As many people have said in the past, a city is nothing without its people. That’s why we always aim to keep a human focus whatever we’re writing about here at This Big City. But we also have a category of posts dedicated to the people that make cities noteworthy. Here are five of the best posts from that category published in 2013.
“Exprópiese!” The Urban Legacy of Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez passed away on March 5th this year after a controversial residency as President of Venezuela. Writer Drew Reed looked at his urban legacy:
There are definitely good things to be said of Chavez. Under his presidency, the GINI coefficient in Venezuela moved .07 points (from .46 to .39) towards greater equality, and the human development index rose significantly under his tenure too, all quantifiable signs of progress. However, his death is also a fitting occasion to step back and thoughtfully reflect on the use of eminent domain and expropriations in cities.
Pop Urbanism: Using Music to Develop a Creative City Image
Individuals can shape their cities, but how much power do they have over its international ‘brand’? Writer Silvie Jacobi looked at how a group of musicians influenced Mannheim:
In the early 90s, a group of Mannheim-based musicians grouped around lead singer Xavier Naidoo - now one of Germany’s leading names in pop music – formed the music collective Söhne Mannheims (Sons of Mannheim). At this time they started advocating Mannheim in songs and broadcasting media, raising awareness for their city as a place with success stories, talents and authenticity.
Breaking Down Barriers, One Cup of Coffee at a Time
People with disabilities can face problems integrating into the labour market. Mike Wilter visited a coffee shop in Granada run entirely by deaf-mute people:
There is dignity in having work. And there is empowerment and creativity in partnerships. Well-located and easily accessible centres like the Tio Antonio Centro Social that are accommodating of the needs of their staff and customers and that offer quality products and services have the potential to promote the diversity of a city in a way that empowers and integrates. It is projects like these that break barriers sustainably.
Resilient Cities: Reestablishing Communities Post-Disaster
When cities are struck by natural disaster, the act of rebuilding infrastructure frequently takes priority. But how can communities be reestablished alongside this? Alison Killing writes:
It is now almost 4 years since the earthquake [in Haiti] and many humanitarian agencies operating in Haiti have moved towards longer term recovery and development programmes. Recovery has social, economic and physical aspects. Recognising this, some agencies have shifted their focus from replacing individual shelters to taking an ‘integrated neighbourhood approach‘, combining social, economic and physical interventions across an entire neighbourhood.
The Brighton Placemaking Project With a Mexico City Twist
Placemaking is much talked about, but doesn’t have to be that complex. Writer Cara Courage looks at a project in Brighton:
On a rainy September Sunday afternoon this year in Brighton, UK, residents took to their pavements with an armchair, pots of tea and slices of cake to meet their neighbours. This is Zocalo, the annual Brighton event that takes places all over the city that aims to get people talking to their neighbours, getting to know each other and making friends.