COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Building Connections for a More Resilient Future

Philip Winn
Oct 1, 2017
Jan 8, 2018
‍Neighbors enjoying a game borrowed from LEA - the book and game kiosk in Foro Lindbergh | Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines

Although it has always been an important place for the Condesa neighborhood, in recent years, the Foro Lindbergh section of Parque México has been recognized as a space that should be defined by community members. Local nonprofit Lugares Públicos has played a pivotal role in strengthening Foro Lindbergh as a community-led public space and we have had the honor of supporting them as part of the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program.

Lugares Públicos’ work in Foro Lindbergh is most visible through LEA—a colorful library kiosk they designed and installed—and the many activities and programs they’ve organized there with the local community. A less visible but equally important outcome of their work has been in the social ties that have been forged and strengthened between neighbors.

‍A local band playing in Foro Lindbergh | Image Credit: Southwest Airlines

When disaster struck on the afternoon of September 19th, residents of Condesa began to gather in Foro Lindbergh almost immediately. They came there because it is centrally located and it feels safe—but also because it is a space that they already felt a strong connection to.

Within hours, the Foro became an essential hub for an entirely citizen-led relief effort. Volunteers improvised systems to organize a flood of contributions from donors responding to calls for food, water, medicine, and supplies. Tents were pitched to house neighbors who fled collapsed or damaged buildings. Mental and physical therapists arrived to help people experiencing stress and trauma. A local restaurant even moved their grills to the Foro and served hundreds of free tacos al pastor.

Guillermo Bernal, director of Lugares Públicos, witnessed first hand how connections created before the earthquake helped aid the relief efforts. “We already had a very active group on the instant messenger WhatsApp to communicate about activities and events in Foro Lindbergh," he explained. "So people naturally started using the same group to organize, share information, and coordinate volunteer efforts that were happening in Foro Lindbergh and throughout Condesa.”

‍Volunteers managing relief efforts in Foro Lindbergh just hours after the earthquake struck| Photo Credit: Pico Navarro

The benefits of vibrant community-led public spaces like Foro Lindbergh are easy to notice on regular days. You witness unplanned meetings between neighbors, children having the chance to explore and play, and people of all ages enjoying the feeling of being part of a lively place where there is a lot to do. What is harder to see is that these experiences are strengthening connections that can be extremely important in moments of crisis. We cannot always prevent or predict the next adversity that a community will face, but by investing in our public spaces, we sow seeds of resiliency for the challenges to come.

*This post was originally published by Southwest Airlines, on September 29, 2017
Philip Winn
Philip Winn
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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space