Here goes some of the most important happenings for Open Mind that have happened over the past year
1. Reparation the Chitalishte:
We started fundraising projects for a new roof for the chitalishte (community center) in Shipka and restoration of the old chitalishte building.
The idea is to find people that could help chitalishte with donations (for donations and to know more about what was done yet, click here) to buy wooden material, membrane and nails. Part of the roof was restored, but a lot of work still have to be done and all donations that can be done will be very much appreciated.
In the end of the year some builders came to help us with the hard work of rebuilding the roof of the Chitaliste.
Chitalishte is home to a gallery and a library and is host to events about literature, music, culture in general and, also, regular classes of traditional bulgarian dances, being an important place to keep all the traditional practices alive.
In our garden, new beds were created and after mulched, to keep the water in the soil for more time and to promote the biodiversity in the soil (fungus, bacteria, insects and other living beings that work together to have a healthy and oxygenated soil), creating them in a way which the water channels that come from the river can irrigate them when needed. The biodiversity increased and we became a bit more sustainable, having bigger harvests in the garden. As example: potatoes, carrots, basil, tomatoes, beans, kale, onions, cabbage, coriander, plums, pears, apples, figs, topinambos, etc. To close part of the organic cycle and to have a fast way of creating good soil for propagations and seeds, we made a hot compost in our garden. Other activities took place in the garden, as: grafting, making a combination of a raised bed with a swale, pruning, chop and drop, saving wood to use in the stove for the winter, using the bamboo that growns in our garden for the construction of the chicken area door, etc.
We finished the grey water system that was designed in a way that the output water of the washing machine will end in our garden, in the soil near the fig tree, which is a water and organic matter lover, and close to some of the veggie beds.
We start building Café and installing electricity and water circuits, lights and cupboards with work space and a sink. We made a nice place to seat outdoor in front of the Café, where we had some embroidery workshops. It’s a work that will take some time to finish, so it is planned to be finished until the summer of this year.
4. Shipka fest:
This was our biggest event of the last year in Shipka. On the main street around the museum were many stands with art and craft, food or rose products. Around the museum were happening craft workshops (for example pottery, blacksmith, soap making, weaving carpets on loom and others). For children we had also prepared the treasure hunt and tour with horses. In Chitalishte was place for cinema and music programme. We did a rose oil making ritual, that was a performance of traditional celebration of rose picking with music and dances. Additionally we had an opening of exhibition of posters about Bulgarian alphabet in Chitalishte.
Eileen organized for us a basic course about Permaculture and we shared knowledge about what is permaculture and what are the ethics and the principles. At home we are trying our best to follow the permaculture principles in the garden as well as in our lifes, because permaculture is not only about sustainable gardening, is much broad than that, including community living, sustainable choices, respect the nature, etc…
6. Wake up:
We spend one week at the Wake Up Festival. This festival takes place in the Rhodopes Mountains near Plovdiv every year. In the festival Michael and Ophelie helped Ivan at the Tea bar. They help during one week to build the bar and to serve Tea Masala to the people. Some of us, also organised some discussions groups. Axel did a talk about his Coming Out and how to affirm his homosexuality and Tatyana did a talk about the Natural Birth.
7. Zero waste lifestyle:
At home we try to reduce waste at the maximum and we try our best to create our own products.
We create the dishwashing product and now we have our homemade washing machine product, we created Tawashi Sponges with old clothes for the dishes and we still keep in mind to be Zero Waste so we refuse (plastic packages, plastic bags and excessive packages, for example) and reuse (at home we have a lot of glass jars) and to always improve in this way.
8. Cleanup day:
In order to engage in the World Cleanup day, a program aimed to combat the solid waste that threatens, directly or indirectly, all the ecosystems, we created an event in Shipka in order to clean the path, as much as possible, between the Ethnographic Museum in Shipka and the Shipka Monument. In the end of the activity we had something like 12 big bags full of trash.
During the summer around 20 volunteers from other ESC short term project came to help our project. The weather was amazing so they managed to stay in our garden for 3 days with tents and during those days they put a lot of energy in the organization, cleaned the Chitalishte, helped to change the design in the chicken area at our home, cooked amazing food and a lot of knowledge, ideas, smiles, love, good moments, stories and cultural differences were shared.
In the end of the year volunteers from SAP, a software company, came to help our project. They stayed with us 2 days to help with the ceiling of the Library in the Chitaliste, to reorganize the archive, to repair the identification sign for the Chitalishte building and to paint wall near the Thracian tombs in Shipka where we put an information sign about Shipka later.
10. Events with kids:
In a way to entertain kids and to break the borders between countries, we organized a event in the front of Museum where we shared some of the games from our childhood with everyone that wanted to appear (kids). It was nice to fortify friendships with local kids and to share different games to them and to know their games. Also, we went to a primary school in Kazanlak where we paint some games in the floor and met some of those kids, with whom we try to explain which countries we come from.
11. Regular activities in Golden Apple school:
We started to go every week to the alternative school, Golden Apple, in Kazanlak to involve children in the Waste Management.
And what did we do? For example: We crafted glass bottles, we picked up the garbage around the school, we create together cream with organic coconut oil and olive oil, etc.
12. Great life in community
At home, we (volunteers, Tanya, which is the coordinator of the project, the daughter of Tanya and the animals) work to have good connections between us and to work well as community and the results are pretty good. As community, we should think as a group and puting sometimes your individual needs in the second priority, trying to reach the collective goals, for that ambition, we need to share some responsabilities as: cooking schedule (for the lunch, usually) that allows us to try amazing foods from the others, house cleaning (we manage to do in one day, at the same time, the cleaning of the house, spliting the house in parts and finding someone responsible for one part), doing the dishes, opening and closing the chickens, etc.
Together we look for a healthy lifestyle and to be sustainable, that makes us incredible happy. To achieve it, we do our best to have good meals (mainly vegetables), we inform ourselves in order to choose the right products for our lifes and not being contaminated, we give freedom to everyone to express themselves and to share ideas, experiences and knowledges between us and, as part of a healthy lifestyle, we share a lot of love, we celebrate our lifes, practicing non-violent communication, without hierarchy and trying to understand the other’s point of view.