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Culture Shock October 26, 2008

Posted by cbuchanan in Uncategorized.

I’ve been experiencing a sort of reverse culture shock since I got back from Brazil and Argentina. Going from the amped-up world of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires to the slower pace of Birmingham has taken some adjustment. (I wouldn’t want to live permanently in those intense, chaotic cities, but they’re vibrant and manage to constantly excite all five senses.)

Anyway, two things down there brought up some observations in regard to B’ham. First, transportation. In Buenos Aires, there are buses *everywhere,* and I didn’t begin to figure out the tangled routes, but somehow they manage to efficiently move millions of people around every day. I also noticed that they’re privatized–it looked like there were at least 10 separate bus companies running the routes. Has the BJCTA considered outsourcing *our* bus system? Surely some company out there could run it for them better (and possibly cheaper) than we’re doing now.

The second thing I noticed was how much the citizens love their public spaces, particularly their parks. Buenos Aires has a huge swath of formerly off-limits industrial land that has been set aside as an ecological reserve, and tons of people flock to it on the weekends–which is a good sign for B’ham’s own postindustrial parks at Red Mountain and the Railroad Reservation. It struck me that parks are a great equalizer down there, where there is often a great gap between rich and poor.

And while we’re on this Latin American vibe, remember that this Sunday is Dia de los Muertos at Bare Hands Gallery. I can’t wait–I’m looking forward to some of the color, flavor, sounds, and energy I’ve been missing the past few weeks! Be sure to visit the Web site to find out where to enter the festival (the gate’s location has changed this year), see a full schedule of events, etc.



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