Melanie Valencia; Juan Diego Vargas
Ambata, Ecuador

Just as the mycorrhiza constitute the networks of roots and fungi in symbiotic relationships sending signals within forests, the relationships among people is what makes cities and societies communicate, collaborate and therefore, function sustainably.  This project aims to tell the stories of circular care and how relationships are at the core of closing material loops. Though the majority of the literature points to the use of technology and industrial ecology for circularity, the stories of those in unpaid and undervalued jobs are the true essence of circularity. Deciding to repair is a political act of a deontological nature towards society and planet. In Latinamerica, repair jobs are dying away. Cobblers, sewers, electromechanics, recyclers have fallen victims to anything ‘fast’, fast and cheap fashion, electronics, consumer goods. We want to capture the stories and wisdom of those holding on to care as a core value for society. We built a tour through the city enhancing circular care through those stories.

Melanie Valencia is an Andean from Ambato, Ecuador. She is pursuing her interdisciplinary PhD in circular economy focusing on its social determinants and the informal sector’s role in the socioecological transition. She is one of ASU-Leonardo’s  imagination fellows for 2020 telling stories of circular care. She has been working at the intersection of environmental engineering and social innovation. Most of her work is related to sanitation and improving waste management in technical and social aspects with projects in Ghana and Ecuador. She was named MIT Innovator Under 35 in 2016 and was also one of Project Drawdown’s research fellows.

Juan Diego Navas is also from Ambato, Ecuador. He is finishing up his degree in architecture and is passionate about urbanism and the metabolic rift. He has been involved in multiple projects to transform the city into a more sustainable space through the power of biomimicry in architectural design. He has been collecting stories and using history to salvage spaces by bringing back time. One of his most prominent pieces is the clocktower just built in his hometown for which he collected the stories of the watchtower it used to be.

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