Validebağ Volunteers Association was founded in the year 2001. But the activities of Validebağ Volunteers started in 1995 as a series of conversations about usual local problems under the leadership of Mr. Cafer Koç, the mouhtar (elected local authority) of Altunizade neighborhood. Then, this initiative spread over to the other 3 neighborhoods (Acibadem, Barbaros and Kosuyolu) since the Validebag Grove became the battlefield of rentiers. Our points of interest vary a lot: From objections to the high rates of real estate tax to preservation of the Validebag Grove, from preparation to natural disasters (such as earthquake) to struggle against base stations of GSM phones. But they are always about our neighborhoods and we are always attentive to preserve greenery, environment, historical monuments and to behave in accordance with laws without forgetting respect for human beings and all creatures. Although we dont have many members, we have a potential of a few hundred people that we can motivate by phone or e-mail chain in a short time and all of them are active people. Besides, according to the results of a questionnaire that we executed a few months ago, a great majority of 80,000 people living in the 4 neighborhoods, share our ideas. For years, we have been publishing and distributing periodically a bulletin for our neighborhood. We established an e-mail group of about 90 people for a fast and effective communication between our members and supporters. We have fulfilled 2 signature campaigns in which we collected more than 10,000 signatures altogether. We have contributed to the census of trees and birds in the Validebag Grove. Since 1995 we have been organizing a neighborhood festival which includes picnic, concerts, plays, open bazaars during the daytime and a film show in the night reviving the open air cinemas of the past. We have taken and given courses about preparations to natural disasters including training of trainers. In 2004, our project aiming to raise consciousness about environment was accepted by European Commission Delegation to Turkey.
Our activities covered by the project are : Other than the above mentioned questionnaire, we organized a forum of 350 people on April 22, 2005 and a panel discussion on May 21, 2005. Mayor of Uskudar, Istanbul local authority from Ministry of National Education, Istanbul Chamber of Architects, academicians related with forestry and a representative of volunteers participated in the panel discussion. Both of these activities indicated a very vivid environmental consciousness in our neighborhoods and were very fruitful. A booklet will be published to sum up our activities before the end of the project.
More detailed information about our association and initiative can be found at our web site www.validebag.org which we have established in the coverage of the project.