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Harry Moroz

Mayor Martin Chavez on a New American History (One That Doesn’t Celebrate Monolingualism)

The myth of the American frontier is one of the most accepted and well-known of any American legend. The Mayor of Albuquerque Martin Chavez, however, turns the myth on its head:

I’ve always contended the history of America is not the history of the frontier. The history of America is the history of people moving from the farm and the ranch to the city to find their economic and personal destiny.

Indeed, with talk of a “new metropolitan reality” emanating from venerable think tanks and historical presidential candidates, this new version of the American story is not difficult to believe. All the nation’s mayors have the important statistics at their fingertips: the 100 largest metropolitan areas generate 75% of the nation’s GDP and contain 65% of its population, 68% of its jobs, 77% of its minority population, and 85% of its immigrants. (As the ever-ebullient Mayor of Trenton puts it, “Cities are where it’s at.”)

Of course, with such responsibility come challenges, some of which are both intractable and simply unacceptable. When asked in an interview with MayorTV about an Albuquerque policy that prohibits Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in Albuquerque schools, Mayor Chavez stated simply that schools needed to be safe zones for learning. He expressed exasperation at the state of the immigration debate in the United States:

Historically, this country is the only nation on Earth that seems to somehow celebrate monolingualism.

Mayor Chavez also discussed the need to improve energy efficiency and encourage alternative energy, quipping that “Green equals green,” when asked how to reconcile an emphasis on combating global warming at a time when the middle class is feeling increasingly squeezed. He talked about progressive building codes and city vehicles and buildings that use alternative fuels.

Please find more on Mayor Chavez’s vision of American cities and Albuquerque’s efforts to become environmentally sustainable here.

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Posted at 1:45 PM, Jun 25, 2008 in Cities | Energy & Environment | Immigration | Language Access | MayorTV | Nuclear Power | Urban Affairs
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