Open Space Seattle:2100

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Curitiba: The Cur for the Common City

Curitiba, the Brazilian city that is the dream of urban designers everywhere, was featured in a recent article by Bill McKibben in Mother Jones. We've long known that Curitiba was brilliant in it's transportation planning. The article raises further points:

  • due to its transportation infrastructure (in this case mostly bus transit) Curitiba's streets are imminently walkble
  • The city's visionary mayor Jaime Lerner, began the city's transformation by pulling a Daley-like performance: Friday night the jackhammers were out transforming a main thoroughfare into a pedestrian plaza. By Monday morning, they were done and by Monday morning the once-dubious merchants along the street were asking for more.
  • when the federal government gave the city money to channelize the rivers that braided through the city, the city instead bought land, created check dams that formed lakes behind them and had a network of flood control parks.
  • Curitiba Fact #1:"In 20 years-even as it tripled in population-the city went from two square feet of green area per inhabitant to more than 150 square feet per inhabitant"
  • Curitiba Fact #2:"Green begets green; land values around the new parks have risen sharply, and with them tax revenues."
  • Curitiba Fact #3: "Integration" is a word one hears constantly from official Curitiba, another of its mantras. It means knitting together the entire city-rich, poor, and in-between-culturally and economically and physically.
But the final note comes from Mayor Lerner: Many cities have "a lot of people who are specialists in proving change is not possible. What I try to explain to them when I go visit is that it takes the same energy to say why something can't be done as to figure out how to do it."

Obrigado, Mayor Lerner.

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