Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lessons in Leadership / Profiles in Courage
"Bogotá Change"

The Colombian presidential elections will be held in less than three weeks on May 30. The campaign is all about ideas, leadership, and courage. And what could be more critical for a country or a city event to have these lined up together with a proven capacity to innovate, administrate, and to ensure that good policies and measures are continuously being scrutinized for performance and adapted to ensure that they are making the fullest possible contribution, year after year after year? Grab a cup of coffee and check out "Bogotá Change". You are going to learn something.

* * * Click to "Bogotá Change" here * * *

Not all that long ago Bogotá, the Colombian capital, was considered one of the world's most dangerous cities. At an altitude of over 2,600 meters up in the Andes mountains, seven million people were fighting a losing battle against drug crime, corruption, poverty and, not least, against each other.

But in 1995 the colorful and independent Antanas Mockus surprised many by being elected to become the city's Mayor, after having been fired as the vice-chancellor of the university where he had mooned his ungovernable students in a fit of rage. Mockus's anarchistic and untraditional methods set about a social revolution that meant that Bogotá today is a role model for cities such as New York and Mexico City. 'Bogotá Change' tells the story about how this happened, and shows that politics in fact can be both funny and deeply inspiring.

If you are interested in how a city in a developing country was transformed through leadership, vision, and much work, this video done by a professional movie producer from Denmark is a good investment of 60 minutes of your time.

The story in brief:
By the way, it is about the administration of three mayors in that city, in "one of the world's most dangerous cities": two one-time political rivals, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa, both of whom are now united with another Mayor of Bogota, Lucho Garzon, and Sergio Fajardo, former mayor of Medellin. Coming together to bridge the political gaps they have recently created the Green Party (Partido Verde) and they have come from 5% of the anticipate vote in just 6 months ago to lead the Presidential polls for the election taking place in two weeks.

Quite an interesting process, which included a primary between Mockus, Penalosa and Garzon, where all three travelled to every corner of the country on a bus, always together, shared financing, never spoke a negative word of the others, and following the selection of Mockus as Presidential Candidate all three, in addition to Fajardo are fully engage and committed in the campaign as a TEAM.

Viewing the film:

Let's have a look at the backdrop to this inspiring story, thanks to a film that has been put together by a Danish film team in their Cities on Speed series (more on that below). You can do this in at least three ways.

All four films in this series are available for purchase from The Danish Filminstitute - details at http://www.citiesonspeed.com/.

Alternatively, you can check out the seven part series which has been posted to YouTube (IP??) and which you can access here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OdhD5D5its&feature=PlayList&p=0AD7F4A77E828E07&playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1

If you are not sure, let me invite you to start here and please view at least the first two episodes, barely ten minutes in all. Then you can either continue with YouTube presentation (full screen recommended) -- or, if you will, click to http://www.megavideo.com/?v=0MKNIESG for the full 59 minute film. (If you are like me, a bit overworked and under brained, you may not think you are going to sit through the whole thing. Okay. Let's see what you do.)

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About the filmmakers
Producer: Henrik Veileborg, Upfront Films, hv@upfrontfilms.dk
Director: Andreas Møl Dalsgaard, andreasmol@hotmail.com

Cities on Speed
For the first time in history, over 50% of the world’s population is now living in urban areas. By 2050, this figure is expected to increase to 80%. At this very moment, giant urban organisms are growing at unprecedented rates. For some time now, growth in cities like Shanghai, Mumbai, Cairo and Bogotá has far outpaced planning. These cities are expanding so rapidly that urban administration and the keeping of official statistics have become largely impossible, and population figures are increasingly nothing more than rough estimates. They are truly ‘Cities on Speed.’

The Cities on Speed series consists of four documentaries, each of which pinpoints key problems in Bogotá, Mumbai, Shanghai and Cairo. Based on the perspectives of a series of noteworthy characters, the four films present drastically different views on the global megacity and the challenges brought about by their explosive growth. Cities on Speed portrays radical urban problems, and people with radical ideas on how to solve them: from underground parks in Shanghai and mime traffic police in Bogotá, to the so-called ‘garbage people’ in Cairo and 100,000 new Nano cars in Mumbai.

More at: http://www.citiesonspeed.com/. For the Bogata film, http://www.citiesonspeed.com/citiesonspeed/Bogota_ENgelsk.html

Copies can be ordered direct from http://eshop.dfi.dk/Shop/ItemList.php?CategoriSelect=14. Price: € 40.00.

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What are the lessons that I take from this engaging, challenging film?

1. Leadership is not a committee matter. It is rare. It needs to be uncommon, courageous, original and inspiring. And viral!

2. Transportation is not something in itself. If we try to separate it from the greater whole of which it is but one part, we will never achieve either the mobility system or the city that should be our goal.

3. Continuity is both difficult and critical. It is one of the first victims of political football.

4. There are new ways of thinking which combine deep democracy and everyday practicality. We would be very weak, very foolish, and very amenable to manipulation by entrenched interests if we were not to recognize this and act on it.

What are the lessons you take from this film? Click comment below in order to share them with us all.

Eric Britton,
Editor, World Streets

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