All Posts by bojanb

Something about Gregor

Gregor is known for his special way of simple living and activism based on loving kindness beyond all boundaries. Gregor and his friends established Slovenia Tibet Support Group 24 years ago, which became very influential. 

Gregor has never really been into the Buddhist practices, but he had been to Tibet many times, always for good purposes such as organising tracking tours, supporting a school for local children, etc. He was also very active in helping refugees in Slovenia. He travelled around the world, visiting Arab, African and Asian regions several times and volunteering in different projects.

In February 2020, Gregor joined a MED Land art project team on Ikaria (Icarus’ island in the Aegean Sea). He also did a transcription of the story Lena from Lesbos. Recently, he helped with maintenance works on the boat. Gregor is also responsible for MED Land art residency on Ikaria and is therefore the right person to contact in this regard. Bojan and Gregor have known each other since the 1970s, when they collaborated on some projects. Now they have the opportunity to commit to doing something good again. And once again, it is a joyful experience, too.>>https://vimeo.com/443839354

Lena-there was no time for personal life

Lena from Lesbos island: “They try to convince us that we are warlords, and selfish by nature …  That otherwise, we will die sooner or later, that this is the nature of our race. No, no, this concept totally fucked up our planet, this is how ‘they’ want people to think, and most do not use much brain, that is true, but I believe many young people want something different …” Lena runs a very popular restaurant, NAN, where refugees and locals cook and serve. Half a million refugees crossed Mytilini – the capital of Lesbos. Lena was also part of   a start-up group for setting up Pikpa camp, which 50,000 people crossed since 2012. "You can change things by doing things, and this change will be multiplied by other people, and so on.”

  • There was no time for personal life.
  • These kind of contradictions were very difficult for me to handle.
  • Working in this kind of environment is a bit like being on drugs ... it is like a drug, it intoxicates you ... We are involved with these people.

Aristotle began his intensive study of biology on Lesbos. He created a classification of animals as “live-bearing and egg-bearing”. Three of his books contain descriptions of fish, birds, insects and mammals that he found around the lagoon of Kalloni on Lesbos. It is considered the first scientific work in our history.  

I came on the island in 1997 ... I fell in love with the island,
 it was very nice, and I worked as a teacher ...


... My husband is French, and he also could not understand why this need to spend so much time and energy on the refugee issues.
... It is very hard for people who don't feel this kind of social commitment.
... They where drowning in our waters, this is a tragedy because all of this beauty suddenly vanished.

Social issues lead to economical crises, because economical crises are never detached from social crises  and a crisis of values.

Pikpa camp > Why ... Because it was necessary, I would say; because when people started to come, it was under the umbrella of many organizations, local organizations of different types ... Twenty organizations at that time. We are trying to unite our efforts in dealing with the Greek crisis ... But at the same time, the Greek crisis and the refugee crisis, and of course, big waves of refugees coming to Greece and Lesbos, we had to handle it all ... I think the biggest flow of refugees.

Pikpa camp is mainly based on and seeks to promote the ideas of community,of people living together in the same community without discrimination and prejudice.
It is entirely based on volunteers and on donors. Now we have a lot of people who support Lesbos solidarity and the camp.

Before I began working and helping in Pikpa, I could never imagine that people could do so many things entirely voluntarily. There where a lot of things that were difficult, but we have a committed team, and where there's a will, there's a way. And I think this power of people, trusting each other to build a relationship of trust - I think it changed our lives in many ways, both positive and negative.
As I told you, personal life is very difficult to maintain. We have relations with all these nations, all these people, since 2000 BC. We should not be so afraid to work together. We should be afraid when we exclude people from the common wealth of this world.

Environmental issues are much more urgent and much more serious than any economic or political issues that we bring up.
Unfortunately, the ecosystem has no voice.
We let people privatize water, air, beaches, privatize public wealth ... these are all social goods.

NAN restaurant project.

First of all, we wanted to have a restaurant where people could work and make there own living.
When people are trapped, only despair can come out of it. When people there earned their income, it changed the entire situation.
To give them a job was one thing ... the other thing was to raise awareness that instead of fighting against these people, we can work together.
We can try to find ways to support them - not all of them, but some of them, the ones that can and want to contribute to the society that welcomes them.
This is the message: that it's better to work together than to work against each other.

Everyone can see what we do everyday, it is transparent. Raising awareness about food - the slow food mentality. That people should take their time to sit around the table to eat and talk and share.
There are many issues that are connected to food.

This is a company in which all employees will hopefully become partners.

Hiring a refugee with no experience of how things work in certain jobs is sometimes difficult.

I would like everything that we dream of the way we want Nan to work and to be ... For Nan to become be "the mother" of many similar enterprises ...

Lesbos has been my place of choice for many years now. But you know, every place is a nice place, depending on people. Last year, there was an attack on some Afghan protesting in a sitting demonstration. They were attacked by some locals. It was a very sad realization that we are living in a bubble.
We mostly have people who support us, not only financially, but also morally, mentally ...When you find out that a large part of the community is silent or even against some actions, it is not very nice.
I think this is sending you away, then inviting you back.

... in a situation like this, you have to choose which side you are on, and this is what we did ...



I would like to be able to leave this place satisfied ... that it will work without our presence.

- if someone says it's a threat, you should say it is an opportunity ...

 Eleonora Pauli, a radio journalist from Berlin, joined the project for almost two months and produced 5 interesting WGO stories, as well as participated in the interviews for the main stories. She also showed sailing skills!   


... you can bring change, and this change can be multiplied by other people and other people ....



The Earth does not give a damn about us ...

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Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Lena /  audio conversations, BB and Eleonora Pauli,  text editing / proof reading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the story: Barbara Ćeferin

Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

“The Last Days” & the first steps for a long-term art group project on the island of Ikaria

... Every day is the last day ...

These were the last days when the Coronavirus was still “safe in China”. Ivana Petan, Gregor Erjavec and Bojan left by ferry from Venice over the Adriatic to Greece, to do the first steps for a long-term art group project on the island of Ikaria in the Aegean sea.

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How to move, to touch, to live in times when moving and touching ...

Gregor Erjavec
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Why Ikaria at all? It was a matter of following instinct. We were doing a research (2018) on MED Land destinations when we came across Dr. Christodoulos Xenakis, a true master of love and compassion in action in his Ikarian way at his age of 80+! Now we are friends and doing things together ... Christodoulos and Ulysses traveling together ...

Ever since, Ikaria is like a lighthouse for me in relation to other islands, deeply connected to the creative pulses of Gaia, with the traces of 15,000 years of continuous presence of humans here. The awareness of this connectedness, as far as I can sense, is still present, and the pulse goes beyond the Mediterranean Sea to Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Our MED Land mission this time was related to the project of Marko Pogačnik and the team of geomancers and artists who were planning to do the stone land art installations project on the island in order to reinforce the connectedness and spread the message over the Mediterranean. Our task was to continue preparation work on determining the location(s) for the installation, connecting to some key places that are expressing the vitality of Ikaria, finding the right stones,  all in collaboration with the Ikarian team, artist Vangelis Rinas and Christodoulos Xenakis, the founder of the Association of Ikarian Studies. Ivana Petan, who collaborated in previous geomatic-art projects with Marko Pogačnik, was leading our field preparation tasks on the research of the geomantic aspects of the island, determining the location(s) for the installation and finding local stones that are also suitable for carving. Since Marko and the team could not come, we were doing some research while being telepathically connected, and it worked very well!

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Ivanas notes about Drakano and the rock - in connection with the being of the rock, I feel the rock rising up into the sky, and in the red pillar connecting the earth and the cosmos. my back space opens, allowing me to enter the causal dimensions of archetypes and ancestors, giving me the “wings” by allowing the freedom to breathe with awareness of myself. in the vision the head of the serpent - the dragon appears to me, which tells me that this is the place of spiritual power - of wisdom that originates and grows from the heart. I look towards Samos and Turkey. I feel them close, very close; this announces me their energetical connection and co-dwelling with a rock and the space of Drakano.


Icarus has his spot on the south side side of the island, where legend can be understood also in the relation with island. The legend goes that Icarus did not obey his father and followed his call to fly, to explore new dimensions of life. Where and how he ended up is not the point of this legend. 

Marko, Ivana, Gregor an myself felt the importance of understanding Icarus as an archetype that maintains the meaning to this day,

Released by MED Land project WGO / photography
Editing: BB
Text editing / proofreading: Tadej Turnšek

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Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

razglas- sodelavanje- prodaja

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pozivam k sodelovanju za kreativno delo trženja “produktov” MED Land projekta - predvsem fotografij, zgodb in keramike / potrebno je veselje in smisel za kreativno komuniciranje z ljudmi, ki želijo tovrstne izdelke, ki so obenem tudi finančni vir za projekt MED Land

MEDLand-project

•delo je omejeno na honorar in dobri delež zaslužka pri prodaji  

•možnost uporabljanja delovnega prostora - studija v centru Ljubljane 

Potrebne veščine :

•suverenost na internetu - za objave na osnovni strani, socianih medijih, v "newsletter" in še kje /Patreon...

•posluh in potreba za oblikovanje lastnega kreativnega pristopa, ki je usklajen s projektom in ostalimi, ki smo udeleženi

•pisanje v slovenčini in angleščini

•odnos do vizualnega medija

najprej si oglej MED Land stran !  nakar se seveda slišiva in vidiva - vsaj po skypu :-)) da si izmenjava več. hvala!

bojan@medland.life  ali/in 41 765714 bojan

•sporočilo podaj NAPREJ !

Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

Omar – “I BELIEVE A FEW PEOPLE CAN HELP EVERYONE IN THE WORLD!”

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In april 2017, Omar – 26-year-old Syrian refugee – founded an organization refugee4refugees on Lesbos and Samos, two of Greek islands with the most immigrants. The organisation, that is, mostly Omar himself, runs programs to improve the lives of refugees on the island, like education, free shop, programs for kids, engaging volunteers from all over the world. He himself is also a volunteer! The organisation is one of the most notable on the two islands. “I can see the Mediterranean full of blood, since people can not escape from the violence at home.”
refugee4refugees

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"In my experience, the EU played a game, which later became too much for them and they lost control. Nobody was expecting this ... Nobody could ..."

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“I am a refugee myself, so I have a different story with the EU. When they create a war ... In my experience, they create a war, a war doesn't start by itself ... I am here to save my life. They were trying to fix my leg, I went to school, had friends, led a normal life. One day, they came to my house at 6 a.m. I opened the door and gun was pointed to my head … There were policemen who were supposed to have information about me. In the end, they told me I was working for ISIS. Anyway, they fucked my life, since they took my ... and friends. When I got this paper that said 'We are sorry', I decided to go  back to Syria … Our government does the same ..."

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Bojan Brecelj: "Before I even entered the official zone of Moira camp, I had an incredible flashback situation. Ladies from Afghanistan around perfect killeen for their traditional bread and the smell that I still have in my memory from when I was traveling through Afghanistan in the 1970s. At that time, before the Russian and Americans destroyed the country, it was the most friendly and gentle place in the world - hospitality was the keyword. Even the police at the border first gave me some good hashish for the welcome, asking for my passport. These people who treated me so nice and taught me sooo much in my life are now in deep trouble, because of us, first of all! And we do not welcome them??? The Afghan ladies did not mind at all that I was photographing them! On the contrary, they gave me two loafs of very tasteful Afghan bread! Hospitality beyond imagination!"

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"It came from my family ... They taught me that if I see somebody who needs help, I will help. When I was living in Germany, I was doing the same, I was volunteering ... Before the war, I was working with my father in construction, I studied and also practiced swimming ..."


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"Over 70 percent of NGOs have refugee volunteers, we call them community volunteers. I am from Syria and I know how I to help them! The same goes for people from Afghanistan, Africa ..."

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"It is easy to fix the situation, but at the same time, it is difficult, because the governments don't want to fix it. There are many reasons. You have a lot of smart people in the camp, but to get asylum, you need to be crazy, you need to provide a paper stating that you are crazy ... It is a game."

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About the responsibility for the war in Syria:

"All the governments, such as America, Russia, Iran ... Everyone has their hands in Syria right now. If they take their hands and their feet out of there, we would go back to our countries and live in peace again. But they don’t want that, they want to continue, otherwise the war would be here tomorrow … The same day, they would start it in Turkey, and the next day it would be in Europe ... Because everybody is against Turkey. They will never stop the wars … It’s all about the money."

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About future changes:

"Yes, something will change, but it is going to change for the worse … Because no one has enough money. Someday, if they have enough money ... You can get money in many way, smuggling people, having them in camp, creating the war, from the petrol … Everywhere …"


"I do not believe my dream will ever come true, but anyway ... To return home and also to see one day, or just for a few hours, that the people who work with us see that we are humans … And even if they believed we are animals, they would take better care for us. No one gives a shit ... I believe people get tired of the situation, of the government … I believe that A FEW PEOPLE CAN HELP EVERYONE IN THE WORLD, because if just a few people start to help others, those others can help another few ... This mean that no one in the world would need help anymore, and we would not have war anymore … If they would just start with explaining the situation in the camp, explain to the people why they are here and how long they will be here, people will wait, but no one explains nothing, because no-one knows.”

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About control:

“For instance, I come from the north, there are three families ... One million people. We don’t know each other, but in some way, we are really close. If we see something wrong, we have the right to catch this person. We have the right ... that is what they teach us, but in EU it does not work the same. Now, the kind of people you have in Europe. I am sure it is pretty much the same in Afghanistan, Africa ... If you could just teach these people before you welcome them, everything would be different. They can be in control ... What is freedom in Europe? Alcohol, being with women, and freedom of speech. In Ethiopia, freedom of speech is 0,5 out of 10! Whatever you want to do, you need permission, and for me, this means control, no freedom at all. I cannot say I am Muslim, because everyone believes how a Muslim brings terror. At the same time, I do not want to generalize. I say, before you say something about another person, try to meet this person and understand what he wants.” 

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"In one of my projects, I have a free shop where people can go and choose what they like. I am trying to show them they are human and they can choose for themselves. I believe everything will be fine and that I can do more for them."

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"EVERYONE BELIEVES WITH THE POWER THEY HAVE, WHEN THEY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY, THE WAR WILL STOP ...  here! If someone who has power and information about what will happen to those people tells them the truth about what is going on, what they have and what they provide, those people would start their lives, build a new house, start business, live their life here ... But people don't have any info ... They are waiting all the time in front of the ferry, they just want to live here, you can't imagine this feeling ... My idea was to create a workshop here, provide free accommodation and small salary, and after six months, when I teach them something and they gain some experience, they get their own work and pay back from their salary ... But it is a huge project ... Imagine how many people would start their life."

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"I don't want to live in this world anymore, because I do not see any future anywhere in the world ... Always control ... Before  you even have an idea, they already know what you want and will never let you do what you want. Now I am trying to be against the control, of course, to respect the law but to do something they do not like. Now I am trying to change the living conditions, like cleaning their houses, the surrounding area, working in their garden. I am my own boss, and I'm not even boss to my volunteers. We have some rules in the NGO - if refugees fail to do the work, we try to do it. Personally, I get strength from refugees, they will never turn against me. For example, I was arrested three times in Samos ..."

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"If i need to blame someone, I will blame the government. 99,99% of the problem is the government. If they would just explain to their people why those people came, why we have to support them, why we have to help them, welcome them to our country, everyone would be happy ... People who help, they believe their stories or just try to help them, they don't really know  why. If you ask me, it is how we were taught. But people get tired, if you try me for one year it will be finished, I promise I would work 23 hours a day.  But you don't know how long it will take. In the winter, you start to prepare for emergency, after the winter, you start preparing for the summer. When the summer ends, you start to prepare for the winter. Every day, you have something to do."

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Omar Alshakalis is Director and Co-founder of Refugee4Refugee. He works on the ground on a daily basis and oversees the NGO’s entire operations. As a Syrian refugee himself, he brings invaluable insight when designing and implementing humanitarian aid interventions from a practical perspective, using a beneficiary approach to best serve the refugee communities in both Lesbos and Samos. In emergency situations, Omar’s responsiveness is extremely fast, often taking the role of mediator and always knowing what to do, who to talk to and how to keep everyone safe. Omar is an incredible human and humanitarian. He fights inequality every single day, and his drive to help everyone in need is extremely contagious.

Omar fled his home town of Deir Ez-Zor in 2014 after ISIS took control and he was severely injured during a missile strike. He swam for 14 hours from Turkey to Greece to reach safety and, after witnessing the humanitarian crisis that was taking place in Lesbos, he co-founded Refugee4Refugees in April 2017. Nowadays, the NGO is working in both Lesbos and Samos, growing step by step to increase the impact and quality of its interventions.

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Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Omar /  audio conversations, BB and Eleonora Pauli,  text editing / proof reading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the stroy Barbara Ćeferin

Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

Clone of Clone of The first three days of 2020 – 800×600 PX

THE TEAM; Ivana Petan, Gregor Erjavec, Petra Petan and Bojan 

The first three days of 2020 we, MAD Landers, spend on island Hvar – THE home port of Nalu and main office for the project, located in Museum of Stari Grad (MED Land partner)

 

The trip started from the Split main ferry port.

 

Gregor Erjavec on January 1st 2020 in Stari Grad, Adriatic island Hvar. In 1996 Gregor and his friends started “Slovenia Tibet support group” NGO. He never declared himself as Buddhist practitioner, in fact he travels more to Arab and African countries…

 

Margi was once fisherman with her own boat… she likes jewelry and also draws. On January 1st 2020 she held her “first  2020 open exhibition” of some of her collections on the Helios hotel beach.

 

The “first three days of 2020 Hvar tracking team ” Ivana, Gregor, Petra (designer of MED Land logo)

 

Hvar island -view from Humac towards Sv Nikola 626m

island Hvar – or anywhere I move last days – my attention on emerging “more subtle organic new world” gives me another observation – beyond explanation-s

 

Sv.Nikola highest peak on Hvar island -626 m

Ivana Petan -ceramic artist is invoved, cooperate and support MED Land project from the beginig

Ivana Petan  ceramict artist -is supporting and creating MED Land project from the beginning

Ivana Petan -ceramic artist is invoved, cooperate and support MED Land project from the begining

Island Hvar is 72 km long and has meadows all along the island. Walking here feels like moving along the Dragon back.

Humac – island Hvar – was once a rich village

Humac – island Hvar – was once a rich village.

Jane: “We were staying on the top of island Hvar, in the vicinity of Sv. Nikola peak, for three month and now we are going back to village Dol…” Jane moved from London many years back and runs Yoga retreat place in village Dol – island Hvar.

view on island Vis from island Hvar

island Hvar – or anywhere I move last days – my attention on emerging “more subtle organic new world” gives me another observation – beyond explanation-s

3rd January 2020

PREVIOUS POSTS FROM HVAR :

Workshop with Marko Pogačnik on the island of Hvar

Exhibition “Barke” (Boats) by Ivana Petan-ceramics and BojanB-prints

Mala Mare, a farewell song

Easter in Pitve-Svirče-Stari Grad

Dance with Mary – exhibition/instalation

A trip to Borovik/workshop

and TREE MAIN STORIES FROM HVAR :

I call this heaven

“I came home”

“Why not? All is possible”

Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

The first three days of 2020

THE TEAM; Ivana Petan, Gregor Erjavec, Petra Petan and Bojan 

The first three days of 2020 we, MAD Landers, spend on island Hvar - THE home port of Nalu and main office for the project, located in Museum of Stari Grad (MED Land partner)

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The trip started from the Split main ferry port.

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Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

Venice update

on 29 of December 2019 

Marko Pogačnik (author of many books about Venice) and Bojan, had a day trip to experinc Venice.

Venice is birth place of MED Land project as well as the home for the first year of the project, which was dedicated to Venice -lagon resulting in exhibition-Water dragon of Venice and Self-published art book , second 
layout  Water Dragon of Venice – Exhibition in Zadar

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                                                                                                                                                                                   the present, in a transitional, transit time ; the present, which is part of the process and changes to come, is already happening and announcing new relationships and new arrangements (also) in the beingness of Venice 

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Campo San Via

taking photos were for me, part of the process to get in touch with :

disbanded space

air landscape - appearing somewhere in between water and earth (disintegrating) space

parallel realties that I felt also in the past, but not the same !

Venice (lagon) is vital from its own roots and like many other “special”, intensive, sacred  spaces, inspires me to connect to Earth in the time of changes

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Giudecca- Chiesa di Sant Efemia

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Zaterre

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Giudecca- Chiesa di Sant Efemia-garden

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 Giudecca-Chiesa di Sant Efemia-garden

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Convento SS. Cosma e Damiano

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Convento SS. Cosma e Damiano,

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Chiessa dela Redentore -Giudecca

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Giardini

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Giardini

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San Pietro di Castello

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San Pietro di Castello

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Chiesa della Madonna dell'Orto

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Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

THE MED Land team, May–September 2019

THE TEAM; Eleonora Pauli, Laura Mangunda, Ivana Petan, and Ayane Tanaka

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>>> Eleonora Pauli studied literature and languages in Berlin and Cambridge. She loves to listen, and encountered many new and inspiring sounds while travelling with Bojan on Nalu.  Eleonora works as a journalist in Berlin, Germany. She writes and produces short radio plays for Deutschlandradio, collects sounds for her next satirical commentary, or just walks the city streets with her microphone in her hand and her ears wide open.

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She came to Greece and stayed with the project for the first two months! For me, it was a very bright experience from day one, a very creative, supportive and positive living and working time. She came with small audio and photo-film equipment, as an enthusiast for sound recording and with professional audio journalistic skills. It was very exciting, since I love the sound, too! And it was a perfect match to record (video and sound) “what was going on” during this two months:

Eleonora also did her part in the exhibition “BARKE” (Boats), which already took place in September at the Museum of Stari Grad, Hvar island. It was about the third element of the exhibition, image & soundtrack TRACES OF MEDLAND PROJECT 2019/1 a project on which the creation of this entire exhibition is built on. The soundscape was created by Eleonora!

laura-mangunda-med-land-projectLaura Mangunda, a law student from Slovakia was formally “the opposite world” from Ayane who was from Tokyo. But in reality, we had all common pools and very informal, easy-going, “MED land” active and challenging life. She was always ready to help and do things I wouldn’t even think of, from research to every task on the boat, transcribing, etc., and was always open to learning. “So young, so good “, could be the title of the song I would write about her!

bits from her fear-well letter;

Dear Bojandzi,

Thank you for this whole experience.

It has meant a lot to me. It has brought me to experiences and realizations that I didn’t expect at all … >>> MORE

ivana-petan-medland-team-may-september-2019Ivana Petan has been IN from the very beginning –from day one, when we sailed Nalu from Bari to Slovenia to restore the boat, back in 2010!

SINCE THEN, she has been continuously collaborating in every possible way, from doing repairs on Nalu, transcribing, supporting the financially and her unique ceramics, sailing on destinations. We also had 3 exhibitions together, related to the MEDLand project:

Dance with Mary – exhibition/installation

Water Dragon of Venice – Exhibition in Zadar

Exhibition “Barke” (Boats) by Ivana Petan – ceramics and BojanB – prints

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Ayane Tanaka from Tokyo has been engaged in international business with the focus on marketing and corporate strategy. She had worked for a fashion agency in Paris as a marketing assistant, and got involved with MEDland project as a PR and strategic marketer, as well as a sailing crew member. She is interested in culture, gastronomy and sustainability, which she cultivated by travelling around the world and through various art and sports activities. She joined us on Ikaria and we finished our common trip in the Adriatic – on Hvar island, which took us 13 days. “The sailing journey in the Mediterranean for 13 days was sometimes extremely tough and very much lovely at other times, which gave me an intensive experience of understanding Mother Nature.

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ayane-tanaka-849a88150Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ayanebby

 

AND bojan >>making-a-story-bojan-brecelj-explanations

 

Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago

Upcoming stories from the Aegean and Marmara Sea,May–September 2019

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From Athens to Constantinople and back, through East Aegean sea and as south as Patmos island – here is the list of stories that are “in the fridge”, I hope not for long, since some of them are still waiting from last year:

christodoulos-ulysse-nalu-traveling-together-medland-projectThe first team of the 2019 MEDLand storytelling project was related to the last recorded story in 2018 – Christodoulos is actually the heart of the team now, and the focus of the story. How come? We were four plus one: Eleonora from Berlin – German. She connected to the project through Workaway platform. Her skills are radio/audio journalism, with a touch of video, too.

Bojan-Eleonora-Christodoulos-Makis (Christodoulos skipper) and Odyssey.

Christodoulos decided to do a pilgrimage-ritual trip through historical places in the North Aegean sea, from Athens to Istanbul via Limnos island, also passing  Marathon field, the temple above Chalcis where armies got together to attack Troy … then Limnos island, connected to Odyssey karma, where he betrayed his fellow men … and “it is time now to release this pain”. Rituals and conversations with Odyssey were Christodoulos’ occupation, while he was sailing on his own boat at the age of 83! BUT – newly born every day, with plenty of smiles, positive thoughts and joy for life, philosophy, cipora, vine, good food, poetry.  The final destination was his home island, Ikaria. Three films about the trip were published along the way on the WGO page.

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Nazif Aksehiri and Ozan Yılmaz were two more people we approached in Istanbul and there stories -of how Istanbul and especially Bosporus is inspiring them, are on the way.

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Anta was born in Athens, grew up on Crete, and currently lives on Limnos island, working as an alternative tour guide and activist for sustainable development on the island.
“… we live in another era now, I don’t think we should carry the past. Maybe some practices of producing products for our own consumption, it is something that can be done easily. And this also gives us the satisfaction to working with land, that land can provide for you. I think that this relation can bring us closer to nature. This, I would keep from the past – and nothing else. People make the difference. Cretans cooperate, they are more innovative, open-minded, they make collaborations, while people here – maybe because it is a distant island and they do not have many visitors – it is like they are afraid of one another.”               

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Giorgos moved from Tesaloniki to Samothraki island with Jacqueline.”If we start a family, we need to do something else … We had enough, we want to change our lives, maybe live in a community or start a community, and we thought, ‘OK, why don’t we first go around and see for ourselves’. So we took our motorbike and traveled through France, Portugal and Spain for one year. We visited eco-communities and eco private projects with very different types or organizational management. And it was very interesting to see how things worked or didn’t work. We ended up on Samothraki.” … “Either you love it or you hate it, and you have to leave immediately”, was a sentence repeated by many, especially the ones that migrated and now live here for years … And their love affair goes on. They are the active population for the needed changes in a land of “no compromises”.

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On Samothraki island, I was occupied with trees most of the time. They let me know that through thousands of years on Samothraki, they are the biggest, free  open-air art galley, where living sculptures express creativity beyond imagination!

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Omar
In april 2017, Omar – 26-year-old Syrian refugee – founded organisation refugee4refugees on Lezbos and Samos island, two of the most immigrated islands in Greece. The organisation, that is, mostly Omar himself, runs programs to improve the lives of refugees on the island, like education, free shop, programs for kids, engaging volunteers from all over the world. He himself is also volunteer! The organisation is one of the most notable on the two islands.
“I can see the Mediterranean full of blood, since you can not escape people from the violence at home.reffugee4refugees

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Melissa,  a lawyer from Mexico, volunteering at the Legal centre Lesvos 
I was supposed to volunteer for two weeks and go back. And these two weeks turned into a month and a half, (…) and then i did get my Visa, but also Trump got elected and I was hesitant to go back.
But it was not the same after what I saw in the refugee camp, I did not feel comfortable going back to my crazy, creative comfortable life in new Orleans and not doing anything. So that is how I ended up here. Maybe many people want to help, but they cannot afford not working. Of course, it is a privilege, I tell you, everything is so unfair in life. I was very privileged, I was very fortunate with a loving family, with access to education to travelling, I learnt different languages and I studied many different things. And I think the least I can do is used these tools to do something nice and good, not only for myself. Myself and for others.” https://legalcentrelesvos.org/

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Fabian from Switzerland, came to Lesbos in March 2017 to start a project  – “One happy family” The core idea is to provide facilities for refugees. “We started without a fixed idea of what we wont to do. We talked to refugees, locals, politicians, journalists, to see what exactly is needed. Besides legal rights, housing and medical care needs, they have nothing to do! Which is also a big problem … We started to build a community center together with refugees, decide what and how we want to do it, and later to also run it by them … We fight for humanity – expect us to win! No risk, no fun. Everything seems impossible until it’s done.https://ohf-lesvos.org/en/welcome/

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Estelle, 27, from France is a co-director of Yoga and Sports for Refugees, which is now also part of One Happy family project.
She is organizing running trainings, swimming classes, boxing classes like taekwondo, kickboxing for women, self-defense classes for women, Yoga classes, fitness classes … ”We started this project because sports and yoga can really help mental health, for people staying in camps, to live in a peaceful environment. If we do not educate our children or the next generation about what is happening and why it is happening, it’s never going to change.” >https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=458563191343959

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Lena from Lesbos island: “They try to convince us that we are war-logs, and by nature selfish … Otherwise, we will die sooner or later, that this is nature of our race. No, no, this concept totally fucked up our planet, this is how ‘they’ want people to think, and a majority do not use much brain, that is true, but I believe many young people want something different …” Lena runs a very popular restaurant where refugees and locals cook and serve. Half a million crossed Mikilini – the capital, so Lesbos also was a start-up group for setting up Pikpa camp, where 50,000 people went through since 2012. You can change things by doing things, and this change will be multiplied by other people, and so on.”

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Lefteris from Ikaria
“I go to pick up plants usually in the morning, then I make a product. And in the afternoon, I have guided tours. I organize interpretive experiences, it’s about regenerative tourism, as I call it. So I’m trying to slow them down a little bit, and to get them in contact with the character of Ikaria, and if I manage to inspire some of them, I’m quite happy. So what I’m trying to do is to raise social and environmental awareness … Now we started a new project to renovate a refuge place on top of the mountain, as well as look after a hectare of land, since we want to prove that many different plants and endemic trees are growing up there. There are five times too many animals – goats and sheep – on the island, and shepherds are denying it … Not long ago, Ikaria was one of the most forested islands in the Aegean sea. Direct democracy, communalism and de-growths were the values of Ikarian people in the past, and we’re not even aware of it. One of the projects across the whole country is to develop society in line with these values…We (Lefteris and wife ) support other producers, our place is open for visitors, so we try to raise awareness about the idea of self-sufficiency.” Lefteris also spends time in his lab to implement old knowledge of using herbs. ” We know that natural substances when they are combined like it is done in nature, are completely different from doing concentrated substances synthetically or extracting substances and use them in high concentration.” As for many on the islands, specialization is actually having different types of knowledge which are related to the basic needs to live.” >>  Ikarian Footprints

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Women coop on Ikaria island
Gabi came from Italy. “It was no coincidence that we founded the cooperative for women: Women on such small islands have very little opportunities to find a job, also because when the children are small, there is no kindergarten or other childcare, and the good thing about women cooperative is that you don’t have to work 8 hours a day, but everyone is able to contribute as much as she can, the salary depends on the working hours, not the month. So a housewife or a mother who raises her children can work on a flexible schedule. And women have more power, that is just the way it is.
What they do: it is a sweet shop, pie shop, food shop, with fruit products, coffee place … All done from local ingredients from neighboring farmers. 7 women, two of which foreigners, are running the coop. It started in November 2009
https://www.tasteikaria.com/?section=1923&language=en_US

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Dimitris from Ikaria ”I came back because I made a deal with my wife that if we have a child, the child must grow up in a safe and healthy environment, which is not Athens. I think for example my child here on Ikaria from six years on goes alone to the town to the Square because everybody is checking what’s going on and looking at my child, as  I am looking for the well-being of other children. We do not have policeman here, we are doing the job by ourselves, always checking if everything is OK so the thieves don’t steal anything, because if the owner catches you, they hit you and the only way to survive this is to run to the police station, but we don’t have it here…” Dimitris has three diplomas and does many jobs. His big concern and activity is to study, explore, preserve and educate others about the Ikaria natural environment. He is a speleologist and knows over 40 caves in Ikaria. He is also in a rescue team. ”I do many things, because I don’t like to be bored … I try to show the nature, the beauty of the pictures to the locals especially … That’s why I do photography.”

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Urania is a dedicated and native Ikarian. Her father opened the first tourist agency on the island, which upheld the values for sustainable tourism from the very beginning. “When we started the agency, I remember my mother saying we should do it in the way that will not spoil the island. I use my skills, art and knowledge in tourism …  All the aspects of our life come from aesthetics  Aesthetics has nothing to do with art only, it’s about how we choose the people around us, our environment, how we dress, what we eat. Aesthetics is also very much related to harmony, and harmony is based on the human proportions. The purpose is to be in balance, and in that case we never go against the natural flow of energies. Aesthetics will make us better, will make us happy, because according to our taste, we choose our partner or our lifestyle, a glass of wine we enjoy, and finally, this is the meaning of life. But we don’t pay much attention to aesthetics. We have to train children to watch, to observe, and make their own choices.  For me, this is the beginning of one’s personality. It all has to do with our lower instinct, but if we don’t use aesthetics, we cannot be the master of our instinct logic and soul. Brain and soul,  it is these two potentials that we have to balance. We must respect our contribution to, or our existence in the universe, and not try to force the change of the rules, because then it’s really toxic and catastrophic. Aesthetics is about the big chapter. It is a big part of philosophy. This canbe applied philosophy in life, this is the key to make us open windows, to see things differently , to re-estimate our position as humans, as individuals, smaller groups, as well as people as part of the universe. Dolihi Tours, Urania Mytika

Posted by bojanb
a couple of years ago