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Like Flowers Breaking through the Cement
1st April, 2003
Many people dismiss environmentalism as a middle-class luxury that few can afford. But in Mexico City a group of impoverished street punks are pioneering radical social alternatives because their survival depends on it. Holly Wren reports.Chiwy lives in Mexico City, one of the fastest growing metropolises in the world. Though it was built on marshland, many of the city’s once famous rivers have ceased flowing because of diversion and contamination. Mexico City’s air is foul, there is little open space, and – with a population of 25 million – the city creates 1.3 kilograms of garbage per resident per day.
In a city that has only ever landfilled its rubbish, Chiwy is among a group of youths who are working on local recycling and composting programmes. They go into neighbourhoods to teach residents how to sort waste, and build depots where recyclables can be taken for collection. The needs of the city are that basic, and, rather than waiting for the government to institute solutions, Chiwy and co are doing it themselves.
Chiwy, with his floppy mohawk and boyish face, is a member of the Juventud Antiautoritaria Revolucionaria (Jar) – ‘Anti-Authoritarian and Revolutionary Youth’. The patches on his black clothing proclaim ‘freedom lives when the state dies’, and ‘resistence exists’. During visits to Huehuecoyotal eco-village south of Mexico City, Chiwy and Jar learned permaculture...
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