I imagine some newly constructed complexes as green spaces, either covered with vegetation or filled with greenery—and transformed public spaces that use nature, instead of fighting against it. My musing reminded me of the urban development vision Nino Sekhniashvili and Giorgi Zagareli outlined in the book Tbilisi It’s Complicated as well as Wato Tsereteli “River’s Magic Garden” project, which featured the Mtkvari River.
It began to dawn on me that not only parks and gardens transformed us during the crisis but they became one of the major leisure magnets of the city. “Personal is political” is a popular expression: in this case, the individual experiences could inspire us as a community to reexamine the role of green spaces in urban development—and their importance for our health and well-being.
In his article Garden in the city, published in INDIGO magazine, author Giorgi Chkadua writes that gardens are “the most comfortable areas for interaction in Tbilisi.”
“In a southern city, like Tbilisi, everything can happen in the garden,” he notes, adding that public parks and gardens have historically had an important role in city life.
City-planner Merab Bolkvadze has noted, however, that many of Tbilisi’s green spaces have already been destroyed by urban development. He estimates that today, the average resident has just four to five meters of green space, compared to the European standard of 15-18 per city resident.
Today, the pandemic has been largely controlled in Georgia and people are not limited to nearby parks for recreation. It would be easy to forget about the importance of accessible green space in urban life. But while the parks are not as full as they were during the lockdown, no one knows when we will need them again.
Those green spaces were full of people during the lockdown who normally would have spent their spring afternoons in cafes and their nights and early mornings in the city’s clubs and bars.
For a few weeks, Covid-19 changed that. The pandemic gave us the chance to reconnect with nature, to remember the power of an hour of fresh air.
We have been given the chance to comprehend the importance and relevance of the green islands still available in the city before they are filled with asphalt and concrete.
As Bolkvadze said, “We have chased nature out of the city; now we should at least attempt to invite it back.”