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The hromada as a social and
spatial phenomenon

"The hromadas' interest in development is a guarantee of the country's economic crisis resolving".
(Hennadii Zubko, Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine. 14.01.2016)

"The amalgamation of hromadas leads to the Ukrainian village and the entire Ukrainian economy revival".
(Volodymyr Hroisman, Prime Minister of Ukraine, 09.02.2016)

"50% of state money ought to be concentrated in hromadas so that the hromada has the opportunity to decide in what way to live". (Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, 10.11.2017)

"The Hostynnyi dvir must be transferred to the capital hromada's property".
(Vitalii Klychko, Mayor of Kiev, 10.05.2018)

"In Zaporizhzhia the hromada has demolished a construction fence. The city is fighting for a park that was cut off for the sake of the shopping mall". (TV News Service (ТNS), 10.08.2018)

"The hromadas are waiting for the systematical legislative regulations in the urban planning field".
(Oleksandr Slobozhan, the executive director of the Ukrainian cities Association, 22.08.2018)

The term "hromada" (territorial community, Ukr) is used increasingly often to describe the policies of urban and regional development in Ukraine. For the most part, the hromada in this context is considered as a well-established territorial community, capable of forming an independent position on key issues of local development, and is ready to take joint action to solve common problems. The hromada can both act on the forefront of a local social and political life, being almost identical with the notion of local self-government, and also be in the opposition, sometimes spontaneous, to decisions and processes that contradict the interests of its members.

A trigger point for the current wave of interest to hromadas can be considered April 2014, when the adoption of the Concept of reform of local self-government and the territorial organization of power in Ukraine actually initiated the authority decentralization reform in Ukraine. The most prominent step that was undertaken was the process of hromadas' amalgamation, which continues today. According to the Ministry of Regional Development in August 2018, already 803 amalgamated hromadas have been formed [1], which is about 66% of approved long-term government's plans. The process of city, village and village councils amalgamation means not only the consolidation of territorial units but also a new redistribution of funds between state and local budgets and the creation of a new scale of the basic social infrastructure, education and health care.

Actually, the point is that the newly formed amalgamated hromadas can become the basis of the new country's administrative-territorial system and the basic unit of the settlement system. In addition to this, on the hromada level, the so-called principle of "locality" will be implemented, which ensures the management of land outside the settlements for local self-government bodies. Regional spatial development, the retaining of the turbulent decline of the demography level in small towns and rural settlements, the provision of the social infrastructure functioning on the ground - far from being a complete list of areas of responsibility of newly formed hromadas.

Meanwhile, at the level of detached settlements, especially large cities, hromadas of different levels - from the group of residents of the newly built residential complex to the territorial hromada of the city, the district or the city as a whole - are increasingly referred to in the context of local development policies. Those references primarily concern local (and often futile) resistance to uncontrolled construction and compaction of urban space, but also about the distribution of the local development budget parts into projects for which the "hromada" can vote in the framework of the participatory budgeting process.

[1] 98 hromadas are still expecting of the CEC decision to allocate the first elections.
Localized at different levels and management scales,
in the territorial context of city, village or region, the socio-spatial phenomenon of hromada will become the central focus of the CANactions School for Urban Studies in the academic year 2018-19.
Localized at different levels and management scales,
in the territorial context of city, village or region, the socio-spatial phenomenon of hromada will become the central focus of the CANactions School for Urban Studies in the academic year 2018-19.

Launching the comprehending of the hromada as the subject of Ukrainian territories management is possible by the returning to Geneva back in 1878. At that time, Mykhailo Drahomanov, dismissed from the Kyiv University, has founded a magazine "Hromada", which existed till 1882 and consisted of five collections of fiction and journalistic texts. The first miscellany contained the Introduction "Foreword to the "Hromada", where the publishers appealed to Ukrainian readers separated by the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires and in particular, taught their political program.
"In political affairs we are anxious about:

Equal rights for every person, both men and guys,
women and girls of all breeds (races)
The indispensable will of word, print and science, assembly and communities
Unhindered self-government (autonomy) for every community in its affairs
Full autonomy of association (federation) of communities throughout Ukraine."

Collection cover "Hromada"
the image is taken from a copy stored in the library of the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University.
Referring to the sense of the "hromada", Dragomanov directly points the identity as a doctrine of "civility" and socialism and grippingly refers to the experience of the "hromada's" (labor) movement in England and Ireland. This parallelism completely coincided with the spirit of the time when the great industrial cities of Victorian England were most severely confronted with the urban slum crisis, overpopulation and the food crisis, being in complete dependence on imports of food from colonies.

Being rather afraid of the revolution, the intellectuals of that time were looking for new ways of resettlement, which would weaken public tension and allow to revive a self-sufficient economic system. The utopian concept by the Ebenezer Howard called "garden-city" was one of such measures which included the creation of new settlements along the municipal boundary of London, built on the cooperation of members of the community, which created a common fund for development and at the expense of accumulated funds, initially paid the cost of land, and later - used received through rent of land and houses money for philanthropic purposes. To provide vacancies the community sought an investor who would have agreed to localize its production facilities within its borders.

The "garden-city"concept by Ebenezer Howard (1902)

Illustration of Walter Krystaler's theory of "central location" depicts the dependency on the number, location and size of settlements in the settlement system.
Howard's social and economic model of community, after receiving a well-known representation in a concentric circles of settlements and green belts scheme, became the basis for the emergence of the city-planning concept of the satellite city and along with the idea of Geddes's conurbation, the Kristaller's theory of the "central place", classical projects of the regional plans by Abercrombie and those by American group RPAA (Regional Planning Association of America) led to the regional planning discipline emergence.

The idea of a network of self-sufficient but interconnected community settlements is reflected in a range of modern national settlement systems (like the Unified Settlement Plan for India) and regional plans. For instance, the Helsinki City Plan that was adopted in 2013 presents a city-region vision by 2050 that can be formulated as a network of self-contained and compact community settlements connected by high-speed public transport together with green and blue natural corridors.
The need in a compact, comfortable, human-scale environment with numerous centers of activities and urban lifestyle - entertainment and consumerism, are articulated in the Plan and suggests a combination of ideas of the city-region with a range of ideas associated with the so-called "New Urbanism". The canonical and fascinating description of Greenwich Village's life, compiled by Jane Jacobs in "The Life and Death of Great American Cities", has led to the search for a spatial form for such a cohesive and harmonious community by many architects. At the urban planning level, the ideas of New Urbanism lie in the consistent critique of the modernist city with its division of territories into functions and the separation of these functions in space, which in particular gave rise to the sprawl of cities and the formation of endless suburbs.

The Greater London Plan by Sir Patrick Abercrombie (1944)
The sketches of Leon Krier, an architect and leading theoretician of the New Urbanism, are criticizing the modernist planning and division of the city into functional zones.
With the massive withdrawal of large industrial enterprises from Europe to developing countries, the development of the abandoned industrial sites through mixed-development projects and the formation of new residential areas and communities became a common recipe in the 80's and 90's. Hafencity in Hamburg and Västra Hamnen in Malmö are only a few significant examples of this process. Quite swiftly with the problem solving of changing the function of the territory from industrial to residential one, a lot of such projects, however, face difficulties trying to implement other types of functions - public, commercial, industrial together with the organization of working places in the new development, repeating the fate of many projects of the Howard garden-city sample, which were transformed from a production cooperative into quiet monofunctional suburbs.

Concluding the consideration of the "city of communities" project with the Helsinki City Plan, it's worth mentioning another ideological scheme that the authors call the basis of the document. It is claimed to be based upon the book "The Rise of the Network Society" by the sociologist Manuel Castells, a part of trilogy narrating the role of information in post-modern society. The imposition of the notions of information, technology and social network on the established image of the community raises the question - Can we still speak today about the same territorial community united by established cultural codes and locked with the idea of a nuclear family in its basis?

The general concept of Helsinki city-region plan till 2050 (2013)
Going back from "community" to "hromada", it is also necessary to fix this term in the Ukrainian historical and cultural tradition. In the 19th century the term was both used for a grounded peasant association with the general assembly as a guiding tool for collective decision-making, as well as for political organization of Ukrainian bourgeois intelligentsia formed in the cities of Ukraine and abroad (as the Kyiv community, a member of which was Dragomanov). This conceptual gap between the city and the countryside was also observed in ethnographic studies, which for a long time focused on peasantry as the exclusive carrier of ethnic tradition and community spirit.
The roots of this idea might be found for instance in the dispersed (strewn) system of the settlement of agrarian Ukraine which until the forced industrialization, dated by the beginning of the XX century, was based on the village settlement system, where even traditionally urban trading activity was localised in migrating fairs.

Searching for a new support for the modern system of resettlement in the amalgamated territorial hromada after the forced collectivization of the Ukrainian village, the Holodomor and other upheavals of the XX century appears to be a tricky task with numerous "X"s until the social and spatial coordinates of the modern hromada remain uncertain.

The illustration of the "Sorochinsky Fair" novella by M. Hohol
artist — Kostiantyn Trutovskyi (1874–1876), holds in the collection of the Sumy Regional Art Museum.
Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, CANactions will explore and disclose various aspects of the hromada as a social and spatial phenomenon.
Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, CANactions will explore and disclose various aspects of the hromada as a social and spatial phenomenon.
Text: Yegor Vlasenko


1. Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society: The Information Age: Economy Society and Culture, Vol. 1. Wiley, Oxford, 1996.

2. Howard, Ebenezer. Garden Cities of To-morrow. Routledge, 2013.

3. Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Vintage, 1992.

4. Krier, Léon. The architecture of community. Island Press, 2009.

5. Гримич, М. (Ред.). (2016). Антропологія простору: збірник наукових праць (Т. 1). Київ: Дуліби

6. Драгоманов, Михайло. «Переднє слово (до «Громади» 1878)». Вибране («... мій задум зложити очерк історії цивілізації на Україні»)/Упоряд. та авт. іст.-біогр. нарису РС Міщук (1991).

7. Паламарчук, Л. С. «Академічний тлумачний Словник української мови». Слово і фразеологізм у словнику (1980): 4-22.

Електронні ресурси:

8. Helsinki City Plan I Vision for 2050. Retrieved from:

9. Моніторинг процесу децентралізації влади та реформи місцевого самоврядування станом на 10 серпня 2018. Доступно за посиланням: