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Jaime Lerner owns the success of Curitiba by changing how people view and interact with cities.

WELCOME TO URBANICITY
SENSING URBANITY
LISTENING FOR WORDS
VIEWING IMAGES OF MYSTERY
LOVING MUSIC
READING FOR LIVING
CELEBRATING THE MIND
TRAVELING TO EXPLORE
SEARCHING THE FUTURE
MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Lerner, who was awared the UNICEF Child and Peace Prize, is obsessed with teaching children about sustainability and co-responsibility.
 
In a book he wrote for teenagers in the 1980's he described the characters VITA, the turtle that symbolizes the strength and vulnerability of a city, ACCORDIAN, the friendly bus, and OTTO, the auto who comes to the party and never wants to leave, demands a lot, and drinks too much.

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Jaime Lerner, architect and planner, was a three-term mayor of Curitiba (1971-1992) before becoming a two-term governor of Parana. His leadership and passion were fundamental to the 'smart growth' of Curitiba, the city where he lives and is seen as an inspiring  father-figure.
 
When he took office the city coffers had no wiggle room for "living out dreams." But he said that "creativity starts when you cut a zero from your budget-- two zeros are even better."
 
Visiting consultants and planning experts explained how etraordinarily complicated it would be to achieve his agenda for improvements. Lerner didn't see it that way-- he called them 'complexity sellers.'  To him, problems had built-in solutions and he was eager to dive in. He would say: "Innovation is not planning-- it's starting."
 
A vital first move-- which he says took about 36 hours-- was closing many central street to cars and giving pedestrians full throttle.
 
He attracted investment that made Curitiba an industrial hub that in turn raised wages and the housing affordability index. He pushed to include urban citizenship and sustainability in school curricula. For example, he said that if children were taught to separate recyclables that they would  in turn teach their parents (it must have worked, because Curitiba recyles at a 70-percent rate-- the highest in the world).
 
He often spoke in parables that the average person understood. He sold efficient mobility in a simple way. He would say "an automobile is like a mother-in-law. You need a good relationship but you don't let it run your life." People got it. He 'metronized' the bus system. Lots of people kept heir cars but took the bus in most situations and took pride in their transit. No graffiti. And by the way, the bus system is non-subsidized. It's so popular it pays for itself.
 
He attracted top park planners and botanists and residents took pride in their garden parks. He reinvented urban space by pushing for multi-use buildings and multi-connected transit systems. He opened the doors for top architects-- calling their work "acupuncture for the urban imagination."
 
Lerner is a top draw at planning conferences and is still leading the charge for urban citizenship.  For him, the three main issues for discussion are mobility, sustainability, and identity. And... he is overseeing his design for a realignment of mass transit and new illuminated stations in Rio de Janeiro.

Watch and listen to Jaime Lerner talk about sustainability, mobility-- and how every city in the world can be improved in three years.

go to Jaime Lerner at TED conference in 2007

go to Jaime Lerner at the RIBA conference on the Sustainable City

return to "Sensing Urbanity"

Remain curious.