Turkey: Making the city liveable
The neoliberal city is the motor of Erdogan’s Turkey. Its booming economy is the result of a massive construction bubble fed by mega-projects operating on a city- and even country-wide scale, and the increasing surveillance and repression of dissent are constant reminders of the authoritarian impulse behind this urbanisation. It is a transformation that is having profoundly inegalitarian results, with middle-class flight into gated communities, deteriorating public facilities and increasing insecurity in the streets beyond the gates. In these circumstances, making the city liveable can be a form of dissent. Sokak Bizim (“Streets Belong to Us”) is an NGO focused on human-centred cities and streets in Istanbul, which they engage from the perspective of pedestrians, cyclists, children, elderly and disabled people. They are best known for their “Streets Belong to Us Once a Month” events, in which they transform lifeless spaces subsumed by the functionality of neoliberal urbanisation into festive ones, to promote community-building activities and create common spaces for citizens. Radical Democracy: Reclaiming the Commons intends to amplify Sokak Bizim’s message through the work of its networked medialabs and interaction with the other local hubs.