A three-day workshop Blue-Green Boundaries in a Suburbanizing World took place at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte from February 28 to March 1, 2016. This event was co-sponsored by the Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) on Global Suburbanisms housed at The City Institute at York University and the Center for Regional Development and Planning (CEDEPLAR) at UFMG. CEDEPLAR’s generous hospitality made this workshop an unforgettable experience for participants from near and far.
The event grew out of previous conversations between members of Boundaries theme area of the MCRI on Global Suburbanisms and CEDEPLAR researchers who are involved in work on “blue green wefts” (original concept in French: la trame verte et bleue). The workshop brought together researchers from both networks to talk about the relationships of suburbanization, regional planning and conservation.
The purpose of the event was fourfold: 1) To connect the work that is done in Belo Horizonte on blue-green landscapes with the work done on the topic by members of the Global Suburbanisms project housed at York University in Toronto; 2) For the visitors from abroad (coming from Africa, Asia, Europe and Canada) to learn about the Belo Horizonte urban region; 3) to explore the possibility of publishing the work presented at the conference in a joint publications in English and Portuguese; and 4) to explore the possibilities of further collaboration through research and teaching.
The conference began with an extensive tour of the southern suburbs of Belo Horizonte, among them the community of Nova Lima and the Parque Estadual Serra do Rola Moca. It gave participants an excellent overview of the layered landscape of a traditional mining region that is now being transformed through rapid developments at its periphery.
The opening tour was followed by two days of intense presentations and debate. A program of the event can be found here. Papers on regional planning, greenbelts and conservation areas that intersect with global suburbanization in places as diverse as Belo Horizonte, Frankfurt, Gurgaon, Johannesburg, the Ruhr, Seoul and Ontario were presented. The workshop ended with a productive discussion on a forthcoming book publication and an intended joint research program.
A copy of the workshop program can be downloaded here.