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Neighborhood Associations of Ankara Come Side by Side: We Demand Public Spaces of the City

Seven neighborhood organizations came together under the leadership of Çiğdemim Association, which has been operating as a neighborhood organization in Ankara for more than 25 years, and took the first step of the Neighborhood Based Organizations Unity. The neighborhood associations, which came together before the local elections, demand a greeting relationship with the municipalities and the city's vibrant and living public spaces. The associations, which also published a call for the kind of municipalism they want before the elections, want to expand the scope of the unity by spreading this call. We came together with the Çiğdemim Association and talked about the unity of neighborhood-based organizations, the needs for this unity and what they are planning.

What is the purpose of this alliance?

The general objective is to strengthen local civil society organizations to become effective and independent actors capable of forming public opinion in sustainability, policy-making and decision-making processes.

In addition, we aim to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, skills and connections of local civil society organizations through the platform to be established, to increase the impact of CSOs' campaigns and advocacy activities through capacity building activities and to expand their sphere of influence.

As far as we know, this is an Ankara-based association, so which neighborhood associations are part of this association?

We initially set out as Çankaya, but we also included the Gölbaşı Park Eymir Residents Association in the process, with whom we had previously held discussions. The following associations signed up for this collaboration: Ayrancım Association, Ayrancı Ahalisi Association, Bahçelievler Association, Çiğdemim Association, Kavaklıderem Association, Oran Güzelleştirme Association, and Park Eymir Residents Association.

We also invited Birlik'te Yaşam Derneği and ÇAKDER, which had to close their associations in the recent period, to the meeting we held with the associations. We listened to what kind of negative experiences they had and how they had to close their associations.


We don't know of any other work where seven neighborhood organizations have come together. Why is this neighborhood organization important, what does it mean for these neighborhoods to come together?

Yes, not to mention seven, just 4 months ago 4 associations and the city council came together for a joint event and we couldn't come to an agreement. It was really difficult to come together, but I think our stubborn attitude and our selfless and dedicated work to set an example for everyone made an impact.
They think they can develop the example of Çiğdemim Association in their own associations. We have never had any concerns such as competition or jealousy, if we had, we would not need to deal with such a collaboration.

As Çiğdemim Association, we took the work of STGM as an example. Just as you mentor CSOs and work for capacity development, we have made it our mission to do the same. From that day on, one of our main goals has been to be a pioneer and an example for similar organizations.

We realized this work from the BİRLİKTE-2 project budget. We had already discussed and planned this in the meeting we held with our mentor at the beginning of the semester. Apart from that, the trainings we received from STGM on this subject also contributed greatly.

Neighborhood organizations are actually the formations that should have a real say in cities because here neighbors take care of the area they live in regardless of their hometown. This is why we think we should be different from local associations. But unfortunately, local associations are more active in this field. We want to come together as those who try to beautify the place they live in and use our powers for this common purpose.

Will the "Unity of Neighborhood Based Organizations" be only in Ankara? Do you plan to carry out this work in other provinces as well?

We want to expand this solidarity by including neighborhood/community associations whose paths intersect with ours. Firstly, we will invite two associations in Istanbul, which we visited during a study visit within Birlikte 2 Program, Komşu Kapısı Maçka and Kuzguncuklar Association.

Because we believe that those who take care of their neighborhood at the smallest scale will also participate and take care of it at the district/provincial/country level. For this reason, the number of associations like ours should increase rapidly. This organization is not a political party organization, it is not a hometown-based organization. That is why we think it is important.

You mention a concept such as “keeping at arm's length” for this solidarity. Could you explain this a bit?"

This concept emerged in the speech of Prof. Dr. İlhan Tekeli, whom we invited to the meeting for the opening speech. İlhan Tekeli made a definition that distinguishes neighborhood-based organizations from CSOs by defining them as "people in a living environment come together to improve the quality of life in this environment or to solve a problem related to this area". He then stated that it is necessary to create a diversity of public spaces at the neighborhood level. He said to demand from the municipalities the city's vibrant, living public spaces where a relationship of greeting distance is established.

As elections approach, what kind of action/activity plan do you plan to make?

In the meeting we held, we drafted a statement titled "What Kind of Municipality Do We Want as Neighborhood-Based Organizations and Our Recommendations" to be presented to the candidates for the upcoming local elections, and all associations signed it. We also decided to circulate this text widely. *You can access the statement from the attachment.

Do you have a contact address/social media account for those who want to be informed about your work?

Not at the moment, but in the first meeting we will decide on these and how the secretariat of the union will be run.

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