Urban ABQ is an online community discussion forum tackling the question of Albuquerque’s future. The forum created an online venue that publishes information and gives Albuquerque residents a voice in the development of their environment, including the UNM area.

Urban planner Timothy Trujillo, founder of Urban ABQ, said he emphasizes the importance of considering the community in design plans for the city. There is rich cultural history in Albuquerque, and the integration of those concepts is imperative to the design and function of a growing community, he said.

Earlier this year Urban ABQ inaugurated an open street event called CiQlovía, modeled after Trujillo’s incredible experience of seeing thousands riding their bicycles on a regular Sunday in Bogotá, Trujillo said.

Daniel Majewski, lead coordinator of Urban ABQ and ABQ’s CiQlovía, said the event inspired long-term urban health as well as the stimulation of cultural activities for the city.

“It is important to retain the CiQlovía name because of the Latin American heritage here,” Majewski said. “We wanted this event to showcase New Mexican culture, how unique it is here, and for people to understand its Latin-American origins.”

Broader coalitions are catalyzed through this kind of infrastructure change, where people can participate and contribute to the growing culture efforts, he said.

“Urban ABQ is explicitly not political because we do not want to alienate anyone,” Majewski said. “After all, safer streets for all users are a universal benefit.”

Moises Gonzales, an assistant professor of architecture and planning, said a handful of his students participated in the inauguration of the CiQlovía, and he said he believes it contributes to their understanding of community planning.

“When they finish their degrees, they are going to be working for developers, consulting groups, or as city planners,” Gonzales said. “Events like CiQlovía create alter natives for participation through a fun event that raises awareness about urban development, as opposed to boring planning meetings.”

The goal for these students is to understand community development in the context of the dry climate of the Southwest, he said.

There are a handful of organizations, like Urban ABQ, that stand by the objective of community involvement in urban design, such as Gonzales’ very own Resource Center for Raza Planning, he said.

“A lot of these efforts like Urban ABQ focus on community engagement and inclusion into the role of planning and the future of community,” Gonzales said.

Trujillo hopes that the CiQlovía will become a weekly event like i n Bogotá, but for the time being counts on hosting the event annually while it builds more awareness of social inclusion in infra structure change.

“We are designing for a broader spectrum of the community, not just upper-middle class people,” he said. “The fact that people want it, love it and take advantage of it when they have it is awesome, and it is just the beginning, too.”

Mateo Rocha is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo.