Categories
Politics Projects & Ideas

Parlio

Parlamentary political activity usually has two sides in the modern democracies of the west. On the first side, you get the visual, staged dramatization, ready for night news consumption, of the debates and arguments between the most prominent political representatives. On the other, there are all the bureocracy rituals, anchored in the nineteenth century foundation of this particular way of embodying political action.

Making this rituals of power more understandable for citizens, quantifying them and exposing lazyness and contradictions of politicians are some of the objectives of Parlio. They focus their activity on the Basque Parliament, the legislative body of the Basque Country autonomous community of Spain. In their own words:

We take the data from the Basque Parliament’s official site and we bring it to the people in a much more user friendly way, so we can really know what the politicians are doing… and what they are not.

However, as usual in public service websites in Spain, where there is no access to information law (the largest EU country without that law, according to Access-Info), the data in the Basque Parliament official website is not provided in a standard format and is not easily re-usable by third parties. Parlio, then, has also the secondary function of translating that data to structured formats, where mashups and other web 2.0 magic trickery takes place. The ruby module that scraps the content out of the Basque Parliament website is avaliable here with a MIT license, so you can, too gather the data for your own purposes. It seems that the whole Parlio website, also in Ruby, will be open sourced at some point. The whole Parlio website has been also open sourced (updated 7.12.09).

In fact, Parlio is funded by Pro Bono Publico, a spanish open association that promotes the use of free and open standards, data and technological platforms in the public institutions. They are looking for designers and developers with any level of expertise to help them shape other projects around public institutions and transparency.

This project was submitted through the front page form by Ana Malagon, one of the developers of Parlio.

Categories
Economy Projects & Ideas

Coop57, ethical financial services

Coop57 is, as its name says, a cooperative providing financial and saving services. Essentially, it functions as a large, horizontal network of solidarity and mutual aid. If a company wants to ask for a loan, it has to be involved in the project first.

It has only presence in some parts of Spain, mainly Catalonia, where it was born, Aragon, Andalucia and Madrid, with plans to expand soon to other areas as Galicia.

Categories
Unrest

Madrid threatens squatter enclave of 40 years

A squatter enclave that’s been existing for over 40 years near Madrid, Spain, is going to be razed and most of the neigbours will be forced to live, as not all will be eligible for rehousing.

Under the plan, the worst areas of the community of 40,000 will be bulldozed to make way for a park, and only a few residents will be eligible for rehousing. The article, in typical fashion, blames all of the drug addiction in Madrid on this one neighborhood (as if organized crime control over the drug trade doesn’t even exist.)

It seems absolutely outrageous for a civilized country to deny rights to people who have lived in a community for decades.

As Victor Renes, of the Spanish charity Caritas, says, “You find yourself here, where it is still possible to settle and try to survive … at the margins where the city tolerates you … until the city arrives and bumps into you and then after that you are tolerated no longer.”