Let’s talk about it

On February 8th, Nahnoo organized a debate in Masrah al Madina (Hamra, Beirut) in order to discuss the opening of Horsh Beirut.

For those of you who still don’t know, Horsh Beirut is a 300,000 square meter park, filled with pine trees, located in tayyouneh area, next to the hippodrome of Beirut. We recently had the chance to go visit it, thanks to Nahnoo who organized a public picnic there. Check out some pics here: bit.ly/ygzInM

It’s a beautiful and spacious park that’s closed to the public. The park was supposed to be closed for 10 years after its reconstruction in 1992, in order to let the trees grow. So, 20 years later, where are we ?

The 4 people on the panel were: Bilal Hamad(head of the municipality of Beirut), Nizar Saghieh (lawyer), Eric Bouvard (Ile de France representative working on Horsh Beirut), and Mohamad Ayoub (member and founder of Nahnoo NGO).

Mr. Hamad started by stating that Horsh Beirut will be opened to the public for a trial period soon, and if the opening fails, it will be closed again. He added that he is looking for the best ways to manage the park, and therefore, is looking for a private company to manage and secure the park. Mr. Saghieh, on the other hand, answered Mr. Hamad by saying that closing Horsh Beirut is illegal, something we personally didn’t know, and he reminded the crowd of the dangers of having a private company secure a public area. It would be giving into the same system of private companies running spaces in Beirut.

Mr Ayoub agreed with Saghieh; insisting on the importance of having public green spaces in the city, something that is lacking in Beirut, and talked about the efforts behind the campaign in order to open the Horsh. He then challenged the head of municipality to give a specific date for the opening, without it, the promise would be void.

Eric Bouvard, in return, reassured the crowd that efforts are being done from Ile de France to pressure people in power to open the park, but said that the matter should be done with vigilance and awareness raising.

Comments from the public included ideas like having park rangers, trained university or school students, who would be the ones responsible for securing the park from littering, fines for those who mistreat trees and plants, free membership cards that will allow the park authority to give a sense of responsibility to the people. People also stated that the state should put trust into the people before announcing failure; the “trial period” being one of them. Bilal Hamad ended the debate by stating that the municipality is waiting for a committee that would follow up with him on the topics of managing and securing Horsh Beirut.

The debate was heated but helpful.

But definitely the most interesting part of it all was the dialogue. Being able to be in a public space with people and representatives in power, and being able to state your mind is what makes you a citizen. It’s a way to give back to society, and we believe everyone should have a share in giving something back to his city.

So join the talk on March 3rd at Zicco House for a follow up and extension of this dialogue. We will be brainstorming about innovative and helpful solutions to help open up Horsh Beirut. We will come up with ideas for management and for security of the park to propose to the municipality of Beirut. By the end of that session, a committee will be formed that will be in touch with the municipality and working on the opening of the park.

For more info:

http://www.nahnoo.org/TopMenu/Events/ReadMore.html?id=180#toContent
http://horshbeirut.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Horshbeirut

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