Arenas for Social Change

Whether it’s the ancient Greek agora, the forum in an ancient Roman city or the piazza of an Italian city today, al Midan in Arab cities or es Saحha in Palestinian villages represents a public garden, park or playground as an open public space accessible to all. These are communal spaces where people meet or gather for a common cause: a revolution in Midan al Tahreer in Cairo, a relaxed cup of coffee with friends, to listen to a musical concert or to attend a friend’s wedding.

Waqfiyyet es Saحhat focuses on encouraging families to use, gather and enjoy their open public spaces within historic centers. By cleaning and creating pavements, street furniture and children’s playgrounds in the unbuilt spaces of historic centers, a supportive and safe environment is created for children to play or ride their bikes, and for women to gather. It attracts new users alongside the men who often gather in the village or the mosque plaza.

Building on Riwaq’s long experience in restoring and refurbishing children’s playgrounds and communal plazas in villages and towns throughout Palestine, Riwaq has restored plazas and playgrounds in the heart of historic centers at a modest cost of USD 20,000 each. Once restored, these spaces become safe and attractive for many groups and activities, spaces that are full of life and social interaction. As important, these locations enhance the overall appearance of the historic centers, which encourages community pride and appreciation of their heritage.

Riwaq is establishing a USD 500,000 Spaces for Social Change Fund that will generate restoration work of more than USD 25,000, the cost of restoring one communal plaza or a children’s playground annually in a historic center.