In Chile, street parties are connecting people to policymakers

The bohemian district of Bellavista is holding a tea party in the street this Friday to discuss the creation of a heritage zone in the heart of the capital.  

This Friday evening, as the restaurants of Bellavista draw crowds from all over Santiago and bands begin playing in the barrio’s  jazz clubs, residents of Calle Gutenberg will cordon off the street to throw their own block party.
But don’t expect the kind of boisterous behavior common in the bars that spill out onto nearby  Pío Nono; the locals plan to set out tables in the middle of the street, sit down for once  and discuss how best to preserve their much-loved district.
The meeting will be the second of six to be held among the street murals and adobe houses of Bellavista, as residents discuss the impact of a proposal to make their neighborhood a heritage zone.
The project is called Malón Urbano, and it already has the support of UNESCO. Organized by local NGOs Ciudad Emergente (Emerging City) and Ciudad Viva (Living City), the project has also brought together neighborhood groups and social clubs of traditionally artistic community of Bellavista.
Malón Urbano will bring the community together to talk about how to preserve and improve the unique character of the neighborhood. It’s a chance to listen, discuss, share, and enjoy some good times with your neighbors,” Javier Vergara, founder of Ciudad Emergente, told ThisisChile.
Malón Urbano’s first get together was held on Calle Bombero Nuñez on March 2 and drew over 250 people, including a group of cumbia-playing violinists and a troupe of actors. Organizers are promising more of the same this time around.
“The party will have musicians, games for kids, and creative and productive spaces where the plan is to celebrate the diversity of Bellavista, creating new bonds of trust between people and transforming the perception of the street,” organizers say.
It begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30, and runs until 10:00 p.m. Organizers have extended an invitation to tourists and locals alike… that is, on the single condition they bring a plate of food to share.
For more information, see the Malón Urbano website.