The COVID-19 health crisis, isolation and the shutdown of economic activity imposed by the state of emergency have brought to the surface and exacerbated the precarious nature of many lives: old people living alone, people attempting to make ends meet in the underground economy, others having to endure confinement in poor living conditions or without a roof over their heads, irregular migrants, families with no means to cover their rent or utility and food bills…
Faced with this emergency situation, care networks made up of hundreds of volunteers, associations and neighbourhood initiatives have mobilised to co-care for families, groups and people in situations of vulnerability, connecting and appealing to those who can help alleviate urgent and neglected needs and underscoring solidarity-based action in pursuit of community survival.
Surviving Together. Community Organisation in Times of Pandemic sets out to constitute a reflection based on an open conversation around specific forms of resistance, cooperation, self-management, and community solidarity in different places framed in the context of the capitalist crisis and the current health emergency.
This virtual encounter is moderated by Pepa Torres, a resident and activist from Madrid’s Lavapiés neighbourhood, and features the participation of Jorge Bolaños, chairman of the Dragones Sports Club in Lavapiés, one of the associations propelling the La CuBa Platform (Lavapiés, Caring for the Neighbourhood) food bank; Kat Fernández, a Peruvian feminist activist; Daniela Maldonado, a community spokesperson, artist and social activist in the trans community in Bogotá; Fatoumata Souratié, an activist from the Burkina Faso political movement Le Balai Citoyen; and Cristina Vega, a research professor whose work centres on an analysis of work, reproduction and care.
Jorge Bolaños is a journalist with a PhD in Social and Legal Sciences and chairman of the Dragones Sports Club in Lavapiés, Madrid, a football association that uses sport to bring together and integrate migrant children and families at risk of social exclusion and which, together with other neighbourhood associations such as Teatro del Barrio, Red de Cuidados Madrid Centro, and Micro para el Sáhara, and local residents, supports the La CuBa Platform (Lavapiés, Caring for the Neighbourhood), a food bank which surfaced during the health emergency caused by COVID-19, distributing essential items to over 500 families.
Kat Fernández is an activist in Popular Feminisms, a libertarian, and the daughter of Peruvian Andes immigrants. At the present time, she is situated on the outskirts of Lima and committed to labour union struggles in relation to itinerant female workers, neighbourhood self-organisation and the right to decide. She is an advocate of the Andean world view, feminist accompaniment, huayno, solidarity, self-management, self-defence and Ayllu living. Furthermore, she is a member of Compromiso (Commitment), an autonomous and working-class feminist collective which aims to provide in-person and virtual accompaniment related to abortion, taking into consideration economic, class and racial differences in the access to information.
Daniela Maldonado Salamanca is a community spokesperson, artist and activist in the trans community in the city of Bogotá, Colombia, and founder and director of Red Comunitaria Trans (Trans Community Network), in the Santa Fe neighbourhood in the same city. Her experience and knowledge are focused on community-based work with LGBTI sectors of the population — particularly the transgender population in situations of vulnerability, for instance sex workers, psychoactive substance users and the homeless — rooted in strategies of social and artistic participation and legal tools to defend the rights of the trans population. Since the start of the pandemic, the Network has founded the Fondo de Emergencia para Trabajadoras Sexuales (Emergency Fund for Sex Workers), and other initiatives, to alleviate the violence and discrimination towards trans people which have become more pronounced since the start of the COVID-19 health emergency.
Fatoumata Souratié studied Biochemistry and is a teacher at a private secondary school in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, as well as a member of the National Coordination of Le Balai Citoyen (The Citizen’s Broom), a civil society collective working for the country’s democratic culture, social justice, and transparency in public administration. This movement, present in twenty-eight cities in Burkina Faso, came into being in 2013, putting forward the “sweeping out” of political corruption with actions of community development as a metaphor for social self-sufficiency, with its members carrying symbolic brooms during protests. Through the campaign Ne pas paniquer, ne pas banaliser (Do not Panic, Do not Trivialise), and in the COVID-19 situation, they call for calm and compliance with the indications of the health authorities and seek to raise awareness among the population of the measures to follow.
Pepa Torres is a philologist, social educator and a resident in Madrid’s Lavapiés neighbourhood, where she is an activist with diverse migrant and feminist collectives: Red Interlavapiés, Territorio Doméstico and Senda de cuidados. She is currently part of the committee "Alimentando el barrio” (Feeding the Neighbourhood), which emerged in Lavapiés amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Cristina Vega has been a research professor at the Department of Sociology and Gender Studies at the Latin American University of Social Studies (FLACSO), Ecuador, since 2011, and is coordinator of its PhD in Sociology (2020–2023). She is also part of the Ecuadorian feminist collective Flor de Guanto. Her research centres on Gender Studies, focusing on an analysis of work, reproduction and care. At the present time she is conducting a gender-based study of reactionary advances.