Colombia 2014

The group examined Social Urbanism, a term of art in Medellín, Colombia, that refers to investments in physical infrastructure in support of broader communal, social goals, such as health, safety, and opportunity. In absence of a strong national plan to combat violence in response to a tide of guerilla movements and narco-trafficking, local cities and neighborhoods have implemented bottom up, “crowdsourced” urban planning processes that have greatly improved health and welfare. Due in large part to these efforts, Medellin was named the “most innovative city in the world” by the Wall Street Journal and Urban Land Institute for 2013. Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, Bogotá, construction is underway on the largest crowd-funded real estate project in the world, the BD Bacata, which seeks to leverage funds raised from thousands of local investors to catalyze the redevelopment of Bogotá’s city center. In a way, the BD Bacata is an example of a social process for urban development that is much different from traditional development. The Fellows explored the conditions that gave rise to these cutting edge, people-based urban development practices, and exploring how lessons learned in Colombia can be applied to the United States, and the Seattle region.