By Mariela Cedeño
If you happen to be researching the country of Colombia, you will most likely be led to headlines highlighting the country’s pervasive problems with drug trafficking, the ever present threat of left and right wing rebel groups, or at best your search will paint a picture of a country in perpetual political turmoil. But in a country of 44 million people, with abundant coastline, beautiful mountains, and a rich and diverse heritage, can that be all there is?
When we look for examples on how we can enrich our local communities we often look within or elaborately try to rebuild the wheel. In Bogota, Colombia, however, we find a great reminder of not only a community setting an example, but reminding us to look out…
On Sunday afternoons in the city of Bogota, Colombia, you will find up to 2 million residents taking over the streets on “The Ciclovia”. The Ciclovia is a 70 mile stretch of car free, people friendly, city streets on which Bogota’s inhabitants and visitors can enjoy walking, biking, rollerblading, and group exercise in a safe and peaceful environment. The biggest program of its kind in the world, Colombia’s Ciclovia not only encourages healthy living, but also creates a space for community building, family bonding, and general mingling. Furthermore, as a free event, it allows people from different economic, social, and cultural backgrounds to meet, exchange, and grow together. Following in the footsteps of Bogota, Colombia you can now find similar projects in Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, France, The United States, Australia, Ecuador, and Canada, and I’m sure many more countries to come.
For more information on The Ciclovia: http://www.streetfilms.org/ciclovia/
Lessons to Take Home
As part of a global community we need to take the time to look around at inspiring examples being set by our international neighbors. The Ciclovia, specifically, not only provides a great example of an event that can and is being replicated around the world, but also highlights the importance of building a sense of community, taking time to bond with our families, and enjoying healthy living. Remember, take a second to take in your surroundings!