As the 9th World Urban Forum takes off in Kuala Lumpur, it is important to remind ourselves of one of the key factors for inclusive cities: citizen participation. Citizens are the ultimate experts for the potentials, needs and problems of their neighbourhood. Using participatory methods like community mapping or transect walks, it is easy to find out which issues are important to neighbours. Too often, urban planners either disregard these ideas or do not take different needs into consideration.
For example, women have different requirements for a safe and liveable neighbourhood than men. People in a wheelchair are usually concerned about a lack of accessibility whereas older citizens might have completely different worries.
One example of the successful transformation of a neighbourhood into a more inclusive space using participatory methods is La Mariscal in Ecuador’s capital Quito. I discovered this neighbourhood in October 2016 during HABITAT III and it is still one of my favourite examples for participatory urban development. Various community organisations got together and invited the neighbours to meetings in order to find out how to make this once-beautiful neighbourhood safe and liveable again. The results are inviting public spaces, free drinking water, accessible book cases, WiFi and beautiful street art painted by neighbours. Better lighting and new, attractive restaurants also helped to make La Mariscal newly-popular neighbourhood for many different groups of residents.
Read the full blog post about La Mariscal here: http://parcitypatory.org/2016/10/17/innovation-mariscal/
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