Cities are constantly changing and evolving as new groups flow in and out and businesses and communities grow. These changes affect both the city’s layout and structure as well as the residents from diverse neighborhoods. Culture-focused projects can help guide these changes so they include the views of all city residents. One great modern example of this change in action can be seen from this week’s #WebsiteWednesday: ABCDM.xyz.
ABCDM.xyz is a collaborative culture project created by Laura Janka Zires, an architect for UNAM and urbanist for Harvard. ABCDM.xyz was created to address major urban changes happening in Mexico City. These changes are both cosmetic, like new building developments and general city repairs, as well as cultural, like gentrification. The cosmetic changes are often strongly tied to the cultural ones, and gentrification is one of the most impactful kinds of cultural change. Gaining an understanding of these terms helps show their effect, as gentrification in cities refers to the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. Fostering understanding of these terms for residents in Mexico City is one of the main aims of ABCDM.xyz.
ABCDM.xyz works to create a better understanding between city residents and those pushing for structural changes in a two-part process. First, the project collects, organizes, and analyzes language used in Mexico City to create an “urban dictionary.” The dictionary of terms is “urban” in that it breaks down specific terms related to the urban renewal happening in Mexico City. This gives residents and decision makers alike a better understanding of the sometimes confusing terms that describe changes happening in their city. For example, terms like “gentrification” did not previously exist in the language of residents in Mexico City.
Second, the project makes this research engaging and personal by discussing one term from the dictionary in each episode of their XYZ podcast (or X and Z in Spanish), available on GooglePlay, iTunes, and Spotify. The podcast, as ABCDM.xyz says, “gives voice to visionaries, to those responsible for public policy, to academics who define theories, to those who live urban realities, to those who oppose pre-established notions, and to ordinary citizens.” ABCDM.xyz believes that including the varied perspectives of the city’s residents will help to make sure that it grows in the most beneficial way.
The XYZ podcast is meant to exist as an open space for debate on issues like gentrification while allowing all who will be impacted by them to have their say. The podcast analyzes one word from the urban dictionary each episode. They not only explain the meaning of the word, but also dive deep into exploring its effects, goals, and potential outcomes. A great example of this approach in action is their episode on urban ecology. The term is not easily understood at first glance, so ABCDM.xyz brought on experts like Isla Urbana Director of Socio-Ecological Education Dolphin Montaña and UNAM sustainable architecture professor Pipola Gomez to explain what the term means and the impact it will have across Mexico City. The episode questions the concepts of urban ecology, looks at opportunities it could create, and studies if it is the same in rural areas as urban areas.
The goal of these discussions is to inform residents of Mexico City so they can be an educated and active part of shaping the future of their city. The podcast is branded with a very memorable name, as well. XYZ is a clever play on words and fits perfectly with the ABCDM.xyz domain name. The ABCDM.xyz domain itself represents both the alphabet (tying in the dictionary aspect of the project) and Mexico City (which is often abbreviated as CDMX).
The project has ambitious aims, and backs them up with impressive institutional support. ABCDM.xyz is supported by institutions like UNAM and Mexico’s National Fund for Culture, as well as real estate developer Refurbano and urban development community Comunica la Ciudad. This support gives ABCDM.xyz the backing to conduct their research and produce interesting stories on their podcast. It also shows the broad-ranging support ABCDM.xyz has in Mexico City.
ABCDM.xyz works to give a voice to the diverse culture of Mexico City and amplify the voice of the city’s residents. With their creatively branded .xyz domain, they can also amplify their message to cities around the world and inspire others with their example. Listen to their podcast to learn their urban dictionary. Stay up to date with their work by following them on Instagram and Twitter at their handles which exactly match their domain name.