Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ck update

It's been a while since I explained what I've been up to service-wise, so here ya go!

I had a very productive meeting at work today where I was able to voice some grievances in a positive manner and that has proved effective since I already have designed two projects in addition to the weekly tasks and events with which I'm involved. One is to bring together a bunch of representatives of NGOs in Serbia because a lot of them are invisible to the public and primarily for networking resources so these organizations can begin to work together. Now each NGO seems to work separately to achieve similar goals which could be more effectively achieved with combined efforts so I thought let's use ck's space to introduce them and let them discuss their platforms to see how they can better each others actions. Then I thought after these NGOs meet privately in ck without public admission, we could host a public open discussion on Decempber 10th (Global Human Rights Day) where the NGOs dealing with LGBT, Roma, women, workers, and education are represented and can inform the public of their mission and the public's rights. Many people in Novi Sad, primarily the youth, have lost hope in the government and therefore don't even know their and others' rights and I've been taught and now firmly believe that education is the first step to action for if people don't know what they need to fight for the fight will never commence! After voicing this idea I was told that a debate of this manner was attempted last year with just one discussion point (lgbt rights) and only a few people showed up. To remedy this, I suggested organizing an open kitchen dinner and perhaps a short documentary or exhibition which dealt in the field of human rights. To my happy surprise this idea was very well-received and I’ve already begun work on it.

The main cultural shock I've experienced in my organization is the lack of efficiency. The contributing factor for this is the polako/kada vreme (we have time) mentality that Serbs possess. And since this organization deals with many different activist groups, artists, bands, etc, there are always people just walking into the house which stirs up the environment and takes so much time away since even after they leave it takes more time to refocus on the task at hand. Along the same line, their meetings are completely impromptu. If someone they need to talk to stops by, we will go into the adjacent room and discuss the matter right then and there. This has provided ample frustration from my end and that of Jakob, the other constant volunteer, since we are not informed prior to the meeting of the issues being discussed so we cannot prepare properly. As such we feel unqualified to speak up since we feel like we didn't know enough about what they were discussing. During the meeting yesterday they considered political education and ways to implement it in ck. As always, they got off track and began debating other matters. Jakob and I were frustrated that they began a new thought before finishing the previous one so our ideas were washed away before they could be heard. To counteract this I spoke up and suggested my networking idea and related it to the Human Rights day. From this I learned that I actually am qualified to speak up and that it's best just to throw my ideas out there as long as I've thought them through because they are more possible than I realized. Good learning lesson methinks! I still am hesitant to speak out at times because I haven't been working there for long and my ideas might have already been done or suggested but I think they are beginning to respect and trust me more which in turn builds my confidence.

The second program I’m working on is brainstorming discussions, seminars, exhibitions, documentaries, and workshops for ck’s week of anti-fascism built around November 9th (Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass, 1938--look it up!). At the meeting yesterday people deliberated over what to do and how to include the most people and all sectors of the population. Most of the suggestions tossed around about anti-fascist informing activities were so gloomy and though I admit it is a dreary, yet important, topic, I felt like adding something more fun and uplifting that would get the public's attention and succeed in spreading information. I suggested something creative like an afternoon in the city center for dancing, drawing, painting and other art mediums where we could have a few tables with information laid out and a giant white banner that passerbys could express themselves on or write their thoughts regarding this topic. Ck is about five minutes from the center by foot so there aren't as many people as in the city center who walk by making this location more accessible. In addition to these projects I'm still working on renovating the upstairs room into a public library/infostore, still running the kitchen each week with a larger and more varied audience each time, and still showing Miyazaki films (side: Castles in the Sky this week brought in even more than Totoro so ck wants to stretch this theme into November as well!), so still thoroughly busy and enjoying it.

This is a lot of information but it's probably the only update I'll have time for this week so enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katherine. Thanks for all of these great updates and reflections. With regard to polako/kada vreme mentality and the office culture at CK that you describe, I think you'd find the writings of Edward T. Hall to be quite interesting -- particularly his books The Silent Language and Beyond Culture. Hall argues that the use and perception of things like space and time are culturally determined. His theory on monochromatic versus polychromatic conceptions of time (and how they relate to the workplace) really tie into what you have written here. Try and see if you can find some of his work online. It's really interesting stuff. All the best, John Luria