The preservation and sustainable development of cultural landscapes require the active involvement of local communities in planning and management. This paper examines a case study of a community-driven heritage project in Philippi, Greece, a recently listed Unesco World Heritage Site. Initiated by a multidisciplinary youth research team, “Opsometha eis Philippous”, and adopted by the inhabitants of the area, this project outlines and assesses the research findings of how a local community can cooperate and participate in the planning and development of a cultural landscape.
“Opsometha eis Philippous” served as mediators between the local community and public bodies in order to encourage the means of a healthy dialog and ensure that this effort remains viable for future developments. Using various collaborative techniques, tools and workshops, “Opsometha eis Philippous” served as the intermediary between these cultural communities and operational bodies in manifesting this vision and giving it life. The study argues that adoption of a truly meaningful and sustainable management process requires educational and immersive techniques for the local community but also specific tools in order to viably communicate the civilians’ needs to the public sector. These immersive techniques and tools are subject to constant evaluation of the needs of the locals and the ways through which governmental bodies can address those needs.
The appointment of a young multifaceted team of professionals serves an integral role in performing the continuous bridging of the values of the cultural landscape with those of its occupants, and also in facilitating the process of identifying the community’s needs and coupling them with resources, policies and support given by the government. Hence, conscious evaluation of the heritage development and management process, together with a decision to support the local community aspirations, constitute integral aspects of successful endorsement and implementation from the local community.
The first phase outlines the roles of all encompassing stakeholders in their respective categories, and the second phase analyzes all tasks, tools and procedures as they progressively evolved through time, within the umbrella of the Viable System Model. The latter includes the case study of the “Philippi Park” as presented with the collection and analysis of empirical primary research. The results exemplified that the actions proved successful in securing community activation and helped interpret strategies through which an organization can diversify and manage a comparable project in sustainable development of a cultural landscape. Furthermore, the research portrayed an example of how the community can collaborate with research groups, non-governmental organizations, and public bodies, in order to achieve long term strategic planning for the improvement and expansion of its area.
This initiative was further strengthened by the unprecedented decision of all seven municipalities of Philippi’s cultural landscape to collaborate, participate, allocate resources in the endorsement of this strategic plan and pave the road for the development of the cultural landscape. Thus far, all stages culminating to the creation of the project, in tandem with the techniques and tools deployed, set the stage for a healthy and viable dialogue between the community and its public bodies.