Goytisolo inhabits, protects Marrakesh, & SOFAR in San Diego
- You all might get something out of this? (scroll down)
And while I'm at it, here some carfree noise in San Diego that is for
real, not a joke:
SOFAR, despite its name, does not only fight for backcountry space.
The organization said the suit, if successful, would force the city to
examine auto-based land-use patterns that "have turned the rest of San
Diego County into a parking lot."
"At the end of the day, we want downtown to be a place where people
can get around without having to be in cars," said the group's
attorney, Marco Gonzalez. "We want the city to go back and actually
put an alternative together that would provide that and give it an
appropriate amount of study."
. . .
SOFAR says the plan is auto-based, and that city officials haven't
looked outside that view at alternatives, such as closing city streets
to make them pedestrian-friendly, or building a light-rail system.
The scene that SOFAR imagines is a downtown that is transit-based,
where residents have easy access to public transportation.
Gonzalez said SOFAR submitted a letter detailing an alternative
transportation plan for downtown, and presented components of the plan
to the council in February, but never received a substantive response.
"They just don't get to that point of thinking," Gonzalez said of city
officials. "I guess it's too novel for them in some ways."
The Café France, where Goytisolo goes every day, overlooks Jemaa el
Fna, the centerpiece of Marrakesh's old quarter, a square where the
open-air storytellers, snake charmers and witch doctors that enchanted
writers like Bowles and Elias Canetti still ply their trade. Much of
Goytisolo's organizational energies in the last years have gone into a
campaign to preserve Jemaa el Fna from the Moroccan government's
periodic efforts to sanitize it. At one point, there were plans to
turn the medieval square into a parking lot. Thanks largely to
Goytisolo's zeal, however, Jemaa el Fna has been classed by Unesco as
a site preserving "the oral heritage of humanity."
"People ask, 'Why do you live in Marrakesh?' " Goytisolo told me with
a chuckle. "I ask them, 'Have you seen it?' " In Jemaa el Fna,
Goytisolo explained, he finds all the heterogeneity that is in danger
of disappearing from Western cities. "In the 70's, when I was very
poor, I was offered a permanent teaching post at Edmonton. I realized
I would rather starve in Marrakesh than be a millionaire in Alberta."