PARK Pilot Actions in Bulgaria

Driven by the desire to develop activities that will have a long-lasting impact on public places and local communities, as an implementing organisation for Bulgaria, Power Jump has decided to focus on one specific location and local community while implementing the pilot actions of the PARK project. We have been motivated to do so by the core philosophy of the placemaking approach where we could be the ones initiating change in the environment but it should be based on local community identified needs, their intensive and constant engagement in each and every step of interaction and the process should be leading towards community empowerment and ownership in maintaining and developing their public spaces after the project activities are over.

The location we have chosen for our PARK pilot activities is a small city park called Elin Pelin based in the Hristo Botev neighbourhood of the city of Varna having the stereotyped public image of neglected and non-attractive area. The park had a good potential for being recreated into better physical activity stimulating environment. It also had a good number of motivated representatives among different groups of the local community ready to participate – kids, youngsters, parents, other adults. 

We have started with some testing and research activities such as:

  • Active Saturday Fest as part of MOVE Week and Now We Move Campaigns 2022 – organizing physical activity games, initiatives and competitions with the community in the park so that we could practically check how open they are to use the environment in a new way for active recreation.
  • Individual and group meetings – a series of meetings with different active people and leaders among the community as well as with a group of community representatives in order to map the current status of the park and the community engagement, to research history of initiatives and changes in the environment as well as to identify needs based on which to draft some possible interactions in the park.
  • Ongoing communication – a long and managed communication process was started in a Facebook group created for the purpose of improving the park environment. Within this communication were outlined the kid, youth and adult areas to be developed in the park; the specific physical interactions and facilities were discussed and specified; planning of Renovating Kick Off Event was done as well as the steps that will follow it to complete the objectives set for 2022.
  • Renovating Kick Off Event – an event which main goal was to open the process of recreating park environment with the active participation of locals. Over 50 people got involved in cleaning the whole park, renovating and painting benches, sports and common facilities, and green areas. The park was given an attractive and welcoming look and the result was a high enthusiasm, satisfaction and motivation boost for the whole community.
  • Work with local authorities – as the park is a public area owned by the municipality, formally it required making requests for permissions and informing local authorities for every interaction we plan there. These formal procedures were used as an opportunity to promote the PARK project and its impact on local public spaces among local government and politicians and make them aware of our work and approach. On the other hand, they were a guide for us to synchronize in a proper way between community ideas and normative requirements towards public spaces so that what we do in the park is both desired and legal.
  • Communication Campaign – using targeted social media campaigns, press-releases and local medias to spread the word about PARK, its interventions in Varna and the ongoing achievements.

Currently we are at the stage of waiting for the production and installation of the equipment chosen by the community for kid and youth areas and approved by the municipality – Natural Kids Area and Street Fitness for Youngsters. Once they are ready and installed we will have a final fiesta in the park with the locals to celebrate and enjoy the recreated environment.

This project, led by BG Be Active, is funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Contacts

BG Be Active Association Bulgaria Plovdiv, 9 Sofia Str. [email protected]

Disclaimer

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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