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The Resilience of Culture

Cultural institutions and heritage sites may contribute to a city’s social cohesion and attract investment.
March 22, 2019, 2pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Jess Kraft

A study from the World Bank suggests that preserving a city’s history can have a major impact on how that city recovers from traumas. "Investing in cultural institutions, spaces, and heritage can help build bridges between sparring communities in post-conflict urban areas and make disaster recovery quick, sustainable, and more effective," writes Tanvi Misra. By building on and preserving key cultural institutions, cities give citizens a way to cope with and grow from traumatic experiences.

The city of Medellin, Colombia, the site of great violence and upheaval during the Pablo Escobar era, provides a model of a resilient city, Misra argues. The city implemented a plan that included building libraries, and art space, along with other more obvious necessities. "The key is to balance the basic needs—shelter, food, and healthcare—with the effort to promote artistic expression that helps urban communities process trauma and communicate and document their experiences," Misra reports. The report emphasizes the idea that finding the right projects and making large impacts requires officials to work with community members to create a shared understanding about the most important aspects of local culture.

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Published on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 in CityLab
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