Meydana Bak (Look at the Square)

I’ve been getting nearly daily updates from a friend who has been living in Turkey for 8 or 9 years regarding the Taksim protests. I particularly liked the end of this one here:

Sometimes – especially after this weekend, where we have lost the park and our movement is exhausted and we’re fighting on every street of central Istanbul – sometimes, it’s easy to feel like we’re losing. I think that’s an important part of actually winning. The city’s officials fear us. Erdogan’s speech today was shrill and absurd – because he fears us. Now, we’re hearing reports that AKP thugs are moving through parts of the city to fight demonstrators, and the police are letting that happen – because they fear us. To suggest, now, that this is a country that has been anything but ruled by authoritarian means is demonstrably false. We pushed them to the point of openly demonstrating their contempt for democracy and for other people, all over a small park that most of us never walked through because it was too damn sketchy at night.

Still, because of it, everything from this point forward will be harder for them, and even if it doesn’t feel like it on a day-to-day basis for us, that is winning.

Also, a shout out to my botanist friends: The trees in Gezi Park are not Sycamores, as has been frequently reported, but Oriental Planes. Apparently, that’s an easy mistake to make, if you aren’t a botanist…

Much love from Istanbul

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#gezipark

There is finally some attention being paid to the massive protests currently being staged across Turkey. I’ve got my opinions on the ruling government (just flip through some of my old posts), and I’m so excited to see a populace standing for their democratic rights.

In my hiatus, I’ve worked a bit at a little college you may or may not have heard of, but I’ve also been volunteering with an advocacy group here in Cambridge that works to promote safer streets and civic engagement with the city planning process. I’ll be starting grad school at UC Berkeley this fall (as a FLAS Fellow studying Turkish!!) pursuing my Master of City Planning degree.

I have the city of Istanbul to thank for helping me realize my passion for city planning, transportation planning to be precise. This blog’s title, Dolmus, has become a flaming passion of mine. I’m fascinated with the way in which these little vans connect communities in ways that the myopic city government simply can’t comprehend.  Just one more anthill of activity that many overlook.

These protests came out of nowhere for the central government, but for the rest of Turkey, for the rest of us, those who love Turkey and who have called Istanbul home, they seem like a logical progression of events. The tighter the government squeezes, the bigger the explosion.

Turkey is not coming apart at the seams. This is a democracy functioning. The reactions of many members of the central government simply illustrate how out of touch they are with the wants and needs of the people.  I am so proud of my students, my friends, and my community for standing up for their beliefs.