Inflamable has a voice / tiene voz

Inflamable has a voice
Villa Inflamable, Dock Sud, Avellaneda
34°39’46.4"S 58°20’22.9”W

On Sunday 8th of July 2018, Aerocene Foundation in collaboration with Sembrando Juntos Community Center, ACIJ and Blog Proyecto Riachuelo held a day of thought and reflection with Aerocene aerosolar balloon flights at Villa Inflamable. In addition to the residents of Inflamable, we were joined by a documentary team from Universidad 3 de Febrero and the community TV channel that covers the shanty towns of Buenos Aires, Urbana Te Ve.

The activity occurred on the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Justice ruling of the Mendoza case, dealing with the environmental suffering caused by the critical state of the Matanza-Riachuelo river and ordered the cleaning of its basin.

What appeared to be a cloudy day with possible intermittent showers evolved into a day with a few transient cumulus nimbus and sun. A Sudestada (southeasterly winds from a local storm) faded on the Rio de la Plata, leaving winds with gusts of 10 knots.In the morning, we made a Villa Inflamable tour by foot, guided by Daniel, a neighbor known by many habitants. We walked the streets while Daniel told us about the life in the Villa and the most important problems that neighbors are still experiencing. There is a clear abandonment by the state evidenced in the fact that this community coexists with one of the largest petrochemical plants in Argentina. It is disconcerting to see an almost constant line of tankers that supply fuel to the megalopolis of Buenos Aires, circulating every day in a neighborhood with such urgent needs.

Daniel told us that the inhabitants of Villa Inflamable bear many problems: from the state of the streets (most of them dirt and a few paved) to the lack of services (such as running water, electricity, gas, sewer, poor lighting) the list is long. The state has acknowledged that the water in the town is contaminated and is harmful to health, therefore setting up a distribution network of drinking water bottles through Acumar. Each of the more than two thousand families that inhabit the Villa must go daily to collect their bottles at a distribution center in the area they inhabit.

The lack of a sewage network is perhaps one of the most pressing problems of the Villa, since the sewage drains into natural lagoons that are scattered throughout the territory of Inflamable. The lagoons have accumulated garbage of different types, and appear to sustain biological activity that contributes to the processing of waste. However, they are in an area of xtreme risk for all diseases related to the presence of mosquito larvae, such as dengue, zika and chikungunya.

Our warm guide, Daniel, told us that he has 10 children, and after walking we arrived at his house, a small ranch without much natural light, doors or windows. We talked with his wife and some of his daughters, who were making a drawing with cheerful colors on the dining table, inside the dirt floor dining room. Daniel currently coordinates workers of the public cleaning plan of the Villa, and aspires to build -on a slab at the bottom of his plot- a brick house with a firm floor. Our tour of the neighborhood ended in the afternoon, as some guests were already arriving at the Sembrando Juntos Community Center.

After having organized two days with the children who attend the school support classes at Sembrando Juntos, we expanded our network of contacts and joined with the synergies of different institutions that work to improve the quality of life in the Villa. Such synergies were furthered by Claudia Espínola, leader of Sembrando Juntos, legal promoter and recognized activist for the rights of the inhabitants of Inflamable. Claudia has a wonderful family that helps and accompanies her in everything she does. Her daughter Rocío Luque, for example, studies Social Work University of Lanús and knows the families of the village and everyone’s struggles to live better.

Another auspicious arrival was that of ACIJ (Civil Association for Equality and Justice), which has been doing impeccable work in the Villa for years, developing an agenda of concrete proposals for change and productive economy workshops among other actions. The urban architects Fito Rossi and Gustavo Cañaveral, from the Blog Proyecto Riachuelo, also joined, and gave us a masterclass of the Matanza Riachuelo basin and their vision of productive navigable waterways for the development of the area.
Navigable and productive waterways, architects Gustavo Cañaveral and Adolfo Rossi vision for the Matanza-Riachuelo river basin.

Ezequiel Viggiano of Sembrando Juntos prepared some delicious bondiolas and choripanes for a lunch full of anecdotes from the area, remembering the history and evolution of the Riachuelo, and above all, the coastal landscape prior to the anthropocentric corporate oil activity that settled in this neighborhood in the form of a gigantic petrochemical plant.

Finally it was time for the flights! We went to a plot in front of the container deposit, since Inflamable’s Saladita was full of mud due to past week’s rain. We flew two Aerocene Explorer balloons, together with the community of Inflamable.Our guide Daniel came with 4 of his younger daughters. The balloons registered atmospheric variables and created an Aeroglyph, or signature in the air. These signatures describe the flight of aerosolar balloons and are collected around the world as signatures for an ethical commitment to the atmosphere, and for a future free of fossil fuels.

In a moment full of emotion, the activist Claudia Espínola read a document written by the community, in which the historical work of the activists of Inflamable and the Matanza-Riachuelo basin is recognized and a call is made for reliable solutions for environmental contamination. Although not being able to be present, the activists Débora Swistun - who wrote the celebrated book Flammable - and Claudia Mendoza - who gave name to the collective cause of the Supreme Court ruling, were evoked and remembered.

The group of neighbors, institutions, volunteers and children that met on this day to reflect on the community, the atmosphere and environmental issues not only reached that goal, but also a marked feeling of brotherhood, collaboration and solidarity remained floating in the air. These values uide us, in the search for a better quality of life for the two thousand families of Villa Inflamable. Our future actions are focused to continue accompanying this valuable community, and to facilitate a series of concrete actions to help with some precise needs of Villa Inflammable inhabitants. Because, as Claudia Espíndola reflected: “Flammable has a Voice”.

Photos by Gabriela Sorbi, Natalia Buceta, Jimena Rodriguez Berisso y Margarita Ezcurra

Following up on Villa Inflamable, I would like to openly recommend VICE produced NatGeo Documentary, “Malas Aguas”, transecting the life of some of our dearest friends in Villa Inflamable >

As well as invite our community members to sign the recently launched declaration of Villa Inflamable, an international proclamation for access to justice for all and legal empowerment.

Villa Inflamable has a voice!

I am pasting @shapiro.nick latest post on which we touch the issue of how to do things in Inflamable:

I have to say this thought about going beyond structures of oppression and not literally against them left me thinking. I like this idea. Will be sharing our project for Inflamable soon and opening up to the community’s input.

Sounds wise! What type of questions are you thinking about @Joaquin?

I heard (amazing) Abiol Lual Deng this weekend at Transmediale in Berlin talking about energy, territory, soil, identity and material ecology. She had super interesting inputs of the need to foster new environments which has to serve the ecosystems on the ground, also meaning the local culture and ecological communities… made me think about Aerocene in relation to what you @shapiro.nick and @Joaquin are discussing - the need to not only redefine but to also shape completely new trajectories, abandoning for example traditional way of looking at politics etc, shaping a map of all creatures “dependencies” on each other and the atmosphere, fixed order or just speculative…

What do Villa Inflamable inhabitants themselves want to do in the future? Are you planning to go there soon again?

Hey Camilla @camilla! I was at Inflamable for a meeting at community center Sembrando Juntos last Tuesday. After a few exchanges with Nick @shapiro.nick I was eager to listen to them, what they are asking for, what they need. In our willingness to help, we might sometimes oversee that their reality is very dire and that our ideas and solutions are not always a perfect fit. For instance a future free of fossil fuels is way behind the need to raise their children in a safe and healthy environment! So we need to be careful in what kind of project we propose, and how we can actually adapt it so we can really help! Anyway, after a few hours of conversation over some mates, we came to these conclusions:

What we can offer

  • Aerosolar flight and meteorology workshops
  • Aerosolar ballon building workshops
  • Futuros Posibles literary and audiovisual creation workshop
  • Pollution monitor building workshop
  • A mobile library to take around town

What they expressed as their needs

  • A projector
  • A minivan
  • Attention from policy makers and media
  • Pollution monitoring

So in this precise point about our idea of a mobile library and their need of a minivan I see a clear example of different needs and mindsets. Both ideas are great! We just need to see how to work it out together. @Aerox > I did remember your words on our Slack channel :slight_smile:

In any case it seems there are many things that we can continue working together and most importantly we have a positive relationship with Claudia, Eze and Rocío, who are respected community members and always open to new ideas.

Sidenote, an Aerocene community member brought a drone and in little time we made a photogrammetry of half Villa Inflamable’s territory. We are hoping these maps will allow many NGO’s better assess infrastructure and environmental problems. Have a look on this link.


So great that you already had a listening session! Totally agree with the temporal mismatch of the need of a utopic future and the need to reduce current and pressing suffering. The question of how to do both w/o compromising either is so hard!

I left Paris thinking that maybe media attention is something that the aerocene can offer in the short term as the project has a global media presence and has contacts w/ policy makers in Argentina. Its interesting that that is also what their expressed needs are!

What are their needs in terms of pollution monitoring? I know debora was working on something related to pm monitoring but I’m not sure what happened. If I get a sense of their pollution monitoring needs I’m happy to see if I can be helpful.

PL also has some software to facilitate map stitching but it looks like you put your map together easily and beautifully.


Can’t wait to hear more about this project and all that was accounted for while visiting the communities in Villa Inflamable. Thank you for sharing @Joaquin. It seems a series of workshops focusing on PM monitoring is definitely next. Were there any interest in looking into the soil as well? Will be interesting to hear later on what these citizen science monitoring results will lead to. Would it be possible to work with anyone in Argentina? Scientists, researchers etc?

Quick note! I recently read some more Villa context and facts in a recent release giving a historical account for making sense of contemporary environmental challenges facing Latin America.

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Hey Cami, there is interest in independent soil monitoring, most especially after a government funded that took 160 soil samples found no pollution.
Yes it’s possible to work with other people in Argentina and we are taking this into account for this year’s activities, specifically forging alliances with other non-profits working in the zone.
Thanks for the book recommendation! I was able to read it’s Inflamable mentions through Google Books.


Hey Nick! I checked, it should work beautifully for small size hand-made orthomosaics. I am using commercial solutions like Pix4D or Drone2Map because they are fast and very easy to use. But I am looking to move into this tool for large area orthmosaics: OpenDroneMap. Their commercial model is interesting: if you want free you get command line tools or even self install user interface. If you pay a small amount compared to other solutions they even give you an automated installer. Still have to check the quality of the orthomosaic this tool produces.

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Wow! amazing! Looks like the public lab tool has been out maneuvered :slight_smile: Its funny that it was the only real tool for this back in the day. thanks for letting me know about all these resources!


Recently, fellow aeronaut @camilla brought up the issue of how

to work with a scientific body to look at the results taken from the citizen science monitoring

and I thought about these set of questions to get the exchange started:

  1. What are the exact air quality impacts of petroleum refining and petrochemical industries?

  2. How can we engage Villa Inflamable community in a year long air quality monitoring campaign?

  3. What conclusions could arise from processing PM Data with atmospheric numerical models?

An here go my own answers :smiley:

  1. Hydrocarbons, both aliphatic and aromatic, are the main VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that are generated from the petroleum industry [7]. Regulated emissions and leaks both contribute to the VOCs concentration [12]. Aromatic VOCs are mainly comprised of Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene (BTEX) [13], and benzene is of particular concern since it is carcinogenic. VOCs are associated with a number of potential health effects. Short term exposure to VOCs may cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea and depression. Exposure to certain VOCs may even result in mutations and cancers [14], and others may cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver [15].

Source: Air Quality Impacts of Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Industries

  1. My first though on this one is to identify willing community members that will operate and maintain DIT particulate matter sensing devices. One of the concerns they express is that usually there are isolated polluting events at random times of the day, so the ability to respond with a registered measurement at these times is important. As well there is the possiblity of an IoT device, a sensor connected to the internet on a fixed position. My view here is that it needs to be a proven an robust solution that will work on and on without needing much intervention. In this sense, and from my personal experience researching and exploring different PM sensing devices, I would suggest Air Citizen’s sensing device.

  2. Numerical modelling can help to assess the effect atmospheric transport of particulate matter, affecting populations many kilometers away, depending on the prevailing winds.

Source: Numerical Modeling of Particulate Matter Dispersion from Kerman Cement Plant, Iran

Hola amigues! Comparto un libro que tiene un capítulo escrito por @shapiro.nick, super relevante para pensar las acciones en Villa Inflamable: “Afectados Ambientales: aportes conceptuales y prácticos para la lucha por el reconocimiento y garantía de derechos”.


Se descarga gratis en este link.

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Novedades desde Villa Inflamable! El barrio está en Google Street View:

Para todxs los interesadxs en Villa Inflamable y la vida del Dock Sud, dejo a mano unos videos de las expediciones a Puerto Piojo en el que salen algunxs amigoxs como Roberto Naone del Club de Regatas de La Boca.

@Debora has written an amazing article about Inflamble for Toxic News portal: