Urban planning for citizenry (draft)

The session is more of a panel open discussion about public spaces and how different initiatives /people / municipalities look at /deal with / hack the public spaces.

The discussions would be structured upon these questions (please add your own questions or whatever seems relevant) while taking Georgia as a case study inviting some initiatives that @Elene Margvelashvili invited.

  • the public space for whom?
  • what are the cars for? transportation or social status?
  • challenges faced by the initiatives themselves? lack of expertise in the team, resources …..
  • how to collaborate with each other? (challenges and risks )
  • how to organize the different bottom up approaches to gain more public spaces rights ?
  • having an "insider " in the Government ? how to empower him to get most benefits ? ex : pedestrian association in Tbilisi
  • Different perception of public spaces
  • hacking the public spaces /city
  • Feedback for the initiatives
  • imagining a new narrative for the BIG challenges ..

This is more or less the framework that we would like to discuss with futurespotters and try to get out with something TO DO .

This session is co hosted by Elene and me , More updates coming soon about the different initiatives to be on board for the panel and a final structure for the discussion ( Feedback required please about the questions). basically we want to cover the different range of possibilities between pedestrian rights associations and hacking the public spaces to learn from each other and try to get things moving for a better narrative for the different "public spaces related "initiatives.

photo by b k on flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Date: 2014-06-23 20:00:00 - 2014-06-26 20:00:00, Asia/Tbilisi Time.

A possible output

For me a very useful output from this session would be a map of major players and their hierarchy and who needs to be approached first, after and finally, as well as an identification of possible govs “insiders” -ingeniously put! - as allies for initiatives like Elene’s.

From the ring road story in Egypt we are still missing the insiders view as to what triggers that freedom and courage to get something going with no approval or simply trusting to get it done without repercussions?

A question for me to answer and add to your list is “where does our power as citizens begins and where does it end? when should we not give up to or label a disturbing issue as being a <neighbor’s problem> <a gov issue to solve> etc?”

when should we not give up

never give up! but sometimes it’s better or more efficient to put certain things on hold or take a de-tour.



thanks for that

@Burkhard  actually that’s a crucial question thanks for bringing that on the table , as for  a lot of environmental (or public space related ) protests tend to fail in the end and be just a part in the "freedom of speech " narrative but no effect on the ground , Vake park is really a good exception (can’t wait to c how is it for real in Tbilisi ) ,and how to take a " de tour "and change strategy is a big deal . first to find other strategies and second to accept that sometimes the ordinary route is not working


Re: thanks for that

@Hazem: the brother of a friend of mine put it like that: try. fail. get up. try. fail. get up. but never surrender!

currently there is an "insider "

actually Elene told me that in the elections last week , one of the “activists”  won , hopefully she will try to get him on board during the event . and the idea of getting out with a  map of major players is really nice , we will try to embed it in the session .

thanks for the questions also will also add them to the questions , may be adding also where does the power of citizens ends and should it end or not :slight_smile:

for the ring road hack , as u said we don’t have the full picture and it’s on the table to remind us that we always don’t have the full picture .

actually we were having a discussion about that in an urban sociology class 3 weeks ago , and we couldn’t relate it or assign it to a “euro centric” collaborative planning spectrum . as at this time there was no “state” in the typical form and no “anarchy”  , it’s more of a communitarian approach to solve urban problems  but still not on the map of our theories or we couldn’t relate it to it .

there is also something that could be related to the discussion about languages and translation  because as there is a difference between citizens and communities , the word community in arabic can be called (mogtamaa) or (ahaali ) and the second one if translated into english is more of relatives but it’s not . ( that is to understand the community who hacked the road we have to understand the word ahaali aka community)

I think I wasn’t clear in the last paragraph :D  but this guy Mounir fasheeh explains in this talk( it’s in arabic with english subtitles )anyway we will have loads of talks in Tbilisi

wish I could be there

the topics are too interesting, but tblisi is not just around the corner from my place. i hope to make it another time thou,-)

cheers and don’t forget to have fun!


what a shame

just saw ur post on the arrivals . and really wish u best of luck in ur journey :slight_smile:

Re: Urban planning for citizenry ( draft )

@Hazem: you wrote:

> what are cars for? transportation or social status

I think there is at least a third option: a second skin. or a kind of armor. protection. I know especially women in my town who drive small cars (thus probably no social status) even the smallest distances (due to a lot one way streets in town people are used to drive even from one place to the other they could walk in shorter time).

Shared session notes http://piratepad.net/P1qIY47LSw

Link to contribute to session notes: http://piratepad.net/P1qIY47LSw



Translation: Big Jeep = Little Penis!

A way to influence social changes from the bottom up…

Example of community traffic-calming


Summary notes from the Session

Elene from Iare Pekhit, Hazem - student, Gela from Partnership for Road Safety
Elene: Addressing high risks for pedestrians in Tbilisi, but faced with resignation
  • Use humour to spread messages
  • Create public conversations
  • Think big! How do we want to live?
  • A good city is one in which we want to be out, with people, in parks, with children, with access for people with disabilities, etc
  • A city should be designed for the benefit of ALL residents
  • Challenges related to poor public transport in the city, which people choose not to use and can block traffic
  • I.P. brought Berlin-style street art to make public space installations to raise awareness of the issues
  • Ministry of Transport approached to have 3-day event at zebra crossings with employees explaining to drivers how they should be used 
  • loosing public space to private companies
  • chaos after elections in the city hall
  • radical approaches are good, but we are loosing time and loosing public spaces, i want to engage the government
  • Asking for ideas for a prospective new grant: build an alliance of groups working on various public space issues
  • First action would be a joint action plan: what do you think it could include as actions?
  • Biggest challenges are *political* not technical - this is at all levels, including between activist groups
  • Close support from the Govt (one person) led to a private parking monitoring/payment company to lose their license for poor performance - shows the importance of building strong personal relations
  • There is a need for some more participatory democracy/governance/decision making - maybe a contact point or ombardsman
  • Trying to engage the groups affected by the issue/pedestrians, not the perpetrators/drivers to get enough momentum for policy change
Gela: very dangerous drivers with few skills and 30% higher fatalities than most European countries
  • Fatalistic attitude is an impediment to change
  • His org's goal is fair, safe, and clean transport
  • Transport vital to the success of many other sectors such as health
  • Changes are possible: wearing a safety belt
  • Clean air for Georgia project; the majority of polution comes from the transport (cars); there is a need to switch from big jeeps to more compact/fuel efficient cars, bikes
  • reflectors for kids, make them mandatory;
  • consider not only cars, but all road users
  • They use a lot of continuous public engagement, and not just Tbilisi-centric, leading to young people setting up their own similar campaigns in the regions
  • Cairo public space is open for everything, no control over it
Other comments/questions
  • Similar issues in Armenia & Georgia
  • Car ownership has status issues
  • Armenia imposes fines for not stopping at zebra crossings, speed cameras
  • Interesting to see how many people in the group use public transport as main means of travel - but seems also linked to owning a license or being able to afford a private car
  • Covenant of Mayors is a multi-city commitment to reduce carbon emissions, so this programme can be linked with reducing private car use
  • People from Georgia are amazed by the fact that cars acctually stop at zebra crossings in Armenia
  • There are funding differences between road safety and climate/environmental projects BUT not in shared interests
  • Look into Batumi (city in Georgia) for some good examples of changing road use patterns for the better
  • shaming from foreigners: to involve foreigners in campaigns for safe road environment
  • Use competition between government agencies/regions to encourage positive change 
  • Cooperation with city hall, government is not an enemy! better to find ways to connect, find new allies; look for city-twins. 
  • Make the most of the Tbilisi-Bristol linking, as Bristol is EU Environmental City 2015 next year
  • Mixed feelings about the lasting impact of media/political 'photo op' style events
  • there is some space for more radical approaches
  • georgian public is used to radical methods
  • radical thing today = to use peacefull tactics
  • guerilla gardening - does it work? it works because it is not as radical as it could be, we keep it peaceful as possible, the least violent things that we could do potentially. geo public is used to radical approaches
  • radical - not the right word? radical= creative, not neceserelly legal
  • scarce HR in grass-roots
  • Guerilla Gardeners attempted to build a platform of grousp involved in similar issues, but found conflicts of interest led to challenges and it was finally unsuccessful
  • even mailing list would help to coordinate different ngos/social initiatives
  • Jumpstart Georgia are interested to find a way for NGOs to communicate more effectively, some type of platform or portal would be more effective than lots of disparate websites, to facilitate potential collaborations
  • ER an example how we interact with each other, current NGO world situation is wrong - competition and overlapping initiatives 
  • Too much donor-driven strategy and implementation of projects leading to competition between agencies instead of cooperation
  • World value service: georgians have low engagement in public spaces, no culture of communal spaces according to certain indices
  • Fines and penalties are an important way of influencing behaviour change - need a mix of top down & bottom up approaches