BALKAN LyNKS – regional youth gathering

This summer Brezovica ski center and GAIA hosted several groups of young people for shorter or longer period as part of our program dedicated to Sharr mountain. Let us tell you about the young men and women who completely changed the atmosphre and brough a positive vibe within the stone walls of the Mountaineer house in the ski resort.

Author: Peter Blzevski, Blazevski Photography

The Youth for Sharr gathering is a regional exchange activity, which GAIA is organizing for the first time. It gathered young people betwenn 18-30 years from Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia and Bulgaria. It provided space for them to explore Sharr mountain through art, stories, wildlife and traditions with the valuable support of expert facilitators in each field:

  • Dunja Karanovic, art colony facilitator
  • Jelena Jovcic, traiditonal kowledge facilitator
  • Mia Cuk, storytelling facilitator
  • Ariston Lipa, wild summer school facilitator

The youngsters were divided in the four groups based on their motivation, experience and skills. From July 31st until August 14th they dedicated time to learn about Sharr’s nature and people and to transmit the gathered knowledge and main messages through different medias into content for the second edition of BREfest. The festival was held for the second year (stories and videos from 2017) and while it grew, it still ensures space for intimate meeting adn diallogues with nature, about social and environmental issues, exchange, creation and entertainment.

Author: Ivica Stojkov

On the first day of BREfest (August 10th) the wild summer school presented their work – mapping of biodiversity through direct observations, sound recordings, direct sighting and documenting traces of life.

The wild summer school in action; Author: Peter Blzevski, Blazevski Photography

The second day was dedicated to stories and rituals. We got to time travel through the centuries and experience the strength of the water, fire, bread through the recreation of traditions and customs common for the Balkans. The storytelling team on the other side created a whole new medium – the BREradio with interview, nature sounds and music to document the moment and athmosphere of BREfest, local people’s attitudes and thoughts.

The traditional knowledge perfrmance; Author: Ivica Stojkov
Part of the storytelling workshop; Author: Ivica Stojkov

The last day ended with the presentaiton of two short movies filmed by the participants in the traditional knowledge workshop. One showed that having serious knowledge about medicinal plants and herbs doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an old wise person. It told the story of Stefan, a local 16-old herbalist who is preserving the local knowledge of Sharr’s values collected through the decades. The other one presented the sotry of local musicians and singers who perform traditional Sharr songs and share their thoughts on how the music is kept and in the same time changing.

Part of the tradtitional knoweldge team; Author: Ivica Stojkov

The art colony on the other side was present constantly – either through the mural they created in the entrance of Kameni dom or by attracting people to the DIY printing press workshops, where you could print a BREfest design on your t-shirt or carve your own message.

The mural that the art colony created in the Mountaineer’s house; Author: Peter Blzevski, Blazevski Photography
Our Dormouse BREfest symbol printed on a t-shirt; Author: Peter Blzevski, Blazevski Photography

This year’s theme was Water and we dedicated ourselves in getting to know more and more about Durlov potok / Procka e Durlës. Each activity and outcome of the youth gathering made us a little more sensitive to the power of the water.

Durlov Potok / Procka e Durlës; Author: Peter Blzevski, Blazevski Photography

If you want to get more detailed acquianted with the youth gatherings outcomes and the spirit of BREfest 2018, just follow this link>>

Finally, the participants of the youth gathering as well as long and short-term volunteers participate in the clean-up action on August 5th in the ski resort (more about it here). As everybody else that had a chance to see and to dive deep in trash in the illegal landfill in the ski resort, the RYCO participants supported the open letter to the responsible insitutions regarding the waste challenges in the ski resort. The open letter you can read here.


RYCO logo

The Youth for Sharr gathering is part of the BALKAN LyNKS project run by GAIA and supported by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office. 

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