Recoleta Municipality in Santiago, Chile
We can use public infrastructure more deeply
Santiago, the capital of Chile, is not governed centrally. It is divided into 37 highly-unequal different municipalities, with some having as few as 1000 residents and others as many as 800,000 residents. The municipality of Recoleta is one the municipalities that make up Greater Santiago, and has traditionally been largely informal, working-class, and multicultural. Unable to raise sufficient taxes from the poorer population, the municipality has often struggled to secure funding to put in place the kinds of social services that the community needs.
What is the idea?
In 2012, Recoleta elected Daniel Jadue as Mayor, a member of the Communist Party, on a campaign to respond to the needs of the residents. Soon after he was approached by a group of youths, who wanted to work together to get themselves off the street so that they could avoid some of the crime, alcohol, and drug abuse problems that were affecting the youth. They asked if he could build a youth centre. With little funds, this was not a possibility but Jadue recognised that the community already had sufficient public infrastructure – it just wasn’t being used efficiently. He approached a few local schools and asked if the municipality could use the facilities after the school day and pioneered a community run Open Schools programme where youth could access the fields and gyms for sports clubs and the classrooms where volunteers offered to teach skills for free.
How could it work in our Wards?
Every ward in Cape Town has underused public land and buildings that could be used by community groups to offer clubs, workshops and skills teaching programmes. We could use community halls for art classes and dance programmes, local depots for apprenticeship in car mechanics and parks for outdoor gym classes. We could work with public land to turn them into soccer fields. The possibilities are endless.
How are women at the centre?
Too often sports infrastructure is dominated by men’s sports. Wherever facilities are made available dedicated time should be put aside for women to play sport in a safe and supportive environment. Where skills programmes are established we should ensure that young women are encouraged to access programmes where women are underrepresented like computer programming and mechanical skills. At the same time, women should be allowed to run programmes for the needs of women in the community – from food gardening to support for new moms.
What about a just and equitable economy and environment?
Youth who come from families without incomes struggle to access training because education has become a commodity fetching a market price. There are too few opportunities for unemployed people to access skills training – but at the same time there are many skilled people in our communities who are retired and willing to teach. Broadening access to skills helps more people enter the local economy.
Photo credit: Municipalidad de Recoleta