For residents of the Great House of Pumarejo, value-laden words are their only weapon, in a context of constant construction and fusion between action and reflection. This indifference stems from injustice, economical speculation and attempted destruction of the culture of a neighborhood, because of a declining economic system and the political disenchantment, the nonconformity. Even a language that imprison us in our own reality. New values and meanings have emerged. The concept of “neighbor” has expanded. It is committed to the culture of the neighborhood. The neighbors join a supportive community of affection and care, which ensures the “common”, regardless of their place of residence. The social currency, el Puma, highlights the wealth of this group based on three core ideas: “community”, “confidence” and “abundance”. Without knowing it, these values have transcended our borders and it has become natural need to share, evaluate, study and assimilate contributions from abroad, such as the concept of “feel and think.” It is the beauty of an eco-system in constant movement and in harmony with neighbors, with the community and with nature.
Seville is a Mediterranean city with a medium size of 700,000 inhabitants. Andalusia is the southern region of Spain and the city was built, like many others, in the course of their own history. It has a roman main road, there is traces of an Arabian wall, mosques have been converted into churches, and there is memorials of the discovery of America. It is all a reminder of the dreams and disappointments, joys and pains that have happened here, and which happens everywhere there is life. The life of this small neighborhood, San Julian, moves like an anthill. The heart of the neighborhood is at a square and in a mansion built in 1775, precisely for an “Indian” (a poor person who became rich by trade in America). He became rich by wood trading, and he demolished 70 homes to generate Pumarejo square and the mansion. (Link) This mansion was to become home to more than 60 families from the year 1930 until today. With the ideology of development and modernity EU funds made the Urban Plan 1994- 1999. It was supposed to upgrade the condition of the neighborhood and attract new residents.
In 2000, a number of residents of the mansion received the news that a new owner wished to make a hotel out of the building. The owner pressured the residents to leave, which they refused. People began to meet to give the mansion and the residents their support. Children, friends, neighbors, shop owners and many more met. This was how the association of Casa del Pumarejo was founded.
(2000) The three core ideas of the struggle were: reuse, rehabilitate and revitalize. Insistently. The senior residents were open to all kinds of new people in the mansion: artists from the neighborhood, political movements, squatters, and university professors. Everyone brought their knowledge and skills to prevent the eviction of the residents and the loss of a cultural value: coexistence. It was a fight against powerful politicians and their financial speculations.
(2003) The first initiative of the association was to carrying out a study of the history of the mansion to get a declaration of Cultural Interest (link). There was a diversity of contributions, that each was incorporated in the study. The historical knowledge and the relevance of the context allowed the possibility of another understanding of what was happening. It made the passive readers into “active players” of their own history. We started building a new vocabulary. We were not comfortable with the old meanings and began to polish what made them feel bad or misunderstood. We realized that the concept of “a neighbor” had to be transformed. There is so much diversity within the platform that you cannot accept a classical view of neighbor. New residents who had lived in the neighborhood 10 or 15 years were not considered part of this concept. This unintended mixture of people began to have its own “content”. Everyone was included, young or old, born in the neighborhood or not. All are related and live by the same “goodness”. It is something that is still under construction, but it is very clear about what opponents: the disappearance of the lived life; the culture of a neighborhood, all for the sake of economical speculation.
(2005) Rocio Pozo explains it: “And the bonds which are created between the growing numbers of members of the association are like the hedge mustard on the rooftop, growing without any planning. The emotional feeling of a community is essential to have in mind when analyzing the social relationships of the association. “What is relevant is all about creating a community of affections.” Other neighbors who came to Pumarejo for several reasons: to convey the conflicts in the square, because of the presence of homeless people, some with drug abuse problems, to stop evictions and expulsions of local business owners. The mansion became a reference for many people in the neighborhood. It became a space for a new model of action.
(2009) The struggle weakened. Social movements subsided. The feeling of exhaustion spread because of the ongoing fights with official administrations and political parties. We did not want to respond to the provocations, which came from the authorities. We returned to the meetings, debates between us and the rest of the society. We realized that the difference between public and private institutions is false, both attacked us and the result became the common.
(2010) It was one year before the arrival of the social movement 15M and we gathered new strength together with movements as Decrecimiento and PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca) among others. They were young people with other ideas and values. It coincided with unresolved internal conflicts within the association of Pumarejo e.g. conflicts of how to discuss the concept of “economy”. All the efforts of the first nine years were “non-profit”, everything was done without an economic interest. We were “altruistic”, first as a choice and then by “obligation”. Everything reminded us “money corrupts everything”. At the same time the people who had defended and helped build the mansion house were forced to go because of unemployment. The common was no longer only about the mansion, but also about the people who lived there and gave it its life. Every part forms a unit.
In 2012, the social currency, el Puma, was created with people from Pumarejo and Decrecimiento. A new phase of value creation arose as needed. It was not meant as a substitute currency to the euro, but as a tool to expose our riches: community trust and abundance. It has been a debate between two new concepts: The support and those who care. They emerged separately and have been integrated into one another. Some people choose their life as a means of learning, to question the given, to open the heart to the passion of the blood, a refusal to open slavery and like that, see new ways and movements. They do not want to be martyrs, militants, or experts. They simply wish to recognize their nature and the ecosystem where they happen to live. In the moments of pain and imbalances it is not just a matter of good or bad faith, is a matter of knowledge, an openness to the new, a diversity of natures and characters, an ability to live with an uncertainty future. It is not only the need for affection, but also an ability to understand the reality that surpasses us in the time and space we live in. Only reality can wake us when our nature is not allowed to jump or to be developed. This awakening does not happen from a speech, from an ideology, a religion, or from science. It comes as a vital shock where everyone has to either confront or subordinated to the given.
Maybe we are a group of artists from the cultural – politics does not attract us. Money does not attract us and we have no interest in individualism. What draws us is something more subtle, which flies in the air as seeds, as the days of spring that surrounds us with a light, a heat, and a smell. We awaken each day to life. Maybe we are making time for you, the reader, to join the process. We cannot do alone, indeed, it would not be “good”: healthy, useful, or correct. We cannot do the same as what we are criticizing: running, accelerating, with anger toward others, making demands and, and damaging our nature. Maybe we are still asking questions that nobody dare to say aloud and only life can help to answer.
We do not know how it is, but we know it exists, has existed before us and we do not see a virtual reality that can cope. A balloon is punctured only by our presence. We have a consciousness, with our cause, which brings out the distinction between reality and appearance. Maybe we are another “cause”, full of art, which promotes for a new era, a new ideology where measures are exceeded and accounted. There are events that have already says, “we have succeed”: We restored the courtyard of the mansion as a response to the permission of changes from the city hall administration. The clock is put back in its place. An era has begun to degrade, the consumer capitalism, and a new one has begun. We cannot answer with capitalist words, concepts, tools, standards, laws, or systems. They created the problem and now we need new tools. Our weapon are words loaded with values. These comes from a fusion between action and reflection. We are still creating these words, therefore, we do not like the present discourse. We are not yet prepared, mature, or with enough diversity within us to cover the whole, they want to expel. What we done is not ready to leave the house. It is for the neighborhood, for the city and humanity. We are now in the stage of “feel and think.”
The mechanical system do not know us, because we are particles or waves. Life will follow. We are, and this is now, ready for many other understandings of lived experience.
Collective work. Corrected and polished by Nora Daoud and Jorge Ollero Peran. Written by Salvador Garcia Guerrero.