My Wellbeing in Serbia experience so far

This was quite an experience. I already organised events, and bigger than this, but never had to build a community and do it in such a short time.
Many unexpected things happened. Even though I expected to meet skepticism, I though I will have an easier time convincing people why is this such a good idea.
The importance of sharing the stories, getting to know each other, learning about real issues in lives of other people around us. Engaging in discussions to find solution to those issues, often common for many people, and just to support each other. Activate this collective intelligence, then use the stories to connect people and form teams who can actually work together to change things with real projects/initiatives (I am very goal orientated).
Over the past month I improved my processes a lot. And I created an animated tutorial for all newcomers, which still needs to be smoothed out a bit and I will share it with you guys for suggestions. We can easily add a voice over and it should be quite effective.
Got the idea because many people were a bit lost on the platform and needed help with some things. Just yesterday I had another confused person :slight_smile:.
I also never was a facilitator or moderator in discussion panels or similar so I am happy I am part of Wellbeing in Europe. Gives me opportunity to learn a lot of new skills and help communities I care about as well.

It started with my trip to Serbia last month. My idea was to create core groups in few cities and if they are interested in a project, they will help grow it themselves.
Thanks to many people who got engaged and saw importance in such a project, we got to where we are now. @TamaraVuk and @noemi of course but so many locals as well who got engaged very early on: @kiszoltan8 from KEC Becej, @Ede @Oxilon @marijanesque from Becej as well.
Also @tihana and @n0vakovic who got engaged immediately like Tamara and helped out just on the basis of our skype talk…helped me so much with the first meetup in Belgrade. They helped a lot with everything for the Belgrade workshop we had now as well.
Had great discussions with @miremire @Tatjana and @Pokrajac @Oxilon , among other people, it gave me a lot of energy and motivation to keep working at it…we have some great ideas as well. I am sure some of the good ones will be put to test by the communities in 2020 :wink:.

I postponed this post because I got stuck in Serbia for an extra week. Spent 6 days recovering from eye troubles but as soon as I felt better, I set up 2 days of meetings and was invited to few events.

Result is this bunch of notes (new ideas and interesting insights into local politics and perception of us from some of the local NGO’s.
I did not expect that but, it seems some of the local NGO’s see us as direct competition and are afraid for their position…that’s why they did not support us even though we have similar missions. The surprising part for me is-they determined it without even communicating with me/us properly. Very silly.

And I got a thank you from the Office for Youth in Becej, which I don’t feel I deserve but they sure did put extra pressure on me to do a good job haha.


I actually learned a lot about organising an event for younger generations just from observing everything during the Office for Youth celebration of 13 years of their existence…a lot to change really if we are to do events for youth in future.

Also met with professors, and teachers, few school principals. There is a lot of good will to move forward with the proposal I build with several community members (sort of center for innovation/incubator hub in Becej). Teachers and professors especially see the importance of bridging the gap of theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge you get through doing things and experimenting. That gap in Serbia is very big.

I see communities in Serbia growing over this month already. Based on my many many discussions with people and organisations, we will see activity and energy to move forward.
If that happens, we as Edgeryders can join in their initiatives and support them as their international partner. There is a lot of potential there, I just hope the community will see it as well.
Already heard plenty of good ideas, about recycling/reusable materials utility (big issue here), education and work on raising people’s awareness, healthy food promotion/distribution etc…
The way I see it happening is (in this order):

  1. Active community willing to get involved in real issues linked to wellbeing
  2. Edgeryders seeing the activity and determining our way forward
  3. Doing few more events in January (or later if we still don’t have enough info/activity) with specific goals of growing community and mobilising it in the causes they most care about. If causes are aligned with our values and Wellbeing in Europe of course.
  4. Ideally, if all 3 points above are met, we can engage the research team and find relevant EU tenders to really get the projects off the ground. ER+local organisations+relevant international partners if needed.
    (I also don’t know what are budget for 2020 is yet).

Of course, most of other things don’t make sense if we don’t have active community. That’s what I focused on over the last several days and hopefully the message went through.
The biggest lessons for me were the new insights in the state of mind of population in different communities in Serbia. Also I learned there are so many stories of success and hope, so many people actually trying to make the society better.
The thing is, nobody talks about them so much as much as they talk about all the negative stuff going on.
So maybe one of our biggest goals would also be, get the inspirational stories and distribute that message in our community in 2020.

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Hi Jasen, thanks for sharing all of this, I am unsure how to proceed because of so much of your work happening through meetings and the connections being in your head :-))

Can you be more specific? Who are we talking about, and how come? In Belgrade or Becej?

Are you sure this is the right order? You get an active community when you do things, so maybe we need to define what is a good next event and what kind of concrete work it can happen there.
Indeed, it will be towards the end of January when we can reconnect and reassemble the team, but it would be great if by then me, you and @TamaraVuk each think where it makes sense to go.

I think an option is to explore between several ideas we have heard:

  1. personal development and training (especially for youth) project - with the help of high schools in Becej/ Novi Sad and @Natasa e could do a 1-2 day camp and invite people from our network to come as trainers. We did a Social Innovation camp in Tunisia a while back, it went well but it could be improved.
  2. a more practical event which we could organise with @Ginja @AnaProdanov & their group at the cultural center in Krusevac? this would be supporting a community project they already have, instead of starting something new. This means it would be an event more specific in topic, to respond to Ginja’s feedback after the workshop too.
  3. … other ideas? We could discuss them in a call end of January with those interested.
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I ‘m not sure if this is the right place to mention this idea of ours, but here we go (it took some time to translate it).
For a long time, we have been contemplating about introducing events that raise awareness and culture in general within our community, to diversify our cultural programme, which has so far been concentrated on arts and expression. We would love to organise an interactive educative festival about renewable energy, environment, ecology, as well as the attitude that humans adopt in relation to other forms of life that inhabit the world they live in. Kruševac is an underdeveloped, small town in a third world countury, and it slacks far behind the developed world in terms of ecology practice and community awareness about the impact of modern life upon the environment. Within this festival, we plan to introduce lecturers and documentary films that approach the subject from various aspects, we plan to organise workshops during which a mobile hydro-electric generator will be built and tested in the river Rasina that flows next to our cultural center, workshops during which photovoltaic panels will be explained and practicaly demonstrated, so that those who attend the festivalwill walk away with an admirable practical and theoretical capacity to utilise free and clean energy, and to reduce th footprint that we leave behind as we use this planet. There will be discussions on the topic of climate change, there will be movie projections (documentaries mostly), there will be artistic workshops about using recycled materials to create artwork. Upon announcing the event, attendants will be invited to ask specific questions in advance, online, over the social networks, so that the lecturer will be ready to answer them thoroughly and correctly, which will make the education and science more “down to earth”, practical and closer to the community. This will increase the overall effect of raising the awareness of the community, and will also provide certain insight about the interest in, as well as the current state of that type of knowledge that is present within that community. The community of Kruševac neglects theese topics, and that is not the way we need to relate to them, as we are not the only ones to suffer the consequences of our ignorance. We believe that we can inspire interest and interaction within the community, as well as bring a whole new chapter and type of activities that we carry out in our cultural center. What do you think?

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You’ve got quite a proposal there @Ginja! Yes, it is the right place to add it, anywhere in fact in the Serbian forum is a good place, as a general rule.
Is this festival something you are already planning to do and have identified people and organisations to be involved? or is it a recent idea that came to you based on the Wellbeing in Europe project and our young community ? :slight_smile:

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Post would be crazy long if I went into details about each meeting :slight_smile:. We will have our own meeting on the subject as well though to figure out where to go next i guess.
I did write about who did I meet mostly but I need to get my notes AND MY HEAD in order to make a structured post about it :slight_smile:.

In Becej, a big organisation like BUM (Becej youth association). Unfortunately I heard echos they are probably afraid we want to take their members haha (since we are also focused on youth in Becej).
It’s a pity since our goal from the start is to really partner with locals and improve things by adding value to their existing activities as well, I was sure I was clear about that.

Well we did have some deadlines for the end of the year. I guess we are meeting them and we can move forward. In any case, yes you are right. More logical order would be doing more events>>seeing activity and determining direction more clearly.

Yep yep, I discussed already those things with people and we agreed the most effective way for us to show the community that we mean to do good things is by doing something real very soon…sooner the better.
I will have a call with Tamara one of these days to also exchange our ideas and experiences so far.

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Great idea. It’s crazy but considering the low level of development in Serbia the pollution is quite high. Mostly due to facts that government doesn’t enforce the relevant laws and there is a huge lack of general population awareness…well there is also the fact that cars on the road pollute way more but that can change only when the salaries are increased so people can actually buy newer cars and all kinds of vehicles :slight_smile:.
Spoke about that with @Nashud during our drink after the Belgrade workshop.

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Realistically, that would be spring 2020, would that work? But in February we can already decide, and decide not me or you, but by talking it with the community members! An open process is what builds engagement as well, while we prepare the event. It’s also a good filtering mechanism.
With the rest of the points above, we are aligned I believe!

Totally aligned, it’s my attitude since the beginning. Community needs to decide and that’s the message I have passed on to all…especially to those more engaged, who I feel want to contribute a lot.

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We should discuss that, me you and @TamaraVuk and see what can be done and when.

Sorry to be so late with the reply, but the amount of activities these days is overwhelming. The festival truely is something we considered before the workshop, we have a few organizations and individuals in mind, that could pull off the core of the event, where as the others have to be contacted and engaged when we become certain of the fact that event is taking place. At the workshop in Belgrade, while speaking to people from Inđijativa, as thay mention group called Zez (The Union for Green Energy - https://www.zez.coop/) an idea crossed my mind, that this festival that we are planing could fit right into this project of yours.

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Yes, Jasen, i totally agree. People in Serbia almost do not recycle at all. Nature is beautiful, but very polluted. Have you seen this video from Serbia?


It happened this year.
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O BOZE! Ludilo…ne mogu vjerovati da u stvari vade otpad iz rijeke samo da bi ga opet vratili u rijeku!

Editing in English:
Ih god! What craziness…cannot believe they actually take the waste out of the river only to drop it back in!

Strašno… da toliko nema razmišljanja da se to djubre istrese u neki kamion… i tu su bili i neki lokalni funkcioneri koji su branili ovaj postupak…