The objectives of the workshop for Community Action (TAC) are to promote community development and to generate new civic practices in the metropolitan Valpariso, such as improving relations between diverse groups within neighborhoods.
The Community Action Workshop (TAC) is a functional community organization that emerged in 1989 in the Cordillera hill, Valparaíso.
Its fundamental objective is to promote community development, based on the generation of new practices in the territory that contribute to improving the conditions of the neighborhood environment as well as the relationships between the people who inhabit it.
The meaning of the action of the organization in the territory is synthesized in five fundamental ideas, these are: meeting of actors, opportunity for participation, concrete action, new practices in the territory and strengthening of community ties and collective senses. The effect generated by each of these ideas is the change in relationships, the reappropriation of spaces, making collective capacities visible, valuing everyday space by generating material transformations, of meaning and densification of civil society from the local.
Problems and Purpose
The Cerro Cordillera, at the height of the Camino Cintura, was one of the first popular settlements in Valparaíso, this town stands out for its deep port tradition, of union and worker organization.
In recent decades, the hill has been impoverished by the aging of its inhabitants, the unemployment of youth and the prevalence of drug use (SUBDERE, CIC & GTZ., 2008).
The problems identified by the locality in its beginnings were mainly related to the deterioration and non-existence of public spaces, the presence of garbage dumps in streams, with a high sanitary deficit and infections in the community. Within the social aspects, there was low participation and mistrust in the existing leaders.
The conditions of employment and habitability were deficient, as well as the lack of community equipment and infrastructure (Fundación Hábitat Colombia, 2005).
In this scenario, in 1998, a group of founding partners of the Community Action Workshop (TAC), toured different hills of Valparaíso, looking for a space with neighborhood life where to generate a local development project, with the aim of rebuilding links community and improve the living conditions of its inhabitants. In this sense, the Cordillera hill fulfilled these potentials, in terms of its historical trajectory, and the presence of various social organizations and local institutions that could participate in the initiative, and its inhabitants had a level of basic needs covered. The latter made it possible to generate a project focused on community and non-welfare development.
Since its inception its purpose was to promote community development, through participation in concrete initiatives of local incidence, its intervention model starts from the base of education, formal or informal training on health, environment, market, culture. This comprehensive development includes the material improvement of the habitat and the neighborhood environment. His work is aimed at children, youth, women, adults, the elderly, neighbors, organizations, functional and / or territorial institutions (TAC Magazine, 2009).
The beginnings of the TAC go back to 1989, a period in which it constituted a work program of the NGO CECAP (Centro de Capacitación y Asesoría Poblacional), which was aimed at promoting the development of community life in poor localities of the city. Valparaíso (TAC Magazine, 2009).
In the first stage, his work on the Cordillera hill was oriented to the development of a self-diagnosis, where leaders, residents and grassroots organizations participated to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the neighborhood. Among the priorities to work are recognized: to generate conditions that facilitate the encounter and participation in the local development process, demonstrate in concrete actions in the territory possibilities of transformation, recognize and value the local space (Library CF + S, 2006).
In 1990 the organization was located in a gorge in the Cordillera that had been turned into a garbage dump for more than 40 years. Cleaning days were started where the community was invited to participate. Once recovered, the first square was consolidated and the first murals inspired by local history were made.
This period was essential to generate mutual trust between the organization, neighborhood leaders, local organizations and schools in the sector (TAC Magazine, 2009).
In the 1990s, the majority of non-governmental organizations in the country began to receive a decrease in financial resources, despite this, the TAC continues to move forward and decides to become an autonomous institution of CECAP, from which the work begins to be sustained. in Associativity and local participation, highlighting the work and permanence of the founding team of the initiative. Since this year the organization begins to sustain itself through voluntary action and specific projects, this change in operation lays the foundations that have given it sustainability over time (Cerda & Rojas, 2004).
In this period the strategy is to coordinate with the actors around the territory, recovering the physical spaces through planning meetings and mutual knowledge. Strengthening the sense of community takes a central role from the articulation of local organizations, educational establishments and the health clinic (CF + S Library, 2006).
Between 1996 and 1998, they are considered as the years of consolidation of the project and projection of the TAC, a process of systematization of the experience begins and work begins on the dissemination of the work carried out on a local and communal scale through posters, bulletins, links with the press and stable workshops with the educational establishments of the commune.
At the end of this stage, the amphitheater in the recovered ravine is finished, where a collective and local space for culture capable of housing 600 people is consolidated, more than 1000 people participate in its construction.
The fourth stage, from 1999 to 2001, is recognized as the period where there is already a legitimation of the intervention model. The organization is concerned with the construction of means of dissemination and educational material, internships and meetings are held with different actors in the territory. At the end of this cycle, the 31st summer school takes place, where the majority of young people from the Andes, former children become monitors, this milestone is important to mention, since these young people are the ones who begin to organize and generate significant changes in the territory later (TAC Magazine, 2009).
This last period, from 2002 to 2009, has been focused on reviewing what has been done and on the work of replicating the intervention model in academic, public and other local realities.
The main actors have been children, young people, volunteers, the cordillera network, universities and public organizations.
The management of resources in this last period has been through projects, voluntary action, local participation, associativism, development of cooperation agreements with national and foreign universities and public organizations (TAC Magazine, 2009).
Organizational Structure and Funding
The sustainability of this experience is given by its intervention model that is based on an associative structure through the Cordillera network made up of different organizations that represent different areas of the territory.
Once the TAC is established in Cordillera, it promotes the articulation and coordination of these existing organizations. This platform has been strategic for local empowerment, linkage of actors and feedback with the environment, guiding the work towards the vision of a jointly designed and concretized community development.
The organizational figure of the Community Action Workshop is structured in three levels; the directory in charge of delivering general strategic guidelines, both for educational work and for management; the central team, responsible for designing educational work with schools and management tasks; and the field work team, in charge of planning the specific activities to be carried out in each work session with the schools.
We can understand the structure of the network from different spheres of participation. In its center, we identify the TAC as a linking agent of the network, articulating in a first sphere of local participation, made up of more active organizations within planning and decision-making in the territory, among them we identify the Union's working population, the Red Cross, local volunteers, clinic, parish and 12 public schools. Also incorporating peripheral organizations such as sports clubs, police, mothers' centers and the different neighborhood associations (Cerda & Rojas, 2004).
In a second sphere of participation, we identify the extra-local actors made up of collaborating companies, volunteers, public services and associated universities (Cerda & Rojas, 2004).
As leading actors, children, young people and volunteers are recognized, who are constant participants, from the comprehensive program that is carried out throughout the year with the associated schools and the workshops given in the summer and winter schools.
Regarding the selection of participants, we identified 4 categories: self-selection, rather natural selection in the case of volunteers, who get involved and acquire responsibilities according to their level of commitment and time availability. In the case of targeted recruitment, we identify the courses of the schools selected to participate during the year in the comprehensive program taught by the TAC, thirdly are the stakeholders, made up of the leaders of social organizations, who actively participate within the net. Finally, within the second sphere of participation are the professional interest groups made up of NGOs, public and private organizations that participate in technical tables, fairs, internships and seminars, which always participate voluntarily, without being paid.
Specializations and Activities
Its lines of action are the following (SUBDERE, CIC & GTZ., 2008):
1) Articulation of the Local and Communal network through the generation of associative relationships between different organizations, expanding the vision of the territory by sharing and exchanging learning.
2) Prevention actions in children and young people through workshops that promote the good use of free time in concrete actions for the improvement and recovery of the physical and social environment.
3) Education and environmental improvement, children and young people are constituted as agents in the process of recovery and transformation of spaces from a methodology of education in action.
4) Cultural action, articulating the spaces of expression and diffusion of culture in the hills through the creation of murals.
5) Rescue of local identity, we work from workshops, recovery and restoration of heritage landmarks aimed at rescuing and valuing tangible and intangible heritage, strengthening and recognizing the construction of the history that constitutes them.
6) Recovery and improvement of public spaces, this line of action has been consolidated over time through the conquest of new spaces for public use (garbage dumps, empty sites, parking lots).
7) Community library, the use of free time is promoted in spaces oriented to culture and technology.
8) Strengthening of voluntary action, through citizen exercise based on local development, self-management and civic responsibility. Currently a network of volunteers from the same locality, from universities and foreigners is formed.
9) Extension, the exchange of experiences and learning with other initiatives is promoted through fairs, internships, seminars, forums and educational visits at the local, communal, regional, national and international levels.
The purpose and lines of action of the TAC are specified in an educational space complementary to the formal one, focused mainly on children and young people through three instances:
1) Comprehensive Program: stable workshops that are constituted in weekly work sessions with courses from the various participating establishments, aimed at children and young people between 3 and 25 years old, corresponding to basic, special and integrated schools and kindergartens.
In these sessions various topics are addressed, which are linked to the problems and concerns that have arisen in the field of formal education.
The activities take place during class hours, forming part of the academic curriculum of the establishments. Each course attends the TAC once a week and the working day lasts an hour and a half.
2) Seasonal schools: They correspond to various workshops that take place simultaneously for periods of 4 to 12 consecutive days, normally held during winter and summer holidays, and are aimed at children and young people between 5 and 25 years old, from schools associated with the network, the local and extra-local community.
The daily work day runs from 9 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon, including a space for breakfast, lunch and a snack.
3) Thematic workshops: this strategy is aimed at developing workshops associated with specific themes, the implementation of which is occasional. The duration of the workshops is defined based on a relevant number of sessions agreed upon by the participating actors, including children, young people from the schools associated with the network, adults in general, women, the elderly, leaders of social organizations. and territorial (Cerda & Rojas, 2004).
Major Projects and Events
To put in context the mechanisms used in decision-making promoted by the vision of the TAC, it is important to expose the local action methodology that the organization has developed in these 21 years and that has been promoted from three perspectives of work in the territory.
In the first place, the Associativity, through the exchange of experiences, horizontality, flexibility and permanence in time of the Cordillera network. The associative links between the different organizations have made it possible to mobilize local resources (mainly physical and human).
Second, the local participation of the different organizations and volunteers jointly build the strategies, plans, projects and actions. This has allowed over time a strong appropriation of the spaces gained, strengthening community ties and social relations with actors outside the community (Cerda & Rojas, 2004).
In this context we identify the type of participation at the level of co-management associations or rather co-construction, since this initiative has strengthened the bonds and the social capital of the locality, constituting new leaders and new forms of organization.
The interaction between the participants and decision-making is deliberative and of sum of preferences, that is, the mode of communication is through the exchange of visions, information and learning, it seeks to reach an agreement based on arguments and consensus through collective participation .
The TAC management style promotes democratic, transformational and participatory leadership, generating a sense of belonging and human bonds.
The spaces for participation have been consolidated over time, through assemblies, work tables, workshops, where the main actors are citizens in general, public authorities, community leaders, volunteers, children and young people.
In general terms, it is possible to identify a decision-making process that includes different phases, which has been called “reflection in action”. This methodology is structured in this sequence: convocation of various local actors to participate in participatory diagnoses, identifying problems, opportunities and work challenges, with this material the proposals are jointly prepared. The second phase is constituted by the management of local resources to implement the proposed actions, which in most cases is based on self-management, then the actions are implemented and finally, the process and sense of the experience is evaluated ( Cerda & Rojas, 2004).
Public interaction occurs in spaces for dialogue even beyond the local, through seminars, internships, fairs, where the TAC is represented through its local and extra-local volunteers according to the themes contemplated by said meeting spaces. Different actors from civil society, organizations and public authorities participate in these.
Another form of public interaction has turned out to be public recognition of the experience, through the awards it has obtained both locally, nationally and internationally. Among the most outstanding is the first regional place in environment by the National Commission of the Environment of Chile; recognition of Good Urban Practices 2002 by the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism Chile, award for Innovation in the environmental area 2002 by the Ford International Foundation, among others.
Outcomes and Effects
The results and effects of the work carried out by the TAC in the territory will be presented from 3 dimensions, first from a quantitative point of view, second from a qualitative point of view, and finally, a concrete case will be presented that shows the replicability of the experience.
- There are currently more than 40 organizations associated with the Cordillera network. Among them: 12 public and subsidized schools: common, integrated and special; and 10 foreign universities and institutions. (TAC WEB site). These actors are key in mobilizing resources.
- Eight meeting and recreation spaces, squares and games have been recovered, transformed and created in Cerro Cordillera (Biblioteca CF + S, 2006).
- An amphitheater has been built in the heart of one of the Cordillera streams in an old garbage dump, with a capacity for 630 people. (Fundación Habitat Colombia, 2005)
- Active participation of 200 volunteers and 1,300 children per year approximately.
- 7 Valparaíso universities incorporate the work of the TAC (Fundación Habitat Colombia, 2005) into their curricula through hours of professional practice specifically in pedagogy and special education. 140 young university students have joined the participation in this association.
- 50 murals have been made, building a physical network that shows the identity of the mountain range and Valparaíso (Biblioteca CF + S, 2006).
- 12 community gardens and a greenhouse for plants and reproduction of native trees have been created.
- 3,000 people from various organizations visit the experience annually, proving its replicability. (CF + S Library, 2006)
- The experience is recognized and awarded regionally, nationally and internationally (TAC WEB Site).
- Revaluation of the territory through the history and local identity of the hill (Fundación Habitat Colombia, 2005), generating the appropriation of the territory beyond the tangible, strengthening community ties and the practices of tolerance, solidarity and integration in difference (Observatory Latin American, 2004).
- Legitimate intervention model in the community, educational, governmental and academic world (CF + S Library, 2006).
- Continuity and permanence of networking for more than 21 years, promoting community participation in all intervention processes and a proactive civil society.
- Environmental awareness from the work done in the action of recovering the environment.
- Development of relationships of trust between public and community organizations (Biblioteca CF + S, 2006).
Among the concrete effects that this experience has radiated is the initiative for the comprehensive and participatory restoration of the Working Population, led by young residents of the building who grew up participating in the work carried out by the TAC in the territory.
This building is part of the collective history and identity of the hill, it was built in 1870, and corresponds to the first social housing built in Chile. From its beginnings its inhabitants were families of dock workers, whose descendants still live there. (Castillo, 2009). In 2005 it received the bicentennial seal, formalizing its status as a heritage building.
This initiative dates back to 1998, when the young residents of the building decided to lead the directive of the working population, forming themselves as a community organization with the aim of starting a work to recover the building promoted from self-management. The first intervention was carried out from their own funds generated by activities promoted by the same community, in a second instance they are coordinated with the Proempleo program (municipal program for the generation of local employment) and receive state funds, where they manage to hire the same neighbors to start the recovery of the building (City of Valparaíso).
In 2003, through an initiative of the TAC, a "technical table" was created where neighbors, neighborhood leaders, and public organizations were invited to participate, to address the challenge of recovering the building. This milestone begins a process of formalization of work from the community organization itself, regularizing and cleaning up the property titles that had been carried out for decades, an important task to resolve to access public funds. In this period they are formed as an organizing and technical assistance entity to apply for the Housing Solidarity Fund with the aim of carrying out the formal rehabilitation of the building. A year later they obtain the housing subsidies (Interview with Cristian Amarales).
The working population was the protagonist in the development of the project from beginning to end, the board of directors was in charge of choosing the architects and construction companies.
The building retains its original design, its modifications are to the interior of it, in terms of restoring the subdivision of apartments for the 34 resident families, where a separate bathroom and kitchen were considered for each of them, unlike its initial design in the which shared a service in the central courtyard, which generated a substantial change in the way of life of the families. The average surface area of apartments is between 55 and 90 m2, which exceeds the minimum standards of social housing that are currently being built in the country.
This project received financing from MINVU, and funds generated from the organization's self-management through the Junta de Andalucía, owners and ValpoMío.
Currently, the young people who led this process are organized as a corporation together with a network of organizations to recover the Santa Ana Chapel and later the Cordillera elevator. His vision is to show that the work from the articulation of actors and technical tables is a means to recover our territory, as mentioned by Cristián Amarales, leader and one of the managers of the initiative “... the challenge is to build a new model of public policy, replicable for other experiences ... ”.
This way of doing local development is a learning apprehended in the experience lived in the TAC.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Regarding the analysis of the studied experience, we can say that a key strategy to achieve the reconstruction of the social fabric of the territory was the Associativity promoted by the TAC, from the articulation of the existing organizations in the locality, forming the Cordillera network, as platform of action and agents of transformation. Associative links bring together a diversity of views, learning, capacities, efforts and resources to achieve the common objectives proposed.
It is recognized that one of the main achievements of the organization is linked to the relevance of the project. The TAC arises from the identification of needs and problems diagnosed by its own inhabitants and has been built at the pace of local processes, the improvement proposals have been made by its own actors, from the construction of spaces for collective participation that they have been strengthening local confidence and capacities.
The TAC's work methodology has established new social practices that have been replicated in other organizations, including Associativity, local self-management, and the way of making participatory decisions and giving meaning to joint action based on “reflecting on the action".
From this perspective, the sustainability of the experience goes beyond the limits of the organization, that is, learning becomes a collective knowledge, which can be applicable to other initiatives of different scales.
A central value of the experience studied is its ability to generate spaces and contexts of social integration in the broad sense (diversity of trades, professions, cultures, place of origin), impacting beyond the local scale, becoming a transformative initiative in both people and social practices through the experience of joining and being part with others in a collective project that realizes community dreams ... In the words of the TAC “A space of realities and Dreams” where “Together a better life is built”.
Among the weaknesses of the experience, the availability of economic resources is recognized, which are often insufficient and variable for the scope of the intervention (Latin American Observatory, 2004). These problems are overcome thanks to the self-management capacity in which the organization operates, as well as the support received by actors linked to the network.
Secondary Sources and External Links
CF + S Library. (2006). TAC, Together Building a Better Life (Valparaíso, Chile). Cities for a more sustainable future. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from http://habitat.aq.upm.es/bpal/onu04/bp1730.html
Castillo, M. (2009). Participation from below and public policies. The rehabilitation of the Union Workers' Population building in Valparaíso (Chile). Cities for a more sustainable future. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from http://habitat.aq.upm.es/boletin/n42/ab-mjca.html
Cerda, F. & Rojas, P. (2004). Diagnosis and proposal for organizational improvement for the Cerro Cordillera Community Action Workshop: A way to strengthen community development in Valparaíso. Memory to qualify for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and the Title of Business Engineer. Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso.
City of Valparaíso. (sf). Union Worker Population: comprehensive and participatory rehabilitation. Retrieved June 5, 2011, at http://www.ciudaddevalparaiso.cl/inicio/grandes_obras_detalle.php?id_hito=56
Habitat Colombia Foundation. (2005). Latin American and Caribbean Contest for the transfer of good practices. Edition 2005. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from http://www.fundacionhabitatcolombia.org/juntosconstruzando.pdf
Latin American Observatory. (2004). Latin American Observatory of Local Public Innovation: Bank of Innovations. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://www.innovacionlocal.org/popbinnovaciones.php?id=201&lang=esFirefoxHTML\Shell\Open\Command
TAC Cordillera Magazine. (2009). TAC Cordillera magazine in the framework of the project passing the torch. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://issuu.com/godoybazo/docs/revista_tac_exportada
SUBDERE, CIC & GTZ. (2008). Good practices for the development of the territories. Outstanding experiences 2008. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://www.territoriochile.cl/1516/articles-77314_recurso_1.pdf