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The neighbourhood festival is about to reconnect communities which otherwise exist next to each other rather than together

The neighbourhood festival is about to reconnect communities which otherwise exist next to each other rather than together

No barriers. That is the topic of this year‘s Zažít město jinak (Take Back Your Street) festival. What does it mean for us as the organizers, why did we choose this issue, and what specific group of citizens are we interested in addressing and supporting? You are about to find out in this opening article about the 17th street festival of neighbourhood buzz.

We would like the streets and squares of Czech cities to be accessible to everyone – so that everyone can use public spaces without having to overcome hesitation or barriers. This applies to those who prevent us from easy and efficient movement through the city as well as to mental barriers dividing different groups of citizens. The topic of the 17th neighbourhood festival „No Barriers“ is supposed to help the organisers overcome these physical and mental barriers. Neighbourhood festival Zažít město jinak also again reconnects neighbours and members of communities existing more next to each other than together.

A civilian society that holds together

The last two years of Zažít město jinak took place in a very specific situation relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. A combination of lockdowns, complicated measures and restrictions put the organisers into a complicated and new situation, affecting all the festival locations. But, both of the festivals Zažít město jinak went well and we will do everything we can to keep it that way even this year – a year when the pandemic (at least for now) has weakened, but the times became harder in a different way. A couple of hundreds of kilometres away from our borders there is a war raging and Czech and Moravian cities and villages are getting slowly crowded with people on the run. Czech civilian society has led by example and there is not only a wide spectre of organisations, private companies and associations offering help…but also a lot of people. 

We want to stand with you

We are deeply touched by this wave of solidarity which arose among Czech citizens. Local communities do very important work and we would like to thank them. At the same time, we would like to support them in the forthcoming months (when the feeling of exhaustion certainly comes and the primary enthusiasm disappears) to stick to helping although in a slightly different form – if the Ukrainian refugees are supposed to feel at least a little comfortable in our country, it is necessary to include them into what is happening in our society. Maybe helping with the preparation of a neighbourhood festival can do away with hesitation and barriers, which are already starting to appear. That is why we will support our organisers with all the forces we have if they decide to follow us in this very needed direction when preparing the festival!

Let the barriers fall

We were thinking about the topic of the festival in January and at first we were talking about the physical barriers making our movement around the city harder. Wrongly parked cars, bars placed with no logical sense, missing crossings and other specialties of our public space. We will emphasize them on a regular basis but we will also be pointing out those groups of people who can feel the barriers in the city the most often. Women at night, seniors, people with limited ability of movement and orientation, children… all these groups deserve our attention and we will focus on them during this spring and summer more. At the same time, we feel the necessity to react to the current situation and to support the most vulnerable as much as we can. 

We are looking forward to the third Saturday in September when you will be able to experience Zažít město jinak again! 

Sincerely your Zažít město jinak team

P. S.: The topic „No Barriers“ could give the impression that barriers in cities are always wrong. That is not true! Some of them are very useful and we will be watching and caring for them. What we mean is nature and wilderness in the city, providing us with precious moments of peace, protecting us from unbearable heat in summer and in many cases working as a barrier from headless construction and not always so useful developments…