Friday, July 12, 2013

Foster the city – The forgotten garden

It is seven o clock in the forgotten garden. The light of the clear summer evening is over the whole place making it even more beautiful. The bonfire is about to start and the workcampers are preparing the last things. It will be the perfect end for two days of hard but pleasant work and everything must be ready. It is their second day in Plzeň and the first time they can get in touch with the locals. Around 50 people from the city have come, willing to share the fire with people from over the whole world. Some of them are old enough to remember the time when the garden wasn’t still abandoned, others are probably here for their first time. Some satellite photos hanged on a tent show people how has been the evolution of it. Vaclav, one of the leaders of Envic, is now in front of them, telling the history of the garden, which had been specially neglected over the last 20 years. He gave the locals a little tour around the new-old space, showing all the clearing, grubbing and cleaning the volunteers had done during the last two days. Of course, there is still more work to do here but the workcampers have already taken the first step. They, who live far away from the forgotten garden, have shown that interesting places can be closer than you may think. In your own city, may be in your own neighbourhood or even next to the house where you are living now. But they are nothing if you don’t take care of it. Regarding the forgotten garden (hopefully not any more forgotten), there is nothing more simbolyc than a bonfire. The weeds disappear leaving room for new life. Sausages, cheese and vegetables are shared around it together with conversations about South Korea, Serbia or Plzeň. Guitars and djembes appear also with the night. From Russians songs to African rhythms, everything fits tonight and involve people in a unique atmosphere which neither locals nor workcampers will forget. Carlos

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Co si představíte pod pojmem tanec? Nablýskané botky a bílé rukavičky z tanečních? Rozvášněné pohyby latinskoamerických tanečníků? Nebo snad ,,vystajlované´´ choreografie popových hvězd?

Přijďte si 18. července 2013 rozšířit své obzory na Světovar  a poznejte, co všechno tanec může znamenat. Součástí historicky první umělecké rezidence v bývalém areálu pivovaru na Světovaru bude vystoupení taneční skupiny NoTa, které Vám dokáže, že se i báseň může vyjádřit pohybem. Vedoucí taneční skupiny Lenka Jíšová dodává:  „O nás se někdy říká, že tančíme poezii.” Z NoTy se tohoto projektu účastní pět členek, které se v současné chvíli intenzivně na vystoupení připravují. Představení vzniká ve spolupráci s choreografkou Mirkou Eliášovou, která celé vystoupení popisuje jako interdisciplinární. „Jedná se o propojení rytmu, básní, tance a divadla,” přibližuje Mirka Eliášová to, na co se návštěvníci mohou těšit již za pár dní.

Osu vystoupení budou tvořit básně Sen o Barbaře od Ivana Wernische a Rozhovory od izraelského autora Davida Avidana. Recitace básní se zhostí dvojnásobný vítěz Mezinárodní soutěže recitátorů Vladimir Benderski.  Ten popisuje připravovaný projekt jako zajímavý experiment, neboť spojení tance a recitace není příliš běžné, ale o to víc je zajímavé.

Zvukový režisér Jiří Jakl, který je nedílnou součástí celé skupiny, bude pracovat s originální akustikou prostoru Světovaru. ,,Hudba bude vytvořena jako kompozice, která pracuje s originalitou prostoru a dozvuku. Navíc musí být přizpůsobena pro komunikaci s pohybem,´´ vysvětluje zvukový režisér Jakl.

Nenechte si ujít tuto unikátní mozaiku tance, hudby a poezie, která se pro Vás na Světovaru chystá. Jistě budete překvapeni, jak úžasné je partnerství tance a slov. Navíc je to jedna z posledních možností přijít se rozloučit s prostorem Světovaru před jeho přestavbou na moderní kulturně-komunitní centrum. 


Monday, July 1, 2013

Melina Mercouri Day

A ještě jednou Carlosův příspěvek, tentokrát o Dni Meliny Mercouri. Jak se mu tento netradiční den v Plzni líbil?
Can I take a photo over there? – asked a young boy who has just arrived at our tent. Of course, I couldn’t understand him well but it was easy to guess from the situation. In front of our stand there was a painting of an angel with a hole in the place of the face. You could go behind it, put your face in the hole and ask someone to take a photo as in many tourist attractions. This is the symbol of the volunteering program in Plzeň 2015 (Klub Strážných Andělů), which we were presenting in the Melina Mercouri Day, a big open air event organized by Plzeň 2015 where many NGOs, cultural institutions and artists are showing their work.
The boy looks really enthusiastic. His first stop was at the Ponton stand (a nonprofit organization dedicated to leisure activities for children and young people). There, he could play some games, test his skills at foosball and have his face painted in a colorful way. He was showing it to us very proudly but after taking his angel photo, he quickly left for another stand. There were many things to be done and he was willing to participate in everything. 
Just next to the river Radbuza, between one of the most beautiful spots in Plzeň, Kopeckého Sady Park, and the Anglické Nábřeží, took place Melina Mercouri Day. The main point was a big music scenario and around it almost 30 different stands and the omnipresent bus of Plzeň 2015 were occupying the streets. Cars weren’t allowed today and rain neither. The clouds which appeared during the afternoon weren’t finally a real threaten and sun was shining most of the time, making the day more enjoyable.
Some of the stands were promoting NGOs, like Cultura Africa with typical jewelry from the continent and photos from Sierra Leone; others were giving artistic workshops, like Animanie, Fotoklub or Tech Draw; others were specialized in children, like Rubikon or Koss; and others were selling special kinds of food, like the sweet pancakes of the Lions club or the delicious banana and caramel yoghourt I could taste from the stand next to us, the vegetarian Jagannáth.
While children were drawing, making t-shirts or looking at puppet theatre performances next to the bus of Plzeň 2015; teenagers were concentrated in front of the stage. The most active ones joined to the different street dance performances and support their colleagues in the ‘street battles’ while the other ones were just looking at them from the bottom, sitting on the wooden deck chairs that were around the park and enjoying the lively atmosphere that came from the scenario.
But it wouldn’t be fair just to talk about children or teenagers. It was a day for the whole family.  There were a wide range of possibilities. Parents were not only there to take care of their children but also to get informed about the different organisations, to look at the theater and music performances and to enjoy the good homemade food, the drinks and the feeling that something is going on in the city and you just have to relax and enjoy it.
It was already late evening when Canticorum took the stage so that the spirits did not fall. Performing some well-known pop rock songs in a wonderful way they got to connect really well with the audience. Children, adults and old-people of every kind were dancing and singing with them showing that Plzeň can be really alive.
More concerts took place and song after song the night was coming and the program was about to finish. A beautiful videomapping over the river Radbuza gives it an end although I think that the atmosphere kept there for some time more, in the conversations of people who still stayed there to enjoy the hot night in the nice terraces around the park or in the willing of those who still had to work a little more disassembling the whole scenario…
Melina Mercouri was a Greek cultural minister and artist. She was the one who came up with the idea of European Capital of Culture, such an important issue for the future of the city of Plzeň. Could you imagine that in 2015 every day will be a Melina Mercouri Day? What is sure is that at least many people will work for it.  
In my case my Melina Mercouri Day was not just to attend the different performances, to observe and take photos or to relax in the park with a beer. It was also to have the possibility to meet other Czech volunteers, to know what they are doing here, why they want to help or what they expect from the city in the future.
In the streets, in the parks, in a riverside… the best way of bonding is culture and it can be everywhere… If everyone has the opportunity to live and share the same experiences, to get to know other people from different likes and backgrounds… the society will strengthen its ties and will be more open within itself and for the rest of the world, which is the aim of Plzeň 2015 as well as it was for Melina Mercouri when she came up with this great idea. 

Blue. White. Green. Plzeň.

Zajímá vás, jak se v Plzni líbí stážistovi z Kanárských ostrovů? Níže je jeho příspěvek o působení v našem městě.

The second week after my arrival I caught a flu. It wasn’t the best way to start my experience here but looking the snow falling through the windows was quite hypnotic. The blue of the sea had turned out into the white of the snow. Since I came, all Czechs I met have been telling me that I should wait to the spring to enjoy the city. But what they didn’t know is that I was already delighted. One of these winter days, when I started to feel recovered I just took my camera, left the room and went to the park close to my dormitory. It was already 5 o clock, which means it was already night.  I walked for some time through the heavy snow and got really inside the park. The feeling was kind of strange. Although I knew the city was just at the end of my view and some hundreds metres further there would be many people arriving at home to get warm from the cold, I felt I was in the nature. In some random forest in Central Europe may be, feeling the real winter for the first time in my life.
And it was at that precisely moment when I realized I was abroad. I was a strange. But I liked it. And for some time I was really alone in that huge snowy park outside my dormitory, freezing but enjoying the touching of the snowflakes in my face.
Then, some time later, a young woman appeared with a big lovely dog. His dark brown skin fitted really well with the white of the snow. The German shepherd was playing somehow while the woman was sitting in a bank, just looking at him. It was a beautiful picture, a common one I guess but the sensations of the moment made it more charming.
I was tempted to talk to her. Tempted to ask her what she was doing, what she was feeling. Now it may sound pretty stupid as it was obvious what she was doing but back then it all made sense. Anyway, in the end I could not even take a picture of her beautiful dog. I guess I spent too much time wondering how she was, how many differences can be between me and her, between Canary and Czech people.
So she left me alone again in the white landscape but not much later a family appeared. The father was carrying his two children in a red sledge. They must have been playing together a little further from the place where we were now. The children were shouting something I couldn’t get but from their faces I can say that they still wanted some more fun. Anyway, the father ignored them and kept carrying the sledge while the mother was smiling complacently next to the children.
They reminded me the childhood I never had. The one I saw in some American movies with snowmans, warmed country houses and homemade wool pullovers. Thinking about Czechs, observing their similar and their completely different experiences, makes me aware of my own happening. It is amazing to think about how something apparently insignificant can change the way we are and how we communicate with each other. While the Czechs are wondering how would be to live near the beach, with the sun shining every week, Canarian children are wondering why they can’t have the same Christmas they watch on the TV.
So one day I think they are really different from me but the next day I change my mind and think they are pretty the same. Many times when I observe them I wish I could understood more Czech, not only to know what others are saying but to get more involved in the events that are currently happening and to feel more close to them. However, other times I don´t feel that huge necessity because I accept the things as they are and enjoy the feeling of being outside the wall, thinking what’s going on behind that faces and wondering how they really are.
Now is already spring and the view of Bory park is completely different. In sunny days, many people go there to practice sports or just to seat on the grass to enjoy the weather with their friends. It is known that you have to make the most of the sun because the rain is always watching and can come when you least expect it.
Plzeň has many beautiful parks like these. Everyone with its own lives, its own seasons, its own memories… And, although I enjoyed winter in some way, it is true that the city becomes more beautiful with the good weather. The elegant houses of the city center looks more colorful, the streets around the main square seems more attractive and the green of the trees predominates in every place.
The city gets definitely more lively, which, by the way, is one of the goals of my organization, Plzeň 2015, where I am working as a European Volunteer. Until now, the city is only famous around the world for the great beer Pilsner Urquell but in two years it will be the European Capital of Culture. The city wants to show to the world that they are more than beer (without forgetting its importance) and, at the same time, wants to show to its inhabitants that it is more than a place to sleep and work. Life is not only inside a house, a pub or a “čajovna”, but in every corner of the city, where everything can take place and you can be part of it. And that’s why the main slogan is  Pilsen Open Up!.
But this is not only about Plzeň. Every city, every little town here or there has something to show you. It doesn´t mind if it is called Prague or Třinec. Every detail, every scene, could be amazing if you let yourself enjoy it and forget stereotypes. It is up to you. And I think this is one of the things what European Voluntary Service is all about. And the reason why I want to start this blog. As an irish sentence says, “What is seldom, is wonderful” (“An rud is annamh is iontach”). And there is something seldom in every EVS experience. Something that needs to be discovered and deserve to be told.