The Village Connection - a team's reflection & reaffirmation

Justyna Turek

June 7, 2023

As time passes, moments of significance become etched in our memories, shaping our journey and leaving an indelible impact on our lives or confirming why we started the journey in the first place. The European Training meeting in Grottole / Italy, as a part of the bigger project Open School for a Village Hosts, captivated our Holis' hearts and minds with countless valuable interactions during its intensive visit. 

Today, we embark on a first reflection from the meeting in Italy with practitioners. For Holis, it is an opportunity to retrace our steps, appreciates the challenges surmounted, and reflect on our purpose in this project. Each of us has a different approach and mission to complete in this project; this is why we asked our team to share their experience and driving forces behind their actions - especially while tackling the challenge of the rural regions. We asked ourselves, "What does the Open School Village Hosts program mean for you? Where can you see the connections?”.

As Holis, we are one of the six partners behind the project, trainers & mentors for participants, and the manifesto of the OSVH central coordinator. Embark on a voyage to rediscover the spirit of hospitality and relive the invaluable experiences that defined the Village Hosts project’s meeting two weeks ago.

Simona is attending the presentation by the participants

Simona Mancusi - Design Researcher & Facilitator at Holis. Responsible for OSHV Manifesto

Witnessing the collaborative efforts of participants in Grottole, engrossed in nurturing their ideas, evoked a sense of incubation enriched by profound emotional awareness. The culmination of their endeavours, showcased during the final day's presentations, resembled riveting "elevator pitches" where each participant's project resonated on a deeply personal level. Notably, the projects exuded an emotional essence, surpassing mere financial pursuits. The village hosts harboured a genuine desire to address unmet needs within their communities, regions, or themselves. This intriguing revelation prompted us to adopt a distinct approach, diverging from the conventional financial focus of incubators. Our purpose was to extend support to these delicate and intimately entwined ideas. Navigating the role of a mentor in such light situations proved challenging, as these projects intersected with the hosts' personal lives, rendering them fragile. 

The context of Basilicata, her birthplace, assumes paramount significance in this discourse. Familiar with its past, acquainted with its present, and envisioning its potential future, she embodies an inherent connection to this region. Reflecting on the narratives shared throughout the project, she recognises the immense relevance of discussing its implications in Basilicata, particularly Matera and Grottole. These places serve as microcosms where people either choose to reside or are compelled to seek opportunities elsewhere. The palpable sense of living in an outdated era pervades the atmosphere. Conversing with an elderly woman in Grottole, her lamentation encapsulated the essence of the project's fundamental objective: "It's disheartening to live here, for no one strolls these streets anymore." She succinctly captured the very essence that our village hosts sought to address during this gathering—a poignant real-life exemplification that imbued our training with profound significance.

Justyna is walking through Sassi di Matera

Justyna Turek - CEO at Holis. Project manager, trainer & mentor at the OSHV project 

Having resided in an eco-village replete with a vibrant sense of community, the 'Village Hosting' concept holds profound personal significance for her. Through firsthand observation, she witnessed the challenges that arose when idealistic aspirations collided with the practical realities of sustaining such a venture. The initial allure of attracting young individuals to a settled lifestyle was undeniable, yet the mismanagement of expectations and overwhelming demands imposed an impossible burden on the administration.

As the rural landscape gradually transformed, she witnessed the gradual erosion of the village's original purpose. From this deeply rooted connection, coupled with her experiential insights into the barriers encountered, her affiliation with the OSHV project emerges. A profound sense of obligation compels her to employ her expertise in collaboration with the village hosts, endeavouring to engender a tangible shift that departs from the past and embraces a future brimming with transformative possibilities.

Maxim is living his "Vita Lenta" at Grottole

Maxim Dedushkov - Founder of Holis. Trainer & mentor at the OSHV project

Maxim, amidst his journey through the picturesque landscapes of Sicily, eloquently expresses his thoughts. He articulates his movement from one destination to another with utmost precision, pausing to observe the grandeur of towering hills and rugged rocks from an elevated vantage point. In doing so, he reveals his profound connection to nature, a bond that invigorates his existence, particularly when he embarks on his travels. To be candid, Maxim has never been an ardent admirer of bustling metropolises. It would be inaccurate to say that he despises them, but rather, he maintains a state of ambivalence towards such urban centres. Despite residing in Budapest, Hungary's capital, he consciously decided nearly eight years ago to establish our most significant undertaking, the Holis School, in a rural setting. This choice has remained steadfastly upheld to the present day. When questioned about his affinity and motivations for joining the OSHV project, Maxim promptly expresses a sense of serenity and tranquillity that pervades smaller, rural locales. This sentiment constitutes his most treasured personal value.

During a contemplative moment, Maxim poetically reflects upon the spectacle of witnessing the aftermath of Mount Etna's eruption in a bustling Italian city. He characterises the experience as noisy, somewhat chaotic, and overwhelming. Conversely, in his mind, it is within villages where genuine human connection thrives, where he once again feels a profound sense of humanity. This rekindling of his humanity stems from his deep-rooted association with nature, an ever-evolving and flourishing entity. The prevailing feeling of tranquillity instils in Maxim's realisation that he need not always be in constant motion, perpetually chasing after destinations. Instead, he cherishes the present moment, content to relish in the beauty surrounding him.

Remote Office in Grottole / Dominika is working on Manifesto

Dominika Majewska - Design researcher & facilitator at Holis. Responsible for OSHV Manifesto

As an individual, Dominika has long grappled with the dichotomy of yearning for both rural and urban settings. The allure of a serene countryside, intimately intertwined with nature's embrace, vied against city life's boundless possibilities and vibrant energy. However, through her involvement in this project, she has discovered a unique opportunity to witness the harmonious interplay between these seemingly disparate realms. It has become evident that she must not confine herself to a particular choice, as the artistic realm and other creative exploration seamlessly intertwine with rural existence.

This realisation has sparked her curiosity in reshaping the conventional notion of rural connectivity and its transformative power when one becomes enamoured with its ecosystems, rituals, and cultural tapestry. This project allows her to venture into uncharted territory, embracing a soft, unhurried, and intuitive approach to facilitating processes. Observing the profound impact of this methodology on the individuals involved, particularly in how it shapes their relationship with their work, fuels her enthusiasm for exploration. 

During the Manifesto workshop by Holis

The project holds immense significance for the entire team, serving as a culmination of their collective efforts and dedication. They eagerly anticipate the forthcoming publication of new developments, which are slated to be shared with a wider audience after the summer season, marking a pivotal milestone in OSHV project for broader recognition and impact.


Read More about the project here >

Partners of the project: Casa Netural Materahub University School of Design and Engineering of Barcelona KobietyLodz Radosapartneriba John Thackara CDOP Centar za odgovorno preduzetništvo | Centre for Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship

#villagehosts #openschoolforvillagehosts #learning #design #village #ruraldevelopment #holis #ruralvisions #communitybuilding #scalingup #community #work #growth #teamreflection #teamwork #manifesto