"At first, it wasn’t clear what we wanted to do, but it was clear that it would be about urbanism. We are not just town planners and architects, we have anthropologists, ecologists. We were disturbed by what is happening in the city, but we are not limited only on Chisinau. The city for me is a strong connection between people who live here and the city's infrastructure. I mean…if not us, then who? The first thing that happened to us was the team. We have to be different, or we don’t create anything. We don’t have to think in the same way, you have to keep your personal identity. That's how the bomb ideas are born.
Citizens do not care, because they don’t know
Our first project was "Chisinau through the Monocle". We figured why not make city tours, and not ordinary tours, but for townspeople. Because they live here a lifetime, but they do not know much. The idea came again from taking care of the city. Because, as a rule, if people don’t know, they don’t care. We wanted to go on the idea of showing what is public and what is private. We were telling them that the private starts and ends with the threshold of your house, and the public is passing this threshold. It becomes common, but nobody cares. If they knew more, somehow appears the attitude towards the city, civic involvement, initiative and rest of it. We're touring since January 2017. We started out with the public garden. Also, we are trying to make it personal. How everybody sees the city. For example, someone can tell about his favorite places in town, or where he spent his childhood…We explore the city by foot, plus a picnic at the end. In winter we go to institutions, town hall, theatres... etc.
Creating a super new space with community involvement
There is an organization in Germany – "MitOst", which has a program called Actors of Urban Change. They promote urban development through cultural activities. These projects must have 3 basic pillars. Civil society, NGO/business partner representative and local authority.
The project with which we applied is: "Veronica Micle - pedestrian street", a grant of 10 thousand euros. The program lasts 2 years and involves 10 organizations from 10 European cities. Money is just for implementing the project. We applied in 2017 and in 2018 we had the first event. It was kind of an urban dialogue. We’ve seen what public opinion was about the pedestrianization of Veronica Micle Street. We strive for all public discussions to be outdoors. We organized them in front of the theater "Luceafarul". We managed to organize different cultural events related to the “street problem”, open-air discussions, dancing tango, taking photos, etc. Probably, the hardest thing was to find partners, that is, the public administration. We thought that the most feasible would be to involve the Chisinau Municipality Transport Directorate. We have also been funded by the "Viability Net”, an organization in Prague, which gives money for community urban development.
In Moldova, we already have the experience of a pedestrian street which was not consulted with anyone. We wanted to do it differently. Let's go from bottom to top. Talk to the citizens, involve the city – create a new space, with the immediate involvement of the community.
People are open because they want something nice to happen in town
We were part of a program from the Polish Foundation (Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova), about urban regeneration. Several pilot cities have been selected. Revitalizing involves bringing back a region of a city to life. We were involved (Urbanism Centre) on the social side, that is civic involvement. Interventions have been developed to solve the known problems of people and the mayoralty. We were the facilitators of the program. The most common problem remains poor infrastructure. It's really new to them when you talk about community development. We focused on public spaces, interacting with people, creating community centers.
Sometimes it's hard to get some data from public authorities, but in the end people are open, because they want something good to happen in town...!
- We don’t know how to organize ourselves efficiently in a team. Still, everything we do, somehow succeeds), with risks, with limp, but we do the work to the end. We want to use horizontal communication. We do not know exactly what it means, but we want everyone to be equal. Probably here comes the lack of a well-organized team.
- We're a little bit insecure with volunteers, we can’t get them.
…are a multidisciplinary team of 9 professionals who can provide more than is known.
…are involved in other projects, from which we come with the other abilities we use here.
…are creative, disciplined and responsible and we love our city.