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International Forum “Our city, our space”​ opens its doors in Havana for second year

The second edition of the International Forum Our city, our space – Towards sustainable living modes, opens its doors in Havana once again to promote the discussion on placemaking strategies, community, and sustainable development. 

We have arrived at another November, grateful and honored, for having the privilege of gathering relevant social actors from Cuba and worldwide, who advocate for the sustainable model of community to which we aspire. 

On this occasion, we propose to discuss four main themes: Local Development; Sustainable mobility; Recycling; and Alimentary and nutrition security. The Forum will also offer a capacity-building workshop led by Placemaking Network leaders, who have been mentors and sources of inspiration for this event.

Covid-19 put the world on hold for unthinkable periods of time, and yet Placemaking Latinamerica remained an example of how much change can be generated even amid a global pandemic. This network of leaders connected across the region is working together for a more inclusive and sustainable future for our continent. 

Placemaking Latinamerica is consolidating itself as a core of regional alliances that transform cities, not from vertical management structures, but from inclusive, collective, urban actions. 

We hope that Our city will serve as a prelude to the first regional meeting of Placemaking Latin America on our island. 

This edition is honored to be able to present keynote speakers such as:

Fred Kent, founder and former president of Project for Public Spaces, speaks extensively on public spaces and placemaking, and is working on two initiatives: The Social Life Project and PlacemakingX.

Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa, passionate about creating vibrant and healthy cities for all people. Thanks to his unique combination of experience, pragmatism, and passion, he has been invited to work in more than 350 different cities on all continents.

And to our dear Jan Gehl, who with his infinite dedication and modesty agreed to join us for a second time. 

We are also grateful for the participation of more than 40 speakers and panelists from 18 countries. 

Two years ago, we dreamed of creating a platform that would make visible the local efforts and initiatives taking place in Cuba nowadays; a space to connect social actors, institutions, international experts; a means to generate academic, professional, and human alliances. Because although the idea of a sustainable future is a worthy and achievable goal, we need ALL and every effort to achieve it.

For this reason, we have invited Cuban community projects such as Akokan, Tercer Paraíso, Arte Corte, Ciclo Paple, Co-pincha, among others. They are the living experience of how to reactivate communities with a sense of responsibility and identity, with specific high-impact projects in their localities through social and cultural management, the sustainable production of goods and services, and the deployment of communicative, educational, and participatory strategies for citizen empowerment. 

“Our city, our space” aims to be an exercise in collective reflection and creation, mutual learning, and capacity building. In us lies the responsibility and capacity to build a city connected to its citizens, and the formation of citizens connected to their city.

We cannot conclude these opening remarks without thanking the Chevening Alumni Programme Fund, sponsors of the event, without whose support this Forum would not have been possible. To the British Embassy, especially Denis Puertas, for his decisive and constant support during the creation of this dream. 

Thanks to Ethan Kent, for being our mentor and guide; to Guillermo and Luciana, for their patience and unconditional support, for letting us be part of that niche of light that is Placemaking Latinamerica. 

To the OHC, for the privilege of their participation in the event.

To the management of the Hotel Parque Central, especially Cossette and José Alejandro Marrero for all their support.

To the members of the Organising Committee, Gabriela Lage, Claudia, and Maria Carla. 

To our families, for being there, always.

And to our dear Eusebio Leal. To his tireless spirit of transformation and to his dream of Havana, made to the measure of its people and by its people.

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