Above the neighborhood, at the foot of Collserola

Collserola has given shelter to human communities since the dawn of time. The work of many generations has created a dense mosaic of pastures, woods, fountains, streams, vineyards, orchards and houses, but, since the beginning of the twentieth century, excessive growth of former villages and infrastructure construction have degraded the hills and condemned them to a dangerous isolation.

However, almost 9,000 hectares have remained relatively well preserved until today. In the shadows grow alder, willow, ash, poplars along the banks of streams. Weasels and doves take refuge in the pines, and the owls, snakes and wild boars breed among the oaks. In the scrubland, warblers and rabbits hide from the cyclists. Between roads and developments, the most recent growers look over their organic gardens, while hikers stop to make a for a bite to eat near the restored chapels … the mountain is alive!

Since late 2001, the valley of Can Masdeu it has gone back to the typical Mediterranean landscape that characterizes the area. Its relative isolation and the recovery of agriculture and forestry have revived the area as an important bird sanctuary along with the micro and macro fauna associated with that, especially around the creeks of Santa Eulalia and Can Masdeu, surrounded by dense vegetation cover of plants and wild grasses, and a pine forest dotted with oaks, carob and lime. Can Masdeu, which was a farmhouse for centuries was transformed into a leper colony early last century. It is now a self-managed agro-ecological project.

If its not collaborative, it’s not our revolution

However idyllic the description of this small ecosystem may sound, we have no wish to be the last village in Gaul. Our defense of the valley does not seek its immaculate preservation as a museum in the middle of a sea of ​​tarmac, we seek its sound management as an agroforestry project. And so from day one we the brotherhood and mutual support of those around us, especially in three areas: the local neighbourhood, the Collserola Natural Parkand the social movements.

More...In the neighborhood we have joined a dense fabric of associations, with whom we have experienced intensely the pride of the neighborhood and joy of the street. In the squares of Nou Barris, as well as with co-Horta, we have participated in talks, squats, fairs, paellas and assemblies. We cooked soups in Via Júlia, we played volleyball, we have dropped in to the Carnival, we have joined the parade for La Cultura va de Festa and have put on a climbing workshop in feasts of Canyelles. Perhaps this is summed up in one of the conclusions from the conference on management of land classified as ‘equipment’ in the neighbourhood of Nou Barris (2004), which states, unanimously, that “the valley of Can Masdeu is more ‘district’ than ‘equipment’.”

Links with other social movements are as diverse as the people who are part of the projects of the valley, but we especially highlight the struggle for food sovereignty, against Genetic Modificationor to stop climate change. In fact, Can Masdeu was founded in order to host a gathering of activists against climate change in March 2002. This gathering, co-organised with Rising Tide brought together about 200 people from around the world. .

Our early history has a lot to do with the anti-globalisation and anti-capitalist movement, especially the demonstrations against the Europe of Capital during the summit of heads of state of the EU in March 2002, and the repression of demonstrations against the G8 summit in Evian (2004), particularly in response to the serious police assault on a colleague during a nonviolent direct action in Aubonne.

We have also participated in and participate in the defense of urban and rural areas, such as the now defunct social centers: Miles de Viviendas, La Hamsa and Les Naus, or the eviction of Artozki village during the formation of the Itoiz reservoir, as well as actions against the Fòrum de les Cultures, Mayday, massive demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq or the various movements for decent housing.

These roads, its branches and junctions, has led us to engage in the creation of networks such as the agro-ecological network or networks of rural squatting. More recently, we have been heavily involved in the mobilizations of 11M o en l’onada indignada del 15M and the 19J protests of the ‘indignados’ movement. But above all we are dedicated to the fine print, inside and outside the house, experimenting and disseminating tools related to free education, responsible consumption, urban agriculture, facilitation of processes or self-management of health.[/more]

Redefining the use and ownership: whose is Can Masdeu?

Everything started in the cold Christmas of 2001. A few hours after the occupation, the Hospital de Sant Pau started criminal proceedings against us which resulted a few months later in an unsuccessful attempt to evict us (2002). During the non-violent and theatrical resistance the City came under pressure and stated that “the criminal proceedings are not appropriate”. Words blown away by their continued persistance in attempting to remove us.

More...After three days of siege, to the degradation of the health of those who resisted by suspending themselves from the walls (who had been refused water, shelter or food), Judge Porras stated that “the right to life comes above the right to property “… and suspended the eviction.Despite the joy of the hundreds of people who had resistanced, the Board of the Hospital requested the eviction be repeated “with the staff and means necessary” ignoring the judge himself, who acknowledged that Can Masdeu is a project of social use and that criminal proceedings were inadvisable. This vision was soon ratified by both the Provincial Court and the Office of Catalonia. The board ignored this and took the case to the end, retiring only at the last moment to avoid a trial in which they would have ended up losing.

Of course, immediately after this they presented a civil law suit, persisting in their attempts to seek a legal and repressive solution to the conflict. In February 2005, the district court of Barcelona stated that the trustees have the right to regain the use of the building but, recognizing the legitimacy of the current project, it urged the parties “to agree”. Since then, we live under the threat of possible eviction. This eviction has probably not been carried out due to a combination of factors: the bursting of the housing bubble, the declaration of Natural Park, the lack of profitable alternative use for the building and, above all, the legitimacy of the current project and extensive networks of support that sustain it.But there has been no lack of been projects for in the valley. In the 90s there were plans to transfer the zoo here.

Although a project that came closer to fruition was the plan to build a jail. The Coordinated Neighborhood Associations and Institutions of Nou Barris opposed the project, as the prison “would complete the defeat of the North Collserola, an area historically mistreated for thirty years.” Another plan that has come closer to realisation was a private residential area for retired doctors affiliated with the College of Physicians of Catalonia. In fact, the attempted eviction (May 2002) brings to light this elitist project (the recipients would be part of a social sector with high purchasing power), which would involve the partial urbanization of the valley. This plan is implicated in the “Layetana Inmobiliaria” case, which eventually lead to the Hospital de Sant Pau being on trial for “violation” of the agreement and of receiving 2 million Euros of indemnity, along with the construction firms Guinovart-Osha and EMTE, both under the watch of the CiU party. Later, the PSC’s manifesto for the municipal elections of 2007 included a proposal to convert the Hospital de Sant Llatzer into an “access center and a youth hostel in the Collserola” within a remodeling of the valley “as a forest park like that of Oreneta en Sarria-Sant Gervasi”.

This is back to front logic. Those who left Can Masdeu derelict for half a century enjoy favorable legislation and appear in court as ‘accusers’ and victims of an attack on property rights. And those who have opened rehabilitated and revitalized space, not for profit or money, happen to be the ‘defendants’, alleged criminals pursued by criminal, civil proceedings and, in both cases, police. To break with this logic, we have maintained from the first day a tug of war with the Board of the Hospital de Sant Pau, led by the Muy Ilustre Administración (Very Illustrious Administration) (MIA), an institution under the financial control of the Government, the City of Barcelona and the Diocese. We have denounced the careless abandon, speculation, opacity and vertical management with which the Board manages its vast property holdings (including a complaint that was, for the first time in a similar situation, properly presented, but ultimately unsuccessful). A heritage that includes Can Masdeu but also Sant Llàtzer, a hospital that rises just behind the squatted building of the former leper colony but has never served as a hospital and has been empty for over 60 years.

10 years after our complaint, time has proven us right and brought to light the corruption of Sant Pau. corruption Sant Pau. A scandal that, in essence, uncovers the neoliberal tactic of externalising costs on society and privatizing profits, in this case by the trick of separating hospital management from heritage management into two different boards. Thus, the hospital must apply cuts but the heritage assets, despite coming from donations made for centuries to finance care for the sick, are ignored. That being said, it would be scandalous to try to plug the holes in their business by selling this unique property full of life, since their heritage includes1500 properties! … starting with the abandoned Hospital de Sant Llàtzer.[/more]