Meeting the neighbours

Снимка: Виктор Новак


ONE ARCHITECTURE WEEK’s  research of the plattenbau district Trakiya is coming to an end. An important part of this research are the citizens, that is why we will continue meeting with them up until the beginning of the festival (30.09 – 09. 10). The information that is accumulated in this fashion will be included in the festival’s main exhibition and it will help us with the creation of the first intervention.

The meeting with the citizens are coordinated by two of our volunteers, the sociologists Georgi Stavrev and Gabriella Merdzhanova. We interviewed them and asked them questions about the data they have:

How many meetings did you have until now and what kind of people participated?

We have had three meetings in Trakiya in the “Dimitar Mateevski” school backyard. Mainly young mothers and senior citizens came. On the second meeting most of the participants were parents of children that visit the sport clubs. The third meeting was in chitalishte “Mladost – 1983” and included people from the “Sunny Trakiya” choir.

What do you talk about in the meetings?

We discuss a variety of topics.

We talked about the relationships between neighbours in a panel block and the way they make decisions together and the problems between neighbours. We discussed the way this society tries to improve their surroundings and how they develop the spaces between buildings.

We also talked about infrastructure – the quality of the roads Trakiya has, the parking spots. If they are content with the public transport? Do they like the new bicycle lanes?

Do the municipality and the citizens take care of the green spaces? What about the playgrounds?

This is where we came to the topics of local administration, other institutions and the citizen activity in those processes. We tried to find out if there is a productive dialogue between these three elements.

And last, but not least, we debated on the place that Trakiya has on Plovdiv’s cultural map and the places for recreation.

Why these questions?

These are the questions that should occupy each active citizen’s mind. They are not meant for specific groups that is why they allow us a depth of analysis and comparison. The questions are a part of the goals and priorities of a program, that strives to show the current state of living in Takiya, it’s good and bad sides. We want to know how people want this place to develop and the most effective way to reach that future,not only with the help of local administration, but with the participation of citizens as well.

Are people interested in sharing their opinion?

Gabriela Merdzhanova: Yes, people need to talk to someone about Trakiya;s problems. They have a need to be heard!

Georgi Stavrev: I think of myself as a sceptic, therefore I can truly say that I was not surprised by this lack of high citizen activity in Trakiya. But it is understandable as we count on initiative, online recruiting and volunteerism.

And what do they say?

Gabriela Merdzhanova: What is most important is that they have an opinion! Some have good relationships with their neighbours, some do not. The lack of cultural events in Trakiya makes them unhappy as well. They are not content with the public transports, because it does not work until the later hours of the day and they have to resort to cars. There are a lot of green spaces, but they are never enough. They have almost everything they need in a close perimeter and can go by without leaving Trakiya, unless they work elsewhere. With every meeting we come by some very different opinions that require more analysis and can not be summarized in just a few sentences. 🙂

Georgi Stavrev: The task to summarize these meetings was not an easy one and was not to be taken lightly. But on the second meeting I heard and opinion that describes the situation very accurately: “A block is a village and one section is a mahala (a structural part in some bulgarian villages).”. This shows that different places have different problems and people . Of course we have a mutual agreement on some topics such as infrastructure, parking spaces and green spaces. To be more specific people are unhappy about the lack of parking spaces, which affects the usage of green spaces and that along with the fact that such lawns are often not well-kept results in some negative effects. But with every new meeting comes more and more knowledge and every opinion matters.

What meetings do you plan to organize in the future?

The next meeting will be on a monday – 13th of June. We plan to meet up with some different groups of people in order to accurately pinpoint Trakiya’s problems. The next age group we are meeting are young adults in the 18-30 year bracket. They are probably the hardest to “reach” – they are active people that have work and other priorities and sometimes can not be bothered to “sacrifice” their free time for such activities. We still a mystery how many meeting we will be able to hold untill the festival begins. 🙂

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