Too much of anything has to break

In the moment when our towns become boroughs, when our cities become villages, when half of the Serbia live in our capital city, and the media publish only accidents and other psychologically bad things, a miracle is created in Leskovac.

On Sunday, 26 October this year in Ančiki, an urban neighborhood of Leskovac, youth club and within it “Small free library” was officially opened. The whole thing was started by young citizens from an association “Omladinski klub Ančiki-OKAn” which was formed on their own initiative.

Working actions, activism, commune, community.. sounds so socialistic, old. Creativity, innovation, transparency, enthusiasm, sounds so modern. From clash of meanings of these words, which does not excludes their binding and interweaving, among this young people grows the hope of a better tomorrow.

A group of young, unemployed people, which did not want to listen to the empty stories or to wait for empty promises, has created base for further development which is also space for expression and development of whole community.

OKAn was started up by group of young citizens of Leskovac, that grew together watching the system and the society that were disinterested to do something and help young creative individuals to move on, to develop their uniqueness, and by that to develop the society. All the time, they were dreaming and making plans and ideas about their own space In which they would be able to freely express their creativity in the right scope (most members of this group are actually engaged in some form of creative work).

4Everything started with small actions of cleaning and upgrading the local playground, and then in the summer of 2013. the formal registration of association, youth club Ančiki – Okan happens. In that moment they started the project of forming the premises of the club. Primarily, they obtained the non-functional object of just over 40 square meters, in use for a period of five years, from the local community Ančiki, which showed an unexpected flexibility and understanding. Through the project with a budget of some 700 euros, a few months later this object was fully transformed and functional.

With great desire to carry their idea into effect, those young people applied two years in a raw on Ministry of youth and sport’s call for program “Mladi su zakon”, which provided them necessary resources for starting up of this club and it’s library. Resource center Leskovac helped them the first year, while the second year “Narodni parlament” joined too. Great gratitude this young people owe to the other libraries publishing houses that donated great number of books (National Library of Leskovac, Vlasotince and Bojnik, SANU, University library of Belgrade, publishing house “Mali Nemo”, and many others). No less important was the altruistic help people from the local community that helped in various ways to the club to stand on its feet.

Stefan Mitić: We managed to transform a place that everyone were turning their 888000heads of it, to a place that now everyone turn their heads to see what is it about. First we joined, cleaned up, literally, the jungle that was in front of the rooms, so that we could enter them. When we got in, we had what to see: instead of floor-sand, instead of white walls- grime and mold. Folded door. Collapsed windows. Collapsed roof. Working from morning to night, we managed with a little financial help from MOS, to make big changes. Then came the period of creativity, out of nowhere, we were trying to create something. From the gate we made coffee table. With great pleasure we brought tings from our homes, that lied down on the attic and turned them into inventory. From pallets and mattresses – a two-seater. From vinyl records we made wall clocks. From cardboard-3D letters… We painted, decorated.. We also made small street houses for books, shelves.. And we enjoyed whole time. From the source of mold, soot and dust we made place of books. Out team, with it’s work and sweat has proven that we do not need a lot of money for richer social and spiritual life. We are initiators of the neighborhood. Neighborhood in family.

7Slobodan Stojičić: It’s a really wonderful thing when everything you’ve been dreaming as a child now you can feel. I like to repeat to myself that among the bad financial situation and never ending battle for better tomorrow, I just live my dream- because what I thought was impossible actually happened. Still, we work hard yet and there are many things that are missing, for example we don’t have internet we need for our work, but beside that we also want to provide free access to Internet for all visitors.
Also, a really big problem is that the club do not have water supply nor toilet, or heating system for winter period. But.. the hardest part was to start, and we started long time ago. We strive to create a model of functioning on base of which all young people that want to change something can create their own. This exactly is the concept of direct democracy. Our further battle that follows is initiation and help in opening of clubs of this kind among the county. 

Today “Small free library” in this Youth club has over 5000 books, which are available to all the citizens for a free reading. The innovative thing is rubric “Order and read” on their website (www.okan.org.rs). Anyone who does not have a chance to physically come to the library have the possibility to order a book for free, and volunteers of OKAn will bring  it to their place, and  after the reading return it to the library. Also, another innovation is setting up of a small wooden houses in front of the club premises, where citizens can exchange their favorite books, and on that way develop good neighborhood realtions.

One should not forget that in the premises of the Youth Club recently can be followed various debates, literary and poetry evenings, exhibitions, as well as many activities that can be interesting  to younger, and older citizens.

Youth Club Ančiki – Okan tells you: Close newspaper, turn off the TV, do not listen to promises, stand up and act !!!

Title: “How young people organized and “awaked” Leskovac”– B92

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PR-activity and an avalanche of media attention begins whit this text, which is published on website portal B92. Good idea, great topic, successful realization, (in moment of mass apathy, misinformation about migration of young, forcing bad news (forcing of misinformation), sensationalism…) wasn’t sufficient for better and adequately  presentation of idea to mass audience. Local media recognize quality of the story or events on local only when story or event first get reworded or  recognize from outside area. The Prophet never in his village. Knowing this, we we opted for the biggest media, using modern habits, not knowing how far it can reach. From the very start we knew what attracts attention of today’s information „consumer“.

Goals:

  • – Represent OKAN to the general publicsrce 2
  • – All categories of the population
  • – In all parts of Serbia and the region
  • – Across all media
  • – Avoid frequent forms of presentation

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  • Ticklish, direct and a little bit pretentious title.srce
  • (Which) Can be a good topic for social networks and visitors of internet sites.
  • Number of spontaneous but not ordered shares is a measure of success.
  • The information is coming not only from visitors, but from editors too.

 

The next day already, the news are noticed by radio stations. First of all, “S media” in their daily column “Dobra vest”

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Radio S – Dobra vest / Omladinski klub Ančiki

Competition follows everything, so already the next day, organization of radio stations RAB in their project “RAB Pozitiva”, in over 60 radio stations across Serbia airs the news about our Library.

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RAB POZITIVA – Free library OKANO

Seems like there is no place, as well as no interest for warm stories from little people from different parts of Serbia; success of school kids or humanitarian actions which were initiated by kids from Elementary Schools mostly don’t get more than one or two passages in local newspaper, couple of sentences on TV or radio. The idea of RAB Pozitiva is to promote those stories and elevate them to a more “global level”. They want a whole Serbia to, via those radio stations; hear about those rewarded children and humane kids. They want to winkle out a smile, for at least those 60ish seconds while they are listening to RAB Pozitiva and to show them, as well as ourselves – show that there are still good, nice stories with happy endings with good people. To show those good people, us, who care about their effort, gesture and appreciate them.

That is the point with RAB Pozitiva. 

A little bit surprised with that domino effect, we can’t manage to answer all calls and mails coming from good people across Serbia, who want and try t9877o help our club, mostly with donations such as books, mostly.

– Resource Centre Leskovac,

– Libraries from Trstenik and Kragujevac,

– Site Detinjarije

– Publishing Houses Rende and Mali Nemo,

– A lot of individuals…

We are aware that we should seize the moment. We use media attention to promote our action TOGETHER FOR STEFAN and call out organizations to start with their activities!

 

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It is about a young man with a nonischemic cardiomyopathy dilatation.

In 2011, Stefan got a pacemaker in order to treat that heart disease. During a regular checkup, a  terrible exacerbation was noticed last year with a fall of EFLK around 24%. 4 operations later, there was no improvement. Stefan was told that he need a heart transplantation. For this kind of surgeries, a lot of money is needed. Stefans’ family cannot afford it all by themselves.

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Good news spreads fast.

OKAN is selected for a “hero of the week”, which is a part of a show “DA MOZDA NE” on RTS chanel with Olivera Kovacevic.

“Our Heroes of the week are young people from Leskovac, members of Youth Club Anciki, which decided on their own to fight for better lives for people in their surroundings.

RTS1, author of the show: Olivera Kovacevic.

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Wave of goodness continues during the following week

Milivoje Mica Markovic, famous jazz musician and art editor of Belgrade Jazz festival, on the initiative of Dobrivoje Tanasijevic (Den Tana), called members of OKAN (who were on a show “Da mozda ne” with Olivera Kovacevic, were announced as “Heroes of the week”) to the show of famous pianist from Chicago, Herbie Hancock. What to say else but – thank you!

and on RTS only good news for the oldest and the youngest 😀

Mali Dnevnik

In the times when every news lasts as long as our attention, which is not longer than couple of hours, we didn’t have much hope that OKAN will be noticed .

Big publicity reached out to good people.

Okano – Little free Library, is announced as the best project in Jablanica County.

From 14 really good project which were gathered by “People’s Parliament”, which were supported by ”MLADI SU ZAKON” – 2014 for Jablanica County, on a meeting held on 18.11.2014, jury of 5 people, unanimously chose the best one.

The chosen project “Little free Library (OKANO) – Read, share, recommend, speak freely” is realized by activists from OKAN.  

Only couple of weeks later, the project was chosen as the best one in Serbia, in art and culture domain.

Awarding ceremony was held in Belgrade Youth Centre.

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Acceptance of  the award of the best project in art and culture domain.

Leskovacke vesti

We are aware that we have to keep on with all of our plans and ideas that we have, without getting cocky and arrogant, but with confidence and good will. Everything is possible of you know how and want to!

The last domino didn’t fall.

We are heard in Leskovac, only after the recognition outside Leskovac, we are heard in Leskovac.srce 2

Local media keep reporting about us, so we get to 3 most powerful newspaper in Serbia.

 

BLIC

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NOVOSTI

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POLITIKA

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NASA REC

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TV LESKOVAC

People from Leskovac who marked the year of 2014.

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”Don’t even doubt that a little group of smart, dedicated people can’t change the world. Changes are reached through that way only”. Margaret Mid

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There are people who want something to happen, who would like for something to happen, and there are those who make things happen!

 

repWriting: Vladislav Stojičić