Fellow Since 1989
This profile was prepared when Emilio González was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1989.
The New Idea
There are many cities in Mexico -- often ones of great historical value -- which are in danger of serious ecological degradation. San Miguel de Allende, which is more than 450 years old and which currently has a population of 120,000, is one such city. As leader of the "San Miguel de Allende 2000" project, Emilio Gonzalez is launching a citizen-led, broad-based effort to effectively confront the city's most serious environmental problems: shortage of safe drinking water, improper sewage disposal which contaminates the dwindling water supply, deforestation and desertification (directly related to the water problem), garbage disposal and recycling, and public awareness of environmental issues.The urban and environmental problems of Mexico City are virtually overwhelming. Emilio Gonzalez's work represents a farsighted, pre-emptive, and grassroots approach to urban ecological degradation that can serve as a model for Mexico's smaller cities.Emilio Gonzalez's SMA 2000 is unique for its broad involvement of "factions" normally thought to be at odds over environmental issues. The various "commissions" of SMA 2000 dealing with reforestation, drainage, garbage and recycling, include local business and government leaders. Area journalists and the national press have also taken an interest, and fundraising has succeeded locally. San Miguel de Allende's large population of foreigners (especially North American and European artists) participates in the project, as do the city's schools.