Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Community in Action!

Strolling around Vigo this week, I notice that this city is following the example of the regional capital and trying to have as many roadworks as possible around in as many streets as possible. At the Puerta del Sol a lone phone box stands in the middle of a pile of rubble. The way past the roadworks is so narrow that I find it hard to stride along at my usual I'm-on-my-way-somewhere pace!

Meanwhile, the street leading up to Plaza de la Constitucion which saw processions on Good Friday is almost completely blocked. So is the other road leading to the library on the corner. The club de lectura which I attend in the library basement had to change rooms this evening as there was so much noise from the digger in the street outside.

Signs inform us that all of this is
mellorando o futuro. It may well be doing great things to improve the future, but it's playing havoc with the present!

In other parts of the centre, however, more positive action is taking place. At the junction of Principe, Urzaiz and Colon on Monday there appeared a strange collection of boxes and workmen were clearly setting up some kind of display. The only hint was the name Caixa Galicia, one of the local banks, on some of the material. By today, Wednesday, it had turned into an art work of a kind, appealing for us all to get involved in voluntary action, in recycling and generally making Vigo a better place.

As I walked home from the library this evening, I met a small demonstration on Principe. The
demonstrators were asking passers-by to sign a petition against the relocation of the Escuela de Artes y Oficios, a local art school. I am afraid I did not stop to ask for the arguments one way or the other but they seemed to be getting a fair amount of support from the strollers and shoppers.

And then, coming to the Urzaiz end of Principe, I heard the sound of the gaita, the Galician bagpipes.

Musicians in regional costume played.

Girls and young women in swirling skirts danced in pairs and in formation.

An appreciative crowd applauded.

A local drunk tried to join in but was dissuaded from doing so.

Finally, after the last dances h
ad finished, a man in an apron came forward and addressed the crowd. This had not been a tourist attraction nor a random idea to amuse the people out on a paseo. These were people from the Organizacion de Asociaciones de Vecinos, the local residents associations which serve as a kind of community education service, providing leisure activities for people of all ages and useful courses to retrain if you are unemployed.

This colourful display was to remind the vigueses and viguesas that they need to support these organisations and he asked everyone to consider giving a little of their time to make community action continue. The crowd applauded politely once again. It remains to be seen how many take any notice!

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