Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, with a population well over twelve million people. The crowded city strains all aspects of planning and management, from waste disposal to neighborhood security. Hundreds of thousands of new arrivals put stress on the social fabric of established neighborhoods, creating tensions that existing institutions struggle to resolve. Moreover, municipal authorities and professional architects currently have a monopoly over what buildings are constructed, demolished, or restored in Turkish cities. Korhan Gumus reacted to this by forming city watch groups from local coalitions of citizens, authorities, and experts to guide urban planning in the cities of Turkey. He organizes these city watch groups through action plans that address the problems of their neighborhoods. Volunteer experts including university professors, private architects and experienced planners guide the first step of the course. Their weekly workshops attract concerned citizens, municipal leaders, and everyone else involved.
He then instructs these groups in participatory models of urban planning, teaching them strategies for mapping and risk management, and encouraging them to preserve green spaces and historical sites. Through his programs, neighbors meet each other and develop a shared sense of stewardship over the spaces they inhabit. Professionals and municipal authorities learn to value input from citizens.