Paris in the year 2030, no kids allowed?

PARIS -- The Paris 2030 research project holds debates to discuss the future prospects of the City of Light, including where and how families will fit in.
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris)

PARISThe reality of Paris in 2030 will be up for debate during a roundtable discussion at City Hall this Friday.  Researchers will join with the mayors of Paris and Rio de Janeiro to open up conversations about sustainability, population changes, and the future of urban landscapes.

The Paris 2030 project was originally created in 2004 to try and anticipate the evolution of Paris.  An ever-growing majority of humans living in urban habitats could reach 70% by 2050 according to studies by the UN, prompting the city government set aside money to research the future prospects.  The municipal government has already funded 73 studies covering a myriad of topics.

This year, the focus of the 2030 colloquium will cover four major areas: educational development, inclusivity of populations, sustainability, and artistic creativity.  This week, French newspaper La Libération singled out one topic from the mix of city-funded projects in a blog post that translates to “Paris in 2030: Where will the children be?”

The idea of Parisian families is one that the Paris 2030 project addresses, directed by Sonia Lehman-Frisch, an associate professor at the Université de Cergy-Pontoise.  Varied issues like lower quality school districts, few daycares, and limited living space have pushed families out of the capital over the past few decades.  The study hopes to shed new light on school districting and lodging problems to ensure that families will not continue to flee Paris in the future.

Nathalie Cellura, a French mother, moved to Paris’ city center from the suburbs when her son was only ten years old.  After raising her son in both an urban and suburban setting, she sees both the city’s perks and shortcomings for families.

While criticizing Parisian restaurant culture and summer programs for not adequately welcoming children, the biggest problem for Cellura is accessible green space.   “We only have a few parks and that’s something that’s missing for a big city.  There’s no place to go with your kids, except maybe the Bois de Boulogne, but it’s dirty and bad at night,” she said.

Her son goes to a good school, but she recognizes the stigmas around certain districts, like the 19th and 20th arrondissements with high immigrant populations.  These differences should be addressed in the Paris 2030 project.

Still, Cellura is happy to have raised her son in a city setting.  Between a concentration of cultural activities and relatively social neighborhoods, Paris does host family-friendly aspects as opposed to more rural regions in France.  “There’s so much culture, museums where you can take your kids for free, movies.  We have so much to do,” she said.

This specific debate over how these pros and cons will develop remains the subject of the Paris 2030 study that will continue through 2013.  The public can sign up to attend the roundtable on Friday.

Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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