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Plenary endorses plan to expand protected undersea spaces

Foto ple marc 2017The Formentera Council held its March plenary session today, which featured a unanimous vote to create new protected marine areas to safeguard the future of traditional fishing on Formentera. Bartomeu Escandell, the CiF's vice-president, chair of the presidential cabinet and councillor of rural affairs, gave details.

According to Escandell, the Council's appeal, to the regional government and the national department of environment, turns on the creation of new protected areas—three in the inshore waters of punta de sa Creu and another two in the outer waters of sec des Ram and Baix Fondo. Escandell called it “an effort to defend biodiversity and the future of Formentera's fishing fleet”. Formentera relies heavily on traditional fishing and the boost it provides the island's gastronomic enterprises, which cater to residents and tourists alike, Escandell added.

Today's plenary motion came on the back of a technical report, commissioned by the Council, from the specialist company TRAGSATEC, and a green-light from Formentera's brotherhood of fishermen and the directorate general of fishing in the Balearics. Approval from the two entities covered both which swaths were to be included in the reserves and their proposed level of protection.

Rural renewal
Plenary members also unanimously adopted guidelines for collaboration between the Council and the island's cooperative of farmers. The measure is aimed at extending programmes to renew agriculture and reclaim landscapes through 2017.

The rural affairs councillor recalled the Council's programme, launched in 2015 and still active today, to revive Formentera's countryside. He pinned support for the farmers' cooperative and the farmland reserve initiative (“Cens de Terres” in Catalan) on a commitment to “reclaiming the farmable land that was abandoned with the restructuring of our local economic model”. Escandell described a two-pronged approach: first, revive primary industry and, second, beautify rural landscapes. The public initiative will receive €95,000 in 2017.

Investing in Ràdio Illa
Across-the-board support was also received by proposed regulatory underpinning for collaboration between the Council and ACAF, a local group promoting the audiovisual arts and culture. The measure also includes content production at Formentera's local public radio station, Ràdio Illa.

Escandell hailed the measure for “eliminating direct political influence by enlisting an outside association in the station's oversight”. In recent years Formentera's hometown station has gone through an important turnabout, casting off its status as an “amateur” outfit in favour of more professional features like paid, qualified staff. To further propel those changes as well as the social unity implicit in a strong public radio station, Formentera will increase ACAF's 2017 funding by €10,000, bringing it to €50,000.

Dry stone walls
The plenary also gave approval for a bid to qualify the traditional technique used to build dry stone walls as “intangible cultural heritage”. Heritage councillor Susana Labrador highlighted a simultaneous effort on the international front to gain similar acknowledgement from UNESCO. Besides requesting the distinction, which the other Balearic councils have also done, Labrador underscored other protective measures—“like this year's educational courses or funding for repairs”. The goal, she says, is to guarantee an enduring protection of Formentera's heritage.

Plenary members also received the resignation of Popular Party rep Gabriela Mayans. She will be replaced by the next person on the group's roster.

Official statements
The plenary gathering also served as the occasion for a reading of the administration's declaration on International Women's Day, March 8, 2017. In issuing the statement, the Formentera Council adds its voice to the call for a more egalitarian future. It acknowledges the fact that true equality cannot exist until gender violence is banished. The Council reaffirms its commitment to human rights, which, consequently, is a commitment to women's rights and equal opportunities for both sexes. The Council explicitly salutes all those who have worked to eradicate inequality till present and reiterates its firm determination to rout all that remains today.

“We must continue to press forward with policies promoting women at the workplace and female entrepreneurs, equal opportunities through education, women in IT and rural women. Local institutions must have the authority, the means and the resources to work alongside our institutions in Madrid and Palma to ensure correct application of equality and empowerment policies.

Report
“This year marks the tenth since the Council's inception,” recalled social welfare and human resources councillor Vanessa Parellada, “in that time, social welfare has grown from a small office charged with basic services to a large department with authority at the municipal and island level”.

She held up the social work unit (“Unitat de Treball Social”) as the Office of Social Welfare's nerve centre, citing 352 interventions from the unit's primary care workers in 2016. Care for families made up the lion's share (97), followed by services for the elderly (70) and care for mental health patients (41). Staffers' work covers everything from counselling and orientation to help with benefits requests and referrals to specialised services. Twenty-seven new features have been added to the office's telephone service and 48 individuals and families have benefitted from at-home care. Sixty-one per cent of those beneficiaries are senior citizens and an especial prevalence of that work encompasses personal hygiene assistance.

The office delivers three kinds of benefits: emergency assistance (€11,810 spread across 40 dispersals), guaranteed minimum income and help in social inclusion and job placement (12 cases) and individual assistance dispersals (17).

The office's support of children and families includes grants such as tuition at early-learning centres (received by four households), school supplies and textbooks (eight), participation in sports (nine), summer school (nine).

Psychological assistance, another service of  the office, entails evaluating and facilitating individual and group therapy and was given in 16 cases.

Parellada described care for domestic violence victims as one of the office's most “delicate tasks”. Sixty percent of victims pressed charges against their attacker and restraining orders were issued in 14 cases. Twenty-one of 27 victims were referred directly from hospital or Guardia Civil services. The majority of women in those cases (12 out of 21) are mothers; typically their children are under 18 (16 our of 21) and, predominately, the woman continues to live with her attacker (13 out of 21). Women who are mistreated psychologically (or physically and psychologically) with an average age of 45 represent the prevailing archetype.

Parellada also spoke of the “consolidated” nature of her office's work on immigration. Their efforts, she said, focus on educating and orienting recent arrivals from beyond Europe's borders and promoting such individuals' equal access to public services, as well as their inclusion in the local community. In 2016 the office provided immigration-related assistance to roughly 470 individuals through 1,088 appointments and 166 newly opened cases.

On youth services, Parellada held up the fitness-oriented leisure programme «Formentera marxa» and outreach at local schools. A specialised company has been enlisted in the effort to turbocharge outreach to high school students. The firm's staffer continues to work with pupils in primary school on issues of socialising, emotional intelligence, decision-making and conflict resolution. Leisure activities are likewise organised afternoons from Thursday to Saturday in the Sant Ferran school courtyard.

Leisure in Sant Francesc is yoked to the town's youth centre, the Casal de Joves. Now in its tenth year, the Casal continues to offer a monthly activities programme for youth aged 10 to 26 (the majority of participants are between 14 and 17). Youth also take part in events promoted by other groups inside and outside the administration, like Festa Intercultural, International Women's Day and school days.

On human resources, the councillor described an initial period of growth followed by a run of consolidation that began one year ago and continues today. “With the benefit of hindsight,” said the councillor, “it would appear my hypothesis last year was absolutely correct”. The focus, she added, is on “working within our present legal framework to guarantee stability and high-quality work among the professionals that drive this administration”.

Island groups want 28 projects on participatory spending

Pressupost participatiu30032017Twenty-eight projects were presented last night at a gathering of Formentera's alliance of local organisations in the Casal d'Entitats. The “Council of Entities,” as it is known in Catalan, convened to discuss potential candidates for the league's so-called “participatory spending”. By evening's end, some of the initial proposals had been fused, reducing the final tally of projects on the list from 34 to 28.

Member groups have till April 12 to rank the proposals, which will then be whittled down to ten.

Next, explained CiF community involvement councillor Sònia Cardona, administration staff will run numbers on the proposals so that groups can decide how to distribute the budgetary spending.

In 2017 there is €325,000 available for distribution. Last year, the maiden year of the participatory spending initiative, the fund had €250,000. That money was split between 2016's two highest-ranked projects: one to eliminate architectural barriers to people with reduced mobility and another to upgrade school playground installations and children's parks.

Formentera remembers Antoni Tur Costa, `Gabrielet´

gabrielet2On March 12, 2017, Antoni Tur Costa (nicknamed “Gabrielet”) would have turned one hundred. Here on Formentera, we would like to seize the opportunity to celebrate the first centennial of Gabrielet's birth.

Months ago, a committee was created to plan a series of events over the course of 2017 to pay homage to Gabrielet, not only the artist, but also and in especial the human being. As a member of the committee, the Formentera Island Council is a stakeholder in the celebrations.

March 31 (Friday), la Mola's Casa del Poble will play host to commemoration of the artist. Co-presented by Espai_F and OCB Formentera with additional support from the CiF, it will be a moment to share stories and memories of the milestones that marked Gabrielet's drawn-out, impassioned time on our island.

In 2017, two children's contests organised under the banner of the Sant Jordi holiday turn 18 — the first, for bookmark designs, and the second, for literature penned by kids. Named for Gabrielet and Robert Lewis Baldon, respectively, both encounters are included among this year's centennial celebrations of the illustrator and ceramicist. Entrants in the writing contest are invited to speak about “the art all around them”.

Another hat tip to the artist will come in the form of a documentary on his life, replete with interviews, images and samples of his work. Filmmaker Alfredo Montero, a Formentera native, is currently helming production of the film.

Formentera's centennial programme will resume in September with an exhibition at Centre Gabrielet in Sant Francesc. The show will focus primarily on the Eivissa-grown artist's drawings.

Youth centre celebrates tenth year

Casal 9The Formentera Council's Office of Social Welfare and Youth Services announced today its programme for the Casal de Jove's tenth anniversary celebration. Friday March 31 marks ten years since Es Molí social centre opened its doors and, with it, the island's gathering space for children and teens.

Department chair Vanessa Parellada described the Casal de Joves (Catalan for “youth house”) as young people's source for both recreation and education over the last ten years. According to Parellada, the goal, helped along rules and qualified staff, was to create a leisure space where youngsters could learn to socialise and coexist with their peers. It has since become a yardstick for youth services, she says. The councillor pointed to a document billed as the island's “youth plan” that is currently being prepared in concert with Formentera youth to ensure the centre's continued ability to adapt to the needs of its users.

Activities
The party starts Thursday March 30 at the Casal with a foosball session, 4.30 to 6.30pm, to be followed by a slideshow with photos and video footage of the Casal's alumni since 2007. At 8.30pm free snacks and birthday cake will be offered in the spirit of celebration and from 9.00 to 10.00pm there will be music and karaoke.

For the big day, March 31, an array of all-ages activities will kick off at 5.00pm in Jardí de ses Eres, with storytelling from Xènia and Siri (“Les mil aventures del Pirata pedorreta i Carlota l'aventurera”) to get the ball rolling. Next up, Casal staff will lead two workshops—urban dance at 6.00pm and voice at 7.00—before Edgar Vilamajo guides attendees through an initiation to graffiti at 8.30. Finally, from 10.00pm till 2.00am, local performers El puerta, Elian.C, Reiminem and Juan Vidal will provide musical entertainment.

The Casal's birthday festivities are part of the Formentera Council's ten year anniversary celebration.

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