Recovering Play Spaces in Jardim Pantal


On Saturday we returned to Jardim Pantanal on the outskirts of São Paulo to run a second workshop with leaders of the Residents Association, staff of the Alana Institute and local youth.  Our goal for the day was to develop a pilot campaign for the Association and explore how monitoring might be use to strengthen the group’s relationship with City Hall in advocating for key improvements in the area.

After a review of the Association’s priorities, the group decided to focus on recuperating spaces for play and leisure in the region. Participants felt the public squares that did exist in the neighborhood were in dire need of repair and several other areas that could be used for sports or local activities were either occupied or used as sites for waste disposal for local residents.

Rather than focusing merely on how to assess the infrastructure of these spaces, participants prioritized the desired outcome of the campaign. What did they hope to achieve through mapping and evaluation of these spaces and who would they need to talk to in order to get the desired results?  Through the development of the tools and methodology for Promise Tracker, we have stressed this exercise as one we believe is critical to the realization of a successful monitoring campaign. Not only does the process help actors clarify key aspects of the issue they are hoping to address, it leads to the collection of the type of information that can be more easily acted on by community members and local officials. (For more thoughts on this topic, check out our recent post from Belém.)

The group agreed that their goals for monitoring were to 1) get a better understanding of the state of current play spaces, 2) engage the local community in recovering and maintaining these spaces, and 3) get support from City Hall for necessary reforms to transform the areas they deemed as priorities. With this in mind, the team structured a campaign to look at where lighting was functional and where it would need to be installed, which spaces could be cleaned up by residents and where the group would need debris removed by the city, and where the community might need help from authorities in removing informal occupations.

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During the afternoon we ran a test data collection in 2 spaces in the area to evaluate whether the form that was created would work for the information they hoped to gather. Over the next two weeks the group will be modifying the structure with feedback from initial tests and presenting the campaign to local residents to get help with data collection and garner support for local cleanup efforts. Once the mapping is complete, the Association plans to present their findings and the result of community cleanup efforts to local officials to request support in transforming the first of these areas into a park and soccer field.