The following blog post is from Philip Winn, Vice President, Project for Public Spaces
Although it has always been an important place for the Condesa neighborhood, in recent years, the Foro Lindbergh section of Parque México has been recognized as a space that should be defined by community members. Local nonprofit Lugares Públicos has played a pivotal role in strengthening Foro Lindbergh as a community-led public space and we have had the honor of supporting them as part of the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program.
Lugares Públicos’ work in Foro Lindbergh is most visible through LEA, which is a colorful library kiosk they designed and installed, and the many activities and programs they’ve organized there with the local community. A less visible but equally important outcome of their work has been in the social ties that have been forged and strengthened between neighbors.
When disaster struck on the afternoon of September 19th, residents of Condesa began to gather in Foro Lindbergh almost immediately. They traveled there not only because it is centrally located and it feels safe, but also because it is a space they already felt a strong connection to.
Within hours, the Foro became an essential hub for an entirely citizen-led relief effort. Volunteers improvised systems to organize a flood of contributions from donors responding to calls for food, water, medicine, and supplies. Tents were pitched to house neighbors who fled collapsed or damaged buildings. Mental and physical therapists arrived to help people who experienced stress and trauma. A local restaurant even moved their grills to the Foro and served hundreds of free tacos al pastor.
Guillermo Bernal, director of Lugares Públicos, witnessed first hand how connections created before the earthquake helped aid the relief efforts. He said, “We already had a very active group on the instant messenger WhatsApp to communicate about activities and events in Foro Lindbergh. So people naturally started using the same group to organize, share information, and coordinate volunteer efforts that were happening in Foro Lindbergh and throughout Condesa.”
The benefits of vibrant community-led public spaces like Foro Lindbergh are easy to notice on regular days. You witness unplanned meetings between neighbors, children having the chance to explore and play, and people of all ages enjoying the feeling of being part of a lively place where there is a lot to do. It's harder to see the experiences that are strengthening important connections in moments of crisis. We cannot always prevent or predict the next adversity that a community will face, but by investing in our public spaces, we sow seeds of resiliency for the challenges to come.