I’ve had the opportunity to visit four different libraries in Santa Rosa, Trenque Lauquen, Bolivar, and Tandil, Argentina. I learned a lot about how these libraries function. The most salient idea that I gleaned from all these visits was related to the need for libraries to be cultural centers. In times of economic crisis and budget cuts, libraries cannot simply act as repositories for paper materials. These three libraries in Argentina promote events to bring the community together, whether for hosting folkloric dancing, chess tournaments, and meetings of celebration and skill sharing. This concept of being a community centerpiece is equally applicable for U.S. libraries. These libraries must be used as a nexus in the circle of connectivity. Libraries still house paper books and they’re going to continue doing that for quite a while longer even as we transition to ebooks. However, libraries also offer a tremendous resource through research librarians who have exemplary resources to search for and find quality information. Libraries should have open doors for anyone seeking information and should only be the first stop as the patrons use the help from research librarians and continue to explore on their own, whether through Internet, books, magazines, newspapers, etc.
In addition to my vocational visit to the fantastic library in Trenque Lauquen, I also had the opportunity to meet with a group of local writers.
These writers were astounding! They were unbelivably warm and welcoming and each one gave me a copy of his/her work, whether a published book or a copy of some poems. One woman pointed out that one of her poems was written about her boyfriend who was one of the desaparecidos (disappeared) from the brutal dictatorships of the 70s and 80s.
We also talked about the process of writing. All of these writers prefer to hand-write their pieces before typing them up on computers. For them, it was very important to experience the sensation of their hands holding the pens and making contact with the paper; typing on a computer was too distant from the writing. One woman also shared her method of biking and keeping a notepad and paper in the basket and stopping and scribbling the ideas as inspiration struck.
I was also curious to learn more about the distinguishing characteristics of writing from the area (Trenque Lauquen). The writers explained that while the writers of the La Pampa region write about the landscape and the gaucho lifestyle in the country. Similarly people who are near mountains or near the ocean must write about things larger than themselves. In contrast, the landscape of Trenque Lauquen is completely flat; there are no mountains, rivers, or lakes. Essentially, nothing larger than the human being and the writer there must turn inward for inspiration and write about their thoughts, sentiments, feelings, etc. They believe that the inner-workings of the human being possesses landscapes as vast and impressive as towering mountains or infinite oceans.
The final part of this visit that made a huge impression on me was the fact that their annual published work is completely self-sustained. They do not receive outside support from the government or any outside organizations. Each member of the group contributes monetarily to ensure that their book is publishe every year. I found this fact incredibly inspiring. This group of writers believes in the value and power of writing and work hard to contribute to this project through not only their art of writing, but also through the process of publishing it.
Photo #1 & 2
Route map of the service in Tandil
The buses are color coordinated, this has not changed in over 10 years.
This photo was advertising a public demonstration of the change in fare.
Photo #5, 6, 7, 8
Additional photos of the the students opinion regarding the transit and the governments role and list of changes the students want to see.
My recent vocation visit in Tandil allowed for me a one-on-one opportunity with their Director of Transportation. The Director was gracious to spend the morning answering my plethora of questions regarding their transportation system. The system in Tandil, looking at the map, came close to almost covering the whole community with some sort of transportation. Which I found interesting considering it’s size. Comparable to other communities we visited Tandil was doing a pretty good job with the amount of services available to the community.
Interesting notes about Tandil’s transportation system:
Tandil has not changed it’s system in over 10 years, they can add to their system 2 kilometers a year but have not made any large route changes. They consider this a benefit as it helps sustain ridership because the community members age with the system and know how to get from point A to point B without little direction.
Public transportation buses are not ADA accessible, there is a separate private taxi in which folks can access if necessary.
The routes crisscross across town with the center mid-point originating downtown, this crisscross approach allows for majority of the city to be covered.
Change is hard, no matter what country you are in:The Tandil transit system recently saw an increase in fees. As a result the students at the local university have demonstrated against this recent increase.
Shortly after my visit with the Director of Transportation our group headed off to a local university, as we walked the halls there was an assortment of posters up protesting the recent increase of fees for students. With a little help from my host mom I was able to translate what they said.
The posters protested the increase in fees on the students as well as their views concerning public transportation. Many of the students view transportation as a right and not a privilege and the government should provide this service. Another poster listed the demands that the students wanted met if the system is to raise their fees.
A few of the demands read as follows:
All buses should be well maintained and in good operating order
Buses should be accessible to all, ADA compliant
Buses should run on time
I was disappointed to have seen these posters after my visit with the Director of Transportation, I would have loved to inquire a little deeper into the issues and concerns of the student body with the Director, but nonetheless the posters and the visit provided me with an insight into similar challenges that face many of our communities in Idaho. The cost of transportation continues to go up and with limited funding, service provided can be greatly impacted. In Tandil the budget constraints impacted the quality of the service provided, for example poor maintained buses. In Idaho, the funding limitations unfortunately impact the quantity of the service provided.
Our whole team has been snapping every photo we can of the famous Argentine gauchos we encounter.
We hit the jackpot in the town of General Madariaga – known as ‘The Gaucho City’ where it just so happened that the bi-annual National Festival of the Gauchos was going on. Here’s a glimpse of rodeo – Argentine-style.
We made the news in our last town, General Madariaga.
We now find ourselves safely in Mar del Plata but we are thankful to our wonderful hosts and the good times we had this past weekend– from an asado, a visit to a museum of natural history, to birthday parties, a gaucho festival (or rodeo) and a delicious good bye potluck dinner.
Many thanks to everyone in Gral. Madariaga for being so good to us.
In Tandil I had the chance to visit the multimedia company El Eco – which has a newspaper, television channel, digital site and music and news radio channels.
One of the things I have found interesting in Argentine media is the number of media outlets with multiple channels – typically radio & TV or radio & newspaper. This company encompassed all three and an impressive digital presence as well http://www.eleco.com.ar/ Online they have taped programming from radio and TV news programs daily. They told me they do share news resources between the different mediums. The graphic designer I met produces ads for the paper, graphics for the TV broadcasts and digital banners for the website.
Tandil is a town of 130,000 – yet they have three daily newspapers. Even in the smaller towns we’ve visited they all have their own city papers in additional to the various national papers (Clarin seems to be the most widely read http://www.clarin.com/html5/ )
At El Echo I had a great tour guide Silvana Mazza – who was the morning news producer for both radio and TV. She toured me through their printing press and quiet newspaper newsroom (it was the morning so no reporters were there yet.) The morning anchors took a cutaway shot of me in the studio and the morning radio host did a live interview with me and my host in Spanish (I won’t be posting that 🙂
The media company also had an amazing museum in their building and a photo of their 1891 Linotype from New York is included below.
I loved that their newsrooms actually hd windows and light! And that they has a digital display in their reception area showing classified ads and info from the paper. And the old school – but still useful – posting of the day’s paper in the front window.
GSE: Rural Transportation Argentina, a collection of observations, by Brooke:
Since Santa Rosa, I have visited three additional cities in the Buenos Aires region. Trenque Luegen and Bolivar and Colonel Surueze. Santa Rosa has the most transportation services available to any of the communities we have visited however, it’s not to say that the other communities haven’t addressed their transportation needs in other ways.
Santa Rosa had a population of 102, 610 and had transportation system that included a fixed route system (see prior blog).
Trenque Luegen had a population of 40,000 and actually had no fixed route transit system, rather the municipality had a few buses designated to provide services to the schools, and senior center. A matter a fact, many of the community members said that meeting the needs of the elderly, disabled to access to health care, quality of life services was their responsibilities and could access the taxis and/or request assistance from their family members.
Bolivar had a population of 32,442 a beautiful community and like many of the others we visited was centered around a plaza. The community offered no transit, and I couldn’t find a taxi so I am assuming they didn’t exist. There were however a large amount vehicles, and unfortunately while I there I saw two crashes.
Colonel Suerez, has a population of 22,624 and had transit! Well, sorta. The services offered in Colonel Suerez were very few but present. The community has three neighboring unique German colonies, many of the community members commuted to Colonel Suerez and once in town they could connect to the fixed city route the circled the downtown area (which isn’t to big, but had a route nonetheless).
Colonel Suerez also had the largest Reebok factory in the world! We toured the factory and was amazed at the quantity of shoes that are produced and the amount of employees it takes to make 15,000 shoes a day! 3500 employees work at the Reebok factory in three eight hours shifts. The employees come from the three neighboring colonies and are transported there by Reeboks own bus or they bike. Actually, biking looked as the most popular form of getting around, even on the dirt and cobblestone streets. The young and old alike.
Reebok had quite a large bike storage area (see photo #). The Reebok factory campus was well organized and remarkable clean, we were unable to take photos of the inside but provided a few photos of the outside for you to view.
The trend with rural transit in Argentina is really no different then the states. The need for transit is evident and there exists transit but just like in Idaho, communities are spread out and very rural. The main employment and necessary services are located in the center of town. The communities we visited each recognized the need but also emphasized the responsibilities of the families to help provide for their family members.
I will say however, within each of the communities bicycling was used by all! Almost all bikes had baskets on the front and clearly were put to good use. I was delighted to see the number of elderly folks using bikes as a means to get around, navigating the streets and sidewalks with confidence in almost every city we visited.
Reebok Commuter Bus
Bike Storage Reebok
Bike Storage Reebok