Vorstadtgarten and Transition Day at the annual Lendwirbel Street Festival - Graz
Since 2013 the local Transition Town Initiative organizes Transition Day(s) at the Lendwirbel Festival together with the Forum Urbanes Gärtnern. The main focus is to raise awareness on sustainability issues and the creation of an open space resp. a focal point where people can meet. The Vorstadtgarten, which are raised beds and bed-seat-table combinations mostly made of recycled wood, invites people during the first week in May to come together - in the most of the years the beds are in the public space until autumn.
The Lendwirbel festival - originally started as neighbourhood initiative - meanwhile attracts many people from all over the city and beyond to provide a cultural program consisting of (popup) activities, stands and installations and a culinary offering as well as a discourse program.
For a few years the association Transition Graz (TG) and its network organize the Transition Day on the second weekend of May. The idea of Transition Towns is to create vital, resilient neighbourhoods to challenge carbon dependencies (depletion of fossil fuels and climate change) and to decrease the impact on the environment.
Since the beginning the Transition Day was connected to food related topics and has been asking the question how people can collectively provide their own food, e.g. by cooperatives from local farmers or by urban gardening (local production on the balcony or a community garden). To foster communication among people TG together with the Forum Urban Gardening (FUG, an association to support and foster urban gardening and urban food production) and Jugendpark (a project of Jugend am Werk which aims for young people to learn handicraft and gardening) created the Vorstadtgarten at one of the most central squares of the Lendwirbel Festival.
Transformational Measures and Activities
The Vorstadtgarten is an area consisting of raised beds with mostly food plants (vegetables, herbs…) and occasions to sit in-between. It’s a mobile construction: it’s temporary (not the whole year) and can be re-arranged creating a vital public space. During the Transition Day(s) additional program like workshops, exhibitions and talks provide background information for kids and families as well as everybody else.
- interventions to address the wider public
- creation of space where people can meet and talk without the obligation to consume
- seed and plant swapping
- workshops and talks to inform about sustainable food and one of it’s basic: good social bondings and relations resp. neighbourhoods
workshops for kids: to (re)connect them to food (like heirloom and traditional varieties) and the environment
- during the week - as long as the weather is fine - people use this space to come together for chatting, eating, playing ...
during the weekend (transition day) people are curious about the installations, plants and seek for background information; kids are having fun if there’s something they just can try out
Challenges, Opportunities and Transferability
- the idea of having raised bed - seat - table combinations is easy transferable - people will use these space; main challenges can be to convince local authorities and to place information about the project; considering vandalism and care of the plants the connection to the near-neighborhood (private households but also restaurants) is important
- accompanying program is important: workshops, talks and e.g. seed or plant swaps gain attention
- the Transition Day especially address the wider public - the visitors of the festival - the program has to fit the audience (during the week: rather locals, during the weekend: the wider public)