Barcelona Vignettes

Barcelona Vignettes

By Ibnar A. Stratibus




Seems, feels to me, the biggest sensation I bring back to these “States” with me is the word “Proximity” and what it stands for. I sense that there is importance and possibly even a {now} cultural desire for labeling, and “Proximity” is an excellent choice for the paradigm shift that is underway. It’s a “catchy” word whose basic definition reaches far and wide and requires contextual definition. Perfectly fitting the need for a powerful descriptor, a sharp rubric, branding efforts both Locally and Globally. “Municipal Libertarianism” is both long & mysterious, requiring a good deal of study of what it refers to. “Direct Democracy” appears to have traction, but the phrase falls flat with me, and is too keyed in to the now diluted word “Democracy”. By definition, the core essence of proximity is in relationships and in this usage, it obliterates hierarchical imbalances by looking in a way that is kin to scientific study/research/analysis at the dynamic of collaboration & effect/outcome.



heilo {ice}

Hot, Mediterranean Hot, a curious mixture of arid and moist, thick air, bright light practically reflecting the midday sun in all directions from courtyard walls, yet shade from a densely planted Arboretum with numerous palms & ponds captures and partially obscures spattered clusters of rebels, a constant murmur, shy~less smiles, a relaxed and conversationally constructive siesta, a midday break before the afternoon workshops here at this first “Fearless Cities” Global conference.

My first refreshment following the afternoon workshop sessions, a cup heavily laden with whiskey and “heilo”, ~ice~, a happy hand tipped the bottle long, providing much to share.

Sitting in the shade of the courtyard arcade, we relish the excitement, boundaryless, within and around, the burble of chatter continuous, as are smiles and gesticulations.



Six Hundred, Plus

Six Hundred people and about twice as many hands, applauding the presence, the tireless work and accomplishments of the lovely & powerful Bea Bookchin.

Sitting here at the Universitat Barcelona, in a Chapel, a most extraordinary feeling, a completely unique event, to fill this gilded, arching space with Global Rebels who are transforming governments, bringing governing back to the People.



Catalonian Neighborhood

Though the neighborhood is packed firmly, and crumbling too, the perimeter avenue that defines the north~eastern limit of the “hood”, travels along one side of a park, lush with green growth.  Rising upon the final bend of the hill~which is really a geological “bowl” with the neighborhood packed within~ our favorite little restaurant “Mala Hierba” is perched. Once the garage for the Neighborhood’s first public transit company, established in 1925, the company name still remains painted along the tall, flat, plastered frieze.

Plants are placed out front, canopies are rolled out for lunch, and a little sidewalk park with two benches and tree welcome respite; as does the angle of the road slanting up to the park, and down along the building, directly joining the main carrer, ever present with mopeds, often carrying two.

The restaurant staff, most welcoming of our luggage and excitement, reveal extra smiles and attention to our searching attempts to request delicacies in their native Catalan tongue.



 Before Seeing

Before seeing stone stalactite designs mortored by deft hands into arched ceilings of bridge walkway colonnades, before seeing mosaics of ceramic tile on undulating and continuous park benches, and shocked zombie like tourists with cameras slung from neck cords held in stunned, frozen hands, dirt paths firmly packed by countless feet, we meander on an early morning track into and through Parc Güell. A man, alone, in worn shorts and threadbare shirt, barefooted, leans sideways into a yogic stretch before the sun rising over the Mediterranean sea. We hear heavy hand-held tools clanking stone, masons at work on one of the numerous rock stairways cascading the hill. Here, we turn, and beginning to descend into an olfactory sensation, a bouquet of sweet complexity arises in one full word: “fecund”.



Seen and Unseen

A cab hailed, an abrupt turn to the curb, doors opened and accepting, but for the driver’s side door. Why? Because this happy traveler has a cup of whiskey tonic on ice in hand. Comprehending the temporary dilemma, the contents are gulped down completely, and the cup rushed to and deposited in a nearby recycling receptacle –they are ever present here in Barcelona. My friendly attempts to communicate observations with the cab driver are quietly tolerated, attention to driving made operatively apparent, yet the back-seaters, my two companions, easily engage in conversation with our pilot, so I quietly listen with a momentous smile brought on by the shared whiskey moments in the arcade and courtyard just prior to our dash to the cab.



An in-depth study can be found in “Culture and Urban Policies: Dynamics and Effects of Cultural Third Sector Interventions in Barcelona”, by Nicolás Barbieri, Xavier Fina and Joan Subirats




Share Our Message

Author: Genese Grill

Genese Grill is the editor of 05401PLUS.