============================================================================ Delivered-To: •••@••.••• Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2000 20:34:33 -0700 To: •••@••.••• (undisclosed list) From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••> Subject: Curitiba: A City Managed by Common Sense Dear friends, It always gives me hope when I'm reminded of the remarkable city of Curitiba, Brazil, which I've known about for about 8 years. If you are interested in more detailed information, there's an extensive description in Bill McKibben's HOPE, HUMAN AND WILD (Little, Brown & Co., 1995). Curitiba so inspired me that I included it in my "imagineering" story about the first major (future) experiment in co-intelligent politics in http://www.co-intelligence.org/S-PatandPat.html . All of us could forward the Curitiba story below to officials in our city governments, just to suggest what's possible.... Coheartedly, Tom _ _ _ _ A City Managed By Common Sense Residents of Curitiba, Brazil, think they live in the best city in the world, and a lot of outsiders agree. Curibita has 17 new parks, 90 miles of bike paths, trees everywhere, and traffic and garbage systems that officials from other cities come to study. Curibita's mayor for twelve years, Jaime Lerner, has a 92 per cent approval rating. There is nothing special about Curitiba's history, location or population. Like all Latin American cities, the city has grown enormously - from 150,000 people in the 1950s to 1.6 million now. It has its share of squatter settlements, where fewer than half the people are literate. Curibita's secret, insofar that it has one, seems to be simple willingness from the people at the top to get their kicks from solving problems. Those people at the top started in the 1960s with a group of young architects who were not impressed by the urban fashion of borrowing money for big highways, massive buildings, shopping malls and other showy projects. They were thinking about the environment and about human needs. They approached Curibita's mayor, pointed to the rapid growth of the city and made a case for better planning. The mayor sponsored a contest for a Curibita master plan. He circulated the best entries, debated them with the citizens, and then turned the people's comments over to the upstart architects, asking them to develop and implement a final plan. Jaime Lerner was one of these architects. In 1971 he was appointed mayor by the then military government of Brazil. Given Brazil's economic situation, Lerner had to think small, cheap and participatory - which was how he was thinking anyway. He provided 1.5 million tree seedlings to neighborhoods for them to plant and care for. ('There is little in the architecture of a city that is more beautifully designed than a tree,' says Lerner.) He solved the city's flood problems by diverting water from lowlands into lakes in the new parks. He hired teenagers to keep the parks clean. He met resistance from shopkeepers when he proposed turning the downtown shopping district into a pedestrian zone, so he suggested a thirty-day trial. The zone was so popular that shopkeepers on the other streets asked to be included. Now one pedestrian street, the Rua das Flores, is lined with gardens tended by street children. Orphaned or abandoned street children are a problem all over Brazil. Lerner got each industry, shop and institution to 'adopt' a few children, providing them with a daily meal and a small wage in exchange for simple maintenance gardening or office chores. Another Lerner innovation was to organize the street vendors into a mobile, open-air fair that circulates through the city's neighborhoods. Concentric circles of local bus lines connect to five lines that radiate from the center of the city in a spider web pattern. On the radial lines, triple-compartment buses in their own traffic lanes carry three hundred passengers each. They go as fast as subway cars, but at one-eightieth the construction cost. The buses stop at Plexiglas tube stations designed by Lerner. Passengers pay their fares, enter through one end of the tube, and exit from the other end. This system eliminates paying on board, and allows faster loading and unloading, less idling and air pollution, and a sheltered place for waiting - though the system is so efficient that there isn't much waiting. There isn't much littering either. There isn't time. Curitiba's citizens separate their trash into just two categories, organic and inorganic, for pick-up by two kinds of trucks. Poor families in squatter settlements that are unreachable by trucks bring their trash bags to neighborhood centers, where they can exchange them for bus tickets or for eggs, milk, oranges and potatoes, all bought from outlying farms. The trash goes to a plant (itself built of recycled materials) that employs people to separate bottles from cans from plastic. The workers are handicapped people, recent immigrants, and alcoholics. Recovered materials are sold to local industries. Styrofoam is shredded to stuff quilt for the poor. The recycling program costs no more than the old landfill, but the city is cleaner, there are more jobs, farmers are supported and the poor get food and transportation. Curitiba recycles two-thirds of it garbage - one of the highest rates of any city, north or south. Curitiba builders get a tax break if their projects include green areas. Jaime Lerner says, 'There is no endeavor more noble than the attempt to achieve a collective dream. When a city accepts as a mandate its quality of life; when it respects the people who live in it; when it respects the environment; when it prepares for future generations, the people share the responsibility for that mandate, and this shared cause is the only way to achieve that collective dream.' (Source: The Global Ideas Bank http://www.globalideasbank.org ) quoted in Global Village News and Resources. A free subscription is available from •••@••.•••. For more information, see introduction to GVNR #4, at the end of this email. _ _ _ _ PS: Curitiba update from Tom: Although the undated article above is a bit out of date (e.g., former Mayor Jaime Lerner is now governor of the state of Parana, of which Curitiba is the capital) the city is still remarkable. Tonight on the web I found the following more recent data: Acclaimed nationally and internationally for its innovative urban solutions, the city relies on the country's most efficient public transportation system and boasts 52 square meters of green area per inhabitant, causing it to be called "Brazil's Ecological Capital." The current administration, led by Mayor Cássio Taniguchi, is bringing successful experiences to the other 26 municipalities that comprise the city's metropolitan area. http://members.tripod.com.br/myworld/curitiba.htm Curitiba is among the fastest growing cities in Brazil. Its water resources are being compromised by precarious sewage infrastructure, irregular developments along the riverbanks and garbage entering the water system. Since 1996, the city encouraged local residents to take responsibility for their water resources by involving the community in monitoring water quality and mobilizing the community in environmental management. 140 key people in schools, environmental organizations, universities, neighbourhood associations, Boy Scout groups, etc., have been trained and supported to mobilize their membership. More than 5000 people have now been involved in monitoring the environmental conditions of the city's rivers, using sight, smell and simple field analysis kits, and sending results to the city's department of the environment. Another 135,000 people have participated in related environmental education and cleanup activities. http://www.iclei.org/mia98-99/curitiba.htm A virtual field trip of Curitiba, created in 1999, can be found on http://www.busways.com/pages/vtrip.html. <snip> _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * Eugene, OR http://www.co-intelligence.org http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_Index.html ============================================================================ Richard K Moore Wexford, Ireland Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance email: •••@••.••• CDR website & list archives: http://cyberjournal.org content-searchable archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/ featured article: http://cyberjournal.org/cj/rkm/Whole_Earth_Review/Escaping_the_Matrix.shtml A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication. -- Frantz Fanon Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. ============================================================================ .