While Fabian Bedne was an architecture student at the University of Buenos Aires, he encountered a puzzling sight: a pyre of books on the school's campus. It was the early 1980s, and in the waning years of the military dictatorship that ruled his native Argentina during the violent and oppressive Dirty War, the military "liaison" who had been assigned to his school ordered the burning of hundreds of books — including texts from Bedne's architecture class — deemed incompatible with the aims of the government.
"I couldn't believe it," Bedne recalls. "How could an architecture book contribute to terrorism?"
In his senior year, Bedne joined the student union to protest the regime, which ultimately collapsed in 1983. That began a lifelong fusion of his chosen profession with social consciousness — from starting his first architecture firm after graduation to emigrating to the United States, where he met his wife, settled in Nashville and in August 2011 became the city's first Latino Metro Councilman, representing District 31.
"My background is in architecture, but in that business, you're really dealing with people," he says. "I find being a councilman very similar. Being able to listen to people is key."
After working in Ohio turning around dilapidated public housing units, Bedne moved to Nashville with his wife to be closer to her family. Coinciding with the move to Music City, Bedne's work with the firm Hart Freeland Roberts focused on rebuilding homes for victims of the 2010 flood.
He says his election to the council, while admittedly historic, is something he never tried to achieve: "I don't think that I did any more than work hard and try to serve my community," he says.
"I never set out to be the first Latino councilman," he adds. "I'm very much happy to try to be a role model for the kids to show people that it can be done. ... It really isn't about a particular ethnicity or race. ... Each person has a story, so the beauty of having a council that is big like ours is that we can really serve in a big way the needs of people." >
The People:The Legend: Little Jimmy Dickens
The Community Builder: Dan Heller
The Power Couple: Peter Depp and Kristin Vasquez
The Broadcaster: Tom Randles
The Barber: Mark Walker
The Internet Star: Jessica Frech
The Teacher: Gatluak Ter Thach
The Chef: Laura Wilson
The Artist: Vesna Pavlovic
The Saxman: Bobby Keys
The Coach: Ed Temple
The Networker: Liza Massey
The Designers: Jamie and the Jones
The Enforcer: Brian McGrattan
The Bird Brains: Birdcloud
The Poet: Sebastian Jones
The Geeks: Janet and Mike Lee