With a rough hissing, a missile passes over buildings and people. A few seconds later, everything shakes: hearts, voices, eyes and imaginations. It is the 2011 war, which broke out after the militarization of the revolution and issuance of UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, to protect civilians.

My region’s buildings are perforated by bullets and anti-aircraft missiles as Republic Street (one of the main streets in Tripoli) experienced the largest amount of NATO’s battleships and aircraft missiles.

With a rough hissing, a missile passes over buildings and people. A few seconds later, everything shakes: hearts, voices, eyes and imaginations. It is the 2011 war, which broke out after the militarization of the revolution and issuance of UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, to protect civilians.

My region’s buildings are perforated by bullets and anti-aircraft missiles as Republic Street (one of the main streets in Tripoli) experienced the largest amount of NATO’s battleships and aircraft missiles.

There are also the hotbeds of tension that constituted an important joint in the conflict, including gas stations, more than fifteen mosques, the Central Hospital (Ibn al-Nafees) and thousands of young people, unemployed and living in dilapidated houses.

The scene today is extremely ambiguous and militarized, far more than we ever intended and over a period of time long enough to fix the image of the military shoe and speckled uniform as a reality that would eventually impose a truce with what we rebelled against.

Imagine you were the president of your residential area, what would you do to make it better?

This is the question I posed with a bit of enthusiasm, to help me get away from the lifeless, frustrating news. Two years have passed, but no plan for a civilian society, free of security and armed aspects has been conducted. I called this question the beginning of the answer about the future and the ideas that could be translated into projects.

I tried to spread my question over a larger patch of my personal dreams related to ruins, some of which were rehabilitated to be a place of new troops, such as camp 77, other places of personal importance were turned into a garbage dump and spots favorable for all kinds of insects and demeaned behaviors and, unfortunately, a place for some citizens. I tried to reach as many possible cities as I could (parts of the same camp) via participants who chose not to ignore my curiosity or rather my infantile idea amid the adult’s game.

Two years after the overthrow of Gaddafi, Libya is still a closed box of sand, a regime of tents that have not been folded yet and a barbed wire around the remaining arms and humans.

Mohammed Suheim, Benghazi

I believe, even in wishful thinking, that the names of neighborhoods and streets “should be”, even partly with their old owners, after scientists, intellectuals, figures of the renaissance and enlightenment (of all nationalities), contributors to the independence of Libya, clerics known for their goodness and charity, some public distinctive figures in all fields and professions in addition to some names from our history throughout the ages! I would like to neighbor many cafes, at least two libraries, a theater, a cinema and a public transport station. I believe what improves people’s lives is to take them out of the Libyan routine as families could find a place on the street outside their walls without being wary of all forms of danger, a space to exercise life and get more entertainment and knowledge through unfamiliar ways! I dream that people would stop observing each other and learn to satisfy themselves rather than satisfying the others!

B. H. (preferred not to disclose location)                                         

Cultural centers and public libraries are what attracts me. I hope one day to be a president of even a neighborhood in the furthest areas of Libya. I dream of a cultural center in which there is no extremism or tutelage and where everyone who reads a book discusses it with me or with the center’s pioneers and of encouraging scouts to the fullest, giving them all the possibilities since it is the most successful civil organization so far.

Hass , Tripoli

I come from the Friday Market area where we dream to have a modern and sophisticated library. Two years since the revolution and all we have accomplished is a traffic light.

We need a hospital and good health center, a cultural center, a shopping mall, roads maintenance and schools.

Salma Mokhtar, Benghazi        

If I were president of my region, I would be keen to establish cultural forums where families meet to read. I would encourage women to attend these forums and organize clubs to discuss the books read. I would create yards and small gardens as an outlet for walking and jogging. I would have also organize meetings of the region’s population to discuss their problems and events and would force each homeowner to plant pots in their balcony and a tree in front of their house! I would have paid attention to young kids who drop out of school and try to bring them back to study. In a neighborhood filled with garbage bags, sewage and dirt roads, where electricity is less than 220 volt, all what is written above seems just a difficult, even almost impossible, dream for my region at least.

Salah Eddin Ibrahim, Benghazi

I live in the Dollar district on the Airport Road, Benghazi. In my opinion, the solution is to turn the page on the past and seek a desirable future through reconciliation between all the people, getting away from personal ambitions, revenge and accusations of treason and to respect the opinion of others, regardless of being contrary to ours. Who has a right will take it by the law. Inherently, what makes a human being is the interaction between environment and genetics. In other words family and society as proper upbringing and education will result in a good citizen.

Issa Abdul Gayoo, Benghazi 

If I were president of my Al-Sabri, I would have invited people to civil disobedience to overthrow any figure obstructing the establishment of the civil state. I am sure that no starting point I may propose will see the light in their presence.

Ibrahim Rashid, Benghazi

The Libyan situation compels us to only dream of activating the security system (police, army, prosecution) and go to war if we have to in order to achieve this goal; activating the justice system (judiciary, civil society organizations) which is supposed to be led by lawyers and legal experts not adolescents and extremists as in our case); activating services system (government, state institutions, departments) and activating the freedom system (media, culture, literature, art, entertainment). If we assumed that the state exists and the basics are incontestable, the dream will change completely. For me, the dream will focus on two things, building the human and “aesthetic” architecture of cities. Human building will focus on critical, interactive education, including education outside of school and on the cultural construction and encouragement of innovation. As for architecture, I wish to rebuild our cities according to a new aesthetic and sophisticated perceptions, to build theaters, stadiums, cinema, opera houses, museums, markets and hotels, to spread gardens and parks and to prosper tourism. I think that our ugly surroundings have greatly contributed to limiting our ability to discover the beauty within us and others.

Anwar Baza, Tripoli

Our region, Qarji, like other regions, has suffered poor conditions during the liberalization period. There was no money, no food, no water, no safety and not even electricity, but we did not feel at any moment that we were in need of those things because at that stage we simply cooperated with each other. We did not allow such deficiencies to overcome us as we were like “one big house” that has everything. After that phase was over, we came back to our previous state where many people closed their homes and were scattered here and there. Unfortunately, the first thing I would do is to fabricate a crisis similar to that to make those scattered houses “one big house” again.

Kareem Al- Arabi, Gheryan

I am from Gheryan suburbs (Rabita). As soon as I take power, I will work on three parallel lines. The first line is to develop the administrative apparatus through the elimination of bureaucracy, achieving the best services in the shortest possible time. Second, since the economy is the backbone of life, I will work on the development of industries relying on domestic crude material (pottery, for example). I will also work on horizontal and vertical expansion in planting that fits Gheryan’s climate, especially olive trees, in addition to the development of existing projects that would be a breadbasket for the entire western region (live valley project, Abu Shaybah rain-fed project, Abu Shaybah grain project, Abu Shaybah productive project – mountain foot project, Gharyan heights project, Alqdama project… etc.). I will also establish more water dams due to their importance in providing water. Animal production will also gain interest especially since the semi-pastoral area is able to accommodate an unlimited number of cattle. Tourism also needs to be revived because it attracts significant income in an area that enjoys a mild climate and fascinating mountain nature. The third line, which may be the first in terms of importance, is human development through rehabilitation of all the components of society in line with their mental and physical potentials, relying on the experiences of modern schools and experts in this field. In my opinion, these are the main lines that would change Gharyan’s landmarks.

Sulieman Kashout, Tripoli

My area is Gout Al-Shaal, the third largest neighborhood in Tripoli that includes more than 90,000 people. It is the west gateway of Tripoli and contains the entrances to the most important main roads in the city. I would build a wonderful architectural design at the main entrances of the neighborhood and exploit this architecture to write a number of slogans related to human development. I would conduct a comprehensive maintenance for the neighborhood’s compound to make it a large hospital containing all specialties, an emergency room and recovery departments. I would open a large central pharmacy supported by public and private pharmaceutical companies. Then, I would reform the 14 schools scattered around the neighborhood and enforce a united paint color and a uniform for male and female pupils and teachers. I would personally select the schools’ principals with periodic follow-up and enact education and innovation laws to allocate the first five-minutes of all classes for ethics and the rest for scientific curriculum. I would bring back cultural classes like theater, music, sports and library and impose them as basic classes that are included in the entire grade level. I would reorganize, maintain and develop the large popular market known as Jerusalem Market and ensure security and safety there.

I would divide the neighborhood into four main areas and give a number to each address, street, alley and house. I would build a flagpole in a public large square and the neighborhood Scouts would greet the flag twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.

I would conduct a social survey of the entire neighborhood population and open a villager bank allocated for development and providing youth loans to help them set up their independent projects. I would establish a council or parliament in the neighborhood, elected by the four areas, and seats distributed according to the population census of the neighborhood’s four areas. The task of the parliament would be to consider the neighborhood’s affairs, develop plans and perspectives and monitor the district head’s appointed by the state.

Abdel Mawla Sharif, Azzawiyah

The most important thing going on in my mind now is focusing on humanities and enlightenment in Zawiyah in particular and Libya in general. It is simply a reading club project over one full day a month including poetry recitation in the morning, since we have people who write and wait for an opportunity, and a discussion seminar on any intellectual or literal subject in the evening. It is good to have an opportunity to have an hour to read in Martyrs’ Square. More importantly, we only wish that young readers who are now discussing existential matters to be smarter than “Hallaj” and their dreams continue on.

Sarah Mohammed, Tripoli

My street is in one of Tripoli’s slums, Bilkheir, not only because it was built randomly, but also because it is what was left of Tripoli following the departure of the Italians, followed by the departure of those who inherited these houses and have since become rich. Only poor families have remained who have come from Egypt in the 1960s and 1970s for education and then became nationalized Libyans, or those with Libyan fathers and Moroccan mothers. Therefore, it is a mixed and cosmopolitan street, but unlike all other mixed areas, these immigrants with Libyan children do not demonstrate their culture, but frequently embrace the Libyan one to avoid being associated to their origins. Unfortunately, there are no statistics, but I see young people falling slowly with the increase of drug addicts in the streets where you might see someone today with a cane and tomorrow in a wheelchair and then he disappears. When you ask, you learn that he either died from an overdose, receiving treatment at a poor hospital or in jail. This is the street I know. Girls drop out of school at an early age, and for absence of statistics, I cannot say whether it is a high or low rate, but I hear that many girls born in the mid-nineties are married despite being minors.

My vision for this street is a youth center or youth house, a way to absorb unemployment and spread awareness. We should ask why does educational productivity of these alleys decline and why do drugs spread? Why do not we have social rescue schemes to avoid its transformation into time bombs towards either criminal or religious extremism? We could avoid such end by establishing a research center that would conduct appropriate studies to understand the street and young people. Allocating a budget to conduct a sociological study is the first step to be taken now.