A LETTER TO AMADORA #inura


Na passada semana passada, Lisboa, Curia e Coimbra; receberam o encontro da rede internacional INURA. Durante essa semana; entre conferências, visitas e contactos com agentes locais; os membros da rede INURA, maioritariamente: professores universitários, investigadores, profissionais do planeamento territorial e activistas; tomaram conhecimento de algumas dinâmicas urbanas da Grande Lisboa.

A diversidade de experiências partilhadas motivou reacções diferentes, salientando-se a não indiferença a vários aspectos observados no Concelho da Amadora. Aqui fica uma carta pública redigida pelos membros do INURA endereçada ao Presidente da Câmara Municipal da Amadora: Joaquim Raposo; com conhecimento de uma série de entidades com responsabilidades políticas: IHRU, Secretaria de Estado da Habitação, ACIDI, etc..

PUBLIC LETTER REGARDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF SANTA FILOMENA, MUNICIPALITY OF AMADORA, PORTUGAL 


"We write to you as those members of the International Network of Urban Research and Action (INURA) who recently participated in an international conference hosted in the Lisbon Metropolitan area by the Centro de Estudos Sociais, Laboratório Associado da Universidade de Coimbra, between 23 and 30 June 2013. INURA is a network of people involved in action and research in localities and cities, including professionals, activists and researchers from community and environmental groups, universities and local administrations, who wish to share experiences and to participate in common research. INURA is a member of the Habitat International Coalition, a global network for the right to habitat and social justice, and has published several books relating to urban transformation. The 2013 INURA conference held in Lisboa, Coimbra and Cúria was the 23rd annual meeting of INURA, and was attended by 124 participants from more than 85 cities, 20 countries and 4 continents including 38 researchers, public officials and representatives and activists from the Lisboa metropolitan region and Coimbra. 

As part of our conference, we visited a number of projects and initiatives in both areas, including in the neighbourhoods of Graça, Baixa, Cais do Sodré and Mouraria (Lisboa Municipality), Santa Filomena, Quinta da Lage and Boba (Amadora Municipality), Vale das Amoreiras (Moita Municipality) and the Cascais Municipality, as part of a long-term process of learning from different cities about processes of urban transformation. 

We write to you concerning one of these neighbourhoods, Santa Filomena. We were shocked and distressed to observe the evident destruction of people’s homes and livelihoods particularly in the context of the severe economic crisis that currently affects Portugal. We were told by residents of Santo Filomena about the violent eviction process currently underway, that risks making vulnerable and marginalised populations homeless in a context where there is a lack of alternative affordable housing options available and a scarcity of employment opportunities. We also visited the former urban farm of Serra do Marco, and were dismayed at the destruction of these spaces of food production which have evidently been so important in the day-to-day survival of gardeners. 

In these times of economic crisis and limited public resources, it seems particularly important to find ways for public policy, plans and projects to recognise and support the activities of residents to house and feed themselves, rather than to destroy those activities. Our reason for writing is not only to highlight these problems, but also to point to other projects in the Lisboa metropolitan region and Coimbra that we visited as part of our conference, which demonstrate that urban transformation can (and should) be done in other ways. Specifically, we highlight the example of Vale das Amoreiras, Almada Municipality, where we met residents who are leading the process of improving their housing conditions, supported by the ‘critical neighbourhoods’ initiative. 

We also heard from the Deputy Mayor of Lisboa Municipality about the various participatory projects that are being initiated, some of which we visited during our conference. In Coimbra, we also visited Portugal’s national SAAL programme from the 1970s, in which existing residents, previously living in informal settlements, led and directly benefitted from housing improvement projects. It was wonderful to meet residents of the Relvinha neighbourhood in Coimbra, for example, who had transformed their living conditions with their own hands and continued to live in these buildings 40 years later. 

These positive examples from Portugal are consistent with the evidence from international research that demonstrates the critical importance of ensuring existing residents are substantially involved in and benefit from urban regeneration processes. We therefore urge you to reconsider your approach to urban redevelopment in Santa Filomena. 

We look forward to your response and to an ongoing engagement on these important issues both for the Lisboa metropolitan region and for other cities in Portugal and elsewhere. 

Yours faithfully 

Members of INURA participating in the 2013 conference in Lisboa, Coimbra and Curia"