“Everyone has the capacity to design,” said Pamela Cajilig, researcher and business anthropologist at Curiosity Design Research last May 28, 2015 at the Muni Meetup: Cities and Change.
By engaging in more community conversation, we can help shape the cities we want to live in. Pam also shared that, “Everyday people are experts in their everyday lives.” And events like this Muni Meetup and The Manila Urban Design Week and Festival helped gather curious people willing to engage in this discussion. Events like this only prove that you don’t need a big budget (or any budget) to make an impact, only a shared passion.
Shaping cities not only takes passion and willingness but also collaboration. Pam learned this through her work in affected Yolanda communities. They came up with a plan to build houses for 10 women who were left with the task of rebuilding their homes, without their husbands. It was eventually rejected but by consulting the community about their needs, they were able to build an evacuation center which was then more useful during the coming storm.
“We need to make every square meter in the Philippines productive,” said Cherrie Atilano. For her this means turning open spaces (such as rooftops) into green spaces. We should not underestimate the impact of plants and nature on our psyches, and therefore, our attitudes towards others. When we bring nature to our city spaces, we not only reconnect with it, but we also reconnect with our kinder and more compassionate selves.
She says that by bringing nature to the rooftop of Sterling Bank, one of her landscaping projects, it helped change the lifestyle of the workers and even created a more pleasant working environment. “How could one get mad at one’s co-worker if you’re surrounded by green?”, she shared.
Cherrie continues to advocate and work to have more green spaces in the metro through her work in Bhumi, a new startup company. She partnered with Pok Kobkongsanti, one of the best landscape architects in Asia. Together, they are working to change our open spaces in the metro for the better. Not only making our city healthier, but its citizens as well.
Creating Change Through Conversation and Action
After the talks, the audience shared some encouraging and inspiring stories about positive change in the metro. There were stories of biking initiatives, a large scale project to create green spaces in a community of 150,000 people, and an urban gardening project that is helping to sustain a community.
Fiona, a Communications student, shared: “So many people are hesitant to start their own things. I just realized, anything is possible.” We just have to be brave enough to bridge the gap between thought and action. Some people say that this country is hopeless but what was shared and learned during the meetup tells me otherwise.
There are so many well-intentioned and interesting initiatives happening right now. And most of the time, these initiatives were started by some like-minded individuals who just wanted to try changing things for the better. Want to know more about how we can change our cities? Here are our some other recommended reads:
- How to boost courage for the cowardly biker
- Bike-Commute Around Metro Manila
- Sustainable Communities: What’s Art Got to Do With It?