CACS Highlights: Winner of Public Space

Public spaces, like this one in Mexico, have an important role in building and improving community. Photo by Dani Simons.

This post is part of TheCityFix’s series, “CACS Highlights,” introducing the winners of the Active Cities, Healthy Cities (or “CACS,” its acronym in Spanish and Portuguese) competition. These public projects aim to transform the lives of millions of people through building healthy and altruistic communities. Each project will be honored at the 7th World Congress on Sustainable Transport on October 5, 2011 in Mexico City.

A version of this post was originally published by Maria Fernanda Cavalcanti on September 26, 2011 in Portuguese in TheCityFix Brasil.

The projects of the fourth edition of the Active Cities, Healthy Cities contest show us that it is possible to transform the lives of people through simple actions. In the Public Space category, the initiatives that stood out by popular vote have a common strong message. This message is supplemented with the understanding that engaging communities brings about positive change more actively and more thoroughly.

The winning project, the City Street in Canoas (RS), is a true example of the power people have in the construction of public policies. The initiative organizes and implements face-to-face conversations with the city’s mayor every weekend. Every Saturday, the mayor and his team move into one of four regions of the province to hear complaints and suggestions from communities, opening public dialogue.

The meetings are always in different neighborhoods, parks and squares, fulfilling the social function of public spaces. People who participate in the discussion fill out a form stating their claims, which are then forwarded to the mayor. The entire process is recorded, ensuring transparency of action.

The City Street project is quickly becoming popular, with the last meeting including 11,500 attendees.

Honorable Mentions under Public Space

Six additional projects received honorable mention in the category of Public Space:

The Planning Institute of the City of Colima (IPCo) decided to put pen to paper and draw its population. The project works to illustrate community suggestions to reorganize public space. The community relies on the assistance of technical experts, allowing a form of shared governance. Thus, people become the protagonists of both physical changes and the public policies of Colima. Read more here.

Brazil’s Ideas Bank listens and sympathizes with all people on issues of architecture and urbanization. The goal of the project is to provide all citizens with a decentralized channel, where they can continuously participate in the construction of Santa Maria through participatory planning. Communities can also join the virtual channel through the project’s website.

Santiago de Querétaro is one of the most visited cities in Mexico, but the huge influx of tourists is not necessarily helping the quality of life in the city center, or the cultural heritage of the community. To ease the stress of tourism on the community, the government developed a more sustainable tourism plan in the region, giving new life and energy to the city center. Today, the same area is considered to be one of the best parts of the city, with excellent quality of life.

The Green Apples project is a joint effort of the Gaia Pacha Foundation and several local institutions. This project invites all cultural centers, institutions and foundations to be promoters of behavioral change on environmental issues in their respective neighborhoods. Thus, each organization is responsible for community awareness on topics relating to environmental conservation and preservation.

Paseo de la Sexta seeks to implement new strategies for community intervention in the implementation of public spaces within the city.  The capital’s municipality seeks to influence a positive environment in order to improve current conditions and promote opportunities that can generate local investment. This specific project is a walk with diverse routes and itineraries that helps to develop tourism in the region. The tour is a true exchange of culture with close to 190,000 visitors per week.

The town of Colonia de Sacramento works to integrate the residents of rural areas with the dynamism of urban life. In order to accomplish this, the city is implementing, with assistance from the Federal Government and the European Union, 18 Centers for Rural Development. These bases are strategically placed along the route of rural schools to assist in the development of local communities.

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