The border cities of San Diego and Tijuana comprise the largest bi-national metropolitan region in the world. But while these border cities have roughly equal populations, San Diego has sprawled approximately six times larger than Tijuana in the last decades. This uneven urbanization at the border is emblematic of one of the most pressing challenges for many regions across the United States: how to reverse unsustainable patterns of urban growth and challenge the policies and planning practices that have misallocated our natural, social and financial resources.
Additionally, the radical proximity between wealth and poverty that defines the urban asymmetry between San Diego and Tijuana makes this border region an urgent site against which new collaborative models of equitable economic growth and environmental resiliency can be developed and tested. In other words, this region is a unique laboratory to reimagine urban resiliency everywhere, since the future of many cities around the world depends today on more meaningful cross-jurisdictional partnerships, and a political leadership that reaches across conventional boundaries to confront socio-economic inequality.
In essence, while the destinies of San Diego and Tijuana are intertwined, the border region has lacked shared urban policies that promote socio-economic co-operation, mutual environmental interests and common regional rights. This absence of an integrated bi-national vision, which affects not only San Diego-Tijuana but many other cities and border urban zones across the world, results from a fragmentation of institutions, agendas and resources involved in civic interests, as well as a deficit of institutional trust, civic engagement and community participation in the shaping of a cross-border vision.
For these reasons the San Diego - Tijuana border region's future depends today more than ever on a more substantial bi-national public sensibility, enabling us to think regionally, incentivizing cross- border urban dynamics, to produce new strategies of co-existence and inter-dependence between these two border cities. It is from contested geographies of conflict like this one, where new conceptions of citizenship can be shaped beyond the arbitrary jurisdictional boundaries that too rigidly define cityhood, and beyond the identitarian politics of the nation-state.
INSTRUMENT: THE BI-NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP CULTURE SURVEY
These provocations have inspired the construction of the Bi-national Citizenship Culture Survey by the legendary former Bogota Mayor, Antanas Mockus and his non-profit Corpovisionarios, in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, the municipalities of Tijuana and San Diego and a variety of cross-border local community-based NGO's. The Ford-funded Bi-national Citizenship Culture Survey is an instrument that will measure and help visualize the shared values and norms, the common interests and sense of mutual responsibility around which a new bi-national conception of citizenship can be formed.
The results of the survey will be stewarded by a cross-sector bi-national council, who will develop a set of priorities and proposals in collaboration with the municipalities of San Diego and Tijuana, and will instigate a new era of cooperation between them. By recognizing each other's urban policies and taking account of the assets, resources and ideas that can be shared, the survey will facilitate the co-production of bi-national vision and a process that derives its strength from cross-border synergies, inclusive of the most vulnerable communities on both sides of the border. The results of this survey will be the foundational script for the Political Equator 5.
FROM THE PRESS:
>> Tijuana, San Diego attitudes surveyed (UT San Diego, 02.10.15)
>> Corpovisionarios presenta resultados del estudio de Cultura Ciudadana en San Diego y Tijuana (Corpovisionarios, 02.10.15)
>> New San Diego-Tijuana Survey Holds Mirror Up to Border Cities (NEXT City, 02.26.14)