LED 2016 Group I Landscape Democracy Challenge 2

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Place name Mali Abad Blv and Afifabad Str
Location Shiraz
Country Iran
Author(s) Saeid Saadat

Rationale: Why have you chosen this case for the landscape and democracy seminar?

After considering variety of examples which are existing in my city (Shiraz) and country (Iran) I decided to pick two similar examples. Maybe in first sight they can not be perceived as a big issue for a landscape and democracy but if person go deep trough them they indicate, to what extent are we (Iranian people) away from democracy, not only in public life and decision but in private life. The cases are two important commercial street of Shiraz, one of them is located in North-west of city (Mali Abad Blv) and the other one close to city center of Shiraz (Afifabad Str). I would like to start with Afifabad street; this street has a special location since it is exactly in axis of Afifabad Garden (touristic place), and as it was mentioned it is a commercial street with lots of malls, fast foods and shops. About couple of years ago city authorities decided by paving this street and change it to a walking path (pedestrian way)and continued it to the entrance of garden made a tangible connection between the garden (as a touristic place) and the commercial potentials, which has benefits for both sides. This decision was revealed when they were about to implement it, however, they faced with mass protests from residents of the street. The problem was that, by implementation of the project even residents of the street were not able to have car access to the street. Although this decision could be considerably beneficial for city and tourism marketing, authorities could not start and finish the project. Next example is about Mali abad street, which is also a commercial street with lots of malls, fast foods and shops, however existence of a mosque in west of this street make a difference between these two street. The location of the mosque provide a narrow route in part of the boulevard, so during the day specially in evening people stock in traffic for long times. Due to this problem residents and shop owners propose to make this street wider, but for this logical proposal the mosque should be demolished or at least the yard of the mosque should be removed. However, as in our country not only politic but also everything are combined with religious and anything which is related to religious is holy and you can not insult it and touch it, thus this logical and feasible proposal has not been implemented. Consequently, in both case it is clear that simultaneously people needs and participation are not a matter and there is a big gap between decision makers and people!

Representation of your observations

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What are the major challenges for changing the situation?

In my point of view the major challenges target different aspects, such as lack of cohesion between the society, which not only affects the current generation but also it has great impact on future generation, in other words if people try to have union they can make the authorities to engage them in the decision about the changes in the city, for example about the first case (Afifabad Str) I would say if the authorities were aware to inform the residents from beginning and try to involve them in the decision, then residents would consider the benefits of the project for the city and they could accept to use the side roads for car accessing instead of main street. Also about second example we can not close our eyes on the wrong belief about religious which are spread among people and it affect their life, in other word people in power are using religious to impose themselves in people mind and gain profit from it, and unfortunately uneducated people are the most follower of these belief meanwhile they do not try to trust educated people. Lack of awareness and education about the environment and inhabitants rights could be another challenge. It is sad to say that in my country people do not try to increase their knowledge about the society and their initial rights to claim them due to close atmosphere and throbbing. At last but not least if we had liberal condition in country we could expect the press to have impact not only on society's knowledge but on decision makers to what extent implement undemocratic decisions.

What could be a starting point for democractically-based change?

At this stage I would say people should try to increase their knowledge about the environment and landscape, the more educated society the more accessibility to decision making. By increasing the awareness of inhabitants about the environmental rights and human rights Interaction between the public and public authorities in a democratic context would be more feasible. Any changes should start from every single inhabitants in society then public participation in important decision can be possible and reachable, which is vital for protection and improvement of the environment for present and future generation.


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