BCN WEEK | Barcelona's Alternative Newsweekly
Vol 1, No 94 | February 17, 2011


Paraguas | nº 95

Low Cost | nº 94

Semilla | nº 93

White | nº 92

Pasta | nº 91

Resaca | nº 90

Porcs | nº 89

Dues Tintes | nº 88

Bytes & Bobs | nº 87

Connecta't | nº 86

Foto: Bernat Rueda //

No vas a tener una casa en la puta vida

Me, me...I am!!

by Anna Gurney

This is it, this is my story. If I ever write a book it will be like this, and I am going to pass on all the wisdom I can muster. You can decide for yourself if you think it's just naivety thinly disguised under a polyester nun's costume.

I'm going to build a house, relying on the kindness of strangers, the wide-ranging furniture yielded by the streets of Barcelona, and a budget of zero or very fekking close to it. When I've finished building my house I will share it. It will become a space for adventurous activities and skills workshops based on the core values of sustainability, justice, health and community. That might sound so cheesy you feel sick, but don't forget to engage another important organ and think about it for a minute. (Maybe you are peeking under the habit right now, knowingly grinning at me for ignoring the selfish capitalist interior pragmatist who will emerge as soon as I actually own something other people value. Time will tell and you may be right, but since that's too depressing for me to contemplate right now, I'll stick to following the World Social Forum on the Internet and emailing Mark Thomas.)

This humongous project started with a little seed of an idea over ten years ago in a van on the Gold Coast in Australia. I realised that having strangers along on a journey was fun and that if I could find a perfect place people wanted to visit, they would pay to be entertained and fed, thus turning my life into one long holiday shared with a range of interesting and inspiring people. The big jump in this life plan came when a t-shirt spoke to me. The t-shirt was from an eco-friendly company called Howies, and the label said, "Buy land, they don't make it any more". At the time, my friends were putting down huge deposits on houses just for the privilege of taking on a stressful debt that left them panicking and in a position where they could never afford to lose their jobs. Buying a piece of land outright, in Aragon, seemed like a better option.

For those of you who've decided I'm crazy or just talking out of my eco-leftist ass, I should mention that I already bought this land, on the Teruel/Tarragona border (a 2.5 hour drive from where I currently live), two years ago. Six months ago, I built a Mongolian yurt with a group of friends and the combined knowledge of an 8th grade technology class, and just last week I got the basic architectural plans approved for the house. Slowly and 68% surely. Yet I continue to hear questions, from pretty much everyone I ever meet, about how I'm going to get the workers, the knowledge and the materials to make this happen. Well, it is happening, and what follows is a cobbledtogether list of some of the tools, mental and physical, that are making it possible. I haven't mentioned the word "money" because I don't have very much.

Enjoying the journey

Time is my essential resource, as a substitute for all the money I don't have. My secret is that I don't do anything before I have a worst-case-scenario backup plan that really ain't so bad. People say, "You've risked so much". I say not really. Obviously I thought a lot before blowing my entire life savings on the first step of the project. But I bought the land below market price and I could sell it below market price if everything went more tits-up than I can imagine. And yes, it takes time to move furniture in and out of the van; use the wrong tools for the job; plan everything meticulously; write emails; drink beer with the locals; keep the speedometer at a reasonably efficient 110kph; fill up water bottles at the nearest fountain; make mud pies; grab fruit off the trees. (Working the campo makes you realise why olive-picking machines were developed. It also leaves you sickened by the general ignorance about how much effort goes into producing our food, and about the relative non-necessity of the electric toothbrush. We don't need a machine to clean our teeth for us.). But I also pass many hours watching the flowers grow (much more eco than watching paint dry), star-watching with friends and exploring the mountains...

And if doing it all on my time means that everything advances slowly, it also means that when I go to the land, it's my choice. If I don't feel like I'm going to enjoy the trip then I don't go, but luckily eating refreshers while driving through the countryside with dubstep and a hangover is my idea of fun. Every now and again, yes, I drag myself out of bed en plan "going to work", but only once have I come home thinking, "That was a waste of my time".

The Internet is free knowledge

Pop quiz: which of the following did I not learn from the Internet? a) Floorboard laying b) How to make fig chutney c) How to get and mix the chemicals to make my own fire proofing spray d) How to waste €200 by accidentally paying €3541 for two buckets in a ridiculous decimal point/comma mixup?*

Fortunately, I started this adventure before Google went shit and before passwords were required to contain capital letters, numbers and punctuation, before Twitter showed sponsored trending topics and Facebook wanted to sell your personal information. You can now choose your own adventure: would you like to a) Join a pressure group to promote net neutrality/ the competition commission being allowed to do its job? or b) Sit down and read the Daily Mail? Choose wisely, it may turn out that in 10 years we're watching the Internet like we currently watch TV, with far too much content controlled by Rupert Murdoch. On the bright side, we have a window of opportunity right here and there is free information about everything readily available.

Some more budget resources

LoQuo helps me find people who are leaving Barcelona and want to give all their stuff away to "I'll take anything" Gurney. Oh hang on, that is the Internet.

I once physically went to a bookshop to buy You and the Law in Spain, and my second most useful book is The Barefoot Architect – utterly inspiring in its simplicity, but ultimately based around building a house that lasts about five years.

Trawling the streets on furniture day works best on a sunny day in September, and then there's the rubbish dump. Which was the worst find: a stinking dead cat or four meowing kittens in a sack? The best find was all the timber I needed for the yurt.

Is it possible to learn Spanish for free? I don't know about that one, but I could never have bought the land entirely on my own without a lawyer if I didn't speak it. Which brings me onto...

The most important resource of all (yes, geeks, even more important than the Web)

José Manuel at the building supplies shop.

No, not just him; the diagram he drew me explaining how to put a gutter up is representative of all the help and ideas I've been given along the way. I have a lot of faith in people. Just yesterday I phoned a complete stranger who sells yurts (found via Google). We chatted enthusiastically for half an hour, at which point he invited to me to stay in his masia whenever I wanted.

When I first tell people I have a blank slate of land to play with, and that wideranging ideas from recycled jewelry workshops to exclusive S&M weekends have already been mentioned, it inevitably opens the door to creative ideas. A lot of people are enthusiastic enough to come and visit and, although the work ethic varies between individuals, everyone helps out. I've noticed productivity and fun levels are enhanced when people choose their own tasks, whether it be decorating a mahogany bureau then hiding it in the woods (thanks, Johanna Marvel), emptying the compost toilet, or pruning the trees.

I also have a metido philosophy, which basically means I think being a part of the community is vital to the project. You won't find me wandering round the big Esclat supermarket shouting, "Dave, don't they have any cheddarrr?", and I make an effort to shop nearby, drink in the bars, and ask the locals first if I need something. Now, when I get my car stuck in the mud, I have a choice of three people to call and help me out. I worked with the neighbours when they harvested their grapes; they told me about some ancient Iberian rock paintings fifty metres from my house and then gave me 20kg of almonds. The idea of exchange rather than commerce is going to be vital for my low-budget project, but the best thing about this philosophy is that when the town fiestas come along and I find myself enjoying punch and sardines rather than digging a trench, it's all part of the project.

By pooling together the resources above you don't need as much money as you think. I am currently looking for 20m of hosepipe. I have two weeks, and I bet I get hold of it without spending a cent.

Having said all this, I do seem to have spent a large amount of money on string. And diesel. And part of the initial capital to buy the land came from my family. I don't think it's entirely abnormal to be helped out by parents when you reach that "housebuying" age, but I fully intend to pay it back. Not as soon as I planned, since the 3,000 Euros I saved since 2008 went on architects' fees, but one day I will. The message I'm trying to get across here is that this particular adventure would not be out of reach for most people. My salary hasn't tipped above the minimum amount required to start paying back my student loans since the high point of my teaching career in 2002 (Am I really telling you this?).

This is not about self-help, these are not motivational techniques or 7 Wonders that Will Change your Life by Glenn Beck. It is just thinking about what I want to achieve and (mostly) sticking to "eco" values. Do I mind sharing all my secrets with you? No. I'm instinctively drawn to explaining and sharing, and I genuinely hope more people do the stuff they believe in. Well, as long as they agree with me. Don't Mr. Brainwash me, though - keep it real.

* The last one. Although I did do that, I didn't learn it on the Internet.

Anna Gurney has plenty more information she would love to share with you and knows a lot of very useful people to help make projects like this happen. As you can see she is also willing to take on volunteer labourers down at the land - or maybe you have a spare hosepipe.

Campañas electorales low cost

La política a precio de saldo

by Rubén López Martín

Las últimas elecciones catalanas, celebradas el pasado 28 de noviembre, nos han dejado un panorama político prácticamente arrasado. Sin esperanza. Poco nos importa qué partido ganó, y cuáles quedaron en la oposición, o los nombres de los nuevos hombres honorables de la ciudad que ocuparán las nuevas consejerías. Al fin y al cabo nada cambiará en estos cuatro años. Puede que nada cambie dentro de otros cuatro, la política es así.

La falta de iniciativas y de ideas para solucionar la crisis, sumado a la falta de voluntad para hacer realidad una política hecha por y para el ciudadano, suman las campañas electorales en un cruce de acusaciones donde lo más importante no son las propuestas, sino el rédito político, a costa de lo que sea. Welcome a la época de las campañas electorales del descrédito.

Corrupción, cohecho, abuso de autoridad, déficit económico... la política cada vez más alejada del ciudadano y de sus problemas. La política, a precio de saldo.

Los inmigrantes en el centro de la polémica

El Partido Popular –flamante tercera fuerza política del Parlament–, enseñó sus cartas mucho antes de las elecciones, y dejó muy claro cual era su principal caballo de batalla: plantar cara a la inmigración. Y lo hicieron con un panfleto por las calles de Badalona, cuyo título era Hablando claro de la inmigración. En este panfleto, que repartieron con sus propias manos el candidato del partido a la ciudad, Xavier García Albiol, y la misma Alicia Sánchez Camacho, candidata a la presidencia de la Generalitat. Ella se planteaba cuestiones tales como "si cabemos todos" o "si se debe expulsar a los extranjeros que delincan", tratando una vez más de dividir a una población cada vez más alejada de los políticos. Sus responsables aseguraron que "el colectivo gitano rumano que se ha instalado en Badalona viene a delinquir".

Tras pedir disculpas públicas por este panfleto, de cuya autoría se desligaron al llegar las primeras críticas, en plena campaña colgaron en su web el famoso videojuego donde la candidata del partido eliminaba inmigrantes ilegales a bordo de una gaviota, símbolo del partido. Este videojuego también se trató de un error.

Más allá va el partido de ultraderecha Plataforma per Catalunya, liderado por Josep Anglada. Con declaraciones como "nos va a tocar a los valientes expulsar a los musulmanes de nuestro país", se presentaba a las elecciones con más fuerza que nunca. Esta plataforma, como tantas otras, se ven respaldadas por las victorias que en los últimos años ha cosechado la ultraderecha en países como Francia (todos recordamos la victoria de Le Pen en las primarias francesas hace pocos años), pero también en Bélgica o Austria, donde la ultraderecha ha irrumpido con fuerza en sus parlamentos nacionales.

En las elecciones de noviembre, Plataforma per Catalunya consiguió alcanzar el 2,42% del total de los votos, quedándose al borde de la representación parlamentaria, y convirtiéndose en la octava fuerza política gracias a declaraciones como "Un moro por el simple hecho de hablar en nuestra lengua podría convertirse en catalán, y yo digo que nada de eso, que un musulmán siempre será un musulmán".

No me asusta que alguien pueda hacer ese tipo de declaraciones. Por suerte, estamos en un país donde la libertad de expresión es un pilar fundamental de nuestra sociedad. Lo que me preocupa de verdad es que un partido consiga aumentar sus escaños al aumentar su odio a los inmigrantes, o que un partido con base xenófoba y un discurso tan fascista multiplique por seis sus votos en tan sólo cuatro años. Definitivamente vivimos en una sociedad enferma.

Fuga de cerebros con billetes low cost

Mientras tanto, cientos –me atrevería a decir miles– de jóvenes españoles cogen un billete de avión low cost para empezar una nueva vida en Alemania, Suiza, Bélgica, o Estados Unidos, como lo hicieron sus abuelos. Pero esta vez, en vez de meter en la maleta los recuerdos de toda una vida y las fotografías de la familia, meten en las maletas de veinte kilos de peso su ordenador portátil, su licenciatura, su máster y sus títulos de idiomas.

Cuando me preguntan por la calle ¿dónde está la juventud, que no se moviliza?, yo respondo, la juventud que se moviliza está fuera de España.

Quizá algún día vuelvan, cuando los políticos se den cuenta de que el futuro del país está en esos jóvenes con una maleta de veinte kilos y un billete low cost sólo de ida. Entonces, quizá dejen sus políticas a precio de saldo y se pongan a trabajar.

Leo luego existo luego critico

Leer (ligar, ver películas y criticar) en Barcelona

by Manuel de Sousa

"¡Oh! A todos nuestros literatos de segunda fila."[1]

Leo: "Henley Thomson · Ah yes... shopping at that Maramagnum... who can resist ;-) · 5 hours ago · Like · 2 people"

Existo: Después de las fiestas navideñas, quizás una de las temporadas más entrépitas de husmeo consumista y de "clickeo" en la popular red social, es el resto del año. El estrepitoso contagio chismoso de probadores de tiendas y su extensión doméstica en los teclados y ratones nos lleva a sacar conclusiones desvariadas (las chicas en Barcelona se visten mejor en enero que en diciembre) y a evitar gestos de cariño impersonal: Tras escudriñar en las fotos de una boda austera y pánfila a las afueras de Oslo, o las de alguna amiga opulenta que recibió el año con la rodilla moreteada después de esquiar con resaca en Colorado, o la de un viejo compañero de escuela quien con el sustento barroco de un desdibujado árbol de navidad de plástico, con ornamentos dorados y cajas vacías envueltas con papel de regalo, nos retrata la primera navidad de la hija que tuvo con una prostituta de un bar de mala muerte de Caracas, fue menester no comentar, no hacer click en "like", no decir nada, mejor salir a la calle, al barrio Gótico donde en algún nicho de ligue imperecedero, alguna muchacha espigada, cándida y esponjosa en forma de panecillo germánico, donde alguna golosina gala de naturaleza más templada y ojos oscuros, o, ¿por qué no?, donde una golosa gordita miope asturiana te sacuda el ego intelectual en vez de masturbártelo. Como dijo Meritxell aquella noche: "No seas tan remilgao".

Leo: "Del cubo blanco se desprende tangencialmente una paradoja: la digestión y asimilación de cualquier tipo de herejía crítica por parte del dispositivo artístico institu..."[2] –¡Salut! –Aurora toma su pausa para comer. Esa curiosidad que nace al verle ese maquillaje que a diario sombrea sus ojos profundos, la hermosa sonrisa afectada que le ofrece a su supervisora, su corte de pelo hecho a navajazos chic y su confeso desprecio por la vida parisina me hacen deslastrarme de la desfachatada lectura del texto de una gallega ingeniosa y debatirme en milésimas de segundo para cometer el atrevimiento cortés de decirle –más con ganas de salir con ella y terminar revolcándome en sus sábanas de oscuridad tierna, que de desearle que tenga suerte a la hora de que le caiga bien el pusilánime sandwich de máquina, aberración gour-shit de la mezquina naturaleza emprendedora catalana–: "Buen provecho Aurora". "¡Gggacias!"

Leo: "El periodismo es ilegible y la literatura no se lee".[3]

Existo: Los acólitos del ámbito literario en Barcelona son como sus pares del ámbito cinematográfico: a mayor cantidad de insumos (editoriales grandes, editoriales in(die) pertinentes, Verdi Park, FNAC, CCCB, monturas de la tienda esa de Berlín, trapos comprados al negrito ese del collar-discman en el mercado de Brick Lane), mayor look y menor intelectualidad.

En un país de tuertos (dad una vuelta por Jaén o Almería), los que creen tener los dos ojos y ver la luz de la post-post modernidad para poder escribir reseñas, pronunciar la "r" o la "ch" mejor que en Córdoba, lo tienen más fácil para recopilar adjetivos y esgrimirlos en bares o clubes de video, y más difícil para escribir sobre un libro ingenioso o instruir sobre qué hace que una película sea genial.

Leo: "Cada consciencia persigue la muerte de la otra".[4]

Existo: No es (auto) crítica, es cotilleo endémico, pretencioso y semi-culto.

[1],[3] Wilde, Oscar, La importancia de no hacer nada, Editorial Rey Lear S.L., 1a Edición, Marzo, 2010.
[2]Fernández Pan, Sonia, "The White Cube. Un hogar para los SDF", BCNWeek Vol 1, No 092, 2011.
[4]Hegel, citado en De Beauvoir, Simone, La invitada, Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, 1970.

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