I would like to lift up a metaphor that Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, uses to describe leveraged actions that can help transform a community. Lerner calls such actions (and the art of discerning and carrying out such actions) as that of urban acupuncture. As he states it, “I call it urban acupuncture, which is where you focus on key points that increase energy and flow” 1
The idea of urban acupuncture is that while planning takes time, there is also need for immediate, leveraged action that can help jump-start the process of regeneration within a community. According to Lerner,
I believe that some medicinal “magic” can and should be applied to cities, as many are sick and some nearly terminal. As with the medicine needed in the interaction between doctor and patient, in urban planning it is also necessary to make the city react; to poke an area in such a way that it is able to help heal, improve, and create positive chain reactions. It is indispensable in revitalizing interventions to make the organism work in a different way.
This lifts up in my mind a central question, which I ask myself and any reader who may stumble upon this blog: Where are the acupuncture points in your community? (i.e. where you see the potential for making pinpoint interventions that can be accomplished quickly yet are effective in creating “a new energy that can help the whole process of planning”).
1 Quoted from “Curitba’s Mr. Clean: Community, Enviromental Design”
2 Quoted from “Acupuntura Urbana”