By Jessica Feltrin.
On July 6th, The Experiment gave us a break from the bustling city of Madrid and took us to Torrelodones, a smaller city 40 minutes away. Comprised of roughly 25,000 citizens, the city’s homely aspect immediately drew me in. Under the shade of a gazebo, Luis, our Pandora leader, led a discussion on Spanish politics and the system of government within Madrid and Torrelodones. This gave me a more worldwide view of the way governments work with their people to create a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. For even greater insight on this concept, the mayor of Torrelodones received us in her town hall where she explained the way she works with her citizens. Through a combination of information, participation, and feedback the local government is able to achieve transparency with its citizens. It is through this transparency that the mayor assures the voices of every citizen are heard and taken account of. For example, if the town wanted to renovate the park to make it more kid-friendly, the mayor would hold a town meeting and invite all children from the local school to hear their suggestions. I personally feel that politics play a major role in urban planning and getting to understand the local governments in Spain really broadened my perspective on who should run the city: its people. The second half of the day we visited the local pool and basked in the summer sun. The cool pool brought us closer together as we sat and exchanged stories in the refreshing water. The social atmosphere really immersed us in Spanish culture by showing us the value of family and friends which gathered that day in the pool. It was the perfect end to a great day of culture, bonding, and learning.
The mayor speaking with us.