Good news for those of you that support BUILDrgv (Building Urban & Innovative Land Development in the Rio Grande Valley) and its core values advocating for quality of life issues, living a healthy lifestyle through good city planning and downtown urban core revitalization.

We will be transitioning our facebook like page to a group page. This way as a group we can interact more by engaging in conversations that matter to you. We can share information, events and issues to help each and every one of you achieve your quality of life goals within your own community.

As you know good urban design doesn’t just happen. There’s a complex set of elements that involve public policy, economics, real estate, social values, government and decision making that makes a city grow. It is also a result of an engaged community. As taxpayers we hold our elected officials accountable for how they spend our tax dollars, whether it is for road construction, fixing pot holes, building sidewalks, adding street lights, building more parks, community centers, libraries, EMS facilities or expanding sewer lines and drainage for new planned unit developments, enticing new retail development, adding more accessible bike lanes or making our commutes more socially and environmentally responsible. All of these are complex issues. Not everyone is well versed in how these can come together to make beautiful communities thrive for people that want to live in.

I’ve studied architectural issues and urban design problems for over 30 years now and just like a doctor I specialized in architectural creativity and economic determinants of urban city phenomena. I am an urbanologist and I can help with post COVID-19 health issues. These may be reasons why not everyone understands the forces that play into fostering a thriving livable city. Some of us may think well that’s just the way it must be. Somebody must know what they’re doing. If you want to cure urban city problems, you need an urbanologist. It’s that simple. But, I’ll tell you how you can start curing your own community issues. One thing is for sure, you can start to be engaged with your public officials and ask questions, lots of questions. We can also help you ask the right questions from the onset.

If we as taxpayers don’t speak up and remind our elected officials about what we want and how we want to live, then how are they supposed to know what we value and what is socially and economically sustainable. Every decision we make as a community affects our neighbors. BUILDrgv is a community organization that values an improved way of life so we can all live to make the best use of OUR tax dollars. We have a fundamental right to live our best lives in the greatest country in the world.

So that’s how good urban design gets implemented. We the people make it happen. We at BUILDrgv educate and inform our members about the pros and cons of investing our time and energy in preserving our environment by planning, designing and developing communities with efficient access to resources for people to live healthier lives. That means we design for human comfort. We design for human social interaction and economic sustainability. Unfortunately the highways, the car and suburban development changed all of that by depleting much of our agricultural and natural resources.

Cities are mostly planned through city, county, state and federal funded projects. Since the Post World War era the Federal Highway Administration expanded its role of building highways throughout the United States creating a dependence on the car and revolving our lives around air-conditioned bubbles. As you know humans weren’t born with a car in their crib. As such prior to the turn of the 20th century towns and cities were built with amenities closer to everyone making cities more accessible by foot, bicycle, bus, tramway and other public transportation options.

Because of a post COVID19 world we realized how much damage humans were already doing to the environment just by following lockdown restrictions. The entire world seemed to have taken a deep breath of relief. We realized that technology to a certain extent became essential and that fast forwarded a new future. We learned to work a home-based business by either adapting to a new normal or simply surviving. We became more efficient and conscious of our travel, limiting our trips as need base only. A self-reflecting society all of a sudden saw themselves in a mirror that started to make sense around the people they knew and loved. We started to re-think and re-invent our own lives or maybe more of what is important and what may be possible.

We look forward to continue the conversation with you, because if not you then who? If not now then when?

Dedicated to a good friend, Mark Peña R.I.P.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column by Pedro Ayala first appeared on BUILDrgv’s Facebook page. It was revised slightly for the Rio Grande Guardian with the approval of the author.

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