Pop-Up Community projects in 6 Neighborhoods of Thessaloniki
Mapping the needs of 6 neighborhoods in Thessaloniki through an afternoon in the yard of the neighborhood’s public school in order for the residents to become “Ambassadors of their neighborhood”.
What was this?
In collaboration with Creativity Platform, we designed and implemented a well thought out interactive project that focuses on the needs of the neighborhood, using the physical space of public schools in a different way.
The project titled "An afternoon at your neighborhoods school." was implemented from June 19th till July 19th and had two phases. Mapping and promoting the main activity in the neighborhood and, of course, implementing the project in each school.
⭕ The mapping of the neighborhood was done, upon agreement with the coordinators, in the recorded area around each school, which essentially informally sets the boundaries of the neighborhood. We pinpointed and recorded the shops/organisations related to the project, which could in the future work in support of the program.
For the promotion, 100 colorful invitations were distributed in envelopes with our organisation's seal, but also the seal of the program "Open Schools in the Neighborhood", for promotional purposes.
⭕ Regarding the implementation of the project, we designed a "Community Pop-Up", i.e. a smart interactive game in the yard of each school, aiming to recognize residents' needs, but also the possibilities that each neighborhood offers. Through "Community Pop-Up" we managed to find answers to how the school yard space can be utilized for the benefit of the neighborhood.
The participating schools were:
77th Primary School of Thessaloniki
11th Primary School of Thessaloniki
55th Primary School of Thessaloniki
Intercultural School of Thessaloniki
67th Primary School of Thessaloniki
64th Primary School of Thessaloniki
The project was conducted as an "open public forum", utilizing the methods of participatory planning, and inviting active citizens of the school's wider neighborhood and future users of the yard (residents, local professionals, parents). The aim of the project was to collect data on the needs of the residents around the 6 primary schools, so that the "Open School" concept could work, offering alternative activities to children, parents and residents, and promoting collective actions by the residents of the area themselves.
We used tools like the Community Canvas framework to activate the 6 neighborhoods of Thessaloniki and capture the needs of the residents in the different areas. We designed an interactive game from 5 stations, capturing different information about the demographics of the citizens, as well as the needs of the neighborhood. Therefore, the result of the program supported the next steps for a larger project of the "Open Neighborhood Schools" program.
Neighborhood community engagement and participation provided a strong foundation for active citizen participation, while the project's success in attracting residents to participate in such activities indicates a receptive community willing to contribute. Analyzing the results, the impact can be noted at the following levels:
Engagement and Participation: The project aimed to engage the neighborhood community and encourage their active participation. The number of participants and their level of commitment during the project period indicate the success of this aspect.
Community Mapping: Mapping the neighborhood and recording the shops and organisations associated with the project had the potential to strengthen cooperation between the program and local businesses. This partnership could lead to future support and resources for the program, enhancing its sustainability and impact.
Identification of needs: The "Community Pop-Up" game implemented in schoolyards aimed to identify the needs of residents and explore the possibility of utilising the school premises for the benefit of the neighborhood. The results of this interactive game provided insights into the specific needs and desires of the community, helping to inform future initiatives and decision-making processes.
Neighborhood-School Relationship: The project focused on using the public schools premises in a different way. With the participation of several schools in the initiative, the project aimed to strengthen the relationship between the neighborhood and educational institutions. This partnership could lead to further community engagement and support for the schools, enhancing residents' sense of belonging and ownership.
Long-term impact: Even though the project was implemented within a specific time frame, its impact may extend beyond that period. The information that has been gathered, the relationships that have been built with local businesses and the knowledge that has been gained from the interactive game can inform future projects and initiatives aimed at addressing the neighborhood needs. The project's long-term sustainability and impact will depend on how effectively these findings will be used in future design and desicion making processes.
Participatory projects, like this one, give the residents the opportunity to propose and co-design the neighborhood as they dream of it. Open spaces for free expression and a safe environment for experimentation are just some of the elements that promote empowerment and that support participatory decision-making (bottom up).