Two days along the Melet Basin

Center for Spatial Justice – Ordu Environmental Association

As the Center for Spatial Justice (Mekanda Adalet Derneği – MAD), we organized a field trip we called the “environmental justice walk” with the Ordu Environmental Association (ORÇEV) in July 2018, pursuing the traces of water from the Ordu shoreline throughout the Melet Basin. Our sizeable team of lawyers, journalists, urban planners, architects, social scientists, environmental defenders, and a graphic designer, photographer, and documentary filmmaker spent three days surveying areas facing environmental threats, documenting the destruction wrought upon them.

ORÇEV works towards the preservation of Ordu’s ecological diversity for the enjoyment of future generations, through strategies such as collaborating with relevant organizations and institutions, putting forward suggestions to the authorities, filing environmental protection suits, and intervening in existing lawsuits. MAD, on the other hand, though Istanbul-based, conducts interdisciplinary work beyond the limits of Istanbul, with the overarching aim of living in just, democratic and ecological urban and rural spaces, and produces and disseminates innovative, top-notch, and public information to this end.

This joint endeavor carried out in a spirit of solidarity by two civil society organizations concerned with cultivating and preserving a healthy and safe environment was valuable for various reasons. First, the project treated environmental issues experienced in urban and rural settings as a whole. The environmental impacts of HEPPs, as well as quarries, mines, and road constructions, were evaluated in an integrated manner across the basin rather than as individual projects. It also brought together people from different professional backgrounds to contemplate environmental issues and engage in interdisciplinary production.

On the first day, we trekked about 15 kilometers from the harbor area in front of the church in Düzmahalle (west side of the Ordu shoreline) to the point where the Melet River meets the sea. Throughout the walk, we examined the zoning alterations carried out on the harbor and coastal fill areas, illegal fills, recreation areas and parks built by the municipality along the coast, and areas for sports converted to parking lots. On our second day we started where we had left off, at the estuary of the Melet River, and traversed Ordu’s largest water basin upwards from its bottom-most point over two days, seeking to reach the “eye of the spring.”

In this publication, which is one of the outputs of the trip, we attempt to present a combination of analog and digital data innovatively in line with our objectives of conducting research, mapping, and building a visual archive. To watch the videos shot at any particular location, you may scan the QR codes on the map on this site with a QR code reader that you can download to your mobile device. This site provides an account of the environmental impacts of projects such as dams and HEPPs, quarries, mines, divided highways, and tunnels on a water basin of critical importance to Ordu, as well as the stories of the abandoned dogs we encountered at the construction sites of such projects along the way. While exploring the Melet River and its many tributaries, large and small, and taking record of the water control structures and all other human-made structures built across the basin, our purpose was to reflect on the area in an integrated manner to scratch beyond the surface. We share this record of “integrated river basin destruction” not as a lament for what has been lost but with the hope that struggles for justice in urban and rural spaces will grow and proliferate.