“I’m just a rabbit who seldom leaves the house,” says Pepe Bigotes, the voice behind Amo Villa Crespo‘s frank and funny editorial. It’s a good thing then that the publication’s founder and editor-in-chief Agustina Stegmayer knows Villa Crespo like the back of her hand.
A guide to the area’s establishments, events, and inhabitants, AVC is the product of Agustina’s passion for her neighborhood. Literally translating as ‘I Love Villa Crespo,’ the fruit of her labor is clearly aptly named. We spoke to her about her project and how it’s shedding some well-deserved light on one of Buenos Aires’ coolest (yet oft underrated) barrios.
The inspiration for AVC came to Agustina while she was working for Wipe, a Buenos Aires guide and monthly magazine. While there already are neighborhood-specific publications of a similar nature, she felt that these ‘what’s on’ guides had unexplored potential. According to her, they are essential to encourage people to appreciate the unexplored, but no less enjoyable, areas of the big city, and the fact that they are generally lacking in content and creative spark is something she feels is a real shame. As a result, AVC is bursting with passion.
Though the project started out as a kind of interactive online map which people could use to more easily locate the stand out places of the area, it’s now only one part of a whole host of features that the publication boasts. Included is a comprehensive guide to all the best businesses and organizations the area has to offer. We’d love to be more specific, but the ‘Guide’ section caters to every possible need of both locals and visitors alike. As standard, it lists the area’s bars, restaurants, cafes, etc.; additionally, it even points you in the direction of workshops, therapists, and pet shops, too.
Located between Palermo and Caballito, Villa Crespo is just a hop, skip, and jump from the Palermo bubble adored by so many expats and international students. Generally recognized as equally cool if not a little edgier and more local, the area has grown in popularity in recent years, most likely due to its funky speakeasies, vintage shops, and designer showrooms.
But the publication doesn’t just draw some much needed attention to these lesser-known gems. Also essential to AVC’s unique identity are its witty thought pieces and relevant, topical articles which are published to its ‘Notas‘ (articles) section, along with the infamous editorial written by Villa Crespo’s own mascot, the rabbit Pepe Bigotes.
However, for Agustina, the goal is about more than just putting her neighborhood on the map. It’s about “rescuing and preserving the identity of the barrio, while also adding to it without diluting its essence.” Indeed, the publication strengthens the community to which it belongs: as she found more and more places and voices which she wanted to share, a kind of network of neighboring artists, entrepreneurs, and business owners began to take shape.
AVC has become, in the words of its founder, “a kind of platform which forms links and facilitates exchanges between people, highlighting current topics and happenings which, excluded from the agenda of the main channels of distribution, would otherwise not be on people’s radar.”
Launched back in July 2014, it took two years’ hard labor to get AVC off the ground. The less-than-stellar reputation of pre-existing local guides like this meant that it was difficult to to gain people’s trust and subsequent support in her project, at least not until she had something more concrete to present.
On top of this is the fact that it is notoriously difficult to sustain a print magazine, not least because paper publications are being eclipsed by digital media and technology, but also due to the lack of financial support that the government invests in such projects here. Although she has sought it out, the publication doesn’t receive government funding: Agustina depends on the money generated through advertising and the good-will of the contributors, often friends of hers, who work on a voluntary basis.
Indeed, AVC’s permanent staff comprises solely the founder herself. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as it has left the field open for exciting contributions straight from the horse’s mouth. Interviews are conducted by friends of those interviewed, activists write about their own movements, organizers share their events directly, and celebrated residents share their local knowledge.
Despite the lack of economic investment in the improvement, promotion, and distribution of pre-existing publications like AVC, Agustina maintains that as long as you “refuse to sacrifice quality and always strive to speak honestly about what you know, about the place in which you belong, you’ll succeed. No matter how humble your beginnings, you can do anything if you do it with love.”
Amo Villa Crespo’s treasure-trove of information comes in the form of a nifty website, a Facebook page, and an Instagram account. They’re also on Youtube and, last but not least, in good old-fashioned print. The latter can be found and picked up for free in shops, cafes, and bars located throughout the beloved Villa Crespo.