Milano master-class

08. Involve locals

#lesson2 #lesson5 #urbanism

Denis: How do you go about making a path? Earlier you were telling me about how you spent a lot of time on diplomacy with politicians, and we’re all more or less faced with that since we have to find funding for our initiatives, and this morning you mentioned your way of working with local officials.

Fivos: To build a durable trail, which will still be here in twenty or thirty years, you need more than an idea. There needs to be a reason behind it, people who live in the area and people interested in using it. The path needs to be interesting, and above all it needs to be appreciated by locals.

In Greece, we never arrive on the scene telling people, “we are here to create a trail”. We are always invited by locals. We want our work to meet a local demand. For instance, towns that want to become hiking destinations or that have identified a need for a path. They contact us in our capacity as experts.
It’s a bit different in cities, since tourism is not necessarily a primary focus. But no matter what, I think involving communities in the creation of a path is vital. When we decide on the final route, we have to listen to people and mediate their opinions, hence the notion of diplomacy.

Take for instance a case in which there are two parallel roads, both with cafes. Which one should we choose? Here, we need to talk to people. That way, the people from the road that doesn’t get selected for our route won’t feel neglected. If you involve them, you can minimize quarrels. This diplomacy isn’t really directed at politicians but at people. For the most part, politicians are interested in putting their name on projects, which isn’t terribly interesting for me. What I want is to involve locals.