Wednesday, December 8

Spanish Village Seeks Unesco World Heritage Status for Outdoor Talks | Spain


It is a nightly summer ritual in much of Spain: as the sweltering heat of the day subsides, the chairs are taken out to the street for a while. fresh chat. Now, an enterprising town in southern Spain seeks to have the tradition recognized by the United Nations as a cultural treasure.

The goal is to protect the centuries-old custom from the invasive threat of social media and television, said José Carlos Sánchez, mayor of Algar, a city of about 1,400 people. “It’s the opposite of social media,” he told The Guardian. “It’s about face-to-face conversations.”

Sánchez recently requested that the custom be added to Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage, hoping to earn a place in a catalog that ranges from art to intangible culture. Make Neapolitan pizza sauna culture in Finland and a lawn mowing competition in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It’s a novel way of thinking about the often banal impromptu get-togethers that have long provided a respite from the heat, he admitted. But every time extended families and neighbors in the White town – or white people – takes its steps forward, sees it as an effort to safeguard tradition.

“But it’s not what it was,” Sánchez said. “So we want to get everyone back outside their doors in the open air instead of scrolling on Facebook or watching TV indoors.”

Sánchez, who regularly spends pleasant summer nights on the doorstep of his 82-year-old mother’s home, is quick to list the many benefits of what is known as fresh talksFrom the energy savings gained by turning off the air conditioning for a few hours to the sense of community that is forged when neighbors share the gossip of the day or comment on the latest news.

The quiet town of Algar, near Cádiz in southern Spain, has been inundated with media coverage
The quiet town of Algar, near Cádiz in southern Spain, has been inundated with media coverage. Photograph: Luis Davilla / Getty Images

The late-night talks also offer a kind of psychological release, keeping loneliness at bay at a time when concerns about mental health have heightened, he argued. “The residents go out and instead of feeling alone, what they receive is a therapy session,” said the 38-year-old. “They share their stories or the problems they are going through and the neighbors try to help.”

Residents of the small village have reacted warmly to his bid for world heritage status, he said. “So far I have not received any criticism, it has been very positive.” You are waiting to hear about the next steps, but you expect it to be a slow process, which could take years.

Meanwhile, however, his quest to recognize the cultural significance of the custom has produced an unexpected upswing: Media coverage has poured in from across the country, giving him the opportunity to connect his small town tucked between two natural parks in Southern Spain.

“In Madrid they are getting to know the Algar. In Barcelona too. And in so many other regions, ”he said. “So we are providing free publicity to the municipality.”


www.theguardian.com

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