Alianza Pro Ciudad

One of my favorite parts of Panama City was sitting in on meetings of Alianza Pro Ciudad. Founded in 2007, the alliance is a nonprofit network of architects, urbanists, and engineers that speaks out for civic participation and a livable city. The group’s bulletin has covered topics ranging from proposed development at the site of the former US Embassy to the state of transportation in Panama City (which is how I found out about them). Every Tuesday afternoon, I would sit in on their weekly meetings at the coffee shop in the Exedra book store. Hearing professionals (including a former director of ATTT, the national ground transit authority) discuss and debate urban issues such as public space (“the government builds houses, not a city – there are no public spaces, no places to meet”), traffic congestion (the average commute time in the city is 70 minutes), and historic preservation (“developers manipulate the term restoration for exploitation”), was an excellent way for me to learn more about the city (and practice my Spanish).


One of my favorite parts of Spanish is the suffix -ismo. For me, the English -ism brings to mind a fairly unhappy array including racism, sexism, classism…

But in Spanish, -ismo can be added to pretty much anything, from drugs to grammar. Some of my favorite examples:

  • tobacco > tobaquismo (tobacco use)
  • Daniel Ortega > Orteguismo (his political approach)
  • Hugo Chavez > Chavismo (his political approach)
  • imperial > imperialismo (something the aforementioned political approach habitually denounces)
  • sendero (trail) > senderismo (hiking)
  • lo (a Spanish pronoun) > loismo (misuse of said Spanish pronoun)