Transformative Citymaking

Transformative Citymaking

Can urban jungles transform to become sustainable, green and equitable cities? This week on Podparks, we explore transformative citymaking with Jorge Perez Jaramillo, Advisor to the government of Antioquia, from Medellin, Colombia. Medellin has been an example for urban metamorphosis, developing solutions for the city’s growing urban populations that integrate mobility, environmental protection and community engagement.
While Jorge recognizes the city is still evolving, he attributes the rapid civic change to a strong social capital and institutional strength that has given the transformation project the continuity it needs to succeed. Medellin began its city-wide sustainable urban planning process in the early 90’s, when the city first gained a local and regional democracy. Despite being faced with many political and economic challenges, city residents were resolute to upgrade their urban environment, displaying “a combination of a resilient attitude and a strong reaction of the society telling our problems ‘we are here and we are going to succeed’”.

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From this point onwards, the city included participatory processes as a key policy guideline for all of its interventions, forcing decisionmakers to include the community in investments and city-wide projects. 

Jorge acknowledges the many faces of participatory interventions, such as knowledge co-creation in conjunction with social actors, democratic activities that go beyond electoral processes, and transparency and accountability, recognizing criticism as an integral part of making cities better for everyone and not for a select few.

In the last decade, Medellin has placed a new emphasis on its rivers. Parques del Río, one of the city’s most ambitious projects, attempts to reintegrate and reconnect the city to its surrounding ecosystem by recovering the main river that had served only as a channel. 

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Jorge explains the long and interacting stages that have occurred as a part of this intervention, from waste management redesigns, reurbanization plans, parkmaking and mobility interventions. Jorge deeply believes that participatory processes and citizen stewardship can help break the cycle of short and changing government priorities.

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