Wilderness DiaryDiary of Wilderness Volunteers

WILD times in Majella

After getting settled in Tamsweg and exploring the surroundings with my great new colleagues, it was time for my first wild adventure with the European Wilderness Society. At first, I only knew that after two months in the Lungau (and a short trip to Triglav) I would go back home to Frankfurt for the first time to attend my friend´s wedding. I had no idea that the week after that would be one of the most memorable in my life.

Before the wild

As an IVY volunteer, I have the possibility to organize a so-called Citizens Engagement Activity, an event to raise awareness for the European Cohesion Policy. The Cohesion Policy is a big part of the European idea. It aims to reduce economic and social differences throughout Europe, especially in poorer and rural areas. Since EWS is a pan-European organisation, everybody was enthuastic about that opportunity and helped me to come up with something. In the end we landed on “WILDArt Majella“. Majella Wilderness is part of our European Wilderness Network in Italy near Rome with unbelievably beautiful und unique nature, where you can go for a swim in Pescara in the 30° warm sea in summer and go skiing on 3000m high mountains just 40km away in winter. The managing Majella National Park is a very active partner of EWS and was happy to participate in this project.

The natural wealth of Majella does unfortunately not translate into economic wealth. In areas like that the European Cohesion Policy supports a variety of projects to promote tourism and other ways to help the region. The idea of WILDArt is to invite artists to the Wilderness, so they can get inspired by it. Their creative work can enhance local development (e.g. tourism), nature conservation and cultural heritage through international cooperation and the promotion of the area.

In the wild

So, we invited artists from several European countries and even the United States to go to Majella and be inspired by the picturesque Wilderness. As it turned out, WILDArt would start the day after the wedding I was about to attend. So after weeks of planning, I left Tamsweg on Thursday evening and left it up to my colleagues to pack everything up and bring it to Majella. I arrived “home home” early on Friday morning, and after some sleep I caught up with my friends and family. After what felt like a few hours, it was Sunday morning and I had to pack my stuff and get to the airport to fly to Rome.

Right at that time, our boss Max called me and told me that the EWS-car is broken and they – together with all my stuff – would not arrive before Tuesday. So I grabbed all my clothes left at my parents place and left with an uneasy feeling. At the airport of Rome, I found out about the next change. One of the artists was supposed to give me a lift from Rome to Majella, but his luggage got lost during the flight, so he had to wait in Rome. I had no other option, but to find a way to Majella by public transport. So I arrived late in the evening, after the first artists had already arrived.

The next day I had to organize food and welcome the artists, luckily the staff of Majella NP took care of our day program and apart from my “unusual” wardrobe everything went smoother than expected. When we came back from our second trip on Tuesday, the team from Tamsweg was waiting for us. And so was the last artist, who now, in addition to his check-in luggage, had also lost the rest of his luggage. From then on, everything went smoothly until Thursday evening, when we had to prepare the opening of the exhibition and the Citizens Engagement Activity. But after a long night shift, we managed to get everything ready.

The big day

The “big day” was stressful, but it was great to see how the visitors enjoyed the art and learning something about Majella and the Cohesion Policy. In the evening we had an amazing goodbye dinner with the artists, where I could finally relax and enjoy the moment. Then we took Saturday off to go to the beach and did the long drive back to Tamsweg on Sunday.

So now I am back in the office, waiting for the next adventure, which I am sure is not too far away.

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