Reading about a seminar on cities at Columbia University, I was fixated by the sentence: “A new regime of time-space relations is emerging ….” I thought of this the other day as one of the mothers from the Spanish playgroup told me casually, “let me give you my coordinates so we can connect.” What a curious phrase to use, a nautical metaphor for the information age. We are perhaps just particles in a multi-layered Cartesian plane, citizens that converge in places or at certain moments and simply spin off in different directions the next. Technological devices define the terrain that we inhabit. To locate me, for example, you should have at least two of the following: cell phone, home number, the work number, the e-mail at work and the e-mail at home. These things lay out the coordinates of my life, a city of sorts. I am both, the sum of all those parts and devices, and also just a point of intersection. It may sound like a lot of points of reference, but I am actually low tech in comparison to others amidst the affluence of American life. Some people have pagers, palm devices with instant messaging capacity and fancy cars with satellite positioning devices. So many ways, so little stillness. How do you articulate a civic sense of responsibility, of belonging, of engagement amidst so many floating parts and devices? Is the city just a vision? Is permanence, history, place just a desire?
Haven’t figured it out yet.
Neida Jiménez is the DRCLAS Program Manager.
The sleek red bus zooms out of the station in northern Bogota, a futuristic symbol of an (almost) transformed city. Nearby, thousands of cyclists of all ages enjoy a sunny morning on Latin America’s largest bike-path network.
I have to confess. I fell passionately, madly, in love at first sight. I was standing on the edge of Bogotá’s National Park, breathing in the rain-washed air laden with the heavy fragrance of eucalyptus trees. I looked up towards the mountains over the red-tiled roofs. And then it happened.
My city, San Juan, is a social city. Its character and virtue are best illustrated and defined by the collective and individual memories of its people and those places where we go to spend time in idleness….