Immensity, diversity and custom of defying tradition, should characterize cities of unique spirit. Scoffing at timid offerings, this project through solutions, guidelines and policies for a contemporary quality of life, will attempt to unify the ethnic divided city of Struga by its natural border line, the river.
By compiling and discussing publicly the unifying elements of each community concentrated in a different riverside through public awareness campaign, focus groups, public debates and citizens’ proactive engagement, the project will envisage how the city breaths and what its citizens need. This will lead to new urban space concepts to develop an eco green city, to boost local economic platforms, to support tourism ventures and to initiate artistic movements with purpose to endorse the coexisting unitary attribute, the community need. The principle, “nothing about the citizens without the citizens is for the citizens„ is the vigorous power of this project devoted to the great people and their outstanding city, Struga.
The sparkle of Struga persists in shining beyond the troubles communities have stumbled upon each other in years now. Be this ethnical, religious or economical crisis, from an outlying perspective, it identifies with the lack of engagement of central and local government in creating a solution, to empower economically and culturally the individual. No public debates of where the city stands now, no long term policies on the vision how should it evolve, no proactive involvement of its citizens, a poor voice of nongovernmental sector in addressing some of these issues and last but not least, a blurry prospect for the youngsters of the whole region, where next?!
Yet the world does not stop spinning beyond the fact that there is no platform to follow. Tourists visit Struga for its cheap deals, yet when it comes to substantial holidays, they go back to cities around it. There is not enough cultural programs, no envisioned sufficient curriculum on the museums, no bicycle lanes, nor well thought-out encounter opportunities with its astonishing nature. Even the Struga Poetry Evenings (SPE) as an international poetry festival held annually in Struga, during the several decades of its existence, slowly is been withdrawn to Skopje as a capital city of the country.
Small local initiatives are almost invisible first because they cannot be heard and secondly because they do not have were to express. This, not only kills the motivation of the few, but also opens path for more creative minds to leave the city in search for opportunities were they will be appreciated and welcomed.
The “City that (never) sleeps” is expected to open first of its community development series, to assist in prospering the region of Struga, to empower its citizens in creative economic thinking and to establish a forum for international cooperation towards a quality of life improvement. This type of approach, we believe, will strengthen few elements during the process of the project implementation, yet its strongest point will be the post-implement influence and the tendency it will generate.
This community development project through urban space planning residency, intends to institute and fashion from Struga an artistic entrepreneur eco friendly settlement on international level. The priorities which the community is focused to develop in later stages, begin with museums and a continues artists residencies, re-introducing shipbuilding handicraft industry, modern culinary institute with a network of regional farmers, the famous international festival of poetry, support family wine production, establish a furniture design school with a manufacture unit, nurture early music education of young generations, concert halls, etc.
The contribution of the citizens, the mayor’s and the local government support, the involvement of relevant national and international professionals as part of the advisory committee, are few of the elements that speak about the transparent process which will straightforwardly reflect the longer term public policies, one of the most relevant impacts this project will try to achieve.
This project’s relevance presents a sui generis case, the city of citizen’s model where they will try to create inventive solutions continually, every year evolving, improving, learning and introducing a new sustainable concept for the city. Just as the Guardian states in one of their articles, without policies to keep cities compact, they will begin to fail all over: logistically, socially and economically.
Struga, has been left aside for years from the central governments, now it deserves to be well re-formed and re-shaped through world-class policy outcomes.
Because if not now, then when; because if not us, then who?!
The overall objective of the project is a new modified urban plan for the municipality of Struga, which will be an excellent opportunity to grasp city’s exigency and introduce a new planning offer, by communicating a vision and managing expectations to improve outcomes, and especially to find channels to proactively engage citizens in its Phoenician revival paragon.
The multidimensional objectives of this project stand for:
1.Citizens proactive engagement – established a foundation where different actors, local authority, citizens, other professional and urban planners, work together towards urban solutions that can help depolarize the community which has endemic ethnic and religious conflict and even prevent its radicalization,
2. Public awareness campaign – a forum of public discussion and promotion among citizens, local government, distinguished architects and participants public space planners, public awareness on importance of economic growth and development through urban public space planning,
3. Strengthened the capacity for creation of long-term policies within the Municipality of Struga – a ground plan for long term urban policy proposals, recommendations, analysis,
4. A platform for entrepreneur and cultural initiatives – strengthened the existing local business, created inventive trade initiatives, preserving the traditional craftsmanship, proposed policy on online tool for promotion,
5. New urban plan solutions for the Municipality of Struga – different urban planning solutions for the municipality which will offer new paradigms of planning and sustainability to produce equitable, inclusive, and sustainable urban environment, which will be chosen by the citizens and voted and adopted by the city council.