This project came into being thanks to the events organized by the City Council of Barcelona on the occasion of the city's tercentenary: BCN Re.Set. The granting of materials to the school Baldomer Solà in Badalona was initially made through Amaia, a person involved in special education, and through a very active social worker of the Consortium of Badalona Sur whose work was focused on the neighbourhood of Sant Roc, where the school is located.
Previously, a very successful experience of community garden had been carried out in a useless plot of the neighbourhood. The success of this first project encouraged to expand it by building a new community garden intended to foster recreational, educational and reintegration programmes for social groups at the risk of exclusion.
The communication with the school Baldomer Solà and its headmistress Paqui, an enthusiastic educator with a great political vision, was a very important step: a piece of the land belonging to the school was granted for the construction of the new community garden. Thus, the public nature of the school has got a new sense, since its facilities are not any more for the use of students only, but are opened to different social groups in the neighbourhood.
Due to the lack of a well-established Parents Association in the school, and of a group of architects linked to social projects working in the area, after the direct request made by the entities and the Consortium, we took in charge the recycling materials project. All this work was made in coordination with the mediation efforts already under way in the neighbourhood. It was an excellent opportunity to build something together with social groups related to mental health, deprivation of liberty, drug addiction or ethnic marginalisation, all of them problems which have a strong presence in the neighbourhood.
We started developing the community garden and shaded areas from September 2014. However, part of the deconstruction of the materials from the BCN Re.Set performance had been already made with the active participation of some of these social groups from the neighbourhood of Sant Roc. Final users, partners and friends worked together from the beginning of October for over 6 months, intermittently through sessions programmed with the social workers and entities. The project was entirely executed through self-construction.
This methodology has contributed to consolidate social ties and collective synergies, to strengthen the group's self-esteem and reconstruct its identity. We have found lots of extraordinary people, such as the people from the school who granted the land to the Servicio de Dinamización e Intervención Comunitaria del Consorcio de Badalona Sur [Public Service for the Revitalization and Community Involvement of the Consortium of Badalona Sur], as well as many nice people from different organizations and user teams such as Cointegra, ASAUMPAM, Llar de Salut, Centre Residenciales de IMPS, Club Baldiu, the students, friends and volunteers. They all experienced community learning and acquired a better knowledge and understanding of their social and urban environment in Sant Roc, by using mutual help and working together as a way to personal and collective improvement. And, as usually in this kind of projects, other friends show up and give a hand for the sake of friendship: David, Javier, Yaiza, Laura, Helena, Saray, Jofré, Petete, Xavi, Victor, etc.
Joint management by different social groups with diverse —and occasionally very strong— identities as well as a differential dependence in various fields, created an experience in which the technical part had to be very flexible and opened to processes of change and with an important focus on the safety of the construction works.
Seeing Pakistani girls working together with Roma old ladies, or users of mental health services together with people doing community service as a substitution of imprisonment, has been an overwhelming learning experience. We have checked changes of attitude and social behavior between members of different social groups once they started working together with "the other". The fact that the spot was a public school provides doubtlessly a wide public dimension for the project; however, it is worth noting that very few teachers —only five— got involved in the experience. A deeper commitment to education in citizenship and mutual respect is needed to defeat the fear of mixing school students with people at the risk of social exclusion or fully excluded.