viernes, 21 de marzo de 2008

On people and places

By Ali Zerriffi
March 21, 2008
San Miguel de Allende

Urban centers are experiencing a phenomenal growth all over the world and the challenge for architects and city planners, as well as ordinary citizens, has become an effort to provide a living environment that is human and convivial.

Economic growth, technological change and increased availability of private vehicles have turned once quiet and enjoyable communities into congested urban centers, sometimes threatening to choke the very causes of their success.

A number of original initiatives, some spontaneous and some planned, have emerged in communities around the world to reclaim public space for the enjoyment of the residents and to create environments where people can congregate and be comfortable and safe.

Most people by now have heard of the Slow Food Movement, which came to mean more than avoiding franchise food eaten on the run. It has developed into a “prise de conscience” around the world that to live healthy one must not only take a break from the hustle of modern life in order to enjoy life but also one must avoid fabricated and altered food and try to eat organic and, preferably, locally produced food.

Now the Slow City Movement is spreading around the world. It also started in Italy and, alas, most communities are already beyond the recommended ideal of 50,000 inhabitants but the principles of the movement make sense for any locality and can be applied to the neighborhood level.

The Italian mayors who started the movement committed themselves at their first meeting “to a series of principles that included working toward a calmer and less polluted physical environment, conserving local aesthetic traditions and fostering local crafts, produce and cuisine. The goal is to foster the development of places that enjoy good food, healthy environments, sustainable economies and traditional rhythms for community life.” All of the above principles would not be complete without a commitment to implement “a range of programs from the promotion of organic agriculture, the banning of genetically modified foods and organisms, urban revitalization and historic preservation, alternative energy systems and the preservation of local traditions and heritage, signage and light regulations.”

Project for Public Spaces ( is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build communities.” It quotes Enrique Peñalosa, (ex-mayor of Bogotá and now professor at Columbia University): “Public space is for living, doing business, kissing and playing. It can’t be measured with economics: it must be felt with the soul.”

By public places the organization and the ex-mayor mean parks, squares (or jardines), waterfronts, public markets, transportation, civic centers and, of course, libraries.

We here have recipes for healthy environments used almost along the same principles by both large modern cities that are trying to engineer solutions for better living and old traditional communities that are trying to preserve a way of life that is based more on quality than modern global consumerism.

The underlying controversy regarding the future of San Miguel has more to do, except for the adepts of rearview mirror nostalgia, with preservation of what made San Miguel special and the management of its growth from a sleepy little town to a successful community with a multicultural dimension but also with “traditional rhythms of community life.”

Progress and growth, concepts too often and too readily confused, might very well be unavoidable but they can be channeled in at the right pace and along the right trends.

Urban planning in a relatively small administrative entity like the Municipality of San Miguel de Allende takes on a totally different dimension if one envisions growth and development as a project that will not only capitalize on the assets of the city itself but would integrate the social and economic development of the surrounding rural communities. A master plan should include education, infrastructure, alternative methods of agricultural production, complementary lightweight and non-polluting industry (canning, for example) and non-pervasive activities like eco-tourism.

The city itself needs the collaboration of every sector of society to define its future in order to preserve its uniqueness. A tighter application of zoning and construction rules will be a major first step but more importantly a concerted effort to revive traditional meeting places like public markets, community centers, waterfronts and green spaces. The size of San Miguel and the willingness of many of its residents to get involved in projects benefiting the community should make participatory commitment to a consensual overall plan an easy thing to organize. Projects involving specific neighborhoods should have preliminary consultations with the residents to weigh short-term inconveniences against long-term benefits for the colonia directly affected and the community at large.

On the very promising side the present government has initiated several projects that go in the right direction toward an integrated economic and social development plan. Consultations with and assistance to organic farmers, artisans and tourism operators have led to important actions from developing business plans and co-op organizations to planning of eco-tourism infrastructure and cultural festivals. The implementation of educational facilities thanks to a project between the government, UNAM and the Biblioteca Pública will give our town not only the resources needed by the students of the region but also add an academic dimension to the cultural life of our community.

Collaborating efforts of NGOs and government in San Miguel and the Bajío region in general, as well as devising plans for proper use of publicly or semipublicly owned spaces will help us turn renovated old buildings and available green spaces into centers of learning and recreation, and much-needed conservation areas that will balance the growing urbanization of our environment.

The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not reflect those of Atención San Miguel or the publishers, the Biblioteca Pública.

31 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

Thank you for some other informative web site.
Where else could I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal means?
I have a undertaking that

I am just now running on, and I have been at the glance out for

such information.
my web site -

Anónimo dijo...

I just could not depart your web site before suggesting that I

actually enjoyed the standard information a person provide for your visitors?
Is gonna be back often to check up on new posts
Look at my blog ...

Anónimo dijo...

Thanks for any other informative web site.


place else may I am getting that type of information written
in such an ideal manner? I have a project that

I'm just now running on, and I have been at the look out for

such info.
Look into my web blog ... sky tv update

Anónimo dijo...

Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really
know what you are talking about!

Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my website =). We could have a link exchange contract between us!
Feel free to surf my homepage ::

Anónimo dijo...

F*ckin’ tremendous issues here. I am very glad to peer your post.
Thank you so much and i'm having a look

ahead to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?
My webpage blue med spanish properties s l

Anónimo dijo...

Hello my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing,

nice written and come with almost all vital infos. I would

like to see extra posts like this .
Take a look at my blog

Anónimo dijo...

Hi my friend! I want to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include

almost all vital infos. I’d like to see more posts like
Have a look at my web page ... Catral Spain

Anónimo dijo...

Here is my weblog ...

Anónimo dijo...

I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I
thought this post was good. I do not know who you are

but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren't already ;) Cheers!
Also visit my site -

Anónimo dijo...

Hey! I simply wish to give an

enormous thumbs up for the great information you've got here on this post. I will likely be coming again to your blog for extra soon.
Check out my web site ::

Anónimo dijo...

I'm so happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.
Here is my blog post

Anónimo dijo...

hi!,I like your writing so much! share we communicate more about your article on AOL?
I need a specialist on this area to solve my problem. May be that's you! Looking forward to see you.
Also visit my homepage -

Anónimo dijo...

Thanks for

each of your labor on this website. My daughter

really likes participating in

investigations and it's easy to see why. We know all about the powerful manner you

create reliable ideas on

the blog and as well as


response from the others on that idea and my simple princess is without question discovering a whole

lot. Have fun with the remaining portion of the new year. You are carrying out a remarkable job.
Also see my website :: upcoming new cars in india with price

Anónimo dijo...

Please let me know if you're looking for a author for your weblog. You

have some really great articles and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take

some of the load off, I'd love to write some material for your blog in

exchange for a link back to mine. Please send
me an e-mail if interested. Thank

Here is my weblog :

Anónimo dijo...

Very good blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I'm hoping to start my own site

soon but I'm a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like

Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I'm completely

overwhelmed .. Any tips? Bless you!
my web site >

Anónimo dijo...

An interesting dialogue is worth comment. I think that you must write
extra on this matter, it may not be a taboo subject but generally persons are not enough to speak on such topics.

To the next. Cheers
Also see my website >

Anónimo dijo...

Wonderful website. Lots of helpful

information here. I am sending it to several buddies ans additionally

sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you for your

My web page - ixia regal spain

Anónimo dijo...

Thanks for every other fantastic

post. Where else could anybody get that type of info

in such a perfect approach of writing? I've a presentation next

week, and I'm on the look for such information.
Also see my website ::

Anónimo dijo...

Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice at the same time as you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a weblog site?
The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of
this your broadcast provided vibrant

clear idea
Feel free to surf my blog

Anónimo dijo...

Generally I do not read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this

write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing
style has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice

my site: madrid uydu görüntüleri

Anónimo dijo...

Thank you for another informative web site. Where else could I
get that type of

information written in such an ideal way? I've a project that I'm just
now working on,

and I've been on the look out for such information.
Feel free to visit my homepage ;

Anónimo dijo...

whoah this blog is magnificent i love reading your posts.
Keep up the

great work! You know, many people are looking around for this info, you can aid them greatly.
My blog post :

Anónimo dijo...

Hello this is kind of of off topic but I was

wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
I'm starting a blog soon but have

no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance from someone with

experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
my webpage - free classifieds southern indiana

Anónimo dijo...

You made some nice points there. I did a search on the

subject and found most individuals will consent with

your website.

Feel free to visit my weblog -

Anónimo dijo...

wonderful publish, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector don't realize this.

You should proceed your writing. I'm confident, you've a huge readers'

base already!

Here is my site ::

Anónimo dijo...

Hi! I've been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to mention

keep up the fantastic job!

Also visit my web blog -

Anónimo dijo...

I am not sure the place you're getting your

information, but good topic. I must spend some time finding out

much more or working out more. Thanks for

magnificent info I was looking for

this info for my mission.

Feel free to surf to my web blog

Anónimo dijo...

Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and

you are just too great. I actually like what

you have acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you

say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible.

can't wait to read far more from you. This is really a wonderful site.

Also visit my blog ... london travel news underground

Anónimo dijo...

I just couldn't depart your website before suggesting that

I really enjoyed the standard information an individual

provide for your guests? Is going to be again ceaselessly in order to investigate

cross-check new posts

Take a look at my weblog; cycling holidays in spain costa blanca

Anónimo dijo...

That is the precise

weblog for anybody who desires to seek out out about this topic.

notice so much its virtually arduous to

argue with you (not that I really would need…HaHa).
You undoubtedly put a

new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just


Feel free to surf to my homepage ::

Anónimo dijo...

Ι gо tο see eveгy ԁаy
a few websitеs аnd websitеs to rеad aгticles oг rеviews,
however thіs ωebρаge giνеs qualitу based posts.

Feel free to surf to my websitе diamondlinks review