Recently he has published “The Neighborhoods Vitorianas” of the Collective Egin Ayllu, a book that encourages us to “get down to work in the exciting task of autoorganizarnos, for the present and the future of our neighborhoods to decide their own neighborhoods.”
For more than six centuries, the people living Vitoria, in a context in which they had to face major risks and weaknesses in their daily lives to survive, were able to self-organise and build a community neighborhood -the neighborhoods vitorianas – with which, without the intervention or dependency on institutional power whatsoever, to do in front of the collective and through mutual support in the challenges that survival asked.
However, the historiography has not paid sufficient attention to basic issues that are addressed in these pages: his impact on the lives of those people, the reasons that led to its creation and, subsequently, to its decline and disappearance.
When the collective neighborhood of Old victorian called Egin Ayllu was raised this book, his goal could not be other than to fix the gaze in different cultures, times and latitudes to see to what extent the forms of community organization have been a constant in History. Each time the authorities have had to respond to their needs and dreams have used something as basic as pure common sense and the tools that are more typical: the solidarity, the work and the feast shared.
For many of the people that for years we met in the streets and cantons of the Old town gasteiztarra, trying to push and collectively build the dream of a neighborhood made by all and for togive that in him we live, work, or chose to socializarnos, we always had a result eye-catching to know, through the few references which we came, that, several centuries ago, the people neighbors that have lived in this same place, when Gasteiz not covered beyond what is today knownmos Alde Zaharra, were able to organize through that which was called the Neighborhoods vitorianas. However, little did we know about this figure of neighborhood organization.
Among those few references that we came, that commonly appeared was that relates to any Neighbourhood with his patron or employer concerned, the image of the same which is still preserved in some façade, or its attempt of recovery… along with the religious celebration that is trying to recover in his honor. And, in our case, there was this reference to something that we were precisely interested by the question.
But our curiosity grew so much when we hear discuss them with longing at the prologue writer of this book, Rafa Ruiz of Zárate, as when some years ago we met the work carried out by Alberto Frias  in which, after a general description of what had course the Neighborhoods vitorianas, he concluded by defining them as:
Honored example of management without sophistications, natural and sincere, a bit of a craft, like all of the time, but by the same token, developed impulses of feeling and the need of every moment that is not to the sectoral interests. A form of participatory management, in direct contact with the citizen, with the street.
Both in that paragraph of their conclusions, as in other sections of the work from Cold, appeared evident some of the basic components of what could be considered a community, neighborhood, and given that in Egin Ayllu from our own name (a mixture of basque and quechua that means “to do community”) is committed to help foster that community neighborhood in Alde Zaharra, the try and know more thoroughly the history of the Neighborhoods vitorianas went on to be considered a necessary thing to address. And we decided to get to it.
But, initially, our objective was limited to trying to know in more detail the ins and outs of this form of neighborhood organization to, beeftasting all the positive aspects it may have, make them widely available to the population (in a very special way to the people of the neighborhood), learn from them the likely contributions that may pose, or incorporated into the proposals for momentum and launch it today in a community neighborhood in Alde Zaharra.
However, to the extent that we started to tackle the task, we soon realized that this issue (which we maintain as a central objective of this work) had to add other aspects related to the history of the Neighborhoods that, although secondary as a goal, merecyan is worth to be known. We explain now.
Our first task after gathering information on the Neighborhoods, consisted in collecting texts (academic or not) that would have addressed the issue. It was not difficult to find many works in which, with greater or lesser size and depth, dealt with the matter by a group of teachers and professors of the Department of Medieval History, Modern America of the UPV/EHU (DHMMA), who, in addition, included in their studies, quotations and/or references to other works deşrados, generally, for components of that group of teachers. These studies opened many doors for more in-depth knowledge of the Neighborhoods vitorianas… but we also generated doubts, incertidumbres and even surprises.
In our quest to meet the greatest number of details possible sobre the form of organization of the Neighborhoods vitorianas, we intended to obtain data, but also diverse interpretations: on their origin, the reasons that they were able to bring the population to its creation, its impact on the daily life of those people, the role they could play within the socio-political structure of the City, etc, etc, And, however, what we found as a common denominator in these texts (except for exceptionalpurposes, there was a reading almost single on an issue that, as we know more details, we are showing with a horizon multi-colored interpretations.
We called attention, to give but two examples, that none of these people historians1 (at least in what refers to their texts more divulgativos, which are the ones that we primarily used in this work) is to ask for the true source of the Neighborhoods, starting all of them your analysis on the same in the document of the Ordinances of the Neighborhoods of 1483, as if this was the cause of its origin, while, however, in it he says clearly that Vitoria “was put and starting for the Neighborhoods of the old days this part”. The serious consequence of this is that the work to try to understand this popular organization, not based on an analysis of the reasons for the emergence and development of the Neighborhoods, but that they start from a fact much later, and perhaps the source of its further decline: the ‘management’ regulations for the then newly-created municipal power which, as we shall see, can be considered the first of the attempts to ‘model’ the neighborhood organization to the taste and service of institutional power.
Surprising as well same to us was the fact that their work rarely take into account a possible direct relationship between the form of neighborhood organization that was in Vitoria with a reality, the basque, which was not only inserted geographically. That surprise was based on the contrast with the studies of others (many of them also of the ‘academic field’), according to which the population vitorian shared with his environment, in addition to language (the basque, in the case of the popular classes), values, uses and customs, traditions and other features, clear indicators of a likely common culture. All this without forgetting that the root of this emergence is found in something as simple as common sense: the need of people to self-organise to cope with the requirementsneeds and gaps that could not be covered individually. That’s why, as we will see, popular organisations similar in the basics have been given in different cultures and in different historical moments, but each one has been enriched with the popular customs of their own.
The above are only two examples of the confusion that sometimes cause us the texts of the historians, but throughout this work we will find more. Fortunately, in the midst of that bewilderment, dimos with some reflection that helped us to understand the situation, and that, although extensive for an introduction, we want to share:
[…] the applicant to know and understand the historical truth is found with which modern historians of the last century, when it is assumed that it began to be constructed the History as a science, they write about the same events in function of their tendencies, your school, your generation, of your appetite for personal, fashion or from the constraints of his own ideology. (…) With all this, the neophyte is in right now) with an obvious conclusion: there is not a single absolute truth in history, nor is there a single point of view
[…] When the neophyte begins to navigate the deep waters of the Medieval History, the matter is more complicated still. Not only had great characters which flatter and enhance, or to insult and humiliate, according to the case, also had masses anonymous (…) the masses and forgotten by the chroniclers fabuladores of alleged stories, relegated to the corner of the memory, not even present as the backdrop to the scenario in which you moved the main characters (…) Dazzled by the construction of a “scientific history” the historian is not to be wondered, or even cared about it, what feelings were pounding behind each packing slip, what interests between the lines of every royal privilege, which ambitions in the amounts of cold and almost always manipulated and falsified the books of accounts.
[…] The “scientific history” is not understood, even rejected by ahistorical, that the lives of the men and women of the middle ages was full of feelings, fears and illusions. Anchored in the old idea of interpreting the facts, a monotema repetitive and recurrent, historiography, traditional of the Middle Ages was relegated to the interpretation, and avoiding to open new approaches more enriching and, above all, more dynamic.
Corral Lafuente, 2004
No, or much less, move directly to these ‘accusations’ to the group of historians that, as we have already said, we have opened the door to the knowledge of the Neighborhoods, that reflection, the more doubts we have already mentioned, led us, from the daring of our ignorance of historiográfico (like, to some, bordering on reckless) to take the risk of trying to do a re-reading of the history of the Neighborhoods (providing the biggest ‘endorsement documentary’ possible that we could get) with our own interpretations of the facts, and, above all, on the basis of one premise: that such re-reading was not going to be for nothing neutral or objective, but that it was going to be primarily based on emphasize in a special way all the positive I could have had this neighborhood organization2, especially in those issues from the ‘academic sector’ unless they had thusto emphasize, in such a way that our possible excesses could serve as a balance to the ‘absences ‘ academic’, promoting with all of this that the cobad of deadly (we insist in a very special way the neighborhood of the neighborhood, because just thinking about him, we find meaning to this work) might have more data and opinions to develop their own conclusions.
To do this we decided to resort to new sources. On the one hand, by going to the archives in search of original documents, to make our own choice about what’s important or revealing, so as to check whether they were possible different readings to which the academic texts they had. In this task we were of much help to the documents saved in the files public (especially the Municipal Archive), and although we have been able to see several dozens of documents, unfortunately we have not had access to a few others, are directly related to the Neighborhoods, by being still pending of classification. You may some day be able to tune more in the knowledge of these neighborhood organizations if you have them.
Some concrete data about the Neighborhoods we were going to findtrando, led us also to consider the opportunity to sort and classify them, to be able to ofrecéroslos, because with them you can enrich our knowledge about them, far beyond the data usually tends to publish: the patron saint or the patron saint who chose for his name.
We also felt it was time to go to other sources that we provide the criteria, data, and opinions with which to seek answers to questions that seem to us important: how are they organized societies and localcommunities in the vicinity of our environment?; what were common characteristics of their own that may arise as a result of a common culture?; what practices of solidarity veciend, mutual support, collective work, etc are given or are they given?; and away from ourtro environment, in other parts and cultures of the planet, are there references of popular organizations or neighborhood with similar characteristics?… Among those new sources, we want to highlight two that we have been particularly valid, both for the information that we have provided as for its general approach and objectives, which in so many things we share. We refer to the work of Raul Zibechi Territories in resistance. Mapping policy of the urban peripheries of Latin america, and Piotr Kropotkin mutual support. A factor of evolution.
Also, we thought that it was necessary to pause if only briefly to examine some of the other features of the live communicationsecretary of the basque people of those times. But not primarily to look at them with nostalgia or envy, but to see what and how much we can learn from them for a possible proposal for a community neighborhood in the actualidad. Between these community characteristics there are that point to two substances,pales: the ‘batzarre’ or ‘open council’ as a form of self-government popular, and the ‘auzolan’ or ‘sidewalk’ as a philosophy and tool working together. In this task we have been so useful as it is pleasing to find the work of two people, focusing each of them on one of these topics, have done so also with a point of view and a sensitivity that we consider to be very next to that we try to animate this text. We refer to the work of Jasone Mitxeltorena Auzolanaren kultura. Iraganaren ondarea, orainaren lanabesa, etorkizunaren giltza (focused on the auzolan), and Paul’s Tailor Batzarra, gure gobernua (focused on the batzarra). Of both texts, you will find numerous references in this work.
Thus, little by little, and with those changes discussed on the initial idea, was taking shape the work you now hold in your hands. It is divided into two great parties, to which we add a brief initial glossary of terms no longer in use, as well as annexes with specific data on the Neighborhoods and the texts of the Ordinances in Neighborhoods that are known.
In the first part we wanted to focus on the details of the historia of the Neighborhoods vitorianas, even where the documents, work of other authors and our interpretation of the facts we have let us come. It sets out in its first chapter that it is related to the origin of the Neighborhoods vitorianas, analyzing both the first Ordinances of the Neighborhoods in wtas as the reason for his approval.
In the second chapter delves into the dimension of Community seescinal that, after analysing the Neighborhoods vitorianas, we believe is present in the origin and development of this neighborhood organization. A question often addressed by academic analyses, which, however, seems to us to be basic to learn from the people that will one day populate our streets and the reasons and motivations that led them to organize in such a way.
The third chapter, the longest in the book, focuses on trying to corecognise the more concrete data of the Neighborhoods vitorianas throughout its history. It begins with a section that examines how many and what were, what characteristics did each of them, what day they celebrated their boards and their parties, what patron or patron had, how it was evolving its population… issues that add some curious information found in the documents and works consulted. After this, it focuses on the analysis of the form of government and the charges that had the Environs: together neighbourhood, foreman, sobremayorales, accountants and secretaries…, deteniéngifts in a special way in the figure of the overseer, to see if it was a ‘leader’ or a ‘server’ of the community neighborhood. Subsequently you will find a section dedicated to analyzing the evolution and demise of Neighborhoods, paying special attention to who, why and how they pushed for their demise (another of the issues least addressed by the historians, and not because of lack of documentation with which to perform the analysis on these issues).
To end this first part, we wanted to devote a special chapter, the fourth, to a question that seems particularly matter toyou: the party. In it we collect the data gathered on how to celebrate the Neighborhoods from its origin, and subsequent evolution. This festive aspect was practically the only content or task of the Neighborhoods that still survived well into the twentieth century, but by what has been seen in the neighborhood in recent years, there are signs clear that the party tradition of the Neighborhoods (on the upgraded model that offers “Zaharraz Harro”) is in the process of recovery.
The second part, by its side, open its field-of-view in the History of both out, as forward to end thinking in the future. So, in the fifth chapter we have tried to see if experiences of commonality similar to the Neighborhoods vitorianas have taken place throughout history in other parts of the world. At the same time, it has seemed to us advisable to analyze the possible relationship between Neighborhoods vitorianas and what we have called the ‘basque culture’.
The sixth chapter focuses on analyzing the communities, neighborhood and popular existing today, setting your gaze especially in some Latin american realities little-known, but some withrias decades of entrenchment, and with a similarity amazing with the type and forms of organization that occurred in the Neighborhoods vitorianas. We include in it also, very briefly, a look at the current reality of the communelismo in the Basque Country.
Finally, the seventh and last chapter, as it could not be otherwise in a collective that strives to intervene in a reality withcrete, the Old town gasteiztarra, we focus on, taking into account everything we’ve seen and analyzed above, making a call to retrieve the community neighborhood in the neighborhood. To do this we analyze the situation starting with that account, and we dare to let fly our imagination to launch a series of ideas on possible steps to take.
And what does all of this for what? Because, besides the reasons that have already been co –intended (try to find out realities and different dimensions on the historia of the Neighborhoods, enhance your vision on them, contextualize their existence and the reasons of its emergence, to investigate the reasons of their disappearance, be proud of a part of the story neighborhood this neighborhood…), the why of this work is above all to answer: try all of the above help us to think about the challenge of the future for the barrio consistent in getting to put in place a community neighborhood to be able to organize themselves to decide their future, protagonizándolo from the present.
A community neighborhood that we dream of open and plural, of assembly and solidarity, demands, and dynamic… and, of course, partying. But that sueño our, to become real, it must be shared by the rest, until withsensuar between all a collective dream, being necessary to do so to provide ideas and start discussions, address problems and seek solutions, and, above all, believe it and getting excited about your achievement, probably the best way to make a dream into reality.
For more than six centuries the people who inhabited these streets (these Neighborhoods) were able to in a natural way, by pure common sense and in a context very complicated (where there was plenty of culture from the impositions of the ‘feudal lords’, and where in your daily life, had to face major risks and weaknesses, to simply survive), self-organise and build a community neighborhood with which, without the intervention or dependency on institutional power whatsoever, cope, collectively, and through the mutual support and solidarity, to the challenges that survival asked. More than six hundred years after what we’re not going to be we able to learn from history and our forebears, taking into account their mistakes and successes, and update your model to our days, to get down to work in the exciting task of autoorganizarnos for the present and the future of our neighborhood to decide their own neighborhood? We think that in the Hull there is already more of an indicator and accumulated experience as to answer yes to that question, and this work which I now present is not intended to be but a humble contribution to that task that we all have a lot to do and to say. Let’s meet on it. Let us make a community neighborhood.
On Egin Ayllu3
Egin Ayllu is a group of people from the neighborhood that it most surely does not know you by that name, although they take a bit of time at work in and for the neighborhood. Have been driven mad as the recovery of the pediment “Auzolana”; the organization of holiday alternatives in the neighborhood “ZaharrazHarro”, or the recovery/cleaning up the space of the plaza de Etxauri….
But beware!, when they say they “have driven” in no time want to say that is due only to Egin Ayllu. In all three cases, Egin Ayllu launched an open proposal to other people and in the three times both people at the individual level as some collective endorsed also the proposals and between all managed to make them a reality.
That same aim now with the blog “the people rula”; that although the initiative of launching own –it seemed to them that it was a good idea and this is why they have put to it–, leave immediately identify with “the blog Egin Ayllu” and happens to be the blog of the people of the neighborhood that make it yours urging him, keeping it, giving it life and content, or simply visiting it and reading it. And your illusion is that you make it yours mainly the people and communities that do not have the opportunity to create or maintain your own blog or web page.
- Both for the present case of historians, and historians, as to the book in general, when speaking of collectives composed of people of both sexes, we usually use the feminine, understanding by this that collects the set of people (historians in this case) to which reference is made. [↩]
- However, and especially with the intention of learning from the mistakes of others, we have included two sections in which we analyze what, in our opinion, were the most negative of the Neighborhoods vitorianas. [↩]
- Egin Ayllu means “making community,” in a mixture of basque and quechua. [↩]