We Are Barcelona would never have been born and this project never would have been created without the warmth, generosity and kindness of so many. It is the daily kindnesses of the people of Barcelona that convinced me to move my life to the city in the summer of 2016 and learn how I might best make a contribution to a city that I was starting, clearly – like so many before me – to already fall in love with. Until now I did not know that we are able to fall in love with cities in much the same way that we do with each other.
Each day I seem to have experiences that reaffirm the magic of this city. The first time I walked into my local pastisseria in Raval I was introduced to three generations of the Fàbrega family serving the best Cortado in town and making probably the best croissants I have ever had the pleasure to taste anywhere on the planet. The Fàbregas always insist on presenting me with a special something sweet and delicious, along with the sincere warmth of their welcoming smiles. It is also where I am being taught my first words of Catalan.
Jose Galbis is owed a special debt of gratitude for actually taking me up on my invitation to share a beer and explore how I may be able to connect him with friends in the city of Belgrade in order to help further his career as a writer. Instead of my helping him, he ended up by helping me as the first co-thinker for this project and crucially by introducing me to his friend and former MACBA colleague, the young photographer whose magnificent work speaks for itself as you experience it here throughout the website Martí Andiñach.
Without the encouragement and support of Ugo Valenti, director of the Smart City Expo World Congress at Fira Barcelona this project would neither have taken root in my imagination nor have ever seen the light of day. A marathon conversation with him over many hours late one evening in his office is what persuaded me that the place for my work on thinking about cities had to be based in Barcelona, and that this was the perfect moment to come and begin. Further inspiring conversations with Pilar Conesa and Cristina Garrido at Anteverti only confirmed my view that the city was open for new approaches and initiatives that would broaden the conversations already well advanced here.
Thanks to Felipe and Nico at Ataneu del Raval who have provided me with the ideal co-working space surrounded by the nourishment of fellow workers including the temptation of daily yoga classes and regular world class musical events. It is also where most of our photography took place and for its magic, beauty and tranquility these past months I am so grateful. (You get a flavour of the Ataneu which is featured in the photography scenes in the short film trailer running at the top of the website homepage.)
Every project needs a guardian angel. Eliya Akbaş has been that saviour as the man who created our film trailer for the documentary of We Are Barcelona which we will film over the next year. Eliya also came to the rescue as deadlines loomed in order to perform the post-production on the photographic metal plates that often need as much love and patient attention after their creation as Martí gives each and every person who sits in front of his camera during photography. Eliya is also the man behind much of the stills photography that we shall begin to publish on the website and social media over the coming months. Happily he has already been commissioned by one of our 50 to direct her first music video. The synergies between everyone participating in We Are Barcelona begins to express themselves in new exciting projects.
Pol González Novell and Jordi “Cirbi” Cibrian Nunez devoted long days and some late nights to the film’s cinematography and sound design. (Cirbi had come directly to us from the Hollywood set of the fifth instalment of the Jason Bourne series so we should also be thankful to Matt Damon for releasing him on time). All their time and dedication has been donated to the project for which I shall remain always grateful. Pol in addition has also taken on the rôle of one of the film’s executive producers as we start to work together on storylines and scenarios.
Ignacio F. Rodó thank you for being there for me and helping me build the film crew and so much more.
The talented team at Karakter Studio & Stendhal books, Elisabeth Parés Albors and Alvaro Garcia Isidro, have created the design for the We Are Barcelona book of photography that we have published and also for future exhibitions that we plan to curate in 2017. Their advice to me on the aesthetics, content and concept of the entire project has made an invaluable contribution.
Juliana Rotich I thank for introducing me to her friend and TED Fellow Xavier Vilalta who has been a rock of support and friendship throughout and I shall be especially grateful to him for introducing me to Aurélie Salvaire whose trust and generosity has been a lesson for me especially when we needed a roof terrace for Martí to shoot on in the ever diminishing light of late September. Aurélie said “Yes of course!” and left the keys with the pastisseria downstairs even before we had ever met!
My huge thanks to the creative talents, strategic thinking, professional dedication and indefatigable patience of Rodrigo Seoane for his digital and design genius. He is one more precious gift that I received from Aurélie, this time at her birthday party!
Yoshiko and Kevin at Vintage Works thank you SO much for your Gràcia roof terrace, your enormous generosity and your willingness to do everything you could to make our stay with you a happy and successful one.
I would like to thank Jordi Capdevilla for his generosity in providing me and my family with an apartment for the whole of August and always asking what more he could do to help. In fact it was while I was lecturing on humanitarian negotiation and conflict earlier in the year at the Barcelona International Peace Resource Centre – of which Jordi is director – that the project started to formulate in my mind and it is when those initial meetings with Ugo at Fira Barcelona took place.
An immense expression of my gratitude and friendship goes to Manel Garcia at Cast-Info who helped in so many big and little ways over the past two years each and every time I came to visit the city in order to film, give lectures or meet with co-creators for what has today become We Are Barcelona. Fransesc Giralt I would like to thank for his friendship, inspiration and encouragement from the very first moment we met at the Smart City Expo in 2014 and again when filming him for an inspiring and insightful interview at Smart City Expo 2015. Fransesc applies his professorial knowledge of complex systems learned as a chemical engineer to his fascinating systemic perspective of cities as dynamic organisms.
To all our 50 participants who agreed to sit in front of Martí’s camera I would like on behalf of the entire team to express 50 parcels of profound gratitude and appreciation for your generosity, kindness and courage. Looking forward to working and enjoying with you all during the months and years ahead.
Finally, without the support of a loving and supportive family spread across several countries, this endeavour would have remained for me just a dream. My thanks to you all for everything you have done and also sacrificed in order to make it possible for me to be in Barcelona these past months.
Perhaps the seed for We Are Barcelona was planted in me many years ago when I discovered the poem “Tourists” by the much loved Jerusalem poet Yehuda Amichai:
Once I was sitting on the steps near the gate at David’s Citadel
and I put down my two heavy baskets beside me.
A group of tourists stood there around their guide,
and I became their point of reference.
“You see that man over there with the baskets?
A little to the right of his head there’s an arch from the Roman period.
A little to the right of his head.”
“But he’s moving, he’s moving!”
I said to myself: Redemption will come only when they are told:
”Do you see that arch over there from the Roman period?
It doesn’t matter, but near it, a little to the left and then down a bit, there’s a man who has just bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”
Yehuda Amichai The Selected Poetry, University of California Press, 1968
Republished with permission of University of California Press, from The Selected Poetry, Yehuda Amichai Newly Revised and Expanded Edition, 1996; permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc