Last week I said that I would write something about Jaime Lerner. Well Carl Davidson (who wanted to demonstrate that he reads the Tuesday Club notes) sent me the article below which was written about Jaime a few years ago.
Here’s one of his quotes:
If you want creativity, cut one zero from the budget. If you want sustainability, cut two zeros!
He was a great man for the catchy quote. There’s more below. The quote which really attracted me was the mantra which he used to quote frequently which was “In this City every child will be loved”. He used this phrase to drive public policy. Imagine if Christchurch adopted this phrase. It would allow the City to address every problem we have.
I really liked this story from the Guardian article below:
Lerner’s first project in 1972 earned him an early reputation as an enforcer. He proposed transforming the Rua Quinze de Novembro from an automobile thoroughfare into a pedestrian mall. “At first, the shopkeepers were furious with the mayor,” Rabinovitch says. “People had the habit of stopping their cars in front of the stores, buying what they wanted, and then getting back into their cars. But that meant that when the shops closed down, the city centre was dead.”
The shopkeepers organised resistance to the new plan, and resolved to file an injunction to stop it – a typical tactic for arresting the implementation of urban projects in Brazil.
“Every time, you always have a big resistance,” Lerner says. “When we first proposed the project, we tried to convince the merchants. We showed them designs, information … it was a big discussion. Then we realised we had to have a demonstration effect.”
So, Lerner took the plan to his director of public works, saying: “I need this [built] in 48 hours … He looked at me and asked, ‘Are you crazy? It will take at least four months.’”
Regardless, Lerner and his team – impatient, wily or both – prepared to begin work at sundown that very Friday, waiting only until after the city’s courthouse had closed so that shopkeepers could no longer file their injunction.
“If I’d received a juridical demand to stop the project, we would never have made it,” Lerner recalls. “So, we finished in 72 hours – Friday night to Monday night. And at the end, one of the merchants who wrote the petition to stop the work told me: ‘Keep this petition as a souvenir, because now we want the whole street, the whole sector pedestrianised!’”
The project encapsulates Lerner’s planning philosophy: act now, adjust later. “We had to work fast to avoid our own bureaucracy, and to avoid our own insecurity, because sometimes we start to think: ‘That’s a good idea but I cannot make it happen.’ So, the key issue in Curitiba was to start – we had the courage to start.”
Just imagine if our elected reps had the courage to just decide to do something because it was the right thing to do. I could think of one big challenge we have right now. The Red Zone. Imagine the elected reps having the courage to just bloody well getting on with it. Just sit back, Mayor and Councillors, and ask yourself this question. What would Jaime Lerner have done with the Red Zone? The answer is pretty obvious.
One really important comment in this article was:
Democracy is not consensus. Democracy is a conflict that is well managed. It’s about how you manage that conflict – sometimes for the minority, sometimes for the majority. But it has to happen.”
This is most important. I have railed against the concept of “consensus” since I lived in a community of families. How often is “Consensus” the worst behaved getting their own way. Or watering things down to the point that the final decision is so weak it is pathetic.
Jaime finishes the article saying:
“Politics is about providing a collective dream, and creating a scenario that everyone can understand and see is desirable. Then they will help you make it happen.”
The article from the Guardian is here https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/may/06/story-of-cities-37-mayor-jaime-lerner-curitiba-brazil-green-capital-global-icon
To conclude here’s some entertaining Jaime Lerner quotes:
- A city is like a family portrait – you don’t tear it up if you don’t like your uncle’s nose.
- Here are three major issues now that are becoming important, not only for cities, but for all mankind: Mobility, sustainability – which is linked to mobility – and social diversity.
- Bureaucracy is like a fungus that contaminates everything.
- A system of bus rapid transit is not only dedicated lanes. You have to have really good boarding conditions – that means paying before entering the bus and boarding at the same level. And at the same time having a good schedule and frequency.
- We have to change from ‘ego-architecture’ to ‘eco-architecture.’
- Many cities end up putting off things because they want to understand everything. They don’t understand that innovating is about starting. Taking care of a city is a process that you start, and then give the population space to respond.
- A lot of people assume that the expensive ideas are the most effective ones, but that is simply not true.
- There is little in the architecture of a city that is more beautifully designed than a tree.
- I have realized after all these years that a city that has a good quality of life attracts jobs. People don’t want to invest in places if there is no quality of life.
- After working in cities for nearly 40 years, I am telling you that every city can improve its quality of life in less than three years, no matter the scale or the financial conditions.
- Sometimes the media gives us the impression that we are terminal patients, because of problems of global warmth or the ozone layer. And the people, they don’t understand that they can could change this situation for the better if they could act locally in a city.
- The secret to the city is integration. Every area of the city should combine work, leisure and culture. Separate these functions and parts of the city die.
- Cities are not problems. They are solutions.
- I always run into these Ph.D.’s. They write and write and write about sustainable development. Then these guys ask me, ‘But, how do you do it?’ They are scared to death to do anything.