Joint management of commons and heritage
LaFábrika detodalavida is a participatory cultural space established in an abandoned cement factory in a rural region of Extramadura, in the west of Spain. The site was renovated and continues to be managed by, as well as being named after, the collective of LaFábrika detodalavida. The operation is enabled through an agreement with the local town council. Today, the collective represents a space, for locals, as well as a variety of organisations, projects, and initiatives, for economic, social, and cultural experimentation and regeneration with the aim of realising inclusive self-management as well as increasing the number of opportunities and cultural projects in the rural framework.
Owned and dismissed for many years by the municipality of Los Santos de Maimona, the site has been informally reappropriated by a group of local citizens and is now managed through an agreement between the town council and the LaFábrika detodalavida collective, that was signed in 2013.
The initiative to make use of the abandoned factory site was suggested to the municipality by the non-profit organisation LaFábrika detodalavida, founded in 2009. The agreement reached and the resultingly established joint management of the site seek to ensure a successful, long-term partnership by defining clear roles for the municipality and the collective. LaFábrika detodalavida can use the factory’s buildings and the site for free, under the precondition that it renovates the space, manages the activities taking place within its confines, fulfils legal obligations (such as the purchasing of insurance) and promotes local tourism, culture and youth engagement. Moreover, the issuance of an annual report is required. In turn, the town council has taken responsibility for the running costs (such as those for utilities like water and power) and provides support in seeking out assistance for further renovations while allowing the collective access to the materials stored on the premises of the site. In order to improve the cooperation and to ensure the smooth running of the project, the agreement further establishes a monitoring committee comprised of members of both parties that meets every six months. Due to lack of a budget, the reconstruction is entirely self-funded by the collective through crowdfunding and smaller amounts of money from awards and grants, such as the EU-funded INTERREG program. The reconstruction and management processes, however, mainly rely on the social and human capital of the collective as well as on the engagement of the locals.
The agreement lays the foundation for an innovative public-private partnership that is based on exchange by enabling the collective to use the site for free while charging the municipality with material support. Furthermore, it highlights the power of determined bottom-up initiatives as well as the power of crowdfunding as a means to realise a significant, otherwise no-budget project in a deprived rural area. Above all, LaFábrika detodalavida features the cultural, social, and economic potential of renovating heritage and industrial sites in rural regions and the significance of their revitalisation processes at fostering community engagement centered around the joint management of commons.