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29 June 2018

Game Session #1

Mersin City Game Launch

To conduct the initial game meeting, Dr. Ekim Tan and project designer Sofia Arrias Bittencourt from Play the City traveled to Toroslar in June. Apart from the strongly shared institutional connections, our team was thrilled to meet active individual citizens not only conscious of ongoing developments, but who also have the means to join the discussions around the creation of the Toroslar Citylab. Amongst these participants were members of the Association of Architects, food activists, bicycle activists, environmental engineers. The addition of these new connections will strengthen and ground the establishment of the Citylab, as well as ignite the future initiatives in the area.

Besides the careful local research conducted by the Mersin University in analyzing the urban questions of Toroslar, the main source of new knowledge has been the interactive game session with over 40 local actors. This way we could hear multiple voices, knowledge and perspectives simultaneously. Namely, we learned details about shifting land management responsibilities of Toroslar Municipality towards Metropolitan Municipality of Mersin. We were already aware of existing diverse cultures and their input to local economy such as the reeds-weaving Roma community, but during the game session it has become obvious that urban farming potentials in the area are of higher importance for strategic land use and preservation.

Field trips given by our Mersin partners in the informal Alsancak neighborhood and Mersin’s new development areas such as Yenisehir [directly translated as ‘new town’] are important source of new knowledge as well. We could document circular development reflexes in the informal town such as second-hand shops for PVC fenestrations or toilets seats, sun collectors on rooftops, as well as systemic use of plants providing green roofs. Meanwhile we could also witness approaching footsteps of urban transformation in the form of condominiums and hotels. In the adjacent district of Yenisehir, we could observe homogenized landscapes, stripped from their local heritage and character. Observing how little Mersin’s outskirts differ from, for example, periphery settlements in Istanbul or Ankara was confronting.