Some people see the arroyo of Obraje running through San Miguel de Allende as a squalid ditch, a place to dump household garbage when one fails to heed the bell of the municipal trucks collecting trash. It diverts floodwaters away from Colonia Guadalupe during the rainy season, but during the much longer dry season it serves as a shortcut for many, including children attending one of several schools bordering the arroyo. The area, well below street level, also is a magnet for those engaged in drug deals or other dangerous liaisons. And those armed with spray paint.
Former San Antonian Colleen Sorenson looks at the ditch and sees something different. She sees Paseo del Rio or pathways like those along the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. The graffiti-covered walls of buildings backing up to the arroyo represent additional blank canvases for more constructive artistic expression. Muros en Blanco, ecologically concerned residents of San Miguel de Allende and city officials began meeting, and change is happening.
Bulldozers were clearing away debris in February, when these photos were taken.
According to an article by Antonio de Jesus Aguado in Attencion San Miguel, Edgar Bautista, head of the city’s Urban Development Department, said:
“The perspective is touristic…,” and it fulfills the development goals of the Millenium, the priorities of which are security, health and education. The idea is to turn the arroyo into a patio-garden within the city, a tourism corridor, “in other words, a park that would generate a new ecosystem as important as Parque Juarez.”
Colleen was working on another arts festival, but, in addition to the mural projects lining the arroyo, the event would involve the schools in Colonia Guadalupe and carry strong environmental messages to foster a spirit of community stewardship.
Looking forward to seeing the transformation next time we return….