Once upon a time in Istanbul


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"Streets and markets are not only routes of urban mobility, nor only places for trade. They are informal platforms for discussion and cultural development. Each one tells a small story that, if smartly integrated, will contribute to a genuine brand identity."

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  • Hai eduardo,hope you still know how i am
    my question is
    1. How become a local people if we don't understand how actually they are because we have limited time?
    2. What kind experience as local do?
    I interested with your idea,great work
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
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Once upon a time in Istanbul

  1. 1. Once upon a time in Istanbul Posted by Eduardo Oliveira on Oct 25, 2013 in City Brand, Field Trips, Nation Branding | 0 comments photo credit: Eduardo Oliveira Over the years I have become convinced that we learn best and change our way of thinking by hearing stories that strike a chord within us. As Tolstoy once said: ‘All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.’ We understand more of a road by travelling it than from all the descriptions in the world. Each journey is a narrative of life experience. Or at least it should be. But are the place authorities all over the world telling the right story about their own place? Does storytelling really matter when they wish to design a place brand?
  2. 2. Stories?! What stories? In the past two weeks my work has taken me to both Istanbul and Brussels. If I could summarise both trips in a single word, I would say – ‘storytelling.’ I will clarify this properly in a moment. While in Brussels, I attended the 4th European Conference on Public Communication at the European Parliament and Committee of the Regions. Europcom brought together public communications professionals from all over Europe with the common aim to improve government’s communication and raise awareness of European Union policies. From the discussions, I underlined the idea of ‘storytelling’ as a tool to enhance institutional reputation. By placing people and their stories at the centre of communication strategies, we can enhance territorial identity. The idea of territorial identity has now brought my thoughts to rest on Istanbul. I passionately believe that journeying to different places, especially where one is a stranger, fosters light and emotions. These emotions tie us to a country, a region or a city. If travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection, it should make us think and reflect. But in order to think, we should experience. And to experience we should do as the locals do. It seems a win-win situation for the visitor (by providing tourism as an activity) and for the inhabitants (communities where they live). The visitor becomes immersed in the local identity, and gets deeply involved with the communities. Streets, markets, bazaars, squares, and public spaces all tell stories. These stories do not replace facts, but instead fast-track them to a more memorable stage. It is of great value for a place brand when those that interact with that place retain certain assets in their minds. If they can reproduce the stories they heard, or relate their positive experiences to others, then the place’s reputation will be automatically enhanced. Istanbul has all the community assets, where tangible elements are fulfilled by intangible storylines that transport those who interact with them into an imaginarium of Turkey’s history.
  3. 3. photo credit: Eduardo Oliveira Every single trip to Istanbul is therapy for my soul. On each visit, I immerse myself in the city’s streets and markets. This kind of therapy happens though my integration with the local community and my habit of exploring less touristy places. The spirit of ‘Istanbul United’ makes me part of the frenzied atmosphere that shakes the city streets. The sounds of a ‘last minute musician’, the smell of roasted chestnuts, the voice of the ‘simit’ vendor that echoes in İstiklal Caddesi, the taste of pomegranate juice sipped while petting an enthusiastic cat. Narrow streets connect with backyards, with coffee shops, markets and historic buildings. All of this is uniquely Istanbul and can be nowhere else. When I am there, I let the stories unfold, making sure I stay receptive to interactions with them. For a spatial planner conducting research in place branding, and also a lover of Turkey, the intangible elements of a place have an enormous value. Streets and markets tell such valuable
  4. 4. stories to define a potential place brand or to re-imagine a place. The ‘genius loci’ is the neutral representation of Turkey and Istanbul’s authenticity, history and culture. It was perhaps a sign of my deep attachment to Istanbul that I felt almost frightened to hear locals discuss the recent transformations taking place in public spaces and central areas of the city. Some of those transformations are also mentioned on the blog post Through Istanbul’s Market Places by Freek Janssens (The ProtoCity editorial board). Janssens highlights the rapidly changing nature of the city’s character as the municipality authorities aim to ‘shake off its embarrassing image of informal urbanity.’ Lately, some political decisions in Istanbul have been shutting down periodic markets and pursuing street vendors, as I personally witnessed along the Galata Bridge. These markets and vendors are icons that bring the past to the present and make the city unique. I can have a sandwich in London, Lisbon or Paris – but I can’t have a fresh fish sandwich quite like that one bought from the Karaköy fish market, with its smells, and against the backdrop of the call to prayer. More than selling, the market traders are storytellers. They keep Istanbul’s spirit alive; they are the soul of the city.
  5. 5. Grand Bazaar | photo credit: Sam Mnx Now is a time where urban planning discussions are focused on re-imagining and re-organising the city. The focus is often on pedestrian power to shape the cities of the future, and on finding ways to build and maintain healthy public space,. But Istanbul seems to step back from this approach. The 13th Istanbul Biennial was dedicated to the power of public space in terms of social struggles, art and politics. A change in approach for public spaces is needed. Instead of re-organising the daily markets, the city authorities prefer to plan new shopping malls and other private real estate projects. The danger of this approach is to focus excessively on physical elements, while forgetting the human stories on which an imagined city could be based. A city needs re-organisation, a change from how it serves to who it serves. Every urban planning intervention should focus first and foremost on those who live there.
  6. 6. Getting rid of Istanbul’s public markets and street vendors means extinguishing a cultural vein of the city. And once they are gone, they cannot easily be brought back. The art of being a market trader, riding a sandwich pushcart, and bringing stories to daily life will be disappear along with the destruction of public spaces. Those stories are valuable elements that can enhance the uniqueness of the city. A great story lingers indelibly on the mind, whereas facts soon fizzle out. ‘Nar Suyu’ | photo credit: Sam Mnx Streets and markets are not only routes of urban mobility, nor only places for trade. They are informal platforms for discussion and cultural development. Each one tells a small story that, if smartly integrated, will contribute to a genuine brand identity. Often misunderstood as promotion, an effective place branding process must be strong enough to integrate all the communities.
  7. 7. Place branding is not about telling the world that our place is better. It is about making our place better, about keeping those who live there in mind, and telling the world that we are trying to improve. A place brand should first be created for those living in the place. With their involvement, engagement, and their stories the world will soon know how unique the place is. Perhaps more than storytelling, it’s people telling. Stories connect and tie people to places. Place branding could be thought of as a form of persuasive storytelling about the future. Urban narratives could become key for places to distinguish their assets in a globalised world. - See more at: http://placesbrands.com/once-upon-a-time-in-istanbul/#sthash.3klt62Y0.dpuf