Everything evolves, and for some time now you've seen that our Public Minilibraries project grew bigger and bigger with other civic engagement initiatives, like the Happy Cities Festival or the Mobility Lab. At the end of the day, it's about how we can rebuild social capital. What happens between people within society and how we can build trust and confidence to unleash creative solutions. The Public Minilibraries were the start of it and they will continue to be an important part on that mix, but not the only one.
So in two weeks we will host our 3rd Happy Cities Festival in Rosario, with the visits of amazing speakers and inspiring people around the country and the world, like Margaret Heffernan, Gil Peñalosa, Lauren Anderson and LJ Flancers. During two days we will offer the public -completely free for everyone- 4 inspiring kinda TED talks and 24 workshops that will provide tools, ideas and the energy we need to create a solution revolution. Urbanism, mobility, youth development, civic engagement, social impact projects, open data, mindfulness and urban cycling will be some ot the topics that will ignite positive energy. 80 volunteers and staff are working hard to host around 2000 people from all over the country!
Thanks to your support we are able to keep on offering excellence and innovative programs to the city and its inhabitants, keep tuned for more info!
"Imagine you dropped your wallet somewhere on your street. What are the chances you would get it back if a neighbour found it? A stranger? A police officer? Your answer to that simple question is a proxy for a whole list of metrics related to the quality of your relationship with family, friends, neighbours and the society around you. In fact, ask enough people the wallet question, and you can predict happiness of cities" (Charles Montgomery, from "Happy City", 2013)
Societies are based on trust on one another, without trust and confidence we can only get a dysfuntcional group of people only thinking on how to survive and think in a selfish way. That's why we need to create catalyzers that build trust and confidence, and by doing so we will be increasing our capacity to resolve issues. The benefits of this goes from economy to public health, and increases our quality of life.
So what can we actually do create trust where there is none? Public mini libraries creates the perfect platform for this. Witnessing the commitment of fellow citizens to it by donating books, fixing, repairing and taking care of the little colourfull books home has a viral effect. And people start to believe and have confidence again.
Rosario is full of minilibraries (14 already!) thanks to your incredible support. And if you think that you were only supporting a project for only access to education and culture, well, think again. You are not only supporting that. You are creating happy cities.
After a lot of work during the last years, today Rosario city has a network of 14 minilibraries installed. And this are great news. Vandalism, the big 'threat' of the project and fear from some skeptical people, was little. And profits were high, in terms of happiness and well being of the people in contact with them. It is forecasted than by 2030, 70% of people will live in cities. This is an important piece of information since we will need to build cities for people, cities that creates good moments and promote happiness. How do we actually 'feel' about our lifes. Cities can play a big role in this and must be regarded as more than engines of wealth, they must be viewed as systems that should be shaped to improve human well-being.
Public mini libraries promotes trust between the citizens, and trusting our neighbours, police, government and even total strangers has a huge influence on happiness -even more than income does-. There is an incredible amount of data that shows that access to quality public spaces with activities to do and public parks reduces depression, mental illnesses and violence. Therefore, these little libraries may be the top of the iceberg to rethink policy making that prepares cities for the future and puts human well-being in the center of the debate.
2016 came to an end with a fantastic balance regarding Public Mini Libraries. We have seen the transformation power that they have on people, families, kids, granparents connecting with the younger ones trough books and storytelling. Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, and 2017 we are preparing our plans to keep on spreading these little magic houses around the city and -why not- the whole country.
Last year we've installed 6 new minilibraries around Rosario city, attracting schools and students and getting them engage in the process. This positive energy also got attention from media, influencers and others that inspired other cities far away, including Bariloche (Patagonia), 3000km away. Therefore we have developed a set of tools, manuals and instructions which is completely open to everyone at no cost, so everyone can replicate the power of the Minilibraries in their own city or town. Making books accessible to everyone, having activities to do in public space, making parks nicer, colorful and happy are great ways to engage citizens into active participation. And that's the beginning of a solution revolution instead of a passive 'complaining mode'.
Thanks to your support we made another year possible and we keep on growing, making possitive impact in a world that needs good examples, inspiration, peaceful and safe environment for all and equality. Lets keep on moving in that direction together!
How do we create a truly happy city? A city in which all citizens have equal opportunities of development? A city where the voice of the children is heard? Last week we discussed these questions during the second edition of our Ciudades Felices (Happy Cities) Festival in Rosario, Argentina. More than 500 people attended a day full of keynote speeches, roundtables, exhibitions & innovative spaces of interaction. With the presence of different (inter)national speakers - among whom the famous urbanist Gil Peñalosa and the coach of the national Argentine football team Edgardo Bauza - we discussed topics like youth development, urban planning and mobility.
I co-founded El Desafío Foundation more than 11 years ago and to see the ever growing group of youngsters, of which many volunteers was truly moving. We organize the festival to inspire and get inspired, to share our knowledge and make a bigger impact by creating new connections. Currently based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands I had the opportunity to get a bit of an 'outside view' attending the festival and working with the team for the last 2,5 weeks. Democracy in the making, fueling the hope for a better future; it's so inspiring to be part of this challenge.
At the festival actors from various backgrounds - entrepreneurs, NGO's, the Municipality, schools, and many more - got together as equals with a common goal. Our youngsters did not only co-create, they also curated the wrap up at the end of the festival. They shared their main concerns and ideas with the Secretary-General of the Municipality and the university chancellor. Their advice: more attention for LGBT rights, sports as a platform for development and sustainable transport and inclusive public spaces. But not just words, also the conclusion that if we want to create a happy city, citizens can't be spectators, we all need to act, and now!
Thank you so much for your support. Only with your help we can give these youngsters the opportunity to create the city they envision. Very soon we can share the after movie and more outcomes of the festival. Don't hesitate to contact me for more information.
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