In January I caught the tail end of Planeta Rock, an annual political hip-hop festival in Santiago organized by the Red Hip Hop Activista (Hip Hop Activist Network). In addition to listening to amazing music with thousands of jumping teenagers, I did an interview with one of the organizers, a little bit of which made it into the article below.
After much fiddling and swearing, the bicycle generator--our technical contribution to the Trabajo Voluntario--reached a mostly-completed state.
We started with an abandoned bike and made it stationary. To do this, we first took off the front wheel and welded part of a metal chair to it. We built a metal base the went under the back wheel that extended backwards giving the base some measure of stability and a place to mount the generator, the key part of the apparatus that actually converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.
For the past two weeks I've been helping organize a volunteer camp in small town Chile. It's simply called the Trabajo Voluntario (Volunteer Work) or TraVol, and was co-organized by the Free University of Santiago. If you read Spanish, there's more info at: http://travol-polpaiko-2011.blogspot.com/
The camp is taking place in Polpaico, a a small, relatively poor town in the northern part of the Santiago Metropolitan Region (there are 13 regions in Chile, kind of like states but less autonomous from the federal government). It's not really a city, but it's also not isolated, as hundreds of vehicles pass everyday.
Earlier this week I went to La Legua, a neighborhood in the Santiago, the capital of Chile. La Legua is a población, which is a term used to refer to working class neighborhoods that were often formed in huge land occupations in the middle of the 20th century. It was explained to me that La Legua was one of the few neighborhoods were there was open, popular resistance to the US-backed coup of General Augosto Pinochet on September 11th, 1973.