Excuse: Reason or pretext to avoid an obligation or justify any omissions.
City making is much more than drawing lines in specific directions that surround solids and voids. It is more than gathering a group of people in a planned environment and providing them with services, education and health. City making means living, breathing and feeling through a certain space; means to adapt to it and reach an agreement between the two so that both, space and its inhabitants will benefit.
To be able to form cities we must begin by being honest with ourselves; assuming our strengths and weaknesses, analyzing our habits and exposing them. But above all things, to achieve the real city making we must erase the excuses from our minds. Each country has its own: climate, overpopulation, politics… excuses, excuses, EXCUSES. And Venezuela is no exception, our excuse is insecurity. And it has become the perfect justification for anyone to do anything… literally. Thousands of people decide day by day, more and more, to stay home so we can avoid being victims of crime. We reduce one by one the activities we do every day, becoming more sedentary, shrinking as people and damaging our health by lack of physical activity.
And of course, if people living in cities do nothing, then it makes no sense that specialists do something/anything in terms of urban planning: Why strive if people are not going to go out? Why build if others are going to destroy?
The country seems to be frozen pending the much-waited change. We accumulate reasons for doing nothing, and meanwhile, we all live the consequences of such inactivity.
But the absence of the concept city making is not only present in Venezuela. In many countries, cities continue to grow as simple random groups of people, without order, control or intention. We keep searching for anything that simplifies our lives and in the way, we leave aside all that is good for us, that makes us happy and helps us become better people.
Walking, dancing, riding bikes, sharing common interests without a screen in between… all of those activities are being left behind as the memories of past generations.
And every day we choose to isolate rather than do something about it, we are missing a myriad of sensations; sounds, textures, glows, aromas…
We must begin to change; we need to start the process of city making. But every culture is different, therefore the rules don´t always apply in the same way in all cases. That is why it is so important that city making does not become just about sitting in front of a computer and, once again, becoming inactive. We need to reverse the process, think of the creation through physical activity. Go to the streets to analyze what is happening outside so we can improve what already exists; the idea is not to simply say it does not work and discard it, or cover it with flowers and a few billboards and advertisements. The change must start from the needs of the people, their daily routines, their activities and desires.
If anything we should have learned by now is that the future cannot be only about flying machines and telepathic messages. Our planet is clamoring for a return to origins, to basics; that does not mean that we will go back in time and erase centuries of evolution and progress; which means is that thanks to all those years and the knowledge we have accumulated during that time, we have now more and better capabilities to turn the basics into something better, more integral, more effective.
And if we just think about the destination and not about the journey, which is basically what we do when we create hiding behind a computer, we will miss the surprises and experiences that are there waiting for us.
But each city must find their own path; and each of us must start with a small change: we must put aside the excuses and start moving towards that point of convergence between the simplicity of the past and the knowledge of the future.
All images belong to the great artist / architect Cristina Bergoglio.