My third week before Christmas

Hello you all!

A lot has happened in a week. In this post however, I concentrate to reflect and tell about the practice and leave other stories for another post. But first I have to say that as a cat person, I have found my way to contribute and give back.

There is a pack of cats, maybe 3 to 6 regular fellows who habitat a small green area and its bushes near the work practice place and when I pass this place, I always try to bring fresh water and dry food (can’t really leave meat there) for them.

I was a bit worried when I didn’t see anyone but one after a few days but yesterday they were all there when I walked to the metro station. Playing in the dark, jumping and just having fun. It made me smile because I know the cats don’t have it easy here. I have been wanting to volunteer in of Madrid’s shelters but because they are run mostly by volunteers, they haven’t had the time to e-mail me back yet.

Anyways, here they are:

My new friends

I have been planning a natural cosmetic workshop for the youth and/or students to participate in January when we have all the materials because they are soon leaving for Christmas holidays and they don’t come back until the 7th of January.

I have prepared a presentation about the topic which I intend to go through with them, so they understand why we are doing nature cosmetics, what are reasons behind it, how it can be beneficial, easy to do yourself and just generally talk about sustainability and answer their questions. Since a workshop like this needs materials, we have been looking into that and where to order them and what we might be able to replace because of the budget. Obviously, it is a topic that doesn’t need justifications and it goes perfectly to some of the youngster’s curriculum, my objectives and it is something new that none has done in Barrios Sostenibles (Sustainable neighbourhoods).

However, it needs a bit more planning and arguments than back home because the budget is not the same. Also, to my surprise some materials cost more here than in Finland. I guess that’s because the “healthy” food came here a little bit later and the prices haven’t lowered yet. I don’t know, so I’m just guessing. We are talking about things like almond oil, coconut cream, essential oils… Here are there recipes we are doing: bath salt, face and body cream for sensitive skin and a scrub you can use to your face and/or body.


I have also done a presentation about youth services and environmental education, since this was something people seemed to be interested and next week we are going to talk about this presentation. It’s nice to share and change ideas.

I have also been editing a document that was given to be for formatting. It’s something the Barrios Sostenibles is handing to resident in January and I hope to be there as well. They have been a part of energy efficiency project which is now ending and the document I have been working on (not the text, just formatting and adding table of contents etc) is for them, so they can continue to work on those issues by themselves.

word formatting

It has been quite interesting.  I have learned more about the project and something about how to save own your electric bills and other things. Also, it has been nice to do something valuable for the foundation and Barrios Sostenibles, since I know they are in quite a hurry because the year is ending, and many projects as well, so there is a lot for them to do. It is also nice to be useful.

The office

On other things, meaning outside of work practice, our (me and a classmate of mine) thesis plan was accepted and we got a green light to go forward! It’s going to be exciting. I do believe we have a great plan which we can modify and add things.


Anyways yesterday was probably the most epic day so far. In my last post I told you about the participative budgeting and how the city has 30 million euros for the proposals. However, what I didn’t go into detail were the local forums (foros locales) and workbenches (mesas de trabajo).

Just to put shortly:

Local Forums are spaces for participation in which all neighbours and entities can meet to discuss and work on initiatives to improve the city from the perspective of their neighbourhoods and districts. There is a Local Forum in each of the 21 districts of the city.

Workbenches or work tables are work groups by themes in which any person can be a part. There are “work tables” for youth and education, inclusive sports, culture, neighborhood festivities etc. It depends on the work tale who are in it, but they can be the residents of a specific neighborhood, chairman, students, organizations and for example members of a political party.

I still need to study this topic more with my supervisor because it’s confusing to me and translating the words to English is incredibly difficult. I have understood that the order is something like:

1.       Local forums = work tables that meet once a month

2.       Permanent commission = the coordinators of every work table

Anyways what I am trying to say is that we went to a work table meeting yesterday. This is named “Mesa Pradolongo se Mueve” which is to my understanding a part of the local forum in the district of Usera. In the district of Usera situates this very big green area, a park called Parque Pradolongo.

We went there yesterday and cycled around and afterwards we went to the neighborhood association building in Orcasitas which is inside their cultural center.

The aim of this work group is the rehabilitation and integral regeneration of the park Pradolongo. Basically, the park has a bad reputation, it has low maintenance and a litter problem. Still it is a very big 72-hectare area that many people are using, so they want to develop the park and its use in general.  This work table is the group who takes the most voted proposals (participatory budgeting) to the next phase which is permanent commission and they are in contact with municipal board. They also work together with work tables like “Environmental work table” and “Sports and Health work table.”

The meeting was very interesting, however some of the thing were over the top and I didn’t understand anything. I tried to concentrate to things like who the people are, what they have been doing before this, what are their future plans and what proposals they are taking to the next phase.

They have their next meeting in January, so I can still be a part of that next meeting and maybe by then I understand the process better and can already contribute something. This time I was mostly listening after introducing myself. We did agree to see each other with two of the participants and with my supervisor and talk about an intercultural project which objective is collaboration between its neighbors and wellbeing of the community.  This is something that has come up because one area of the park is seen problematic because of its litter problem and drinking which is something the nearby neighbors have been complaining about.

Awesome people doing important work!

On our way out, I was so full of information and questions that we decided we talk about these things next week with more time and plan the meeting with the youngsters. Next week there is work only in Tuesday and Wednesday because of Christmas and vacations.

Today I finished the document I was telling you about above and wrote my weekly report here. I was also informed that nature cosmetic workshop is happening on 22st of January. I was also glad to hear they have been asking if there can be another workshop that is always organized in English for 14 to 15 year old youngsters, so awesome. Of course, I do both!

Happy holidays to all! 

The nativity scene of the center made of recycled materials

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