Local Movements in Croatia
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust
One of the reasons I wanted to leave my life behind and join this crazy adventure on Remote Year was to be exposed to different cultures. I have always been a very open-minded person, so while I have lived in few places, I feel like I have immersed myself in belief systems and ideologies outside the norm of the societies in which I have lived. Different ways of life absolutely fascinate me and I have been eager to immerse myself in more.
Croatia has been incredible so far. I have seen the beauties of nature at the gorgeous waterfalls of Krka, the many islands plotted along the Adriatic Sea, and the lush greenery along the coast.
I have an amazing new tramily from RY, full of their own unique life stories, personalities, and opinions. The conversations have been deep, complex, and show the need to build productive conversations that build bridges among our different views.
However, there are bigger stories happening around me here in Croatia. There are people working and fighting for things they believe in. There are people struggling to support their families and enjoy their gorgeous beaches, currently plagued with tourists with little regard for the well being of the locals.
I am blessed to have an experience here that has immersed me in the local cultures and the local tribulations.
The history of Croatia is a messy one that comes with the complexion of war and struggle. It is a nation that has gone through the tribulations of a divided people, something that I can relate to right now as an American who also lives in a divided nation.
Pokret Otoka | Island Movement
I think this is why I was very drawn to the stories told by an incredible woman, Maja Jurisic. Maja is a project manager for an organization call Pokret Otoka, or Island Movement.
According to their Facebook page, "Island Movement is a self-sustaining and solidarity network of islanders and island lovers who, by connecting individuals, organizations and ideas, are building responsible and sustainable society on Croatian islands." I absolutely love their mission:
Our desire is to create insular community together - community which is strong enough to act and change things for the better future of all islanders and beyond. With our own example of self-organization in a proactive and supportive community working on very concrete projects, we want to encourage others to take over responsibility for sustainable future of the islands. Networking and mutual support are helping us to grow and develop ourselves, organizations and islands without having a feeling of misunderstanding and loneliness in our ideas.
The nation of Croatia, and their collection of over 1000 islands, has exploded with tourism over the last five years. The influx of tourism has promoted new jobs, a prosperous summer economy, and has placed Croatia on the map of must-visit destinations. Consequently, the country has struggled as money-hungry businesses have moved in to profit on the tourism here.
There are boisterous beach side bars that party and drink into the early hours of the morning. There are new festivals, encouraging patrons to come and spend their money on cheap tricks and boozy celebrations.
There is a problem of sustainability with the level of tourism and the lack of policy to protect the environment. The main cities are becoming littered with the debris of visitors looking for a good time, with not a care for the wreckage they leave behind.
Even worse, the locals are struggling to access their very own beaches, the places they have enjoyed their entire lives for a peaceful swim and the enjoyment of the paradise they call home. Tourism has taken over, disregarding the lives of those who live here.
This is part of the struggle Island Movement is seeking to shine light upon and is working to protect the environment and the people who live here. They are working hard to educate people, having protests throughout the islands and major cities, and are dedicating hours of their time to this incredible movement.
Please follow them and spread the word!
Inspired Croatia - Eco Camp
I was also very blessed to have met more incredible people this weekend, who are working hard to educate and promote sustainable living in Croatia. Still in the beginning stages, this group of people are working hard to promote other bad asses, build their eco camp, and collaborate with like minded people.
Inspired Croatia's Mission:
All in all, our mission is simple. We want to flood your life with wonder and curiosity, to invite a constant flow of ideas and experiences to keep all of us moving forward and upward. From historical walks and yoga classes to making terrariums, weaving dream catchers, and learning how to grow your own food – we invite you to share your passions & learn from others. There are so many ways of being human, and we can’t wait to see yours.
I. FREAKING. LOVE. THIS.
Power couple, Shannon and Ante, led us on an inspiring day through the different centers in Kastela, a visit to an ancient olive tree, and back to their Eco Camp in the gorgeous mountains that overlook the City of Split and the Adriatic.
They are working to build an incredible Eco Camp, created by their own hands and those of the volunteers they receive through collaborations with companies such as Remote Year. A tour of the grounds showed us their impressive fruit and vegetable gardens, a number of fruit trees (including fig, yum!), future camping grounds, and the building they will be turning into the kitchen and bar.
Their goal is for people to stay on the grounds and contribute to their own meals from start to finish. If you want to eat, you will be responsible for picking your own food and assisting in the process. It is a great idea for creating more appreciation for where one's food comes from.
While we visited, we assisted with picking cherries, planting seeds, and I helped to rebuild a traditional mason wall. I freaking loved it and cannot wait to revisit when their dreams are ready to show off to the world!
Remember to have appreciation...
I think we need to spread more awareness about conscious traveling. I definitely want people to enjoy their travels, enjoy their precious vacations hours, and have a blast doing whatever is fun for them... but we need to start being aware of the fact that we are vacationing in someone's home.
Let's make a better effort to take care of our environment when we travel. Let's make an effort to show appreciation for the locals that open their beaches, gorgeous monuments, and parks for our enjoyment. And when possible, let's make an effort to educate ourselves, get involved, and give back.
Always remember that we all live under the same sky, looking at the same moon.
If this post inspired you, please share the efforts of the people mentioned above! Support and awareness can go a long way.
Many thanks for reading!