Garden City creates public spaces in the East of Ukraine

The Garden City program is preparing to create public spaces in Kostiantynivka, Pokrovsk, Mariupol, Dobropillia, and several cities in Luhansk region. They will function as communication platforms and enhance the role of local people in making local decisions. This was stated by Olha Hvozdik, Program Coordinator, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

One of the first spaces has already been created. It is the reconstructed park “Shovkovychnyi” in Sloviansk. Before the development of the reconstruction project, the team attracted everyone willing to participate. “Children created five layouts of a playground, of which our architect then created one beautiful project. On the playground you can find the names of the children who helped to develop it,” – said Kateryna Palura, project manager at “Garden City”. “At the moment, the community is ready to take responsibility for the further development of the ‘Shovkovychnyi’ park. Our task is to help them organize the activities of the Club of Friends and its further development,” added Kateryna Kovtun, project manager of the program in Konstiantynivka, Pokrovske, and Sloviansk.

“Club of Friends” will operate at each of the public spaces. It is a club for those who contribute to the development of space directly or through donations. “We are now collecting funds for benches for ‘Shovkovychnyi’ and ‘Tykhyi’ park, for lighting at Pokrovske. Every contribution is very important, everyone can do something “, – emphasized Kateryna Palura.

In Kostiantynivka, activists are revitalizing one of 11 neglected cinemas. It is to become the first public cinema in the city. “The project has been on for half a year now, and now that we started to restore it […] people are appointing rendezvous’ there, they come an hour before the show, although there are no coffee shops, and just talk on the stairs. This is such a story of success – when you do something and feel the feedback on the necessity of what you are doing,” said Kateryna Palura.

In Dobropillia the team revitalizes summer cinema, in Mariupol – a park in front of the city council. “Our goal is to intensify the life of the park and to create a platform for communication between community representatives, local authorities, and businesses. Here we want to create the first public space, which will become an analog of the Greek Agora – a center of political, sports, and artistic life of the community,” said Yana Bryk.

On locations in Kostiantynivka and Pokrovsk Clubs of Friends have already been created. Now the sites are being prepared for the construction.  “At the ‘Tochka’ location in Pokrovsk via USAID funding an art space, a stage, and a summer café will be created; in Tykhyi Square in Kostiantynivka through USAID and local administration funding we will build a skate park, a musical stage and a communication area with street furniture,” said Kateryna Kovtun.  In  Luhansk region three cities participate in the project: Lysychansk, Rubizhne, and Kreminna.

Yaropolk Tymkiv, project development expert, project “Strengthening Public Confidence” (UCBI II), noted that such projects give an impetus to civil society in small cities. “We say – look, there is nothing to be scared of, join us. There are people who need your help, and they need to know they are not alone, that we are with them, and that Ukraine is truly united,” called Olha Hvozdik.