April Hike through Istrian hinterland

Written by Taco, photos are courtesy of Francois

Camino Team:
Vida: initiator and president of the Camino d’Istria association
Nolwenn: EVS volunteer
Sara: volunteer
Me: EVS volunteer

At the end of April we organised the first event of our project: the Camino Days. Five days of discovering three short walks, our first output on the way to the long pilgrimage. During these days, twelve people from around Slovenia joined the adventure. The first day we proposed a potluck lunch where all the participants brought along some dishes they prepared. Our contribution was a big pot of nettle-lentil soup. After lunch, the first walk started towards Abitanti, a small and charming village lost in the hills and forests of Slovene Istria. There, a wine tasting was organised at the local winery (a partner of our project: eco-agrotourism in support of the local economy and discovery of the traditional viticulture).

Grondali, Abitanti

Sara and I stayed at the headquarters to cook for dinner and the upcoming lunches of the next days. Indeed, the next morning we would leave for the three day walk towards Groznjan and Motovun, two beautiful medieval hilltop villages in Croatia. We prepared big quantities of hummus, sourdough bread and for dinner we made a vegan tofu goulash (the whole event was vegan beside some truffle goat cheese here and there). After dinner we invited the participating pilgrims to a circle. A circle to present oneself to each other and to share about our dedications for these days of pilgrimage. A beautiful space was opened that evening where personal stories were told, emotions expressed and silences shared. Pilgrimage is foremost about the inner journey, the outer one can facilitate the former by walking in a beautiful natural environment (to eventually realise that there might be no boundary between inner and outer).

Hrvoji tower

The next day the group divided in two: one part, guided by Vida, would first go to Motovun clockwise and the other half, guided by me, towards Groznjan as first destination. That night I was still up until 1 to bake the first batch of bread and woke up early for the breakfast bread. I left tired but fortunately our first walk was the lightest of the three days. Finally, the three-day adventure started, weeks of preparation and organisation were finally coming to actuality, with as first milestone: the border crossing. We filed in a special demand to cross the local border as a sportive event to the Slovene and Croatian police, which would be present at the border with a list of all the names. Everything worked out smoothly. We crossed this invisible and arbitrary line in the landscape, just manifested by a fence on the road in the middle of nature.

Rain came to greet us halfway, to in the end soak our hiking socks as we arrived in Groznjan. Seeking cover in one of the two only restaurant/cafés of the town, we could comfortably appreciate the furthering of the hail and lightning storm with a warm cup of tea. For the night we stayed in an old four story house where we cooked a ‘classic’ stir fry (Vida’s speciality). The heavy rain kept on going for the whole night to finally and fortunately come to an end in the morning before the start of our journey.

On this second day we walked out of Groznjan to rise up on the ridge of the hill. Through the fog, meadows and humid forests we reached Zavrsje, another lost and beautiful village, hidden in the middle of the hills and forests. From there we descended on the Parenzana, a train track connecting Trieste with Parenzo (today Porec) built in the very beginning of the 20th century in use until 1935 and later on transformed into a hiking and cycling path. The track meanders along hills with a slight inclination down towards Livade in the bottom of the Mirna valley. It was somewhere in the middle of this trail that we encountered the group coming from the other direction. This awaited meeting filled with cheers of encouragement, hugs and a group picture (of course), gave us some more courage for the second half of the walk. Not long after we stopped to have lunch on one of the bridges.

During every day of this pilgrimage, a part of the walk was made in silence, giving the chance to dedicate one’s thoughts to a person, to a personal matter, or simply to have the opportunity to silently observe the surrounding nature. From our survey after the event, this silent part has been very much appreciated.
Coming at the end of this section of the Parenzana, we took a short break in Livade before attacking the final part: the rise to Motovun. We finally arrived at 6 pm at the Motovun House with 26 km of hike behind us. Another delicious and well deserved meal was prepared by some skilful pilgrims. Later on, the ones with some energy to spare went out for a little hike around the walls of the town and even to indulge in a glass of local wine.
The next morning, the walk down from Motovun via the Parenzana led us on our path back home. Crossing the valley in the other direction, we soon reached the steepest climb of the three days. Along our ascent we passed by an abandoned village near to being completely swallowed by sweet Mother Nature. In different rhythms we reached the surface of this sea of greenery.

Since the beginning of the three days, some pilgrims, connecting with their hunter-gatherers’ origins, lagged behind to hunt for wild asparagus. The season was on! It must be said: with great success, these were indeed part of every dinner of the last two evenings. We then gathered on top of the plateau to have lunch with a great panoramic view on the valley, Motovun and surrounding forest covered hills. Not much further, following lunch, we arrived just on time for a cup of coffee on a terrace in the little village of Oprtalj. Having walked around in its half abandoned centre, we carried on towards our final destination. With a steady pace we crossed carsic meadows, the charming bucolic village of Cepic and as a last stretch a recently renovated gravel road leading across a bumpy forest.

At the end of it we encountered our missing half that was on its way to the border, good timing. The police officers of the two countries were at the fence to greet us once more. Fortunately our passage was granted again and we could get back to our Sunny Hill to get some rest. For dinner we were expected at the truffle restaurant in Belvedur, a kilometre away (it’s not too much of a bad thing to live in the middle of a truffle region..). A beautiful sunset saluted the end of our three day adventure.

Beautifull sunset for the end of our adventure.

A good night of rest made finally space for the last Camino Day. After breakfast, the remaining pilgrims, not in a hurry to go back to denser civilisation, walked along to the Pasjak waterfalls in the valley below. More asparagus were hunted for and even ancient trails discovered before we headed back to enjoy the lunch prepared with love by Vida. The sunny afternoon bathed our tired bodies but aroused spirits from the beautiful days we just shared.
Days of blooming friendships, of met and overcome personal limits, days of communion with ourselves, our green leaved fellows and a temperamental climate. The event was a success and a good indicator that our Camino project is on the right track towards the Grand Camino in September.

Taco je prostovoljec v okviru programa EVS ‘Prebudimo Istro’.

Camino Pilgrimage 2

Written by Taco

After visiting the old town I decided that that was enough of urban wandering. Time had come to look for more remoteness, untouched nature and faeries… When walking southwards, I discovered that the fairy trees and hobbit burrows were long gone, replaced by hotel mega-structures resembling cruise ships. These buildings took hold of all the view on the sea, my only landmark as the sun had been covered by cloud sheets. I went across tightly mown parks and parkings to finally reach the end of this concrete unwholesomeness. But the concrete insanity was not over yet. The whole bay had been customised to please the highest tourist standards. All the small beaches were upgraded with cement walls and stairs. I held tight while crossing this overly managed nature.
Finally, at the edge of the bay, the human landscape management reduced to signposts, warning about perilous cliffs for people that would be unaware of the laws of gravity. ! !

A gravity that some rock climbers on the other side seemed to have taken in challenge. Still being on the ground, I went to greet them and inquired whether I would encounter more hotels on my way south. Responding positively, I walked on thinking I should try to reach Pula before the evening. The forecast had announced rain in the early morning so a youth hostel would be a nice place to spend the night. After enjoying the sea and the sun for a while, dipping my feet in the ice
cold Adriatic, I backed inland hoping to find access to a street soon. Synchronicity had it that the climbers were on their way back to their car, we came to a crossing in the park at the same moment. Going back to Ljubljana, they could drop me on the main road towards Pula, the city at the tip of the peninsula and capital of the region. Watching some fast cars drive by for a little while, a pianist working as private teacher in Umag picked me up on his way home, my destination for the
night. With a touching hospitality, he insisted in me accepting his 50 kunas (7 euros) as he wasn’t able to host me in his single room apartment he shared with his girlfriend. God would give it back to him some day he assured with a smile . With a bigger heart I arrived in Pula with a setting sun on it’s industrious harbour.
The quiet night at the crazy house hostel got me plenty of rest to get back on the adventure. Passing by some attractions of the city like the impressive roman coliseum and the old town, I continued my search for some quiet remoteness. Finally, the next benevolent soul brought me to the beginning of a small peninsula where I would find some real wilderness according to him. The first part was rather disenchanting because of the abandoned and wasted holiday houses in the
middle of the forest and trash to be found most of the open spaces. Fortunately, continuing the exploration, I found out that the peninsula was much bigger and stretched out into more raw and unspoiled nature. Indeed, after crossing this piece of waste land, I discovered one of the most beautiful seashores I’ve ever seen. Clear blue sea with rough white cliffs and dense deep green Mediterranean vegetation. The more I moved into this beautiful scenery, the more challenging the
walk became. Thin trails on sometimes high cliffs, paths through dense forests of bushes and small trees. I moved slowly but felt I was getting closer to what I was looking for. Progressively I sensed the cliffs becoming higher and steeper. After finding a camping spot in the thick shrubby forest, I climbed down the cliffs to go for a dive. The sea being rather icy, I didn’t stay long inside ! The dive somehow landed me in this place and marked my transition from civilisation to this pure
piece of nature. Also, it seemed to me that being alone increased the connection with it, no social distraction.!

Realising the simple and pure beauty of the sea, the sky and the rocks of the earth. The gratefulness for being able to witness it all and to be part of it, even though still looking for which part that exactly is. !

Every individual plays an essential role in the ‘whole’ story or at least in their own. I once heard the saying: ‘you are the most important person in your life’. To me, in order to really appreciate the meaning of this, I have to deeply understand that love and happiness are not to be found outside of myself. These are inside of me, waiting to be uncovered from the dirt shed by a confused and judgemental mind. !
As Satish Kumar explained, the outer pilgrimage is a merely symbolic expression of the inner one which is more important. The outer world is just an expression of the inner and not the other way around as we’ve been brought up to believe. If there is peace within, there will be peace without. ! !
Anyway, I had found a little piece of paradise with no one to get bothered by. Early March was the right time of the year to look for this quietness here, a month later with 5 degrees more on average would attract some more adventurous and leisure seeking souls. ! The next morning though, a chilling breeze got me have breakfast behind a rock, hiding even from the sun which couldn’t warm me up. Even after an exploration tour through the shrubs, the temperature remained low with a constant wind. I packed my tent and returned towards civilisation.
My ‘Into the wild’ expedition had turned short but I didn’t mind, I wasn’t prepared for much longer anyway and this wasn’t the intention. Back on the road direction Medulin, the name of this town sounded so nice but all I found was a extended holiday apartment resort without a centre. Names are not reliable I found out. Getting out of there as soon as I could, I headed north-east towards Labin. !

Camino

Hiking is a suitable recreational activity in our era, marked by hurry and lack of time. Walking in the nature has a calming effect on us, slows down the thoughts, and is good for our joints and circulation system. Association of the fans of Istra Camino, explores forgotten paths in Istrian hinterland and prepares an interesting program for short and long hiking adventures. More…

Pohodništvo je primerna rekreacija za današnji čas, zaznamovan s hitenjem. Hoja v naravi nas umiri, upočasni begajoče misli, predstavlja primerno obremenitev za sklepe in poživi krvni obtok. Društvo ljubiteljev Istre Camino, raziskuje poti v notranjosti Istre in pripravlja zanimiv program za večdnevne pohodniške podvige. Več…

Camino pilgrimage

Written by Taco, EVS volunteer

Community life can come to be a quite intense experience. Living with ten to fourteen people in the same spaces everyday is not always easy. Waking up every morning with an 8 month old baby screaming out her joy of life is beautiful but that can not be you’re state of mind all the time.
Anyway, for multiple reasons I needed to take some time for myself. Also, having hosted Sylvain Griot, who left Portugal several months ago on a cycle trip around Europe, revived in me the crave for adventure. So I left by foot with camping material some fruit, buckwheat polpete, a hat and a walking stick. Greeting some people working in the garden, I passed by the chicken house and left into nature. Walking across forests and meadows towards Brezovica. The feeling to walk on my
own two feet, carrying the necessary for survival until the next day at least is for me such a great feeling. Freedom, at last!
Living in a community makes me question many things: my position in the group, my contribution to the functioning of the place, my responsibilities, etc. And in many ways I am dependent on others for the roof, food and heating I can enjoy. These question also come up as one of the goals of this permaculture project is self-sufficiency. Independence to the outside world. The first step is thus independence and the next interdependence. Scales and metaphors.
The idea was thus to hitchhike into Croatia but soon got confronted with a Sunday traffic flow. Also, border crossings are often tricky, certainly in and out of the Schengen area. So I walked the first afternoon along the road towards Motovun, passing by Oprtalj. The backpack being quite heavy, I moved slowly along the road. With me I carried a book of Satish Kumar titled Earth Pilgrim. The author himself made a pilgrimage (without any money) across the world from India to all the four nuclear power centres (Russia, France, UK, USA) to demand peace.
The author considers a pilgrim a person that is aware of the interconnected nature of the universe and her or his place as part of the whole. According to him, the opposite of a pilgrim would be a tourist that is only interested in the destination. A
pilgrim sees the destination in every step she or he makes. It is with this spiritual inspiration that I walked slowly but mindfully.

The doors were open

The first destination was an abandoned house in the hill slope towards Livade. After a long night with loud carnival celebrations in the valley, I woke up with the first light coming through the glassless windows accompanied by a fresh breeze and some ivy. I continued my journey walking in the direction of Motovun. The first place I wanted to go see was Pazin, the main town in the centre of Istria but my holiday was led by freedom and serendipity. Indeed, the first car that stopped was a lawyer on his way to
Rovinj on the west coast. This friendly man told me that his destination was a much more interesting place for me to visit than Pazin. Leaving me in the harbour, I soon found out I hadn’t been misguided. The city of Rovinj lays along a beautiful sea facing an island. The view of this island had something wonderful. Laying there fix in the middle of an ever moving landscape. Caught in between a reflection.

To be continued

Crveni otok Rovinj

New EVS opportunity at Sunny Hill

We look for an EVS volunteer from now until the end of September, to join our exciting project Awake Istria.

Aim of the project is to bring sustainable activities in depopulated rural  area of the Slovene Istra that in the long run will bring possible local livelihood  and prevent young people from leaving. Three main goals of the project are:

  • establish hiking trail Camino Istra as first step towards sustainable tourism, 
  • help to local farmers with the ecological food
  • network in the local community  

Two EVS volunteers will work with us towards these goals.  The tasks will be diverse and the program offers a lot of learning opportunities. You will also have an opportunity to do your own personal project. The volunteer work is 5 days a week. You have  right to 1 additional free day every  month. You get pocket money according to the Erasmus+ daily flat rates. In Slovenia it is 4 EUR/day that will be transfered monthly to your bank account.   

The village where we live is situated on the  border with Croatia, 25 km distance from the coastal town Koper, 450 m above the sea level. During the EVS experience you will live in the community house together with 12 community members. The EVS volunteers have their own room, but shared kitchen and bathroom. They are expected to engage in community houshold activities equally with other members of the community.  We have two dogs, two cats and chickens. The village is remote, closest shop is in nearby village 6 km away as well as the caffe bar. The village is connected to Koper with  bus, that departs 3 times a day during week days. We have shared car that you’ll be able to use according to the terms. 

If you are interested, please fill in this application form 

New headway of community incubation

by Nara Petrovič, 25.1 2019

European Ecovillages are developing tools for sustainable living

We are witnessing a global epidemic of individualism.
Communities are disintegrating everywhere. When individuals do come together, trying to rebuild communities, they are usually not up to the task. More than 90% of community-building attempts fail. To address this problem, experienced community workers from around Europe created a community incubation programme, CLIPS, funded by ERASMUS+ from 2015 to 2017. CLIPS stands for Community Learning Incubator Programme for Sustainability.

To develop the community incubation programme further, 24 representatives of community organisations from 10 European countries met from January 21 to 25, 2019, at Sunny Hill Association in Slovenia, launching the CLIPS 2 project, funded by ERASMUS+.

There was a clear sense among participants that community is not a luxury, or at least it shouldn’t be. Being part of networks of meaningful relationships is a basic human need. “Community” is “human being” in plural, and vice versa, “human being” is singular of “community”. Our global responsibility is not only to preserve endangered species and ecosystems, but also to preserve the richness of our communities.

Facilitating community building, and quality group work in general, is called for by hundreds, if not thousands, of projects across Europe. The community incubation programme is therefore consolidating innovative methodologies and processes to support diverse groups.

By now community incubation have become rooted in many countries in Europe since CLIPS 1 project ended. CLIPS 2 is going to finetune the incubation programme and spread it further to better serve the real needs of community projects.

Strong communities are the basis of resilience in face of social crises and climate change.

The meeting in Slovenia reassured the participants, community incubation is not only necessary, it is urgent. The community of practice was created, since teaching community building requires walking the talk.

We can only hope that the community incubation programme will contribute to healing the global epidemic of individualism and help communities thrive – both old and new. We also hope group projects will find the community incubator valuable and widely applicable.

GEN Europe National Networks gathering at Sunny Hill

Between 17th and 20th of January over 40 representatives of Global Ecovillage Network gathered at Sunny Hill to discuss the role of ecovillages in changing world and create new common projects in the area of youth, revitalisation of rural areas and climate action.

Young representatives called Next GEN have joined the meeting for the first time. Connection between younger and older generations, inclusion of youth in the GEN Europe structure and transmission of experience between age groups was discussed.

Besides serious work there was enough opportunities for fun and casual conversations, that have helped to build new connections and strengthen ties between ecovillagers from South and North, East and West.

Participating countries: Finland, Sweden, Ukraine, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Scottland, Croatia, Slovenia.

„Dance Your Dance, Sustain Our Future “ through the participnat’s eyes

Written by Sara Bene - particiapant of the youth exchange (unedited text)

hrvoji.jpg

Begining of a new story

25 Youths from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Estonia came at one place Hrvoji, village from where you have a view on Croatia in one direction and Italian city Trieste on another. Surrounded with conserved nature, wild forests, far away from the civilization like we are used to live. We gathered here to participate in Erasmus+ project held in Community of living, appropriately called Sunny Hill. In 2013 a group of enthusiastic people decided to buy an old house located just next to church tower (used to be a forum) and close to cemetery, which brings atmosphere of historical heritage. House, with garden and open area was well restored and in the moment is a home of 8 permanent, few temporary members and many more volunteers from all over the world. Also, since Community has their own organisation they are often holding events and projects like this one, to raise awareness of their existence. Additionally, focus of this project was learning about sustainable and mindful ways of living and introducing some of Art therapy methods. We all, as participants, were informed about program and activities, but nobody couldn’t expect how next two weeks is going to change our life perspective and brings us closer to our inner selves….

First day  we could choose between sleeping in house or in tents, depending on our commodity and wishes, so we were immediately conduced in space where we will stay. The dinner was already prepared for us, who came later, and we start getting to know each other until sleeping time. secret gBreakfast was every day at 7:45 in the “Secret Garden”, space where we will be eating, chantting, playing, chilling…spending most of our free time in future days. Next day, we continue connecting through some creative and group dynamic games. At that point we were still trying to remember all the names but already being interested about finding out more about our backgrounds, interests and childhood. Also, from the beginning was evident that we will have to use our creativity and open imagination for better realisation of the project.

Learn to Learn…Do to Help

Program was organised that after breakfast we had before noon activities, coming up lunch and little break in between. Since we are all so different and living in community can be challenging, we were organised in working groups, responsible for certain daily tasks, together with one person from Community. coockingSo, we had groups for: preparing breakfast, washing dishes, cleaning toilets (which was everybody’s favourite), tidy up house and of course, celebration. Having a daily responsibilities and initiation as a team, was very important for realising what we do influence on whole community. One great way of celebration was singing a song (or more of them) before lunch to show thankfulness for food and cook’s hands. Lunch was always deliciously prepared from fresh gardens vegetables and local ingredients.

Next days we were getting more and more into sustainable living and gaining information about it. Nara Petrović; one of the Community founders, writer, facilitator, traveller, natural lover and many more, was willing to share some of knowledge that he collected about this topic. He was speaking about other organisation with good sustainable practice, like Global Ecovillage Network. Furthermore, we could find out a little bit about Pattern Language (theory of Christopher Alexander) and how important is to start finding patterns in our life habits and in world around us. tomatoes.jpgOne of the stress out topic during the whole project was Permaculture, or system of agricultural and social design principles centered around patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. We were speaking about each principle and how to apply it in our daily life. Few times we had schedule community work which means we could put this in practice and grid skills about building houses, cooking and conserving food, working on a field. This could give us the real feeling of living in community, being useful and even getting sweat sometimes to enjoy more after in free time.

Our senses for orientation and surviving in group were tested third day when we had adventure game in local environment. DSCF2976We have been separated in groups of five, given one map with drawing of path where to go with goal to find 4 cards, do certain funny tasks and come back home alive. For some of groups that was easy and fast, some of us get lost and decided to make our own adventure, some people get lost for real…on the way we were meeting local people, admire beautiful nature and becoming real friends in trouble. All different stories of adventure were shared the same evening supported by photos. I remember, this evening we were laughing like not many times before. Mission was accomplished: to have fun!

One before noon activity was reserved for theWorld café, structured conversational process for knowledge sharing in which groups of people discuss a topic at several tables, with individuals switching tables and getting introduced to the previous discussion by a “table host”. This time topic was influence of infinity growth population on planet and how to prevent the consequences of it. We were sharing our ideas, discussing about solutions and imagining world where we could live our dream without hurting anyone saving the Earth for next generations. This rise our awareness of preservation sources and bring some “alternative” ideas for brighter future.

We were also learned how to bring all of this into practise using methodology called Dragon Dreaming. It’s a systematic design process, a philosophy and framework, for the realisation of collaborative and sustainable projects, organisations and platforms, built upon three principles: personal growth, community building, service to the Earth. Originally, idea comes from John Croft and his wife, finding an inspiration in ancient sustainable wisdom of indigenous cultures and Australian Aborigines. In them believes, when we dream we are living our reality and dragon is a symbol of fortune, good luck.

Open Space and Meaning of Improvisation

One of the biggest parts of this project was left on creation for us, participants. In practise that means we all could bring out our wishes for learning and offer our talents to prepare workshops in duration of 2 hours approximately. open-space.jpg In the same time was offering more workshops so everybody could find something interesting. During four times of open space we had creative craft workshops like making bracelets and dream catchers, face massage and shiatzu workshops, guided dance of 5 elements and how to use dance and imaginations for Art therapy. Then, we could learn how to make homemade natural nettle/curry soap and lipstick. Another laboratory was kitchen, so we try ourselves in making energy balls, jams or making fresh bread. One very interesting workshop was about walking in group on aware and meditative way with music, professionally called Siera.

This way of doing activities was good learning.jpgopportunity for all to try being in role of tutor sharing own talents, empowering our confidence and bring us together even more. All this was enriched with lectures from wise members of Community, especially from women called Vida, who explain us how to be better facilitator and shown us effective techniques for working with groups. Moreover, she had an amazing ceremony workshop of making a womb belt with special dedication which united all women (and one man) together and remind us to celebrate our nature.

Another important part of project was to become more comfortable with improvisations, in dance and theatre. Since we are not professionalising at any of this art we should have use our creativity, voice, body, experience and freedom to experiment with our limits of existence. First, with excellent guidance of Italian brother and sister, we tried out contact improvisation in dance. Basically, after deep relaxation on the floor we start moving slowly, crawling and rolling without stopping, passing by each other’s bodies. dance.jpgIn those moment, we were invited to let go all borders, stereotypes and shame to connect deeply with people around us. Next, we tried out some dynamic exercises in couples to feel even more safe in our bodies. For the end we were jamming in podium trying all different possible movements. All was followed by excellent music rhythms!

Like I mentioned, we improvised in drama too. It was a sunny day when one sympathetic young man came to show us how to have fun without even saying a word! We were playing different kind of games using just our gestures, posture, mimic and sometimes voice (like gibberish or singing). Key point of this kind of theatre is interaction with audience who is giving ideas for next scene. Since you could never be really prepared what will happened next you are brought to situation to lean on your imagination. This way of interaction with another partner(s) brings out many humorous ideas which (usually) make people laugh.

Process of Growing and Connecting

Since one of the main aims of Youth Project is cultural exchange, we had national dinners with Italian, Croatia, Slovenia and Estonian food and traditional music. Of course, we enjoyed Italian pasta and tiramisu, but probably most surprising was richness of Estonian culture. They honoured us with palette of games, dances, playing bagpipes and singing magical Estonian songs. Also, as being curious about language we were trying to remember few words of foreign language but most of all we were improving speaking English.

From the early beginning we were questioned what we expect from this project and how we can contribute for good group synergy. Having a “check in” every day in our working group was a great opportunity to think about how we feel, what we learned so far (by remembering “Aha! moments”) and recall our dreams from previous night. Further, with regular evaluation we could speak in circle about opinions, emotions and suggestions for improvement. During this, emphasis was on active listening and self-reflections. Besides, silent moments in meditation were importantly respected and blessed. On this way we could better understand ourselves and each other’s. One of the escalation moments of opening to group was Truth Mandala where we had opportunity to share our life stories talking about deep emotions: sadness, fear, anger, hope, emptiness…and being heard from circle without any comments or judgements.

For two weeks we had an open playground to reach our potentials, dreams and desires. We were living a moment of presents in real utopia. How was that possible? From second day on, you had a chance to start day with yoga thanks to our lovely instructor Helena. Moreover, since house is equipment with musical instruments you could play or listen to music in every free moment. For those who were oriented more in movement, you could find circus equipment all around. In case of call for solo moments, you could easily find a place in living room or outside in nature for meditation, drawing, writing, reading or daydreaming. Just like enjoying in groups, respecting a private space was also very important.

To feel even more special, we all had our secret friend who was surprising us with small (or big) gestures of kindness, gifts and messages. We also spoiled ourselves during the free day going on beach, swimming, eating ice cream, exploring other locations. Talking about spoiling, we were giving and accepting massage on every step, hugs was like oxygen, realising that is never enough of human contact.
End of a Chapter

Last two days we were celebrating new friendships and process that has been made. First, we organised local event where we invited citizens from surrounding villages. Except for socializing, purpose of event was sharing of new experiences, so we prepared small show with improvisational theater to entertain audience. Afterwards, people could try traditional Estonian snacks and then have fun with games or dances. In the end, we collected around food and tried fuži, traditional Istrian meal with truffles. Yes, it was a real feast and we ate a lot that night! Later, we gathered all around fire and continue celebrating with guitar and wine long into the night. fire for the secret garden

Next day nobody was hangover, so we could make our last group evaluation and brief introducing to future project or how to make one. Also, we had opportune to come personally “one to one”, clear if there was still any obstacle or just share our view about certain person. We finished with peaceful eyes gazing. After early lunch we went on seaside all together and spent a wonderful time on sun. On the way back home, we stopped in olive oil farm where we had a little tour with lecture about their lordship. As real hedonists, we had professional olive oil tasting, whereupon we enjoyed in delicious food with breathtaking view on sunset.

Leaving the paradise and coming back home wasn’t easy for me. Getting back into “reality” was a big shock realising that most of society is functioning different. In a Sunny Hill you can feel values that enrich your heart and soul, make you better person with gratitude to life. By simplifying life habits and decision to let it go our ego we are making a space for real emotions: love, joy, happiness, consciousness, modesty…there were no feeling of emptiness, boredom and almost impossible loneliness. Living together in one space with so many different individualists, celebrating generational diversity, you can learn and improve yourself every day. So, world is waiting for us to make a change! This project was just a good proof if we step out of conventions, we could live our dreams😊

8dd3d358-6399-42ac-b108-1de47d17d97b-1129-00000619826e027a

Special thanks to Zadruga Dobrote for donation of sheets and blankets.

The project is financed by: Erasmus+  Youth in action.

E+ movit logo

Dance your dance, Sustain your feauture Youth exchange at Sunny Hill

See video, that was created by the participants here.

July and August have passed by in a blink of an eye… Interesting visitors were dwelling around, bringing diversity, learning opportunities and realization, that this place is becoming too small for everything we want to do, and for all the people who’d like to be part of it.
 
The culmination of this lively, colorful, enchanted summer was the group of young people from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Estonia, who brought us  joy, laughter and positive attitude towards life.
 
img_9201.jpg
 
The theme of the exchange was, how to sustain, with the fast life style and the challenges that the world and Europe as part of it are facing. Challenges that bring uncertainty and anxiety to young peoples lives. How to stay kind, compassionate and optimistic, when you are unsure about your own future. Our youth says that art and nature is one of the remedies.

They exchanged their experience and life knowledge how different art media (art, dance, theater, music, handcraft, singing) can help to relieve stress, discover themselves and support their growth. They actively shared this in an open space. The second topic of the exchange was sustainability – practical and theoretical. They have learnt about permaculture and how to make your own cosmetics from the ingredients that you find in the kitchen, they also made different handcraft from natural material. Through help to the local farmers they learned about eco-farming, and they supported the local cultural heritage by cleaning the bushes around the thousand years old church of St. Hieronimo. They also helped with work at Sunny Hill community and learned practical aspects of sustainability (how to make a yurt, preserving food, garden work, building with local material, cooking from vegetables from the garden, ect.). There was an introduction to The Dragon Dreaming method fro collective project management, they also learnt about facilitation and talked about sustainability on a personal level in a World Cafe.
 
 
They shared their traditional dishes in 4 national food evenings, and  learnt from a local lady, how to make traditional Istrian dish, Fuzi with truffels . They also went to explore the neighbourhood and met locals, whom they invited to a celebration evening with play, music and dance. Over 80 years old Ivanka from the village was sitting with them around the fire, happy to see so many young people together, talking to each other.
 
All this was shared in a relaxed  atmosphere, accompanied with music and dance,  laughter and joy.
 

Special thanks to Zadruga Dobrote for donation of sheets and blankets.

Program Dance your dance, sustain your feauture was financed by Erasmus+, Youth in action program. E+ movit logo

 

EVS at Sunny Hill

DSC_0029

Two young EVS volunteers are joining us for 12 months to work on Awake Istria project.

Volunteering in Sunny Hill can be life changing experience for young person, that would like to experience community life in luxurious simplicity by living and working with us and at the same time help the local community to awaken dormant potential of this beautiful area.

The program involves development of a new hiking trail and help with organic food production on our permaculture garden. The volunteer will discover possible points of interest along the trail, photograph them, describe them, map them, set up the internet presentation and meet orgaic farmers along the way that will offer food and shelter to hikers.

The volunteers will also have an opportunity to learn  about organic food production.  They will help on our permaculure garden as well as to other organic farmers in the area. They will  learn about how to preserve food and will have the opportunity to experiment with combining tastes and inventing new gastronomic products.  If they will wish so, they will get a smal plot of land to cultivate independantly and experiment with their own ideas.

The volunteers will live with us in our community house and interact with members of the community and international travelers that visit us regularly throughout  the year.

Please come back to this page to read from the first hand,  what their experience looks like.

8dd3d358-6399-42ac-b108-1de47d17d97b-1129-00000619826e027a