For many communities of color, neighborhoods are more about social cohesion than they are just property values.
In The United States, some Latino neighborhoods with single-family homes are repurposed to enable those types of private-public interactions that are common back home: A front yard might be fenced in to move the private home space closer to the edge—so a neighbor on the sidewalk can easily meet and interact with people from the house, similar to the interior courtyards of homes in Mexico.
A vacant lot, old gas station, or otherwise empty stretch of sidewalk can easily transform into a bustling pop-up node of commerce: This type of street vending—ranging from a single food cart to small pedestrian-oriented, commercial district where tents line a street or row—is often tactile and more energetic and vibrant than the mass counterparts found in wealthier parts of a city. (Counterparts, mind you, that ironically attempt to mimic the very intimacy of these street vendors only to come off as upscale and inaccessible to the very people who created the desire for mimicry.)
In Southern California, Latino Urbanism is perhaps the strongest force of change for improving mobility and creating a pedestrian friendly city. Many Latinos in working-class neighborhoods don't have cars and the reframe the built environment around them to support their mobility needs.
While a traffic engineer is fixated on time and speed, Latino mobility interventions are based on the memory, needs, and aspirations of the community and can informally transform auto-centric streets into places that nurture human interaction and cultural expression.
In this spirit, we want to introduce five Latino urban creators who are helping Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx communities across the country and hemisphere find their voices.