En procès de traducció: Italiano “Gentrificazione, resistenza o esilio”, Arabe 1 “استطباق مقاومة أو منفى”, Deutsch, Français…
BARCELONA: THE GREATEST SHOP IN THE WORLD
VILA DE GRÀCIA THAT FORMS PART OF IT
What does this term mean and how does it affect our lives
and our neighbourhood?
March 2016 – Vila de Gràcia
Vila de Gràcia Assembly (AVdG)
For many years now Vila de Gràcia, a neighbourhood located in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, has been undergoing transformation. These changes, some subtle and other much more visible have occurred at the expense of the neighbourhood’s inhabitants. A new term has been making its way into conversations and articles written about the Vila: Gentrification.
We will briefly summarise this term and inform you about the process the Vila de Gràcia is currently suffering from.
Gentrification is the process of urban transformation in which the original residents of a district are progressively displaced by an affluent, high-purchasing population or an extensive tourism model. This is a consequence of strategic and speculative action within the framework of neoliberal policies whereby the city itself becomes a business.
In this article we explain how gentrification is affecting us.
- Gentrification and housing:
One of the most obvious effects of gentrification is in the housing market where an increase in sale prices and rental prices is experienced. The process is commonly associated with the demolition of housing and replacement with builds favouring tourism or those with higher purchasing power than the average resident population. This forces many inhabitants to leave the area, spurred by real estate mobbing pressure. Those with fewer financial resources and commonly older generations with leases on properties are more susceptible to this process. They are expelled from the Vila, after a lifetime living in the district, by younger generations who seek out the neighbourhood.
Specific examples of these property uses:
-Jardinets de Gràcia (already considered the gateway of mass tourism in the Vila), where tourism property exceeds residential housing.
-In the plaça del Sol where residential housing and a long-standing grocery store are being renovated into a hotel.
- The new real estate developments on the corner of Travessera de Gràcia and Torrent de l´Olla, classified as exclusive luxury properties and known for being funded by international investment funds.
Generator Hostel, Capacity of 800. Còrsega street crossing with Venus street. Since opening, two new hostels 50m from the Generator hostel have opened: One on Venus-Perill street and one on Còrsega street crossing with Girona street.
- Gentrification and trade
This consists of replacing traditional trade that meets the needs of residents in a neighbourhood with more specialized selected goods and large chain stores with pure consumerist objectives.
One example of this is the replacement of Roquer bookshop in Jardinets de Gràcia with Lupo, a luxury leather shop.
- Privatisation and gentrification of public spaces:
Almost without us realizing the public environment in which we move has been altered. Park Güell has been stolen from residents who are now required to pay for a stroll in their local park.
The squares in the Vila de Gràcia have been transformed into businesses, in many cases with 40% of the space occupied by bars and restaurants. There is little or no free seating where residents can sit and talk and socializing must be done spending money in one of the terraces owned by the bars. Playing ball games is prohibited as children are seen to disturb business. Only very young children have a miniscule play area in the corner that remains full the majority of the time. There are no public rest rooms; you must consume in order to relieve yourself in a nearby bar or restaurant.
To top it off, all this is accompanied by civic ordinances that restrict people to a denatured use of space and criminalize those who do not comply.
- Gentrification and neighbourhood relations:
The gentrification process weakens neighbourhood relations and dehumanises neighbourhoods, erasing their identity and dynamiting from within any attempt to organise resistance to this process.
Robbing memory and sense of permanence (collective triumphs and neighbourhood struggles won): the neighbourhood becomes a speculative alien space, a place where it is not important what you are anymore, or who you are as a person. Where you no longer know your neighbour and probably don’t understand them either. The neighbourhood is no longer treated as a social space where solidarity and mutual support among peers is harnessed; it becomes a socially fragmented space promoting individualism and an end to collective living.
- Tourism industry and the labour market:
The tourism industry is associated with a consumerist economic model. Within this model the economy is no longer directed at the production of necessary goods to meet the needs of the resident population that mass tourism reaches. An industry focussed on services that as a final consequence lead to a society in which some serve and others are served.
The working conditions of this industry usually are associated with low wages, seasonality and high job insecurity. Under the latest labour reform these conditions have got worse. The idea that tourism generates wealth is untrue as jobs created have poorer conditions than those previously available.
This is exemplified in the housekeeping sector where workers are mostly women. They are subjected to a process of externalisation whereby workers are sub-contracted (at a salary of €2.5/bedroom). Work related stress due to poor working conditions is provoked in many workers. It is important to add that in a sector where women predominate their collective agreements are worse than other sectors.
- Gentrification and Education:
With the arrival of a population with a higher purchasing power the demand for private schools increases and the possibility of improvements for state schools loses strength. The new population favours petitions for more subsidies for private schools.
Thus an educational model based upon the principle “free education for all” (for both the rich and the poor, whereby quality education and social integrative are paramount) is denied. Furthermore, social differentiation between students is exacerbated creating a fragmented population organised by social class and cultural background: another serious blow to social cohesion.
- Gentrification, culture and neighbourhood celebrations:
Gentrification also affects local culture and festivities through the capitalisation, massification and gentrification of town initiatives.
Leisure is commodified and making money becomes the sole aim. The council favours private interests and public space is censored to meet objectives set by large companies sponsoring the parties. Decisions made don’t take into account the needs of the citizens’ and neighbourhood.
Massification of fests and initiatives through an appealing advertisement that focuses on institutional initiatives and banishes those created by the neighbours themselves, cancelling any spontaneity or selfmanagement skills.
Culture gentrification: ‘Barcelona trademark’ needs to be sold and tries to do so also through popular culture: first takes all authenticity out of it and reduces it to a specific product. Then this product is promoted as an essential experience, thus it becomes part of the Barcelona trademark, as if Barcelona would have the patent of it. Finally it becomes an experience or product that will be sold.
- Gentrification and health:
At most only 20% of our health is associated with the presence and actions of the sanitary system. This means that 80% of our health is conditioned by social determinants: environmental quality, employment status, housing, amongst others. In addition, the existence of a close social support network in the neighbourhood, resulting in a sense of community and attachment to place, substantially improved our emotional health.
In short, gentrification impedes fair access to housing, threatens working conditions and damages the social ecosystem. We see a negative influence on the social determinants that affect our health. In addition to this, the original population is expelled, uprooting the meaning and identity of place.
We continue calling on residents to actively participate in the various initiatives that are taking place in the neighbourhoods most affected by the process of gentrification (Barceloneta, Gothic, Raval, Poble Sec, Sagrada Família, Eixample). The process of gentrification is turning Barcelona into an international brand powered by consumption rather than a place to live.
In Gràcia there are various initiatives that have formed in resistance to gentrification of the neighbourhood, among those we highlight ‘Plataforma Gràcia, cap a on vas?’ (Gràcia, where are you going?) and the “El Turisme Mata els Barris” campaign (Tourism is killing our neighbourhood). From this assembly we continue weaving together resistance and proposals to ensure the Vila de Gràcia remains a place for living and not a product for sale.
And this is the story…
March 2016 – Vila de Gràcia
Vila de Gràcia Assembly (AVdG)
#prouhotels #touristgohome #elturismemata
BANC EXPROPIAT IN DANGER OF EVICTION