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Curitiba, Brazil - "The Best City in the World"

In the 1960s in Curitiba, Brazil, a mayor sponsored contest for a city development plan, circulated the best entries for public debate and turned over the results to some upstart architects, one of whom, Jaime Lerner, himself became mayor in 1971 for three non-consecutive four-year terms. Dartmouth professor Donella Meadows reports: "He provided 1.5 million tree seedlings to neighborhoods for them to plant and care for.... He converted a former warehouse into a theater and an abandoned glue factory into a community center.... [and] the downtown shopping district into a pedestrian zone...lined with gardens tended by street children." By the early 1990s, 70% of commuters and shoppers were using the cheap public transportation, mostly 300-person busses that travelled as fast as subway cars in their own traffic lanes and stopped at special plexiglass tube stations which eliminated on-board paying, making the whole operation faster and less polluting. Old buses were "refurbished as classrooms, daycare centers, and clinics," while 2/3 of the garbage got recycled, much of it in a plant built of recycled materials. What some called "The Best City in The World" arose, said mayor Lerner, from considering children and the environment as more important than anything else. 92% of his constituency supported his cheap, participatory approach.



Bill McKibben, Hope, Human and Wild: True stories of living lightly on the earth (Little, Brown and Co, 1995)