The Forum itself was very interesting. The lectures, talks and roundtables themselves were fascinating, and represented in and of themselves, a modern “Peter the Great” approach to the redevelopment of Russia’s rustbelt. There were many foreigners invited to the Forum, who were asked to give their input on 1) the Financial Crisis, and 2) the development of Perm, the city.
There were two presentations that struck me the most. The first was David Barrie, a documentary film producer from the UK who had recently begun working on redeveloping communities through simple social projects such as public art, playgrounds, new architectural designs, that provided some sort of impetus and improvement to the functioning of the community of an area. He spoke on this topic with such charisma and enthusiasm, and showed a true desire to try to bring people together in communities, who were otherwise alone, isolated, or simply bored.
While my current project is of a different character, I was inspired by his charisma and desire to bring people together across man-made walls that separate people within a community, a desire that is parallel to my own. Ultimately, I think the same desire is the driving force behind my own project. I know that there is a common tie between Orthodox in America and in Russia, and other countries around the world, and I want us to come together! There is no reason we should not be more aware of each other, and come to a better of understanding of our different cultures, through our friendship across common bonds.
The second presentation, or person, that was very striking, was an Urban Economics Professor from Holland, Erik. I actually was able to sit down and have a relatively long chat with him about cities, and the work of developing a “perception” of a city before he gave his presentation. It is so interesting to think about how you think about a city have never visited in person, and why you think that way about that city. Especially considering the sources for any formation of a perception, one quick scene in a movie, a positive sentence in a history book in grade school about the city, a negative comment on the street, an advertisement about a product from the city, it is interesting about how well-developed our perception can be from such a small input. This presentation, along with the others at the conference, sparked the old flame for “urban planning”, one that would be continuously stoked by the places I would visit soon afterward.
Overall the Forum was an incredibly interesting event, and I’m glad I had the chance to go.