Transforming a neighborhood

Photos: PID Levant
A few weeks ago, Beirut was in the international headlines due to a shooting incident. But what many people don’t know is on the same day there was a positive transformation happening in another part of the city. 
A group of designers, urbanists and activists had come together to help one community beautify its streets–transforming a wall appropriated by political parties and violent slogans: 
Into a fresh canvas ready for a colorful mural:
The project is called the Khodr Neighborhood Initiative and also saw activists help residents organize a campaign to clean their streets and encourage recycling, with workshops and entertainment for children:

The initiative was spearheaded by Public Interest Design Levant, a new collaboration between young designers, architects, urban planners and NGOs to encourage responsible citizenship, sustainable development and community participation. Interestingly a pillar of the group’s working framework is a “human-centered approach” listening closely to community members to assess needs while taking into consideration environmental, social and cultural issues. It’s a far cry from the approach of the Beirut Municipality, which operates largely without public consultation or transparency in projects that have torn down heritage and green spaces in favor of highways, contractors and real estate developers.    

Public Interest Design Levant is planning a lot more work in the Khodr neighborhood, which is located near the port of Beirut, between the Sleep Comfort headquarters and Karantina. The plan is also to encourage sustainable transport with bike friendly streets among other citizen-centric initiatives.

They are always looking for volunteers so subscribe to their Facebook page for updates. The next event is coming up next week– a bicycle festival known as Baskil.

The all-ages festival starts on Wednesday 23rd and goes through Sunday the 27th. See a list of events here, including competitions and a bike tour around the city.  

Here’s the trailer:

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