Here at The Optimist Daily, we are big fans of sustainable urban development projects that put community front center. The creation of the Precollinear Park in Turin, Italy, is exactly this type of project.
The park came about as the result of a placemaking initiative by nonprofit Torino Stratosferica. During the pandemic, the Turin city council temporarily handed over to the organization a strip of land where once ran a tramline. Even before the pandemic upended life in Italy, the strip of space was mostly abandoned.
If you’re not familiar with the term, placemaking essentially means creating places in such a way that they strengthen the connections between communities and these places. It’s a community-centered approach that focuses on people’s needs, aspirations, desires, and visions — it thus relies a lot on community participation.
As the pandemic prompted people to look for safe outdoor gathering spaces, Torino Stratosferica started strategizing how to best use the space to the benefit of the citizens. With a focus on what would be best for people’s happiness and wellbeing, the place was temporarily converted into Precollinear Park, a public area with seating and room to safely social distance.
The project immediately drew the attention of the community, with more than 700 people from all over Turin speaking out about their ideas. Additionally, crowdfunding campaigns raised over 2,500 euros to help maintain the area.
Thanks to its central location, Precollinear Park began hosting an assortment of events catering to entertainment, education, and exhibitions. Now, it remains hugely popular as a recreational space where volunteers regularly participate in organized care and maintenance events. At least 60 citizens make up Volunteers of the Park, who dedicate time each week to look after the park, which has now become a permanent fixture in the region.