(The Ecoterritories as a proposal to stay in Alto Fucha)
By Jhody Sánchez: Bachelor in Biology, member of Huertopia Collective and inhabitant of Alto Fucha.
Photo Credit: Huertopía
The Ecoterritory is the proposal that we have built to remain in our neighborhoods before the threat of tourist and real estate projects. The Ecoterritory is based on the Eco-neighborhoods that, in the words of Álvarez (2010) “are proposed as an action of propositional resistance to the policies of ordering the current eastern hills and policies and/or resettlement programs where are not taking into account: the community identity, relations with the territory, socioeconomic conditions, the right to decent housing and the right to be recognized as part of the city ”.
This is the root of the Ecoterritory, however, maintaining the category of the Eco-neighborhood is leading to fragmented struggles in defense of the territory. As the category suggests, the concept is reduced to the "neighborhood", despite the fact that there are common practices, territorial conflicts and proposals to inhabit the area. For this reason, we have decided to adopt the Ecoterritory. Although it starts from specific characteristics of the place, what prevails is to recognize the commonality of our neighborhoods, their connection with the mountains, and thus enhance the struggles and maintain our sense of being in a common territory.
In the same way, the Eco-neighborhood, in addition to promoting a fragmented idea of territorial struggles, also presupposes the fragmented idea of the ecosystem. Therefore, the Ecoterritory in its planning must take into account the ecosystem dynamics and biodiversity, understand the connection between the different hydric, mountainous and trophic systems of the hills. In other words, the Ecoterritory takes into account other forms of life other than human. For this reason, its base lies in an ethic of caring for life that promotes sustainable strategies of living.
This ethics of caring for life must necessarily start from an anti-patriarchal principle. In other words, they are based on respect for all forms of life: biological, cultural and sexual diversity, strengthening horizontal relationships. As well as aiming at consensual decision-making and not self-proclaimed spokespersons that generate unnecessary internal tensions that disorient common struggles.
Also, the Ecoterritorio, is dreamed and built by the inhabitants without ignoring the state investment, for this reason, in the Ecoterritorios it is the value of use of the inhabitants of the hills, which must prevail over the exchange value. The above, taking into account Marx when he affirms that use value has no value, other than for use and does not acquire reality except in consumption or enjoyment (Marx, 1890). In the case of Alto Fucha, what is in tension is that the use values of the inhabitants are in what David Harvey calls the “life support system”, the use value in its everyday sense “is outside the sphere of the political economy". On the contrary, construction companies create use values for others in order to achieve exchange values for themselves.
Each actor conceives the use value in a different way, that is why the Ecoterritory insists on giving relevance to the use value of the inhabitants of the hills, taking into account that: “Space is a use value, but even more so it is time, with which it is intimately linked, because time is our life, our fundamental use value. Time has disappeared in the social space of modernity. The lived time loses its form and social interest except for working time. The economic space subordinates time, while the political space eradicates it, since it is threatening the existing power relations ”(Lefebvre, 1976).
So, a use value that satisfies the needs of enjoyment or subsistence, such as that of the inhabitants of the hills of Bogotá, cannot be converted into merchandise with mechanisms such as the Ecotourism or real estate projects that are to be carried out through Administrative Territorial Planning.
The main reason why it is the use value and not the exchange value that prevails, is that the Ecoterritories preserve dreams, stories and feelings from the individual and the collective, which generate topophilia, which is that feeling that links human beings to those places with which, for one reason or another, they feel identified. But even Yory (2003) goes further, stating that topophilia is stronger for those who have never had anything (the poor and excluded) and who therefore conserve and defend as their only property; after all, “the sense of belonging” is nothing more than a cultural self-affirmation and, thus, a kind of “declaration of existence” (Ibid 2003). So beyond the emotionality that is reduced to an individual psychological perspective, topophilia is proposed as an ontological experience, of the subject, "being in the world."
Thus, in the face of the latent threat of eviction and destruction of the ecosystem of the hills by the district and private megaprojects, the Commission in Defense of the Alto Fucha Territory proposes the Ecoterritories as a response to remain and be in the world. In the eastern hills of Bogotá, this construction was conceived through neighborhood assemblies where the feelings of a large part of the inhabitants were collected, and which were specified in what we have called the "Alto Fucha Alternative Ecoterritorial Plan", which It is organized in two axes:
Transversal Axes: These are principles that run through the whole of the proposal. They are the basic points that allow establishing the scenarios of trust between the community and institutions for the materialization of the proposals. Interventions cannot be built in the territory if it is not based on: the guarantee of permanence of the inhabitants in the territory and of community participation with impact.
The guarantee of permanence, from the point of view of the Commission, can be given through compliance with the following points:
1. No construction of any touristic projects, such as the “Fucha river linear park” or the “Butterfly Pathway”. From our position, these projects are strategies of the institutions and private entities to displace the inhabitants of the territory, using arguments such as the "enjoyment of public space" or "the conservation of the environment", which we consider contradictory, since it is intended implement intensive tourism.
2. We do not recognize as correct the characterizations in terms of risk, or the level of the effects declared in the territory by the various institutions of the local government. Again, from our position, these effects are mitigable if there is institutional investment and will.
3. We do not agree with the construction of real estate projects of any kind, taking into account the environmental conservation nature of the territory, which is part of the Adequacy Strip, declared by the ruling of the National State Council on November 5, 2013.
4. Effectively comply with the ruling of the National State Council of November 5, 2013, regarding the rights acquired and the permanence of the historic inhabitants of the territory.
On the other hand, incident community participation is perhaps the main flaw in the formulation of land use planning. This is due to the fact that citizen participation mechanisms such as the “Territorial District Planning Councils”, “Local Planning Councils”, “Citizen Meetings” and socialization sessions, do not guarantee citizen and community agreement. Consensus must be between social, economic, territorial and urban interests, through direct participation. The purpose of the agreement will be to ensure the effectiveness of public policies with regard to overcoming the needs and aspirations, primarily of the community; since as a community we have inhabited the territory historically. In the second instance, the other actors related to the planning of the local and district territory must be taken into account.
1. Family Habitat: Comprehensive legalization, structural improvement of homes, relocation on site.
2. Community Habitat, public and popular environment, right to territory: risk mitigation, installation and comprehensive adaptation of public services, construction and improvement of public and community space, and improvement of roads.
3. Socioeconomic Habitat: income generation, solidarity economy, coexistence and ethics.
Since no government institution has fully accepted this legitimate proposal, built by the community, from these axes in a self-managed way, we have been walking autonomously that utopia that we have called Ecoterritories.