Streetfilms Q&A: Gil Peñalosa, Executive Director 8-80 Cities

Gil Peñalosa is the Executive Director of 8-80 Cities. He's appeared in a dozen Streetfilms and was highly instrumental in assisting production of our trilogy of Bogotá films in late 2007/early 2008.  His indefatigable dedication on our five day trip really helped put Streetfilms on the map.  He currently serves on our Streetfilms advisory board.

Tell us a little about 8-80 Cities?
GP: 8-80 Cities is a Canadian based non-profit organization with an international outlook. Our goal is to contribute to the creation of vibrant cities and healthy communities, where residents live happier and enjoy great public places.  We promote walking and bicycling as activities and urban parks, streets and other public spaces as great places for all. We are proud to have many Streetfilms on our website - as an example, this month we included Melbourne: A Pedestrian Paradise.

You give presentations in dozens of cities per year and feature Streetfilms.  Why?
GP: People say an image is worth a thousand words; well, a Streetfilm is worth a million! The magic of Streetfilms is the ability to explain complex topics in a simple way, which seems equally interesting to PhDs, politicians, activists, media, and citizens in general. Quite often it’s hard for people to imagine situations without seeing them, and video is the next best thing to being there.

 So why do you think they work effectively?
GP: Because people can see examples, pause, repeat, and in a short meeting see many world examples. Last week, I was in Johannesburg and one day we did a workshop on Open Streets/Ciclovia. In a few hours we saw Streetfilms on the programs of Bogota, Guadalajara, Portland, and New York City. The participants understood what I was talking about and the follow up discussion was much more valuable.

Any memorable stories or comments?
GP: I have shown Streetfilms on all continents, including audiences of elected officials and decision makers, community activists, media, staff from multiple departments such as public health, planning, transportation, education, finance, and I always get positive feedback. In fact, afterwards people are eager to get to Streetfilm's website to continue studying best practices from around the world.

This Streetfilm above Copenhagen's Car-Free Streets & Slow Speed Zones really features Gil at his best, exploring the city and talking about what makes a street and place wonderful.