Svolou’s Neighbourhood Pocket Park. Ηow green, communal spaces activate a neighbourhood

This park is the first pocket park in Thessaloniki and was created by the Alexandrou Svolou Neighborhood Initiative. Its reputation goes beyond the city's borders as it is an emblematic example of bottom-up urban intervention. Giorgos Chatzinakos from the Initiative welcomed us to the park and started with a very interesting review of Greece's post-war history, which explains the intense urbanisation and the lack of open spaces in cities today. He then talked about the process of creating the park in 2017 and the hundreds of events that have taken place since then. Unfortunately, however, today the park presents a disheartening picture of decay and abandonment: rubbish, litter, cat food and excrement, dead plants. Giorgos Chatzinakos, disappointed, explained that this is because there was not much involvement of the local residents, and the creation of the park was mainly done with the participation of students, who may have later left the city. Another reason is that some of the active members who used to take care of the park through personal work have found jobs and cannot devote as much time. He also admitted that direct democratic processes sometimes do not serve quick decisions. The deadlock is compounded by the fact that the park is now adjacent to the headquarters of far-right organisations. As he said, a possible solution through which the park can be revived and continue its bright path is for its management to be transferred to an organised social solidarity economy entity.