Sense of a City: an Inclusive, Safe and Sustainable Plovdiv
Sense of a City
“Sense of a City: an Inclusive, Safe and Sustainable Plovdiv” is a project in which Plovdiv citizens will explore how women experience public spaces. The project focuses on women’s attitudes to and experiences in urban environments, what subverts women’s social inclusion, and what changes can be made in city conditions and urban planning to ensure safety and comfort in public settings.
“Sense of a City” offers a grassroots model for the sustainable development of Plovdiv in which citizens have the authority to identify problems and offer solutions. Bulgarian and international artists will be presenting innovative and effective interferences in the urban environment aimed at bringing about change in attitudes to citizen participation as an instrument for transforming society.
Sense of a City: Project Stages
Civic activists, local leaders, gender experts, architects, urban planning professionals, local authorities and others will be trained in how to conduct exploratory tours for the purpose of improving the understanding of what women, men and vulnerable groups experience in public urban spaces. A further accent is citizen participation as an instrument of transformation, as well as solidarity and common efforts as an effective form of exerting pressure and attaining change.
Womenability, the Paris-based international NGO that is partner to the project, has developed a research method in which, by taking part in city tours, people are encouraged to assist in rethinking the city. The tours will take place in Plovdiv’s Trakia and Proslav quarters.
Within the BFW’s project we demonstrated the “exploratory walk” method and how it could be used at a local level to influence decision-makers and initiate changes and improvements in our urban environment. Due to the specifics of the method, 2 of the walks were women-only and two were open to everyone. During the walks, the participants had the opportunity to observe the neighborhood with fresh eyes and to assess what they saw in terms of five different topics: sensitivity (how they perceive the neighborhood through their five senses, what they like and what they do not); mobility and transport; family and love; security; and activities in the city / neighborhood.
Almost 100 people, 67 women and 30 men participated in the walks. There were representatives of all kinds of different groups: people with disabilities, of different sexual orientation, parents with young children, elderly people, clients of shelters for victims of violence, youths. All volunteers participated actively both during the course of the walks and in the four discussions after them, which were an important part of the entire process. Different problems were identified for the two neighborhoods during the walks and discussed afterwards. Find the results in details HERE.
The project’s final stage is scheduled for the summer of 2019 (in July). During this stage, Bulgarian and international artists will be invited to transform the city environment by creating site-specific installations in the Trakia and Proslav quarters, taking cues from tour-takers’ recommendations. The selection will be led by the fridge - Art & Social Platform.
“Sense of a City: an Inclusive, Safe and Sustainable Plovdiv” is a project by The Bulgarian Fund for Women. Local partners are Gender Alternatives Foundation and Association “Consultancy Bureau Progress 7”. Follow the project’s development at bgfundforwomen.org.