From June this year until April 2023, the JU Youth Cultural Center (JC) is part of a large international project entitled Big Time Takeover developed through the “Erasmus KA2 Program for Cooperation and Innovation and Exchange of Good Practices of the European Union for Strategic Partnerships, which include educational programs for youth.” Led by Associazione culturale Mulab from Italy, receives support from the National Youth Agency of Italy (Agenzia Nationale per I Giovani) and includes the partner organizations Rinova Limited (Great Britain), HFC-Hope for children and CRC Policy Centar (Cyprus) and Fundacija Arteria (Poland).
The project aims to encourage young people to use their creative power and the potential of modern technology to speak out on issues affecting the community. MCC, in this project, perceives the opportunity to involve young people in creating content that is in line with project activities and goals, but mainly in the interest of the current urgency in creating a caring approach to nature.
From the very beginning, MCC cooperates with the artists Hristina Ivanoska and Jane Chalovski to develop a modern interdisciplinary, artistic, and educational concept and program, which will cover all the key goals and directions of the project. The first proposed action was to develop a public project that would serve as a learning concept for the involved youth. That is how “The Garden as an Instrument, Permaculture as a Methodology” emerged. The students*, together with the artists and the staff at MKC, joined Hayan Alhalabi, an expert in the field of permaculture, in creating the first institutional permaculture garden in Skopje.
The garden encourages the participation of young people (aged 14 to 18) in three key areas: 1. creative expression through an artistic approach to nature, 2. using digital tools in the process of permaculture gardening, and 3. developing responsibility for their possessions and income from his work. The main goal remains to establish a holistic synthesis of different approaches for the creative encouragement of young people, inspired by the great experience of the partners in the project at the local, regional, and national levels.
– We have fantastic young people that need additional educational and real-life opportunities to express themselves and show their meaningful approach to social issues affecting their present and future. So we offered them the possibility of developing a relationship with the idea of permaculture and articulating creative ideas that best represent them – acknowledge both Ivanoska and Chalovski. Out of this process, the students have been able to develop innovative practices and discuss issues such as climate activism, civic responsibility, and the use of creativity in a collaborative way. Some of the results, such as drawings, logo design, and music performances, were made visible during the official opening of the Gradidnina.
In July, two of the students, together with the coordinator of the project Marga Arsova, traveled to Matera in Italy to participate in a meeting that brought students from countries involved in the project to consider working together on a shared topic. They selected Climate Crises. In that regard, Eva Bozinovska, one of the participating students, wrote a short story, “Gaja and the Secret Garden,” that is currently being illustrated by three collaborating students from the High School for Art led by mentor Dushica Dimitovska, a professional book illustrator.