Finding Solutions Within The Problem

By Nicholas Curry


Construction for the Seed Fund Project that I am working on with Lisa Mak finally started!  Working with the Environment Department at the Municipality of Viacha we are trying to address aspects of the two highest environmental concerns stated by the municipality.  The two problems that the municipality has named are the lack of trees, and waste management, specifically separating and organizing waste for recycling and composting.  Combining these two issues we decided to build a tree nursery at the newly created Punto Verde using recycled materials, specifically focusing on plastic bottles. 

The goal of this project is not only to create the physical structure of a tree nursery, while reducing the amount of bottles and plastic on the streets and in the landfill, but to also to create awareness about the importance of waste disposal and separation.  Along with the views of the municipality it was very clear to us when entering Viacha and walking around, that waste separation and management are issues that need to be addressed.  We hope that through the construction of the nursery, a promotional campaign and a few workshops that we can help alter the actions and views towards waste in the municipality. 

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The idea for this project started manifesting at music festival in Costa Rica about a year ago when I was helping clean up and noticed that the recycling station was taking plastic bags and stuffing them into plastic bottles.  After a brief discussion I found out that these plastic stuffed bottles became extremely durable and could then be used for construction purposes.  Who knew that a good idea could come the day after a musical festival.  It wasn’t until 8 months later when we were discussing the amount of plastic bottles and bags spread throughout the municipality that this idea would come back into my mind.

There are many different ways of using plastic bottle bricks, commonly refereed to as eco-bricks, as a building material but they can be separated into two main categories: structural or non-structural.  I have chosen to talk about the structural purpose because that is how our tree nursery will be using utilizing these eco-bricks in construction.  Even within the structural category there are many variables.  The most common structural design is using the bottles literally the same as bricks by laying them horizontal and stacking them in rows and filling around these rows with cement or another binding material.  What material the bottles are stuffed with also varies from project to project.  We haven chosen to use sand to stuff the majority of plastic bottles saving a lot of time in comparison to the plastic stuffed bottles.

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Our lives currently revolve around these bottles.

 


In the past couple years some literature has started to appear on the use of eco-bricks for building material.  Within the literature there have been many tests conducted to discover the strength, insulation, sound and fire protection of these eco-bricks.  In almost all of the test’s the bricks have faired very well, either being comparable or fairing better than traditional building materials with the exception of fire resistance. 

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They told me to be careful about falling in love while I was away.  I didn’t listen. 

Another positive benefit of using eco-bricks is that they are very inexpensive in comparison to regular building materials coming with a little price tag or none at all.  However the trade off is that they are very labour intensive and require many hours to create.  As Lisa and myself have discovered making these bricks is no easy task and when choosing to build with them this is a factor that must be considered.  For this reason the use of eco-bricks can be huge advantage for communities that have little money to spend and lots of people available for labour.  On the other hand they can prove to be pretty stressful if there is only two interns and they are working on a tight deadline.  Thanks for reading and wish us luck!

  1. Taaffe, Jonathan, Seán O’Sullivan, Muhammad Ekhlasur Rahman, and Vikram Pakrashi. “Experimental characterisation of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottle Eco-bricks.” Materials & Design 60 (2014): 50. doi:10.1016/j.matdes.2014.03.045.
  2. Mansour, Ashraf Mansour Habib, and Subhi A. Ali. “Reusing waste plastic bottles as an alternative sustainable building material.” Energy for Sustainable Development 24 (2015): 79. doi:10.1016/j.esd.2014.11.001.

 

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Lessons to take home

I honestly don’t know if there is a better way to expedite learning and personal growth than travel. A new place, new people and new challenges can all serve as catalysts for change. Moving somewhere new takes this process to a whole new level. You have to learn to work within the cultural norms of a new environment and accept that your assumptions will be challenged. Although I make an effort to take on professional and academic opportunities abroad, every single time I underestimate the transformative power of these experiences. San José del Cabo has been no exception. Here are 4 lessons from my time in Los Cabos.

  1. Routine can be fun, especially if it involves weekend adventures.

I have never been particularly fond of routine, but maybe I just wasn’t doing it right. Things are so relaxed in San José, especially in the evenings, that Chantal and I have fallen into a pretty satisfying routine of working out, eating well and sleeping lots. It’s been a great reminder of how good it can feel to slow down sometimes. Plus, with so many people holidaying around you, it’s kind of hard to get stressed out. The one thing that gives me anxiety is making sure I maximize my time here. The perma-sunny weather amplifies this anxiety because it always feels like you need be doing something. I’m not complaining though, I love being outside and there are a whole lot of ways to do that Los Cabos. The mountains, canyons, beaches and desert are all within a 45-minute drive of town.

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Playa Los Frailes – Day trip to one of the beaches of Cabo Pulmo
  1. Don’t forget your coffee thermos!

One thing that has been difficult to adjust to in Los Cabos is the lack of recycling. Every time I throw a glass jar or an aluminum can in the trash, I feel that reoccurring sensation of eco-guilt. Luckily, this has been an important exercise in self-reflection. In Canada, under the cover of recycling, I imagine that I produce a lot less waste than I actually do. Here I have had to face my waste. As a result, I have become so much better about carrying my coffee thermos and bringing a Tupperware to restaurants for leftovers. I have also made it a personal rule- no thermos, no coffee.

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Using baskets at the market to reduce waste!
  1. Small gestures matter.

Whether it’s a proper hello, a “buen provecho” or a Valentines Day rose – small gestures matter in Mexico. These social norms are ingrained in Mexican culture and are part of everyday life. Example #1 – Every morning, when the Director arrives at IMPLAN he personally greets each employee. Example #2 – When Mexicans walk by somebody eating, they say “provecho”. Without fail, fellow restaurant-goers will wish you a good meal as they walk past you. Example #3- On Valentines Day, José Juan brought chocolate bars for everyone in the office and the mayor sent out roses to the municipal staff. Over and over again, Mexico has reminded me that small actions can have a big effect on feelings of community and camaraderie.

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“Buen provecho” – Chilaquiles and green juice
  1. Use your relationship resources.

We were facing some serious delays putting our Seed Fund project together. It was the beginning of February and we were starting to feel the pinch of time. After weeks of cancelled meetings, we still hadn’t secured a partner for our school garden project. These struggles coincided with the arrival of Caroline (the other Caroline, supervisor Caroline). During an enchilada lunch meeting, Alex, an old member of the IMPLAN team, sat down with us for a bit. Caroline asked him straight away if he had any ideas about who we could partner with and…. BAM! He had an answer. Since arriving here, I have been reminded again and again about the power of using your relationship resources. Sometimes help comes from surprising places. All you have to do is ask.

dsc_3163Fellow interns- some of the best relationship resources around!
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Bye Mexico! Miss you already!!

By: Caroline Morrow  insta

Office Surfing through eThekwini

When I first started this internship, I never thought that my experience would be as broad as it has been. I was expecting work in a municipal office where there would be set projects for the time line that I am in the country, and that would be the entirety of the internship. However, I have been blessed with the privilege of going to several different offices within the municipality and working with all of their teams.

When I first arrived, I was based at the Inner Thekwini Regeneration and Urban Management Programme (iTRUMP) which is an office of the Area Based Management (ABM) department based in Warwick Junction. The Warwick area is historically one of the most challenging in the inner city, yet is also full of opportunity. It is the main public transportation and informal trading hub in the city including taxi ranks, bus ranks, the train station, several open air and covered markets, as well as street traders and other informal workers like card board collectors and trolley pushers. Based in this area, I got to know the true city with all of its flaws and potential. Often this area is only considered a problem because of the hectic nature of the informal activities, but it is actually a brilliant mixture of people making their own way in the city and those who use their services. I hope that in the future those working in the informal economy will be supported more to make their living in a clean and safe manor rather than them being regarded as a problem to shut down. The iTRUMP office is working in the area to help make it a cleaner, more livable place and also deal with problem buildings through the bad buildings programme.

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A screen shop of what happens when you Google search “iTRUMP” that I found humongous. Hint, the man pointing at the map is my boss and manager of iTRUMP, Hoosen Moolla.

From the iTRUMP offices, I moved to the Urban Management Zones (UMZ), another office of the ABM department in the inner city. This team operates differently than the iTRUMP’s method of project-based urban management by focusing on precinct management. The inner city of Durban is divided into 6 zones, or precincts, which are monitored daily by a Zone Support Officer and Junior Zone Support Officer. In this office I was able to travel to every part of the inner city, road by road, and got to know all of the areas intimately. Through this process, I learned where there are problems in the city, what the recurring issues are, and what the city is doing about it. I also learned a lot about the everyday functions of the line departments like Roads and Storm Water, Cleansing and Solid Waste, Metro Police, Parks and Recreation, etc. through monthly meetings about outstanding calls the departments must complete. This part of my placement was crucial to understand how the city works in detail, so that I could work on bigger scale projects with the full picture in mind.

 

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A view of the UMZ green roof from across the street

Now, I am placed at Urban Renewal with the Catalytic Projects team who work on the large-scale development projects in the city like Moses Mabhida stadium and the beach front promenade. The team that I am working with has just finalized the new Inner City Local Area Plan (LAP) and are finishing the Regeneration Strategy accompanying the plan. By working at two of the ABM offices and getting to know the city in detail, I have a solid understanding of the city to contribute to this team. Since my education and work background is project-based development work, this final placement is ideal for me to get more experience contributing to municipal projects in the field I studied. Moving forward, I will be working on the implementation of several of the projects identified to start the Inner City LAP. In the coming month, we will also be working on finalizing the Regeneration Strategy, which will lean heavily on the urban management programmes at ABM. Since I spent time at iTRUMP and UMZ, helping with the Regeneration strategy is the perfect finish to my internship in the field that I want to build my career.

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A work in progress shot of the Inner City Local Area Plan physical model

Race to the End

February 2nd

By Jessy Rajan

The end is in sight, just under five weeks left at IMEPLAN and I wonder and reflect on what I’ve done and what is left. Since returning from the Christmas holidays, time has just flown and it is hard to believe we are now at February. As I reflect on the past four months in Guadalajara, I think about, more than anything, the changes we’ve seen in this continent, but also about my life in this city and at IMEPLAN.

To begin, I’ve come to realize that the most important part of an internship is to understand the field of work better, rather than to necessarily gain specific experience. My time at IMEPLAN gave insight into the world of city planning at a metropolitan scale in a developing country. I have become familiar with the layers of bureaucracy and political influence in a planning institute. These types of challenges slow (and sometimes halt) development often seen in the private sector. As a direct result of the bureaucratic process, my project, waste management, was delayed for nearly three months and now, with just over one month left of my internship, will be moving forward rapidly.

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Board meeting with all the mayors of Metropolitan Guadalajara

Despite the challenges I’ve faced in the work place, (with my project, integrating into the office, the language barrier etc.) I have made a great home in Guadalajara. The opportunity to live in Guadalajara, for me, was definitely the main benefit of the internship. Since moving here, I’ve felt very comfortable and fulfilled by my lifestyle. It is a great city for cycling, there are great opportunities for entertainment and the food is amazing. The city hosts many entertainment and cultural events throughout the year, emphasizing the importance on quality of life. In turn, I have had a great quality of life.

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Nighttime group bike ride organized the City of Guadalajara

As I approach my 6th month, I begin to realize that I need to go home (Canada). If I could, I would live in Guadalajara for years, but at this point, with the current state of politics, I think I belong in Canada. As a visible minority in Canada, I have experienced segregation and divisiveness; racism has been subdued, but not eliminated. With the recent events in the United States, I worry that the standard of leadership in Canada will degrade and begin to waver on important issues. With an impending provincial election (in British Columbia), I feel that now is the time to be involved in politics and to actively participate in an earned democracy.

Although I have had vast fortunate opportunities to travel, living abroad has always been my goal. This internship has allowed me to live in a new city, in a different country/ culture and reach an important goal. Though, I hope to find this opportunity again, I have also realized the importance of contributing to the community I come from. Mexico, I’ll be back, but for now it’s time to go home.

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Snapshot of life in Guadalajara; pictured bottom right corner is a friend from my language school.

A future in urban planning


It was during my first weekend in Los Cabos, while dining out on the other side of town when that I realized how difficult it is to get around the city without a car, especially after 10pm. It felt as though I was a teenager all over again growing up in the suburbs of North Vancouver begging my parents to drive me everywhere, only to get stuck in traffic and miss my commitments. As I attempted to get around Los Cabos, I couldn’t help but wish that I could develop a more efficient transportation system for the municipality. Perhaps, I could transplant the incredible metro system that I saw in Medellín, Colombia or one of the reliable minibuses that made my trip around Turkey’s western coast so stress-free. On my long journey home along the Los Cabos coast I began thinking about how my travel experiences have shaped my understanding of urban spaces.

I went into this internship thinking I wanted to further my studies in Urban Planning but knowing very little about this field. Being a month and a half away from finishing my time in Los Cabos, I realize now how much my experience here has solidified my future goals. Living in Los Cabos, I feel I have learned so many wonderful things. With the beautiful landscapes and relaxing vibes, it is sometimes hard to remember that I am here for work. That said, this internship has completely re-enforced my ambitions for the future and re-defined what planning means to me and how I would like to approach it. This past week I finished my applications for grad school in the hopes of attending a masters program in September for urban planning and for the first time in a long time, I am sure this is the path I wish to continue on.

From a planning perspective, Los Cabos was the perfect municipality for this learning process. Despite it’s unbelievable landscape, Los Cabos has many challenges. The municipality was created to become a tourist hub and rapidly grew to become one of Mexico’s main tourist attractions. This has resulted in a plethora of hotels being built along the coastline with a certain disregard for environmental issues, a lack of public spaces, limited public access to the beaches, a lack of consistent public transportation and absolutely no recycling. The city has been completely planned for tourists and people with cars. Nevertheless, IMPLAN has many cool projects in the works and plans for the future of the municipality to make the city more sustainable and liveable for its citizens.

All of these elements coupled with my internship have helped me visualize my goals more clearly. Working for IMPLAN Los Cabos as a Social Demographics Assistant, has allowed me to work alongside Statistics Mexico to create urban indicators for the municipality’s long-range plan, facilitate public consultation workshops for youth in the area of food security systems, and exposed me to multiple projects that have taught me about GIS systems, participatory planning and designating environmental protected zones. Through to this experience, I have been able to delve into topics to which I had not yet been exposed: urban agriculture, environmental policies in city planning, the complexities of balancing sustainability and economic growth and most important, that the North American model of urban planning is one of many.

Working on location has taught me so much more than I expected it to and I am excited to transfer these skills I’ve learned into my future. I hope to come back to Los Cabos one day and witness all the progress and good work that IMPLAN has planned for the city.

By Chantal Gougain

Two months in, Christmas around the corner, and what teamwork now means to me

With Christmas literally days around the corner and being in the midst of this year’s finale, I reflect back on my year in 2016. Amongst many changes from leaving my job, friends, and life in Vancouver to pursue my dreams of travel, cultural immersion in an effort to learn Spanish and enrolling in continuing education, to this life changing opportunity working in Colima, I would say this is probably one of the most unforgettable years of my life. I have grown and learned so much from all the people I was fortunate to cross paths with and after many years living in existential crisis, this year has been nothing short of adventure and self-discovery.

Prior to coming to Colima, I mostly feared social exclusion and not being able to find people I would connect with. I envisioned a six month internship where I would be battling some of my deepest fears of loneliness, and inability to communicate on even a fundamental level in Spanish.

Yet, fortunately so In the two months being in Colima, I have never once felt lonely or displaced. There seems to be something magical here at IPCO. The team at IPCO as colleagues at the office, friends in the evenings, and family for the weekends/special events, and for the holidays. Unlike the traditional working environments I’ve been used to where there is a fine line between your personal and professional life, I’ve finally been blessed with the opportunity to join a inclusive, hard working team that extends themselves above and beyond their capabilities in a strong effort to accomplish projects and goals. And even though my time here is limited, for as much as I know I’ve been treated as one of them, part of the team, part of the family. Even with a short period of time here, I’ve already been invited to and attended a baby shower, a bridal party, wedding, and unfortunately so, even a funeral.

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Beautiful bride & groom during their first dance.

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IPCO table at Angie’s wedding

So what is my one takeaway from my time here at IPCO? It’s the value of team work cannot be underestimated. Cultivating a team environment beyond colleagues, IPCO does a great job at extending that on a more personal level. Seeing how the IPCO team work together has made me realize how important it is to be apart of one where I’m comfortable with voicing my concerns, where I’m comfortable in general to speak my mind. IPCO has taught me, team members not only need to work together, they need to connect on a deeper level to inspire transparency, to encourage a safe space for communication and ultimately the formation of strong relationships that draw people in to work in a cohesive entity. I strongly believe that when this is in place, people are empowered to do their best, working towards one objective with utmost efficiency to accomplish goals and projects – much like what IPCO is doing right now. Despite it being the midst of the holiday season, the office will remain open and everyone will be here working away in an effort to meet project deadlines. The beauty of it is seeing how hard working they are, how not once do they complain about being here and not once do their egos get in the way where they expect praise for their hard work and dedication. They are here at the office to work, to get things done, for the ultimate benefit of the city in accomplishing goals and project deadlines.

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Before coming to Colima, I worried about spending the holidays alone, but with Christmas only days away I haven’t even so much noticed December is already nearing an end. In the weeks leading up to December 24th are many posadas which are customary festivities held between family, friends, coworkers and I have already attended an innumerable amount. Fortunately, I’ve been invited to several family Christmas dinners as well. My only issue now is deciding on which to attend. Regardless, I’m lucky to know I won’t be spending the holidays alone and have fortunately never once felt an uncomfortable sense of solitude here.

Wrapping up this year with another bang and wishing every all the best and very warm and happy holidays!

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Happy Holidays to All!

By: Wendy Ly

Where the desert meets the sea

There is a certain thrill that comes from being at a point of geographical extreme. When looking at a map of the world, some places arouse wanderlust purely because they sit at the edge- the southernmost point in Africa, the western tip of Spain. For me, Los Cabos has always held this kind of romantic appeal. The municipality sits at the extreme edge of the Baja Peninsula, where the desert meets the sea.

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The Arco in Cabo San Lucas divides the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Cortez.

Los Cabos is one of Mexico’s most popular travel destinations. Over two million people visit every year. Once a remote outpost, the area has developed rapidly over the last few decades. Negative stereotypes about the “Americanization” of Los Cabos abound. Luckily, you don’t have to travel far to get a feel for the San José of old. The region still has huge tracts of undeveloped beaches, where you can camp and surf without issue.

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Pit stop on route to 9 Palms beach.

There are two main routes out of the city the Carretera Transpeninsular and the Camino Cabo Este. Either one is a good choice, and both will eventually send you north. To picture Baja’s highways, imagine open roads with the ocean to one side and desert scrubland on the other, basically, a road tripper’s dream. Sometimes (read: all the time) I find it hard to concentrate on anything else because all I want to do is plan weekend adventures. Thank goodness for our Google calendar. With it, no weekend is wasted.

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Looking south along the highway from the Tropic of Cancer monument.

I promise I am working though! I actually think about work a lot. The urban planning challenges in Los Cabos are unique and different than those I have seen in Canadian municipalities. I have never thought about shade more in my life. Every day, I plan out my walking route based on how I can best maintain access to the shade. In terms of urban planning, Los Cabos offers a lot to think about. How can you design cities that work for all seasons and times of the day? Is it through a better urban tree canopy, street connectivity, water use, or climate change resilience? Los Cabos is definitely an exciting place to be as a young urban planner. I’m looking forward to exploring this topic over the next few months through my work with IMPLAN and in my daily life as a pedestrian.

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Evening view from our apartment in the centre of San José del Cabo.

Los Cabos, Mexico

By: Caroline Morrow  insta

Urban Living in Colima. How it changed my preconceived notions in defining “city living”.

Colima, Mexico

By: Wendy Ly

I have lived the typical second generation lifestyle of being born and raised in the downtown core of a city, to then be forced to participate in the wave of mass suburban sprawl with parents wishing for a bigger home, a car dependent lifestyle, and dare I saw it “the all American dream.” Against this idea of suburban life, I have always made it a point to move back to the downtown core where walkability scores were high, transit plentiful, and I was immersed in the core of historical and cultural spaces buzzing with energy, restaurants, markets, shops, amenities and people.

This was my understanding of urban living.

So when I was given the opportunity to work in the City of Colima living within walking distance to downtown and where the office also happens to be, I jumped with excitement for a chance to continue my lifestyle in an urban setting. The thought of living in Mexico where I had quick access to events, an abundance of fruit stands and vegetable markets littering the streets at all hours, and access to all the amenities I was used to, only this time, it was going to be the “latin way” meaning, plentiful fresh fruits to my liking.

I was told Colima is “a small city” and though I was well aware of that, I continued to withhold the same preconceived notions of what I understood as a “city”.

To my surprise, my understanding of “cities” and “downtowns” happened to be the complete opposite once I’d arrived here. Yes, I live walking distance to the heart of the city, but the streets were sparse, if not mostly empty. You can easily encounter convenience shops every other block, but they weren’t the fresh fruit stands I’d been expecting. And for the most part, the downtown wasn’t this centre of exciting activity filled with people, restaurants, and an abundance of things to do.

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Quite contrary, Colima operated a little differently. The general sentiments here are to avoid unnecessary walking due to daily temperatures of scorching heat. Historical and cultural spaces has largely been abandoned with the younger and mobile actively deciding to sprawl outwards ultimately relying on car ownership to get around. All the modern spaces, malls, and entertainment now reachable only via driving reserving the downtown area for a majority of retirees and pensioners.

Occupying the central area now are a mix of newly constructed, large-sized homes alongside smaller, decaying ones. Lining up the streets also lay abandoned colonial buildings with various neglected plots of land, beside homes that are converted to restaurants by day – everything is just a little random.

I found it interesting and eye opening with the realization these homes didn’t have setbacks from the walkway – a common guideline I was used to seeing. Rather, when you walk on the narrow sidewalk one can easily peek into each home to see homeowners laying in bed, watching tv, or cooking in the kitchen. It seems Colima happens to be a random mix of varying structures of height and width with no regulations on density.

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Colima has helped shed light on how city centres and downtowns can have very different meanings depending on where you are. And it finally dawned on me that historically speaking, city centres were a place that witnessed its initial settlers. My preconceived notions of these spaces are based on more modern cities that have witnessed much of its regeneration process, and therefore depending on which city you’re in, there can be different connotations and perceptions to the term.

It’s interesting because everything I knew about “downtowns” have now been reversed. Living close to the centre I still reap the benefits of walking to necessary amenities, but beyond that if I’m seeking great products, services or restaurants, the need of a car is absolutely more desirable here. What was once a standard, leisure 30-40 minute stroll in Vancouver or Toronto is now an uncomfortable, sweat-drenched, heat-stroke inducing activity, deterring many from getting around unless they have a car.

And it is only now after living in Colima that I realize what the City is trying to achieve in rebranding and regenerating the downtown core. I’m understanding the reasons for opposing views as well as the City’s aggressive agenda to transition Colima to become a collaborative, smart city. There are certainly many challenges to overcome, but more than anything after only being here for a couple of weeks, I am empowered by the City’s objectives. I couldn’t be happier to be living here and a part of the process in witnessing Colima achieve its sustainable urban planning goals.

By: Wendy Ly

Learning decolonization from the South Africans

Danielle DeVries

16 November 2016

 

As an intern travelling to live in a new country, I have already experienced far more than I thought I would socially and culturally. People always say that will happen, so I don’t know why I doubted them. It is true that these experiences can make a lasting impression in our lives.

Living in South Africa in particular is a very different experience from home in Canada. South Africa has only been a democracy for the last 22 years since Apartheid ended. This was an awful period of time for the country where the legal practice was complete segregation. There were separate areas for all black, white, coloured, and Indian people, as they classified them, to live in isolation of each other. In the city, there were certain privileges only white people could have such as sitting at the bus stops, enjoying parks, etc. After Apartheid ended, the country has moved forward in efforts to restore relationships between cultural groups. Much of the influence that came from being a British Colony has been replaced with traditional ways.

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A bus shelter from the Apartheid days, placed on the green roof at the Urban Management Zones (UMZ) offices as a reminder of what life used to be like

Recently the city has changed the street names from the ones they were given in colonial days, like Smith, Victoria, and Prince Edward, to the names of great South Africans who helped end Apartheid, like Anton Lembede, Margaret Mncadi, and Dr Goonam respectively. Most of the people that I meet and work with here are Zulu, one of the traditional cultures in Southern Africa. Their culture and influence comes through in most things here, so they are making advances in reclaiming their traditional areas and moving forward as a multicultural country.

One of the areas that still has historic infrastructure is around city hall. I visited the other day with the local interns who are around my age, and was surprised by their reaction. The light poles on this block are left over from the Apartheid days and have an old crest embossed on them. There is also a memorial garden for the fallen soldiers from Durban in the two World Wars; however, it only features names of European decent. The other interns were passionate in saying “these must fall” about the light poles and garden, which is a catch phrase from the student movement here “fees must fall”. At first I was shocked because the area is architecturally beautiful, but where are the Zulu names and the Indian names in that memorial? Surely they were fighting in the wars too and this is an unfair representation.

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Colonial message on the gates to the war memorial

The young adults here are passionate about decolonizing South Africa and making it a better place. They are the first generation that is too young to remember what the segregation was like for them, but they know the first hand stories of their parents and grandparents very well. Their ferocity to reclaim and make South Africa better is unparalleled by anything we would see from the general young adult population in Canada. At times, it seems a bit naïve and entitled that they want so much and have yet to put in the work hours and tax money to contribute to bettering society. However, I know that is my old, Canadian perspective coming through. Perhaps it is their passion and energy that will push this country forwards. The country is only in the process of decolonizing and still needs to develop in a way that embraces both traditional and other existing cultures of South Africans.

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The war memorial in front of Durban City Hall

One of the areas that needs improvement on the part of South Africans is that they have reclaimed the country but have yet to gain a sense of ownership. The city is not kept clean or safe  by the citizens which causes a lot of work for the municipality to maintain it. I have also noticed that people here ask “where are you staying?” not “where do you live” and refer to their homes as where they “stay”. This is odd to my and emphasizes the lack of ownership because how can you take responsibility for a place if you are only “staying” there. The eThekwini municipality is aiming to be the most liveable and caring city, not the most stay-able and caring city. I think this liveability will truly start to work when South Africans not only reclaim the country, but also take ownership of it.

The efforts to decolonize South Africa have also caused me to reflect on the minimal efforts to decolonize Canada. It is something we have done a terrible job at thus far as a nation. Only recently have we begun to recognize our Indigenous peoples as valuable piece of our cultural fabric as a country. But most individuals have not adopted this mind-set, nor are they aware of the traditional cultures whose territory we occupy. In the Greater Vancouver Regional District we are in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. I doubt most of the population could tell you that, and I only mastered how to say their names a year ago. I would love to see Canada embrace our indigenous people and move forward as a multicultural country as South African is trying to do. Why do we live in the province of ‘British Columbia’ and not ‘Coast Salish’ or ‘New Nations’ as the #RenameBC movement suggests?

I am looking forward to learning more from the local interns as far as their history, perspective, and knowledge goes. Maybe I will even come home with some of their ferocity to reclaim BC for both our traditional and multicultural heritage.

The Clock is Ticking

By: Katelynn Neufeld

With less than two months left here in Los Cabos, I’ve become increasingly aware of how little time that actually is. I knew when I started this internship that six months isn’t very long to begin with, but as the days, weeks, and months have gone on the reality has hit hard. The weather is finally cooling down enough that you can do things during the day without melting into a puddle like the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz, and in true Canadian form, we interns take every opportunity to mention just how fresco it has gotten.

Hurricane season is officially over and tourist season is starting up again too so there are a lot more things to do than during off season. In San José del Cabo, the Art Walk on Thursday nights and the Organic Market on Saturday mornings both only opened up two weeks ago, and it feels like the amount of visitors has risen tenfold in the past month. While it’s definitely awesome to see the area coming back to life, the feeling that I don’t have enough time seems ever present.

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As the time of year has changed, the sun has shifted so that it rises right out of the water.

This is true of both inside and outside the office. At work, the months of September and October were extremely busy with the planning of the 5to Foro Urbano (5th Urban Forum) that IMPLAN organized for October 13th and 14th. This event involved the entire office and the interns were given the responsibility of planning the information stand for IMPLAN. The Foro was a public event and included panels, debates, conferences, and workshops with presenters and speakers from across Mexico and even one from Colombia! As a result, our individual projects were put on hold for a few weeks during this time. In addition to the Foro, a couple other things have also come up to alter my work plan, so lately I’ve been feeling that my project is progressing slower than I would like it to, but I’m optimistic that I can complete all parts in the time I still have.

Outside of work, I’ve become very comfortable and familiar with the city that I’ve so enjoyed living in since July. The other interns and I have been fortunate to visit many nearby sights, including the Arco in Cabo San Lucas, the vibrant living coral reef in Cabo Pulmo National Park, and the incredible wildlife and natural beauty of Isla Espiritu Santo in La Paz a couple hours north. There is – of course – still so much more to do and see though. So much so that the group of us have a fairly strict Google Doc Bucket List to ensure that no moment is wasted.

With so much going on, I’m definitely feeling the pressure to finish everything that I’ve started here both at work with IMPLAN as well as outside of work with the activities I’ve been participating in, the Los Cabos interns’ Bucket List, and all of the amazing places I still want to visit. It’s a strange feeling to be stressed about having too many exciting things to do, but I’m up for the challenge and I know that even if I can’t do everything, I’ve already done so much!

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Team IMPLAN (including all five current SCIIP interns) after a crosswalk painting event in Cabo San Lucas in October