Occupy Tbilisi

Only few tents protect the trees of Vake Park, the Georgian capital’s most popular green space, from the realization of a $20 million redevelopment project that would replace public commons with a private luxury hotel.

Through the sub-zero temperatures of January to the warmest summer a group of activist, partially coordinated by Tbilisi’s Guerrilla Gardening, endure a almost one year long occupation. Inspired by the occupy movements and the use of social networks they managed to mobilize many citizen and resist different attempt of eviction. A group of few people and numerous passing-by travelers along the summers keeps a 24/24 vigil and have so far prevented the bulldozers from rolling. In the pit of the construction site, on weekends, they hold concerts, give teach-ins, or project movies and documentaries.

Vake Park is not the only place in the capital at risk but the protesters choose to focus on it hoping, if they will win, to set a first case. They demand that the local government place a moratorium on the sale of public land until the Tbilisi City Council addresses the legality of these sales, a problem that began with the the independence of Georgia and the large privatizations that followed.

Unfortunately the government doesn’t seems to take seriously environmental protection, the former President Mihkail Saakashvili, restructured the Environmental Ministry giving the control over the country’s natural resources  to the Ministry of Energy, which guaranteed that forest, lakes, and fields could be leased to private investors. Is Tbilisi’s Guerrilla Gardening planting seeds for a new Gezi park?

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