September 15, 2016
This is Lukomir, a little village on Bjelašnica Mountain. I am here with the crew from Fronterra program, which is a social start-up program that brings together entrepreneurial talent based on agriculture, tourism and art. However, I am not an entrepreneur, I do not work in agriculture and I do not do arts and crafts. I am here to tell you something.
We got to this beautiful place where there are only fifty inhabitants and we were able to see them from our bus working on their land in the sun, not caring for their wrinkled palms. We were welcomed by the incredibly kind staff of the mountain house called Natura AS. They served us coffee and tea, and a little later lunch cooked with the products that are all home-grown. We, the participants and the organization team, gathered around in the so called Bosnian room. We were divided into teams in which we had to find ten things that we have in common and two things per person that differentiate us from the others in the team. After presenting our similarities and unique skills or features, I felt that I knew all those creative people, snake hunters, yoga instructors, mountain climbers, artists… I felt how fast we all forget the easiness of getting to know other people.
We continued our session with a task to describe ourselves using maximum fifteen words. First we had to do it in a serious way, like we were on a job interview, and the second time we had to do it in a mysterious way. I didn’t read my sentences out loud, I listened to what others had to say. With no pressure we moved through the part of getting to know each other and as I was watching steep cliffs and precipitous heights through the window, the laughter that filled the room brought me back to reality. That reality wasn’t a cliché at all, nor was it gloomy like the reality in Bosnia and Herzegovina is usually described.
All these people that are here with me are young and ambitious future entrepreneurs. After lunch we headed to Lukomir meadow where they presented their ideas on implementing social entrepreneurship in their local community. It is fascinating that we talked about it in a place where it seems that time has stopped. Where you can barely catch mobile signal or Internet connection. This place actually is a symbol for the country that we live in. A tiny spot on the map where no one ever goes, because there is nothing to be found there. However, once you come in, you meet creative people, old ladies making hats, socks and headbands. You meet writers, nutritionists, teachers, psychologists, lawyers, sociologists, economists. You meet people who make perfect Bosnian ‘pita’ and sweet, tasty ‘hurmašice’.
Like I said, I am not an entrepreneur, I am not in tourism and I do not sell arts and crafts. But I am here to tell you something. While we were sitting on that meadow in this beautiful little village, it was all about proving that even from a tiny spot you can become big. You can become successful even if you come from an unknown country. A tiny little man can produce something huge and successful, just like a tiny little village can give you perfect ‘pita’ and ‘hurmašice’. I am here to tell you; they are here to prove you.
The essential challenge is to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole
Peter Block, author
We truly think your money is well spent here. And if your grant is substantial, your are welcome to witness how it works.
“Food, at the moment, seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place” Ottolenghi