After Hernán Díaz Alonso’s introduction, Raúl Cárdenas Osuna describes Torolab, founded in Tijuana in 1995, as a socially engaged workshop/laboratory focused on realizing people’s own ideas of how to live better, stressing community engagement, research, and a multi-disciplinary (trans-disciplinary) methodology.
Cárdenas discusses several projects in detail, including:
Cooperativa Mexicana de Alimentos / COMA (2014) in which multi-disciplinary research into food production, distribution and nutrition in Mexico led to food trucks offering popular alternatives to fast food.
Iu Mien Farm Tapes (2009) which engages the Iu Mien community in Oakland to innovate ways of preserving and adapting their nomadic and oral culture to contemporary California.
Torolab’s projects with the Camino Verde section of Tijuana began at the metropolitan/regional scale with research and collaboration with the planning departments of Baja California (Tijuana, Tecate and Rosarito). Research into the city of Tijuana focused on mapping poverty and inequality, high-impact crime (murder, kidnapping), and inadequate infrastructure (water, electricity, lighting). This led to a focus on the Camino Verde neighborhood, which had been disrupted by construction of a canal. Torolab coordinated artists, scientists, and designers to work with the community in what Cárdenas characterizes as “social reforesting … building civic muscle, democratic processes and participation, …” He describes Stefan Wirnsperger’s project of collaborating with dozens of Camino Verde families to film an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” (“Tito,” 2015).
The UrbInt (“Urban intelligence”) project (2017) collaborates with specialists in emerging data technologies, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to analyze and positively impact urban environments.