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Mathematician Mayors

By 11/13/2009September 9th, 2014Public Space, Visionaries

What makes mathematicians good mayors?

They solve problems!

People using too much water? Taxi drivers taking folks to the wrong locations? Too many men acting violent at night? Frustrated drivers unable to communicate with each other? Urban dwellers crossing the street in dangerous ways?

In this videoblog urban planners from Colombia tell the story of two creative independent mayors who found new ways to address old urban issues. The mayors – Antanas Mockus from Bogota and Sergio Fajardo from Medellin – worked to change the way that residents relate to one another and to public space. With the help of mimes, super hero costumes, and artistic interventions, they helped to create a ‘culture of citizenship’ in their respective cities.

As you listen to Catalina Ortiz and Diego Silva tell the story of these two mayors, you’ll learn how former mathematicians became some of the most innovative politicians in Colombia’s recent history. And their efforts are far from over. Amidst Colombia’s unfolding presidential race, Mockus and Fajardo are both trying to bring their alternative messages to the national stage. While Fajardo’s campaign has been gaining steam in the mainstream, Mockus is focused on fueling a new grassroots movement built on trust between informed citizens. What is his campaign slogan amidst the violence plaguing the country today? “Life is Sacred.”

For more on Mockus and Fajardo check out the links below:

Mockus in Bogota:

Fajardo in Medellin:


  • bonnie says:

    Brilliant blog. Hearing first hand accounts from Silva and Ortiz was powerful. I’ll be sharing this with folks I work with in the child welfare system here in Chicago. My hope is that it will be inspirational and encourage folks to look at creativity and flexibility as necessary components to addressing social justice issues!! Thanks for sharing!! xoxo

  • Thanks for the perspective in the light of the current presidential race.

    For more on Medellin and the work of Fajardo and other politicians and planners, please see the article “Social Urbanisme: the Metamorphosis of Medellín”. Ángela Sánchez addresses the idea of planning for social inclusion. In the current issue of Barcelona Metropolis, no. 77, online in English at

    Editorial Board
    Barcelona Metropolis

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