When Minsk authorities decided to demolish the apple tree garden located in the area of the Children’s Hospital of Kurasovschina, this decision was taken without proper consultations with the district residents. The original plan was to remove the apple trees to make way for the construction of three apartment buildings.
For the purpose of maintaining the district garden and implementing participatory decision process “European Perspective” initiative launched a local district campaign to protect the apple trees and the garden area. The campaign was specifically targeted at certain yards and apartment blocks. People received personal invitations at their mailboxes to attend local hearings and discuss how to save the garden. Also, European Perspective placed announcements at entrances of apartment blocks. So comparing to 10 people attended the first gathering 70 inhabitants assembled for the next meeting in one of the district yards. Following a series of yard meetings and discussions in August 2014, 5400 signatures of Kurasovschina district inhabitants were collected to protect the area.
The children’s hospital garden story became so popular it was covered by various national media outlets as a good illustration – the community voice matters when it can be heard. A detailed description of the issue is available at: tut.by.
The “European Perspective” managed to join forces with Kurasovschina residents and organize district public hearings that resulted in adopting the resolution against the demolition of the garden and the construction of apartment buildings. Minsk architectural authorities suspended their resolution on the construction of the buildings. The united position of the Kurasovschina residents caused district and city authorities to reconsider their decision. The actual construction works never started. To resume the decision Kurasovschina district community should be consulted at public hearings.
Now Kurasovschina residents can enjoy spending time in the apple tree garden. The next step might be to collectively take care of the apple garden so that the place may become community property.