In recent years, there has been increasing discussion about involving the community in cultural and educational projects, as well as initiatives in unconventional spaces, in schools, outdoors or in public spaces. In this way, certain members of communities can be transformed, through initiatives that directly involve them, from beneficiaries to content creators. Moreover, the results of such projects can also reach new audiences who do not normally attend cultural initiatives.
The way we integrate into society and the way we relate to others is a bond in projects that involve the community. We are all influenced by social relationships, which give us a certain identity and generate a certain framework for our actions. These invisible structures combine the families, neighbourhoods or communities to which we relate, the schools where we learned and the organisations where we work professionally. And the specific heritage of a particular area, whether tangible or intangible, can focus the energies of a community around it.
In Bucharest, we mention the project “Stories about the Defenders of the Homeland”, implemented in 2017 by the Sinaptica Association in partnership with the Museum of Bucharest and co-financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund, with the support of the “Dacia” Technological High School, the “Miron Nicolescu” Technical College and the “Defenders of the Homeland I” Parish, about which you can find details here.
Another example is Historii din cartier, a cultural project carried out in 2015 by the Museum of the Municipality of Bucharest in partnership with Translucid Association, Bucharest Metropolitan Library and the National Archives of Romania, co-financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration, supported by Sun Plaza Shopping Centre and Văcărești Natural Park Association. The project proposed to enhance the memory of the southern area of Bucharest (today called Berceni district) through stories, photographs and cartographic documents. Streets, alleys, disappeared or transformed places, slums, gardens, stories of families or personalities who lived in the area were part of a permanent exhibition, in which the inhabitants of the neighbourhood participated. The organisers of the project also explicitly aimed to take cultural initiatives beyond the city’s central space, stimulating the inhabitants of an area to get involved in educational actions in their own neighbourhood.
Teenagers from the neighbourhood also participated in the research on the history of the area. Dynamic and open-minded, the young people contributed to the project by using their family stories or their own experiences in the form of multimedia presentations designed in workshops organised by the coordinators. The images and texts revealed details about neighbourhood landmarks, living in the area and specific living habits. The workshops were held in the George Coșbuc branch of the Bucharest Metropolitan Library, the neighborhood library.
Stories from the history of the Berceni neighbourhood were presented on the dedicated blog, which can be accessed at https://cartierulberceni.com/, and the publication resulting from the project is available here.