Urban Acupuncture in Brno. P.A.R.K.!

by Jaroslav Biolek

We are a community of people, working together under the name of PARK (Pozitivní Akce Re-Kultivace – Positive Action of Re-Cultivation), who are interested in the quality of public space and its use. Our general goal is to support and to develop civic participation which form the public space and may improve the quality of life in the city. Through ecological and cultural activities we want to recultivate some neglected public spaces in Brno, Czech Republic, and to develop their societal life. Thus, we focus on environmental and socio-cultural revitalisation of the selected public realms that has potential for enhancement of urban quality of life in broader spatial context.

Our fellowship organizes successive activities of different types in the course of one year. The events aim at developing selected public space and people’s relationship to urban environment. These activities include collecting garbage and cleaning the place, maintenance and planting of greenery, organization of art workshops (ecological wall painting, workshop of recycle art, formation of benches), educational excursions (historical-urbanist, geological-biological), cultural and sporting events (concerts and theatre performances of local ensembles, veggie picnics, bazaars with local products, table games, sport tournaments etc.). All these activities are organized with the active participation of local community in order to stimulate public dialogue and engagement in the creation of public space.

The project primarily aims at the neglected public space of Taborsky’s riverbank (Táborského nábřeží), draws attention to its efficient use and shows the possibilities of its revitalisation. There is a particular locality along the river Svratka, close to Brno city centre, with historical heritage and natural potential. Nevertheless, the place has been neglected for a long time, polluted by rubbish and also by traffic externalities from highway Porici (Poříčí) that is located on the other riverside. Moreover, although there are two rivers flowing through Brno, their banks have not belonged to beautiful places where people could spend free time and relax.

However, inspired by philosophy of the urban acupuncture, we think this situation can be changed through low-budget interventions, step by step. Using a variety of creative ecological and socio-cultural activities we recultivate the environment of Taborsky’s riverbank, involving local community to this process. Our project motivates them to not only think about how this public space might look like but also to practical achievements. Therefore, we see a key impact of the project in improvement of the relationship of people to the place that they form through active participation as well as in development of social ties through mutual cooperation.

In the spring 2014 we started with cleaning and collecting rubbish along the walls of the hospice, historical excursion and picnic where we discussed and planned forthcoming events. The first major event was the Earth Day, in which we planted shrubs, creepers and other plants along the river. In May, within Brno city week, we organized a gastronomic-musical picnic with tasting home-made cakes, listening music bands and changing the clothes on bazaar. We also collected the rubbish in the forest on Red hill and we made benches and picnic set from pallets on the public workshop. Subsequently, these benches were colourfully painted by children from a local primary school and nowadays serve the residents to sit on and relax. On 1st June on Children’s Day we organized sports and art activities, sailing on canoes and we also construed two swings on the riverbank. In mid-June, the evaluation picnic was held, along with the exhibition of photos from events and recitation Frantisek Taborsky’s (František Táborský) poems. The summer gathering was July workshop, during which we made ashtrays and rubbish bin.

Cleaning and making beautiful together in Brno

Cleaning and making it beautiful together in Brno

Our biggest event was Festival on the riverside of Svratka which was held in the first weekend of October. There were many cultural activities – theatre and music performances, art, music, dance and juggling workshops, bazaar, games and sports, canoeing as well as public discussion about future of Brno riversides. However, the main action of the festival was art workshop along the wall where artists made little interventions and installations, cultivating this environment. During whole weekend about 300 people participated (and many children from the neighborhoods), a lot of them appreciated impacts of these activities. The last events of this year are workshop of planting trees and shrubs and Restaurant Day, public picnic in the beginning of November. All the activities were financially supported from the public collection of shops Veronica Foundation.

The bench workshop

The bench workshop

Due to participation, positive comments and feedback we can evaluate that most of activities and events were successfully organised. Nowadays people sit and relax on the benches, children often use the swings etc. Nevertheless, only few local residents has actively engaged into the riverside revitalisation, number of them has rather participated passively. We had also little problems with some vandals who damaged a bench and a swing and stole ashtrays.

Next year we would like to go on with this project, especially get more into contact with local community and concentrate on the activities which will make more accessible Taborsky’s riverbank not only for the local residents, but also for all the users of this public space. We would to start another project in a specific neglected locality in Brno as well, together with university and college students.

Contacts: https://www.facebook.com/taborskehonabrezi

Next events:

Sázíme třešně! https://www.facebook.com/events/755757564493065/

Táborského nábřeží je na den restaurací… juch! https://www.facebook.com/events/783891205011442/