Despite the clear degradation of the streets since we were last here, this city feels like home to us. We are now welcomed with open arms. We are not even laughed at any more. It is known, accepted, and expected that we would be here. Even though we have been away for so long, we have had so much activity and so many students working to support Waste for Life in the interim, that it really does feel like our team on the ground hasn’t noticed we left.
Today was an amazing day. We went over to UBA on the 33 bus as usual, expecting (hoping) to see the hotpress being mended. Just as we left the apartment we heard the phone ring. Salvador from 19 diciembre, who we hoped would be able to manufacture and supply the press to the coops, was going to meet us in 20 minutes at UBA. Ok things were definitely different now that Erica was on board. Gone are the days when we call explaining in broken Spanish what we want, begging audience and proposing to visit, not ever really being sure that we have the right address. Not only that. It turned out that Salvador is a student at UBA one day a week learning industrial design and he knows Simonetta. Hmm.
Liliana, our CEP hotpress maestro was so pleased to find out that someone who was potentially going to be building the press for the cooperatives was also going to be in the UBA every week and could help with any improvements to ‘her’ machine. She had already told me that with the current improvements this hotpress was going to be the 5th (therefore the most advanced) prototype (after the first edition here and then the ones at RISD, Queens and UWA). Not only that. Tomas Benasso, the original builder of the first prototype here in BsAs turned up to help Lilianna so we could instigate a conversation with Salvador about how to make the press and what needed to change in the next version.
It was a historic moment. Eric and I were completely obsolete. Well that’s not particularly historic but that we could stand back and watch them, together with Simonetta, who had experience of using the press, discuss, debate, teach, improve. But in fact, not only that. We were also introduced today to Ana Rapela, Professor of Industrial design at UBA, whose students had also been working with the press all year. She had some amazing ideas for designs and lots of enthusiasm for moving forward. We mentioned that it would be great to get UBA students involved in working directly with the cartoneros. They could learn also by teaching the international WFL students about the context in their own city, which they probably did not know much about themselves. An hour later Ana appeared with a pencil written list of names and email addresses. ‘These are the students who want to work with you on Waste for Life. We will all meet up, next time at a cooperative, right?’ What with Erica and Ana on board, who could fail?