Freirina celebrates social capital experience meeting for the Atacama region

Freirina celebrates social capital experience meeting for the Atacama region

Freirina, Wednesday, November 16, 2022. The Illustrious Municipality of Freirina, the energy company ISA INTERCHILE, and the Mi Parque Foundation organized a meeting that brought together regional and communal authorities, local companies, and social leaders, with the aim of making visible and promoting initiatives that promote the development of social capital in the Atacama region.

The participation of communities in their territories, the territorial relevance of public space, sustainability, and public-private articulation were the main focuses of the activity, which took place at the Los Portales Building, in the context of the closure of the Green Areas Development Program in Freirina.

Here is a good example of how things should be done. Through this methodology, we see that all actors can sit down: authorities, municipalities, social leaders, and private companies. Companies understand that this is the formula for working with communities. Each of these parks has its own story. Our neighbors organized themselves, designed, and worked so that this dream could be realized, so I think it is a good work methodology and hopefully it could be replicated, not only in our commune and province, but also at the national level,” emphasizes the Mayor of Freirina, César Orellana.

Between 2019 and 2022, Freirina became the scene of the construction of an unprecedented network of green areas in the Atacama region. More than fifteen thousand square meters of meeting spaces that promote community participation, the enhancement of local identities, contact with nature, local development, and the generation of new ties. From the dreams, desires, and needs of the neighbors came parks, squares, walks, and viewpoints.

The Freirina Green Areas Development Program is an initiative of ISA INTERCHILE, executed by the Mi Parque Foundation, in articulation with the Municipality of Freirina and the communities of Maitencillo, Vicuña Mackenna, Chipasse Ta Tatara, José Santos Ossa, Altiplano Sur, Freirina centro, and Hortensia Campos.

There is a great issue that is very sensitive, which is trust. And we were very distrustful, but little by little, we learned to share. It was enriching and, despite the pandemic, we learned to get to know each other more. Each park has its own story, and since people of different age groups participated, we learned from what the children and young people said, and they learned from us,” says Mónica Altamirano, President of the Neighborhood Association of Freirina Centro.

This program was born out of ISA INTERCHILE’s search for promoting a new paradigm in fulfilling commitments associated with Environmental Qualification Resolutions (RCA) of projects as relevant as the 2×500 kV Cardones-Polpaico Transmission Line, which has been fundamental to advancing decarbonization goals of the energy grid. This new approach became a reality in the creation and execution of this initiative that transformed the process and impact of this type of measures, in addition to strengthening the links between the public, private, and community sectors.

Mauricio Rebolledo, director of Sustainability at ISA INTERCHILE, highlighted that “our purpose as an energy transmission company goes beyond connecting one point to another. We are inspired to connect people with their natural heritage and create value for communities as a legacy that transcends new generations. Together with the Mi Parque Foundation and hand in hand with our neighbors in Freirina, we have recovered public spaces that are true platforms for inclusion, recreation, contemplation, and dignity for people, contributing to strengthening the social fabric and keeping their traditions and common history alive.

The Mi Parque Foundation’s seal also reflects a difference in the way things are done, guaranteeing community participation in all stages of the design, construction, and activation of their green areas. Even more so,  in a context marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, quarantines, and the redefinition of outdoor spaces for people’s safety and well-being.

“Through these processes, we seek to generate and strengthen communities. In the case of Freirina, we took all the strength that existed in the territory and brought it to a common goal through the design of meeting green areas. Participation generates appropriation of spaces, if it is done in a binding way, and generates that communities take care of these places. “That this model can be replicated in other territories in the Atacama region would be a tremendous opportunity,” explains Juan Ignacio Diaz, executive director of the Mi Parque Foundation.

16,230 square meters of green areas, 195 participants in various participatory processes, 4,837 people directly benefited, and seven new meeting spaces are the result of two years of work in Freirina. The impact data and the activated spaces are now part of a photo exhibition that will be on display at the Los Portales Building during this week.