BREfest 2.0. offered a diverse spectrum of activities free of charge throughout Aug 10th– 12th that was dedicated to threats imposed on water as a main source of life and wilderness by hydropower plants across the Balkans, and specifically in Sharr Mountain. Every morning started out with different physical exercises that sought to gently awaken the mind and the body. Be it guided yoga lessons by the Yoga school of Kosovo, guided hiking trips by EVS participants, meditation sessions, or capoeira dances by Capoeirea Angola Belgardo.
Morning Program (8:30 -12:00)
In between of breakfast and lunch time (12:00 – 14:00), the program included re-occuring activities that lasted throughout the three days of the festival.
The Bre-exchange corner provided visitors with an open space that encouraged the exchange of ideas, skills or knowledge. The place also served as a meeting ground where people could exchange belongings that they no longer needed, or engage in self-initited discussions about topics that are related to the festival’s focus on nature conservation, and alternative and sustainable lifestyle options.
The RYCO workshop „Art Colony,“ was welcoming visitors to view their mural paintings, upcycled art sculptures which spread across the courtyard of Kameni Dom.
The Herbal Station offered visitors the possibility to learn about Sharr’s herbal treasures. It was run by Milica, a local biology master’s student who devotes most of her free time to honing her literarcy and knowledge of Sharr’s herbal medicinal and endemic plants and by Isabelle from France, who has been volunteering with GAIA for the past five months. Together with EVS and RYCO participants, they bundled their passion and efforts to raise awareness of natural remedies and endemic species that can be found in the Sharr mountains.
The Do-It-Yourself corner focused on the re-use of trash and included the printing press and the sewing workshop. While the DIY station re-evaluated trash and garbage by using it as music instruments or decoration. The Printing Press used designs that were created by the members of the art colony and created prints on garments that were brought by visitors. Festival guests were also encouraged to create their own designs and a few did. The Sewing Workshop was held by Carine, a former long-term volunteer in Gracanica, who makes use of her artifice in sewing to upcycle old clothings into new cuts and pieces of accessories.
Under the same roof was the EVS corner of BREfest 2.0. which encouraged visitors to learn about the experience of twelve volunteers from European countries. Part of their time in Shar mountain consisted of researching about its natural and social habitat and thereby contributed to the lack of documenation of its biodiversity. Their final articles cover topics ranging from herbal medicine, hydropower plant activisim to geo-mapping of the area.
The permaculture corner was run by GAIA’s volunteers from the permaculture project in Bozevce. The aim of the corner was to introduce the principles and the practical knowledge about permaculture to the visitors of the festival.
Afternoon Program (14:00 – 18:00)
After the shared vegetarin lunch, which was offerd every day in exchange of contribution to the festival organization of only 1 Euro, the program continued with specific workshops by RYCO participants, children from Imaginatorium, or local musicians.
On Friday, BREfest 2.0. was visited by children and GAIA volunteers from the non-formal education center for Roma children and youngsters in Gracanica, called Imaginatorium. The crowd’s spirits and positive energy significantly contributed to a lively atmosphere in all corners.
The RYCO workshop „Wild Summer School“ also presented its outcomes on wildlife monitoring with a vivid Q&A session at the end.
The Astronomy Club of Kosovo also contributed to BREfest 2.0. by offering their knowledge and equippment to participants and guests to learn more about planetary systems and solar, as well as stellar constellations from the afternoon to the evening hours.
On Saturday, BREfest 2.0. was devoted to Sharr’s values and challenges. The afternoon programm included a poetry 101 workshop on nature run by EVS volunteers which centered on one’s ability to put their thoughts into structured forms and free verse.
The presentation of the RYCO workshop „Storytelling“ invited visitors to listen to their interviewing material with local residents in Brezovica and Štrpce/Shtërpcë on their podcast titled „BREradio,“ which can be accessed on their blogsite.
The RYCO workshop „Traditional Knowledge“ performed a pariticpatory ritual in Durlov Potok, a river close by Kameni Dom that is threatened by an ongoing hydropower project.
On Sunday, next to the ongoing corners, the networking event took the center stage. By organizing this event, GAIA aimed at fostering stornger relationships between regional NGOs working in the field of youth work, rural and urban environmental protection and conservation. NGOs from Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria participated in this event and volunteers of GAIA helped conducting it.
Evening Program (18:00 – 20:00)
After each shared vegetarian evening meal, cooked by the rapper MC Corba, BREfest offered activities and art performances to both continue a critical revision of the relationship between human and nature, but also to afford a space for joy and appreciation of the natural environment of the Sharr mountain.
On Friday, the program included music performances by the children and youngsters of the Imaginatorium and a movie viewing that was part of the cooperation with the film festival Romawood. Then, the festival moved to the ski resort area where DJ Alban Nuhiu lifted the atmosphere with tropical tones and Dj Organic Kimm set the dance beat. At the same time, the Astronomy workshop offered insights into stelar constallations by providing the unique possibility of using their professional telescopes.
On Saturday, the program included a movie viewing of the film „Blue Heart,“ (2018) by Patagonia and a follow-up discussion on the issue of hydrodams constructions across the Balkans with Olsi Nika – a guest from the Albanian NGO „ECOALBANIA.“ In the later hours, the festival moved to the ski area to immerse into a unique musical experience by the Jazz ensamble Shefchetz (Ilir Bajri and friends), the Macedonians Mane Rootsman & Natty Flyah and DJ Organic Kimm.
On Sunday, the program included a movie viewing of the final project outcome by the traditional knowledge workshop, a short film that documents their interviews and explorations of the livelihoods around Shar and the viewing of a permaculture film that addressed the fast paced changes within a neo -liberal society and learn how to manage one’s personal and environmental resources in an environmentally sound way. The music performances by MC Corba and MC Zekaj, Dj Matale from Prishtina and DJ Organic Kimm from Peja drew a final close of the festival on Sunday night.