This community initiative has turned an old parking lot into a green oasis in central Athens, in the heart of Exarcheia. Today the park is used for creativity, emancipation and resistance, and is open to host other initiatives. The future of the park is co-created by an open collective.
After the piece of land had been left unused for years, its neighbors took a stance. When the lease of the then present parking area came to an end, lengthy deliberations on the future of the area left the space depleted. It didn’t take long before the residents took a stance; they formed the Exarcheia Residents’ Initiative, and got involved with the possible re-development plans of the land.
Starting off as an experiment to connect the residents and the city, Exarcheia Residents’ Initiative took on the task of creating a green space with high vegetation. When it looked as if the land would be used to re-build an office in 2009, the initiative organized a protest. In 2009, along with the “Us, Here and Now and for All of Us” collective and supporters, the space was squatted and with drilling and planting, Navarinou park was born.
While providing a space for emancipation and resistance, Navarinou park aspires to have an urban garden. As more and more people visit the park, they get the opportunity to get in touch with nature in the city. Navarinou Park differs from official public spaces as it is a communal space used as needed with its own forms of control, not as defined or authorised space.
Today the park is a neighborhood garden that is used to grow food, and is used for leisure. It defies constraints that relate to differences in age, origin, educational level and social-, or economic position, and functions without profit or ownership-driven logic. The park’s future is decided upon in public meetings that vary in frequency depending on needs and availability. This gives the park an open character, where every neighbor can have his or her say. These meetings are used to discuss all alterations, problems and proposals.
Be sure to visit this special park, with it’s rich history, and open organizational character. Most Sunday mornings the residents are gardening together.