Center and Periphery | Policies and Politics

I enjoy proving from time to time that I am capable of translating and subtitling film clips without complete ineptitude.

This week I thought I would take a crack at what promises to be a complex and eventful political season in São Paulo, as a youngish technocrat from the PT, Fernando Haddad, takes over City Hall from the widely despised Gilberto Kassab — a real estate broker and former city planning secretary whose term of office was marked by extreme inertia in dealing with such problems as public transportation, a flagship downtown renewal roject and a city building permit official who grew rich in the course of performing his public duties.

Source: Revitalizing Downtown São Paulo | YouTube | Excerpt from a local newscast posted by the user SPCentro on July 30, 2012.

On the same topic:

In the following, it is embarrassing to observe that the Nova Luz marketing campaign is still struggling to go viral, after so many false starts and nothing to show for the efforts except a few demolished vacant lots.

The remarkably slick and attractive electioneering videos produced for the Haddad campaign, meanwhile, preaches a gospel of mixed-use, dispersed development for the city’s «outside the beltway» beltway — the organic development of communities around areas held together with local business, local public parks and cultural centers, and  mixed-use architectural approaches reviewed for their appropriateness to existing community structure.

The rule rather than the Sambodian exception: cookie-cutter high-rise condos utterly lacking in street-level public spaces. They leave the passerby standing in empty shadows, looming like VIP bunkers designed for the End of Days …

It does not take a Robert Moses to lament the soulless urban sprawl and the anomie it begets.

Source: The Archway to the Future | YouTube

I like to call it the «sidewalk disease»: on our street, every property owner is responsible for building and maintainingtheir own slice of sidewalk, which makes our local streets extremely dangerous to navigate. A story in the Folha last week found a signficant number of persons in local ERs who were injured in falls related to crumbling sidewalks.

Why on earth does the city not take responsibility for what is, after all, in any decent democracy, a public space open to any and all?

How I miss living 50 yards from a subway station one stop from a major terminal, localte across the street from an internationally known museum next to a Victorian botanical gardens, park and public library, an easy walk or bike ride to some Internet cafe and with a file of take out menus running the gamut from Thai to Oaxacan mole poblano.

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