In 2018 Ecocity Buiders has been working in partnership with UN Environment and the local government, local NGOs, institutions of higher education, and neighborhood organizations to address issues of urban housing, development, environmental protection and civic rights where they intersect, in the neighborhood of Moravia in Medellin. Through a collaborative effort following the Urbinsight neighborhood approach, we have developed a sustainable neighborhood plan demonstrating an integration solution that is now moving to the implementation phase.
Q&A with Ángela María Holguín Ramírez, Cielo Maria Holguín Ramírez, and Elsy Torreglosa
Ángela, Cielo, and Elsy have been community leaders in the Moravia neighborhood of Medellín for over 20 years. Ángela is the co-founder of Moravia Tours, a local business that promotes responsible and sustainable community tourism, Cielo has led formal education processes and been at the center of cultural development in the community, and Elsy is a founder and active member of the Moravia based gardening and greenhouse group, the Cojardicom Corporation. As part of the Sustainable Neighborhood Plan developed for Medellín in conjunction with the local government and Ecocity Builders’ Urbinsight project, they have been working on a sustainability diagnosis for their community within the framework of healthy communities.
We recently caught up with the three of them to get their feedback on the collaboration.
How was your experience in general?
Our experience as project liaison leaders was very rewarding. It was also a great challenge because it involved selecting a representative group of community leaders. We made the sustainability assessment with them, accompanied by a group of local experts and Ecocity Builders. Together we discussed the proposals and the priorities.
Do you think your experience made an impact on your community?
This experience generated a positive impact in our community because it allowed us to identify the importance of creating sustainable projects and work in an articulated way within the community and also align those proposals with the development plans of the Municipality of Medellin so that they can be viable.
How does it change your view of the world?
The project teaches us to take a contextualized view of the world, to prioritize projects with a sustainable vision, and most importantly, to be aligned with the development plans of the Municipality of Medellín.
What unexpected things did you learn?
We learned about the importance of a social, cultural, environmental, and economic balance when developing a sustainable project.
Also, we learned how important it is to be familiar with the Municipality of Medellín’s development plans for Moravia, how these plans relate to the community proposals, and how we can integrate them to be streamlined and viable.
We learned to consolidate the four proposals from the Neighborhood Sustainability Plan (add link)
1. The Habitat and Mobility Corridors proposal is a set of integrated interventions that aim to improve the quality of life of Moravia residents by implementing accessible, safe and universal mobility, increasing green spaces, promoting biodiversity and utilizing resource efficient technology for public lighting and irrigation systems.
2. The Pluralism Point proposal calls for a community space that is open for cultural exchange, a meeting place for Moravia to celebrate the pluralism of the neighborhood, the historical transformation of the territory, and support visioning for the future.
3. The Reconomy proposal aims to build on the existing community knowledge around recycling and waste issues to develop an improved waste collection program and promote a circular economy system in Moravia.
4. The Architectural Transformation through Reciprocity proposal seeks to solve issues of informal, untitled, unsafe housing and to prepare residents for technical conversations around relocation and high-rise building design with the Municipality.
We learned that projects must be integrated in order to have a positive impact on the community.
How are you integrating what you learned in your daily practices or in your community? You are now considered “eco-citizens”? Why?
We are applying what we learned in the development of this innovative proposal to the practice of responsible and sustainable community tourism. Since we were born and raised in Moravia and part of the transformation of the neighborhood we want to tell the world our history of transformation and position Moravia as an example of global resilience — that is why we consider ourselves eco-citizens.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes. We would love to have Ecocity Builders back in Moravia to develop the 4 proposals we prioritized. We’d like to keep in regular touch with the organization and continue to be advised so we can realize our dream of being a sustainable neighborhood that can serve as an example for other communities around of the world.
We welcome the opportunity for cultural exchanges that enable us to learn from other proposals as well as share ours. Moreover, we would like to be able to practice our English through an international internship.