Odesa courtyard is a place where Odesans spend a significant part of their life. Comfortable relations between the neighbours is an indicator of trust in the community, ability to find a common language and accept a variety of opinions.
Historically, daily life in Odesa circulated around the yard community. In a multicultural city, people knew their neighbours and interacted with them daily, sometimes in a cacophony of languages, including Yiddish, Greek, Bulgarian, Moldovan, Ukrainian and many others. Or at least this is how the pre-Second World War Odesa is nostalgically remembered. The Second World War and multiple waves of soviet repressions completely changed the social fabric in the city and contributed to a sense of alienation.
A local grassroots NGO ‘Zatsikavleni’ with the support of forumZFD implemented the project “Raising the capacities of Odesa courtyards as public spaces where a culture of joint living is promoted and practised through the development of the educational programme for local community activists”, which aims to empower and enable neighbours to change their yard areas into open spaces for public activities, build their capacity for joint decision making and improve the social climate in the city.
The goal of the project is to unite existing courtyard initiatives and to help active citizens to develop a culture of living together in the city, by creating a sustainable community of local civil activists who will have the necessary skills, competence, and capacities to transform their yards into inclusive public spaces.
The project has gathered representatives of 10 courtyards in Odesa who all have ideas of how to further develop their yards. During summer 2019 in the School of Neighbourhood Culture, representatives of the selected yards learnt about the history of Odesa, its urban plan, as well as developed their skills of non-violent communication and conflict resolution. They also built their capacities in project management, fundraising, advocacy and effective communication with authorities as well as learnt how to promote social changes in the community. Throughout the duration of the project, local activists held meetings with their yard communities further strengthening the community spirit and with the guidance of experienced mentors developed concrete social projects for transforming their yards into welcoming open and public spaces.
Thus, the project works on several levels. It builds the community spirit and relationships in the selected yard communities. It also develops the capacities of activists to further engage in civic activism. Through joint activities, such as the school and the Festival of Odesa yards the project aims to unite existing courtyard initiatives and create a sustainable community of change-makers.
Project Highlight: Odesa Festival of Yards
On the 28 of September the School activities culminated in the First Odesa Festival of Yards. Ten yards whose representatives participated in the School of Neighbourhood Culture and seven additional yards opened their gates and presented unique projects they had started to implement after the graduation from the School. The Festival was attended by Mr. Atanase Perifan, who founded the European Day of Neighbours and awarded the Odesa community with Friendly and United City Award. Through the award Odesa joined the worldwide movement of good neighbourhood.
The project was developed by the team of an Odesa-based NGO “Zatsikavleni” in cooperation and support of the forumZFD Programme Office in Ukraine. The project united the activists of “Pixelated Realities” and the NGO Odessa Development Fund, it was also supported by the Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative (USAID project in Ukraine) and the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Odesa City Council.