Blogger Ilya Varlamov calls Penza caring people’s city
Penza, 20 May 2015. PenzaNews. On Wednesday afternoon, May 20 Russian top blogger Ilya Varlamov posted an article in Live Journal titled “Good Penza.”
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The activist described the positive aspects of the city, which he visited last weekend, May 16-17, at the initiative of the organizers of the festival “Jazz May.”
“Penza is in the first lines of my personal rating of Russian cities. Penza is magnificent, exquisite. Why have I lived for 31 years without ever visiting Penza? Do you know what the most good about Penza is? The people! The Penza residents call themselves ‘penzyaki’ or ‘penzentsy’ [in Russian], whatever you like the most. I have never seen such caring, responsible citizens. And I never thought I’d be writing something like that one day,” the online activist noted.
Ilya Varlamov added that this is the first city where he witnessed such a level of self-organization in a local society.
“Everything is fantastically clean, the yards are neat, there are flowers everywhere, there are cozy small places where you can relax. You’d think they have a good mayor here? No. Though the mayor has changed some time ago, so there is a chance that something will change. But so far the people do everything on their own. They collect the money, plant flowers, shoo the drunks and hooligans away. Each city has such yards with an indifferent activist who takes everything into his or her own hands. Now imagine a city where every yard, every block of flats has such people. That would be Penza!” Ilya Varlamov wrote.
According to him, the real experts on city beautification “can be found sitting on some bench near a house entrance.”
“These old ladies know the best about the problems of the city environment, public transport, housing and so on. Even the mayor is more likely to not see the city life from the windows of his car. But they know and see it all. Where the road is worn out, or the traffic lights are not working well, or a bench is missing. If they make the city comfortable and convenient for them, all other residents will feel it too,” the blogger noted.
He added that those seeking to understand exactly what the residents need should simply visit any yard and see what the locals do on their own.
He cited the example of the benches set facing each other or placed at right angles, which Penza residents install on their own near their blocks of flats.
“People do not want to see parking areas under their windows. In Penza, I saw a lot of houses where people installed some barriers and blocked the driveways to the house entrances. If you need to park, use the designated parking lot and go home on foot. An amazing phenomenon. The residents decided to keep the yards car-free on their own! I do not know any other city practicing such an approach,” the activist added.
Ilya Varlamov noted that in contrast to this, all new apartment buildings “come with huge parking lots right under the windows.”
“Now, the yard gardens. Also a very good thing. Take the many vacant spaces found by any block of flats. Why not let people have this wasteland for themselves? Take a look at this house: there could be a dump behind it. Instead, everything is neat and tidy, and the people are growing flowers, currants and some vegetables. By the way, the woman cultivating this garden said that there was not a single time that someone stole from the garden,” Ilya Varlamov added, illustrating his words with a photo.
He also suggested that the residents of Penza do not need a mayor, governor and other officials, as they keep their yards clean and collect money for landscaping.
“A very cool thing is a barbecue area in the yard. If you properly equip it and choose the right place, it will make the yard a lot better. People will start learning about each other. A bad official, reading these lines, would think: ‘Yeah, if you make such a barbecue area, people will go drinking and trash the place!’ Here is a typical mentality of an official who believes his society is some pigsty,” the blogger noted.
The activist called attention to the large number of elements of the past on the streets, such as memorial plaques, old signs, wooden poles, and beautiful street lamps.
He also dedicated a passage to Moskovskaya street that is open for pedestrians, the restored Spassky Cathedral and the cinema and concert hall “Penza.”
“Penza trolleybus and bus fare is 13 rubles using the transport card or 14 rubles if you pay by cash. Private bus fare is more expensive: 16-17 rubles. But they are still much more popular than the municipal transport. By the way, the municipal enterprise ‘Penza Passenger Transportation’ recently went bankrupt, and many drivers and conductors were dismissed (over 1,000 people in total). Currently the trolley bus park is controlled by ‘Penzalift,’ an elevator managing company. In my opinion, this is also unique for Russia,” he wrote.
Ilya Varlamov noted that Penza has a lot of unique wooden buildings; however, they are in bad condition, except museums.
“By the way, this weekend Penza hosts a workshop dedicated to restoration of wooden houses. Surprisingly, it was an initiative of the new mayor. At present, the houses were transferred to municipal ownership, and business will be offering solutions for their restoration and further use. Hopefully it will go well and the houses will not be crippled,” the online activist added.
The article also includes a few complimentary words about Jazz May festival and the lawn laid just for the event on the square by the cinema and concert hall.
“Penza is a stunning city. When someone tells you ‘But we have nice people,’ you may boldly reply: ‘They are better in Penza!’” Ilya Varlamov summed up.
As PenzaNews agency reported earlier, Ilya Varlamov published an article about the shortcomings in Penza on Tuesday, May 19. In his article, he mentioned the destroyed underpass at the railway station Penza-1, the eclectic modern urban architecture, the careless attitude to historic buildings and a large number of illegal trash dumps.