In an effort to combat community isolation and “fear of the other” Ciudad Emergente the Santiago-based social enterprise that focuses on enhancing public space through tactical urbanism, developed a Malón Urbano or Urban Potluck. The simple idea of sharing a meal with neighbours has created real change at the community level.
In a recent study, it was estimated that over half of the population of Santiago, Chile does not engage with its neighbours beyond a gesture or a wave. The limited involvement in community life can perpetuate urban loneliness and a mistrust of others. The Urban Potluck is a light, quick and cheap action that seeks to trigger a long-term change in the way we engage our neighbors.
Getting an urban potluck up and running can be relatively simple. The aim is to invite the neighbors to share a meal with a typical tradition of a potluck and meet, inform and discuss agendas and comprehensive long-term goals that influence the quality of life of people. With the help of a 10-step toolkit provided through CEM, the tactic can be replicated anywhere. The toolkit also provides stencils, post cards and poster templates to help spread the word.
So far, 9 potlucks have taken place across Santiago, Valparaiso and Antofagasta. Beyond sharing a meal, people were given the opportunity to discuss ideas for improving their neighborhoods. The exercise produced discussion on creating heritage zones, addressing problems with waste and recycling and on ways to improve the use of public space.
Through the urban potluck, neighbours across various communities have engaged one another by sharing a meal at a common table. The breaking of bread is not only a way to find a common ground but leads to creating an open dialogue between groups of people that may not otherwise communicate.
All photos courtesy of Ciudad Emergente