Hi Laura, this is fascinating, and I appreciated your take on the Sonrisas Project. I’ve been thinking about this lately, the idea of asking the people most vulnerable in a system that is failing them, to contribute or take responsibility for improving it. It’s partly because I have been trying to think of ways to improve the lives of forgotten/ignored communities of people in my city, and interrogating my ideas, I wonder if I am leaving enough room for these imagined groups to benefit in the way that would best serve them.
Community development is about what people do for themselves, after all, not what is done for (or to) them. Which makes it different from city planning, of course, but you would think more consultation might take place so these different approaches better work together.
I have been helping with a campaign in Bristol, the UK, to get a day shelter for the city’s homeless, and in fact, the man who started the campaign is currently experiencing homelessness, so he is an instigator for change. But like you say, it seems incredibly unfair. Not only is he living in these inadequate conditions, but he is having to rally and find the passion, enthusiasm and energy to build this campaign too. It’s all the wrong way round, isn’t it?
Still, who knows which ideas are going to fly, and which will putter away without creating an impact. At least Sheinbaum is trying. I wonder how they could get more people (the ones they hope to reach) engaging… Always the tricky question.
Thanks for sharing this story, it’s well written, informative, and made me think.