Lake Sagaris

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2005
Ciudad Viva


This profile was prepared when Lake Sagaris was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
In a newly restored democracy still lacking in public involvement, Lake Sagaris is working with local and regional community leaders to build practical and theoretical solutions to current urban woes, while instituting a new system for participatory urban planning. Through practical structures for participation and training on how to use them, Ciudad Viva (Living City) empowers new and existing citizen groups and their leaders to become a part of the city management process. In Santiago, where fragmentation prevails in civil society and in political arenas, Ciudad Viva has become a major city-level unit for democratic expression. Through the Assembly for Urban Rights and other initiatives supported by Ciudad Viva, Lake unites the disparate voices of Santiago, bridging the divides of class, geography, and sector that prevent city residents from taking collective ownership over their surroundings.
Ciudad Viva’s tactics ultimately change the way citizens conceptualize their role in and power over their surroundings. Lake believes that sustainable cities are healthy cities─and the efforts of Ciudad Viva and its partners have already helped make Santiago a more livable place by increasing green space, improving public transport, and building more pedestrian-friendly walkways. This focus on the spaces that citizens use each day serves a far more strategic function because it has the power to galvanize a long-powerless citizenry to take charge of its democracy. In a world where the corrupt and powerful rule the ordinary citizen and where cars preside over the pedestrian, Ciudad Viva’s leaders are showing Chile’s citizens they can effectively exercise their voices to claim a more livable city for themselves.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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