If there’s anything Medellín, Colombia has proven, it’s that it is a city capable of transforming itself and overcoming obstacles from the past.
Twenty-five years ago, Medellín was the murder capital of the world, with more than 300 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
Today, the city is the recipient of numerous awards for its urban development, most recently the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.
Projects such as urban gondolas and outdoor escalators to connect poor neighborhoods on steep hills, as well as Latin America’s first metro, have made Medellín an inspiration to many cities around the world.
The Metropolitan Greenbelt (El Cinturon Verde Metropolitano) is the city’s latest innovation. In typical Medellín fashion, the project aims to achieve many goals at once.
The Greenbelt will hugely expand the city’s overall amount of parkland, recreation opportunities, and even places to grow food. It is putting scores of people like Villamizar to work.
And it will also create a sort of urban growth boundary to stop the encroachment of squatter settlements creeping ever further up the hillsides.
At the same time, the city will upgrade ramshackle homes, and introduce public services and transit options in the remote informal settlements high up at the urban edge.
Image credit: www.medellin.gov.co