The Cyprus Energy Agency, with the support of the Nicosia Municipality, organized on Saturday, the 7th of November, the event "Let's go to Paionos Street!". The event took the form of the "Living Street" initiative, as the road closed for vehicles and "opened" for residents and visitors of the area, inviting them to participate in activities related to the practices for a Sustainable Development of the historic center of Nicosia. The event was organized within the framework of the project Sustainable Historic Districts (SUSHI), which is co-financed by the EIT Climate-KIC.
Those who attended the event had the opportunity to participate in multiple activities, such as:
- DIY construction of raingardens as a nature-based solution for restricting the storm-water runoff and increasing the vegetation within the historic center,
- DIY Construction of bird feeders for increasing biodiversity within the historic center,
- Workshop on repairing and maintaining a bicycle for promoting alternative means of transportation,
- Upcycling Workshop for limiting waste, and
- Interaction with other residents through the human library or playing street games!
The activities attracted residents of the neighborhood as well as visitors to the historic center. At this point it should be noted that the selected activities were based on the needs of the citizens, identified through the Questionnaires distributed for evaluating the quality of life within the historic center, but also through the outputs of the workshop (implemented in January 2020 within the framework of the project), where the participants seemed to share common concerns and, among others, recognized the following needs for the historic center of Nicosia:
- Need for social gathering places (public spaces) in the historic center,
- Need for more vegetation and biodiversity in the historic center,
- Need for reduction of vehicle traffic in the historic center, and
- Need to bring attention to new parts of the historic center - relocate residents and businesses.
The Cyprus Energy Agency utilized the opportunity provided through the Sustainable Historic Districts project, for organizing a small-scale Living Streets event within the historic center of Nicosia. Based on its outcomes and the citizens acceptance, the aim is to implement a larger event, when a new opportunity arises. The most valuable lesson from this event, was that a good preparation is necessary, a lot of key-actors should be engaged in the process, and the activities should be chosen based on the demographics of the area but also on the site's characteristics.
Something to consider: The higher the 'visibility' of the street, the higher will be the participation of people, but at the same time, the more complicated will be the process for closing the street! However, by activating a neglected and less “visible” street it allows residents to reimagine their street and think of potential alternative uses of the public space in their neighborhood. Therefore, the choice of the street location for a Living Street event could be based on different criteria depending on the desired outcomes.