transforming Bogota

Bogota used to be on the verge of chaos. Then an ex-academic with no political experience and a bunch of interesting ideas won the mayoralty, dressed up like superman, employed mimes to direct traffic, distributed thumbs up/down cards for citizens to indicate feedback about each other’s behaviour, initiated a “women’s night” where men stayed home and looked after the kids, and a host of other creative measures (including, almost unbelievably, voluntary extra taxes). The results included dropping the murder rate to a quarter of what it was, and generally making for a happier, more productive city. The article is well worth a read.

“The distribution of knowledge is the key contemporary task,” Mockus said. “Knowledge empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor, and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change.”

Inspiring and inspired.

Mockus noted that his administrations were enlightened by academic concepts, including the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Douglass North, who has investigated the tension between formal and informal rules and how economic development is restrained when those rules clash; and Jürgen Habermas’ work on how dialogue creates social capital. Mockus also mentions Socrates, who said that if people understood well, they probably would not act in the wrong way.

He stepped down after two terms as mayor, and may consider running for president.

No Responses to “transforming Bogota”

  1.   Scott
    May 26th, 2006 | 4:54 pm

    Really enjoyed it – forwarded to a number of other people who had similar reactions. Damn why can’t we have ‘politicians’ like that…

    Oh hang on…. we can…

    [wheres my superhero suit!]

  2.   Administrator
    May 26th, 2006 | 11:32 pm

    Yeah, it’s heartening, eh.