First Partnership Meeting

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Iasi, Romania
November 28th & 29th 2019

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The meeting was aimed at covering basic practical issues required for the project development with an emphasis on understanding what each partner proposed to develop.

The first day

began with a walk to the meeting point. Partners were asked to record their impressions during the walk and a fascinating report ‘Photo-voice task: Lithuania’ was produced by the Lithuanian partners:

Here are a few extracts

7 IMBeauty culture. Despite the fact that there are a lot of abandoned places in the city, there are plenty of clothes boutiques and luxury fashion brands. It seems like people in Iasi love to dress up: it raises a presumption that concern about beauty comes from cultural and historic Romanian heritage.

8 IMPotential of the river banks. It seems that river banks are not used up. Usually people like to walk near the river, but in Iasi people don’t have this possibility.

The whole report can be accessed as a Word File download here

The project is about re-connecting (people, place, landscape and ultimately, ‘nature’). The introductory exercise did exactly that.

Others also created reports:

11 DH 112 DH 213 DH 3

The full report: Impressions of Iaşi

The Photovoice method is outline here:

Photovoice – the method

We were warmly welcomed on arrival at our centre

there are ‘business meeting’…. there always are ‘meetings’ …. and a serious attempt was made with the agenda to ensure that formal ‘meetings’ did not dominate….

So the setting for this introductory meeting of the partnership was carefully chosen to create a general air of informality which hopefully wil be present through all of the project.

The approach worked well – first a ‘working’ ‘observational’ walk through the city followed by

  • group analysis of key concepts and presentation of local plans.

(Test question: Is it possible to ‘Spot the Italians’?)

2 IM

4 IM

3 IM

5 IM

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  • Presentation of local plans

Informality is important – and so is ‘low tech’…. we were very ‘low tech’ (hooray).

‘Low tech’ it is human and dynamic, requiring people to move, respond, cooperate – sometimes be seen in somewhat embarrassing posture….  and thus is more interesting to those watching. It produces accidentals, amusement & humour – and allows for inspirational moments as individuals within the group gain confidence to engage, speak, laugh – and sometimes even sing.

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Yes…. we could do ‘higher tech’ – in a relaxed casual manner:

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… with participants popping up to add comment

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or just laughing at the situation

……but for simple pleasure and improved engagement, we should control technology – use it as a means of avoiding having to use it: Reports, Plans, Assessments, Minutes of Meetings – they should be dispatched and read before or after a group meets….

……..let us, when meeting, never gather solemnly round a table – our personas protected by our laptops, reduced to being passive listeners…. we should strive to maintain our “A Low Tech Revolution”.

…….. rather chaotic but more fun

captions to the above photos to be submitted privately

The session was curtailed – and our meeting room abandoned – when the local coordinator decided she was bored with the tedium of being inside…….

– so led us away……

……. To a brewery

Only half-a-day into the first meeting and

The Green Bridgers Go Boozin’

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and just to ensure that the jolly mood continues…..

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…… there is always room for a ‘top-up’….. and our local coordinator, half hidden, seems determined not to miss out.

Jollity – Begone the Dull Care of formal meetings.

Though maybe drinking from two glasses at the same time is a little excessive

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Others were more concerned to engage in a little trading:

“Yes madam, we can easily have these ready later today for you to consume at your hotel or take home to Finland”

we have these ready

…. ” and as its a bulk purchase, we offer them at a special discount price”.….

Though the visit was an extra to the general theme of the meeting, there was a significant connection. The brewery is a new enterprise and it has set itself to produce beer that is made only from natural ingredients and which remains ‘alive’ in the bottle. It is a very carefully produced ‘quality product’ and in an important sense, part of a more general social movement towards ‘higher standards’. As such it shares a ‘kindred spirit’ with those seeking a healthier environment.

Reason enough to be fully appreciated

The lunch time refreshment did not prevent th partners from reassembling at Balta Rece in the evening

and with the meal accompanied by traditional music

The Second day

the group reassembled for further planning discussions – including a consideration of the the projct logo.

For some reason never quite understood by the author of this report, the issue of the ‘project logo’ seems to arouse more interest and argument than any other aspect of the project. The project subject may have deep and serious importance – major issues & rationales can be quietly ignored (‘shallow’ is the usual level) but ‘logos’ can result in almost endless discussion.

There are reasons – and it relates to practical issues. The subject ‘logo’ is immediate, observable and something to which anyone can have some sense of feeling & understanding.

The term ‘Green Bridges’ is a perfect term for such a level of interest – it is easy to grasp – but not necessarily easy to represent

So, images were presented and a debate began

…. but without resolution……….

The whole process was rapidly concluded by the arrival of students from the local Art High School ….. photographers & artists

Their intervention created the type of unplanned accidental positive international encounter that underly the nature of a carefully & thoughtfully planned Erasmus Plus meeting.

Upon such intimacies is the world (and who knows: universe?) sustained.

At this point the partners decided that they would ask the Art School students to resolve the issue of the Logo – and design a logo that would then be adopted by all. It was agreed by all.

Then followed the presentations – and everyone was encouraged to be a flag waving Romanian

The afternoon was spent visiting one of the local sites chosen by the local partner to be featured in local Green Bridges action.

It is a small area of 44.3 hectares, on the edge of a plateau that overlooking Iasi from the south.

It is a nature reserve: “Locul fosilifer Dealul Repedea“, the first to be created in Romania. It also has distinction as being featured in the first formal research work in the history of Romania geological studies: “Calcariul dela Răpidea” published in 1862 by the founder of Romanian geological and paleontological studies, Grigore Cobălcescu

The area seems to have provided building stone for Iasi and district until the geological importance was formally recognised in the 1950s when it became a protected zone. The name of the village below the ridge indicates what was once the local industry: Pietrărie (lucrătura în piatră: stonemasonry)

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The geological importance features on its ‘oolitic limestone’ structure, producing rock with egg like appearance and the presence of significant fossils. Such rocks, because of the associated paleontological features are sometimes associated with a variety of rounded stones called ‘dinosaur eggs’.

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Most of the protected area is a buffer zone protecting the key area of the former quarries and caves that are important for their fossils and oolitic limestone features.

The plateau and ridge feature in a number of local web sites indicating importance of the area to Iasi. It also has a facebook page – which seems, given its mission as SALVAM SI CASTIGAM (‘We save and win’ ), to have been created to help understand the need for conservation. There is clearly much work to be done on conservation management. Members of the Green Bridges group noted an untidy, neglected feel to the place. It was not obviously anything more than the place of a TV relay station, some quarry spoil heaps (now overgrown with scrub & providing these visitors with a playground) & what seemed to be caves (complete with graffiti). Photographs on the web also demonstrate a careless disregard for the site – with visitors cars parked inside what is presumably intended as the conservation zone.

The site is however much more than the immediate area as it includes forestry and abundant varied wildlife linking into the 11,000 hectares of woodland associated with the Bârnova community.

Others have noticed this: an English translation of a Ziarul de Iaşi report from 2018 states:
“The Repedea plateau, left by the outbreak. How to have a “diamond” and throw it in the trash!”

It does seem something of a local tragedy that there has been no combined social action to ensure that this significant site has been left to quietly decay.

One imagines that, during the varied historical movements that have occurred in & through Bassarabia, many important Voivodes such as Alexandru cel bun (accompanied maybe with his wife Rymgajla) & Vasili Lupu (bearing the sacred relics of St Parascheva to his city of Iasi) have stood on the ridge and surveyed the territory

Vasile Lupu

… and so, in a rather curious way, these representatives of the latest European effort at political cooperation, have arrived to enjoy the local scene

The weather was not sufficiently kind to provide the usual view of Iasi spreading out below the ridge but did not prevent a playful exploration of area….

…….passing over and around remnants of the historic quarrying.

…. and eventually, before departing the area, surrounding an unsuspecting tree (no complaint was registered)

Hopefully, the local partner, ASIE, will be able to bring together local agencies that have a shared concern for sites such as Locul fosilifer Dealul Repedea and develop action to save the area for future generations.

It should be a place of magic, providing inspiration for the local population – the elements are all present.

Intru in munte. O poarta de piatra
incet s-a-nchis. Gand, vis si punte ma salta.
Ce vinete lacuri! Ce vreme inalta!
Din feriga vulpea de aur ma latra.

Jivine mai sfante-mi ling manile: stranii,
vrajite, cu ochii intorsi se strecoara.
Cu zumzet prin somnul cristalelor zboara
albinele noptii, si anii. Si anii.

I enter the mountain: a stone gate quietly shuts.
Dream and bridges fly me up.
What violet lakes! What vital time!
The gold fox barks from the ferns.

Holy beasts lick my hands: strange,
under a spell, they stalk with eyes turned within.
Buzzing through the sleep of crystals
the bees of death fly. And the years. The years.

(Lucian Blaga: 1930)

In the evening – carol singers raising money for charitable causes.

…. their singing creating a different, seasonal, magic in the streets of the city

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