2015-09-23

If Grassroots had a Definition, it Would be this Exact Spot

Written by Isabell Jacobson
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An incredible and enriching day and one I will find difficult to put into words. Today, I visited La Boca, a somewhat impoverished but wonderful area of Buenos Aires. I went with the aim of seeing a local radio programme in action but I took a lot more away from the experience. If grassroots had a definition, it would be this exact spot, with the exact colourful murals on the walls and in the exact basic set up in the attic of an old building in what looked remarkably like a car park.  In the cold and humid conditions of early spring, it could have been a nightmare invitation but instead, I sat down over a yerba mate to talk about the fascinating and relatively fresh project that the community has established to give locals a voice or as the operator said ' donde caben todas voces'.  And all voices fit in this place, even that of Mel, a German volunteer, who kicked off the show with a description of the weekend charity 'marathon' run (a 5km shortened version of the real thing). 

This radio station in the heart of the people's barrio supports foreigners who wish to volunteer, recognising the need to harmonise, collectivise and come together not only to act against political neglect but also to stay true to community. There is a mini but significant revolution happening within the painted walls of this attic, dotted with satirical animations and reminders of Che Guevara's infamous motto of 'hasta la victoria para siempre'. This radio laughs at propaganda and smiles at truth, not forgetting the country's harsh past, the ashes of which still glow beneath the energy and voices of this community.

If they need a 'vivienda digna' or decent living conditions, they will fight for it through every channel possible and they have helped to mobilise their people to claim their right to live. Live better, live well. All with a great sense of humour, a few cups of mate and a divine playlist. A brilliant crowd and one I will never forget.

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