Lake Sagaris

Lake Sagaris


Lake Sagaris is a professor of research at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. Her work focuses on conducting Participatory Action Research for social change, using mostly city and democracy-related tools. She targets communities, activists, local and regional governments, academic and other networks in Chile

She is a founding member and current president of Ciudad Viva (Living City), a community organization and centre for citizen-led urban planning based in Santiago, Chile. She is also a bilingual editor, writer and urban planner.

Born in Montreal, Canada, Ms. Sagaris has lived in Santiago, Chile since 1981. As a journalist there (1981-2000), her reports were featured in major media outlets around the world, including the BBC, CBC, The Economist Intelligence Unit (Report on Financing in Chile), and Newsweek, among others. During the military regime, she was president of the Foreign Press Association (1992-1994).

Ms. Sagaris also represents in Chile the Dutch organization, Interface for Cycling Expertise, as the expert on cycling-inclusive planning. With Living City’s Active Transport Centre, she is developing an active transport-inclusive manual for urban design and other relevant initiatives. The “active transport” concept focuses on transportation’s relationship to equality, health and social inclusion” devising transportation modes with parents of small children, women, and differently-abled people in mind.

Based on the international Green Map system (, Ms. Sagaris designed and implemented a major green map project in Santiago, involving workshops with children and senior citizens, as well as the production of a 200-page guide/directory and 10 city maps. This project has been replicated in other cities in Chile and throughout Latin America.

Ms. Sagaris is the author of several books of poetry in English and Spanish, and of two novels, After the First Death: A Journey Through Chile, Time, Mind and Bone and Dream: Into the World’s Driest Desert.

Ms. Sagaris has a Master of Science degree in urban planning and community development from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. In 1989, she received a Maclean Hunter Fellowship in Arts Journalism. In addition to the Synergos Senior Fellows Network, she is an Ashoka Fellow and belongs to the Avina network of Latin American civil society leaders.

Living City was born from a coalition of 25 community groups that saved key several key heritage neighborhoods from devastation by the Costanera Norte, Chile’s first urban highway. In 2000, these groups founded Living City to put forward proposals to arrest the urban decline being experienced by most of these communities and improve the quality of life, sustainability and equity in Chilean cities. Its central themes are: transport for equality, recycling for a better life; preservation of tangible and intangible heritage so that past wisdom guides planning for a sustainable future; and empowerment of citizens’ organizations, to strengthen democracy and improve governance.