. This distance is imaginary, and most likely comes from cultural differences.
Latin American countries share a strong tendency towards participation in associations, and this can be seen in the significant number of organizations created by citizens originally from the other side of the Atlantic. The presence of females is very significant: Latin American women have become key to the maintenance of the welfare of the native population.
Except for the Chinese and the Italians, the volume of immigrants in Barcelona has stabilized, and many people —largely as a result of the recession and the rise in the cost of living— have decided to move to another town or to return home. Under these circumstances, other nationalities that had not been as well-represented have become more visible, like the Bengalis, the Armenians or Hondurans.
Complementary currencies are exchange systems set up alongside official ones to advance social, environmental or economic goals, highlighting local assets and resources that are not part of the usual exchange circuits. They also pose an alternative—and a challenge—to traditional banking,
Complementary currencies are systems created on the fringes of official currencies to promote economic, social and environmental projects. They also assign value to local activities and resources that are not found on ordinary exchange circuits.
The Austrian town of Wörgl’s local currency reactivated production and internal demand during the Great Depression. The Swiss WIR business cooperative’s credit system is another successful example of a complementary currency. WIR and the Kenyan mobile payments system, M-Pesa, are the only present-day examples that are having a macroeconomic impact.
Time banks are spaces where skills can be exchanged without any money changing hands. Instead, the hours people spend providing services to others are deposited in the bank and withdrawn in the form of other services they need.
The first eco-networks appeared in Catalonia around 2009-2010. These innovative initiatives entailed the use of local currencies, which in turn promoted economic transactions operating outside the dominant monetary system. They are not-for-profit networks of citizens who exchange goods and services that are paid for in social currency.
Ecopolis is a game that takes its inspiration from Monopoly, but instead of teaching us how to speculate, it tries to help us understand how the use of complementary currencies can improve a town’s economy.
Santa Coloma de Gramenet has issued a social currency it calls the grama, with the object of incentivising local trade and strengthening residents’ commitment to their town. Inspired by this and other projects, Barcelona City Council is preparing a test local currency for introducing to the Besòs neighbourhoods.
The digital revolution has eliminated intermediaries from most economic sectors, apart from the area of finance where they have strengthened their grip. The ability to create currency — the exclusive domain of banks — is the primary reason for this anomaly. The solution is to develop new currency-creation mechanisms.
To house the history section, the City Council bought and restored the Casa de l’Ardiaca, which in 1922 opened its doors as home of the new Historical Archives of the City, headed by Duran i Sanpere himself. We are commemorating these one hundred years in the life of the centre with a dossier.
The country’s archives were just as or even more vulnerable to the events of war than were human lives at the begining of the Spanish Civil War. Many were destroyed, particularly if they were of a religious or bourgeois nature and in the event that paper pulp was required for the printing of newspapers.
Duran i Sanpere left a written testimony of the operation, whose reading allows us to grasp the enormous dimensions of his work.
The new archive facility will become a first-rate civic and cultural information centre, with the development of a city-wide programme of activities and close working relationships with neighbourhood study centres and workshops.
Alongside the Historical Archive of Barcelona (AHCB), civil society organisations have also done invaluable work to preserve the historical memory of the city.
Have you given any thought to how we use the city and the public space? Men and women make use of the city in different ways: men move around the city more for occupational reasons (19.4%), while for women it’s primarily for family reasons (15.6%) with occupational concerns in second place.
Efforts to refocus urban planning to take into account the human aspect place a special emphasis on the gender perspective, the aim being to obtain an equal use of the city based on the diversity of gender, ethnic origin, age or occupation of the community.
Mobility and safety are the two issues that most affect the everyday life of women who work in the metropolitan area at night, especially those that use public transport or go on foot, according to a participative study conducted by Col·lectiu Punt 6.
Rethinking the city from a feminist perspective means no longer creating spaces on the basis of production rationales that are socially and politically restrictive and, instead, starting to think about environments that place a greater emphasis on the people who use them.