Coyoacán Walk: From Neighborhood to City

///Coyoacán Walk: From Neighborhood to City
Coyoacán Walk: From Neighborhood to City 2017-10-04T16:31:50+00:00

May 2015

Organizamos Jane’s Walk, por tercer año consecutivo, a través del histórico barrio de Coyoacán. Fue pensado en función de los lugares del barrio que son problemáticos a diario con el fin de generar una profunda reflexión. Un paseo al que asistieron no sólo a los vecinos, también gente de otras partes de la ciudad de México.

Un río contaminado, un centro comercial en construcción y un desordenado paradero de transporte público en las afueras del barrio y que afecta a todos con el tráfico, aislando el barrio o llenándolo de malos olores, fueron los primeros lugares que caminamos y reflecionamos. La falta de planificación urbana, la deforestación en los alrededores de la ciudad o la construcción de una autopista urbana- que Jane Jacobs hubierá luchado en contra- son las razones detrás de este problema y que sirven para generar un diálogo sobre cómo se construye la ciudad y una visión más amplia de la misma.

Un paseo con diálogo en el que también era importante conocer los lugares cotidianos de sus habitantes, especialmente las condiciones para caminar, donde hay muchas pequeñas aceras y hace que la gente camine en el arroyo vehicular o realice jaywalking todo el tiempo. Condiciones que enmarcaban una discusión más amplia sobre el por qué colocar un sistema de parquímetros y estacionamientos en las calles en lugar de aceras más amplias. Además, se discutió acerca de las prioridades del gobierno local en el gasto de más fondos públicos en la principal calle turística para la remodelación y no en las calles que la mayoría de las personas viven.

Además, el paseo estaba lleno de anécdotas, historias y leyendas contadas por los participantes, lo que habla de la riqueza histórica y simbólica del barrio. Así, Jane’s Walk 2015 permitió generar un diálogo con la comunidad sobre los problemas del barrio y la ciudad de México, así como de los espacios públicos. Un paseo que generó la comunidad y creó la ciudadanía para una ciudad mejor.

For the third year in a row, we organized a Jane’s Walk through the historic neighborhood of Coyoacán making a point to ignore the tourist trail that everybody already knows. We planned out the walk in terms of the problematic areas surrounding the neighborhood, but also places people enjoy in order to create a deeper reflection. Our walk was attended by neighbours and people from other parts of Mexico City alike.

A polluted river, a shopping center under construction and a messy public transit stop on the edge of the neighborhood, all of them affected by traffic and isolating the neighborhood with bad odors, were the first places where we walked and talked. The lack of proper urban planning, the deforestation in the surroundings of the city and the construction of an urban expressway (which Jane Jacobs had fought against) are the reasons behind this problem. This ignited a conversation on how our city is constructed.

The discussions that took place while we walked served to teach everyone about the everyday practices of each neighbourhood’s inhabitants, especially the walking conditions in the area. There are many narrow sidewalks which force people to either walk on the road or dangerously jaywalk. These conditions framed a larger discussion which asked, “Why is priority given to parking meters and on-street parking instead of proper sidewalks that the community can use safely?” I overheard someone say they did not know the awful state of these streets even though they’d visited the neighbourhood several times. We also discussed how the government seems to prioritize spending public funds on remodeling the main tourist streets rather than those streets where most people actually live.Our Jane’s Walk created some insightful community dialogue on the problems that this neighborhood, our public spaces and Mexico City are facing. It left us feeling with a strengthened sense of community and a vivid sense of citizenship which will serve to make a better city.

The walk was full of anecdotes, stories and legends told by the participants which spoke of the historical and symbolic wealth of the neighborhood. The most popular legend in Callejón del Aguacate, an alley in Coyoacán notorious for paranormal experiences, is from the era of ex-president Lazaro Cardenas (1934-1940). It is told that a cold and lonely soldier lived in the alley and would walk around keeping guard. He noticed a child who wanted to play with him because he saw the soldier’s uniform and was drawn to his official attire. The soldier was growing continuously annoyed of the child who approached him so insistently; so, in a moment of desperation, he brutally killed the child and hung him from a tree. The legend states that moans are heard and the presence of children are felt within Callejón del Aguacate, and a suffering face is formed in the trunk of a tree.