Gavin White, Riverlife’s Director of Planning and Projects, recently brought a bit of Pittsburgh to Mexico when he presented at the World Urban Parks Conference in Monterrey, Mexico.
World Urban Parks Congress is a new international organization representing the vibrant urban parks, open space and recreation sector. At a time when urban growth will see 70 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas by 2050, sharing knowledge and providing a collective voice for all people and organizations engaged in green cities, open space, recreation, health, and related activity is vital. You can learn more about World Urban Parks Congress here.
Gavin, who also serves as World Urban Parks’ Executive Officer for Climate Change and Resilience, presented Riverlife’s strategy for improved Care and Maintenance of Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, alongside speakers from São Paulo and Buenos Aires.Monterrey, Mexico, a sprawling city nestled among the Sierra Madre mountains, hosted this year’s World Urban Parks Congress. This annual event traverses the globe, gathering park professionals from across the planet for inspiring discussion, tours, and fiestas.Gavin got the chance to tour a few of Monterrey’s 1,300 neighborhood parks with colleagues old and new.Monterrey has two rivers – one natural, and one artificial! Unlike Pittsburgh, where rain falls regularly and the river levels are carefully controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Río Santa Catarina, which bisects the city, is dry most of the year.Also unlike Pittsburgh, Monterrey has a short and small river that is entirely engineered. The Santa Lucía Riverwalk connects the center of the city to one of its largest parks.This park, Parque Fundidora, is built on the site of an old steel foundry and calls to mind the Carrie Furnaces or Homestead waterfront. At Fundidora, the scale of preservation is immense – numerous buildings, systems, and artifacts from the once-massive foundry are integrated into an actively programmed open space that shines day and night.Another exciting public space in Monterrey, called the Macroplaza, was full of public activity of all kinds, including a huge protest to protect Instituto Nacional Electoral, an autonomous, independent, and specialized public body, responsible for the State function of organizing and overseeing federal elections in Mexico.On a day to day basis, visitors can find a variety of activities and vendors throughout the Macroplaza, making it a lively and exciting place to wander through.Getting a chance to visit other parks, especially in other countries, helps reshape and reframe the way we think about our own spaces and our place in them (bike vendors on the riverfronts, anyone?)The World Urban Parks Congress in Monterrey brought new insights, new friends, and new opportunities to connect with other parks professionals doing similar work around the globe. Gavin will continue to engage with the organization as they continue to grow, and Riverlife will keep bringing global perspectives to Pittsburgh so that we can make our rivers truly world class.