December 24, 2018
Participants discussed the problems of urban activism in Estonia, Russia, and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The main speaker was Polina Lyasheva, a member of the board and the head of cultural projects of the Estonian organization Lasnaidea, a community of active residents of the historically Russian-speaking Lasnamäe district of Tallinn, who strive to make life in the area more secure and interesting by engaging local community into various activities, such as picnics, flea markets, film screenings, and therefore, changing the urban environment. The local St. Petersburg activist Olga Mnishko, a representative of the ‘Karpovka’s Friends’ civic initiative, commented on the similarities and differences of the Estonian and Russian contexts and situations by bringing St. Petersburg examples of community-building at the local level and sharing the experiences of civic initiatives’ participation in the urban development elaboration. Rastin Zarkar, a postgraduate student at the University of New York and a member of the Ajam Media Collective, co-author of the media project about the reconstruction and historical appearance of the Sovetsky district in Baku, also took part in the discussion and commented on the topic with his experiences and knowledge.
The audience of about 30 local activists greatly appreciated the opportunity of horizontal exchange provided by the event. The experience of such practically-oriented discussions on activism in Europe demonstrates a demand for this format.