“Together with you, we create a city we want to live in.” David Pesek’s video and article about how local residents, NGOs and drug user activists recapture the city for a day.
Do you feel that your neighbourhood is currently not for people but rather for cars, and that you rarely meet outside with neighbours and friends? Neighbourhood festivities known as “Zažít město jinak” (Different City Experience) open the streets to the people of Prague in the Czech Republic for one day. Thanks to them you can see the city where cars are not parked on pavements, but where coffee houses have their tables outside and children play in the streets.
SANANIM NGO, which takes care of people who use drugs (from Harm Reduction, Self-Support, Recovery, Treatment, to Aftercare services), also decided to take part in this festivity. Together with other people, friends, and services in the neighbourhood where our drop-in centre is located, we combined forces and held our own events in nearby parks and streets.
The essence of this day was to show that living together with different people can be good. There was a kiosk from the local library, and books to take away or trade for different ones. The primary school was teaching children how to properly take care among the heavy car traffic in Prague. The high school had some serious but funny theatre exhibitions, and pigeons flying from the windows of the school building (another reason to check out the video).
The organisation People in Need was present there with their Social Integration Programs. In this neighbourhood it is mainly activities for local Roma community. The Social Integration Programs team promotes social improvement for the poor or vulnerable families through counselling and educational services. It supports children from vulnerable families in receiving education which will enhance their future chances in the labour market. People in Need is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, founded on the ideals of humanism, freedom, equality, and solidarity. They consider human dignity and freedom to be fundamental values. Their manifesto also says that they believe that people anywhere in the world should have the right to make decisions about their lives and to share the rights expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The happening was also supported by the local pastor of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren. He does lot of work for the local community (for the homeless, poor, vulnerable, children, single mothers and so on).
We at the drop-in centre wanted to show that we can do fun and interesting cultural programs. So the workers and users together made the day. Somebody cooked and prepared sweets and refreshments. We had one really talented artist and poet. There was lot of great music, bands, or single artists. There was dancing and smiling. We built the place and stage together and also cleaned it together at the end.
Different City Experience was the very first project of Auto*Mat. It was held for the first time in 2006 on Smetana riverside and its central idea, to experience the city unoccupied by cars, is still with us. Every year Different City Experience is growing and more local clubs, associations, and businesses are taking part in the preparations.
More information can be found on Different City Experience website.
Auto*Mat association promotes a better environment for a good-quality life in the city. They support public, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic as well as the rational use of cars. They are inspired by European capitals and they activate people to a positive change of streets and public spaces. They also supervise the politicians and efficient use of public finances.
“Together with you, we create a city we want to live in,” is their motto and also was the motto of this whole day.
David Pešek, SANANIM, Czech Republic