Camino De Agua: Memorias de Canal Nacional
A rare survivor of the Mexico City’s once-expansive network of canals that disappeared as the city expanded rapidly in the twentieth century, Canal Nacional has endured as an open waterway and gathering place for the nearby communities. Today the waterway sustains a natural habitat for animals, birds, and plants in the heart of the densely populated city. For the past 20 years, community volunteers have dedicated their personal time and resources to maintaining the canal—even building or modifying tools and rafts and purchasing materials for cleaning the water and maintaining the land vegetation. The Canal Nacional exemplifies the power of community stewardship and its inclusion on the 2020 World Monuments Watch served as an international acknowledgement and celebration of their efforts.
With Support from American Express, WMF collaborated with Mexico Territorio Creativo, the Fundación López de La Rosa, and other community leaders to develop a series of activities to strengthen local stewardship of the Canal by giving the active groups the tools and resources to help them grow and organize themselves. The project included a series of art workshops and installations for a variety of ages, capacity building workshops in heritage stewardship that were organized by the local UNESCO office, fabrication of the cleaning tools, custom-designed by the volunteers who have been organizing cleaning brigades for decades, and more. Inclusion on the Watch and its recognition of the residents’ stewardship of the canal for years without government support provided much needed leverage to have a voice in the city’s ongoing rehabilitation project at Canal Nacional. This bilingual publication documents the site’s history, its past and current relevance, and the project activities that were carried out in 2021 and 2022.