The "Ambulance for Monuments" project targets the safeguarding from collapse and degradation of 4 public endangered buildings owned by rural communities in South Romania. The project mobilizes local communities, volunteer experts, students, amateurs and trained craftsmen for carrying out emergency interventions, with the excellent support from local communities and authorities. The heart of the project are 2 intervention kits: 2 lorries equipped with tools and construction equipment.
In the rural areas of North Muntenia and West Oltenia regions in Romania.
The targeted regions are affected by large-scale depopulation due to work force migration to cities or abroad. The rural population often does not have access to quality education and know-how that helps contribute to local development. Local authorities often overlook democratic practices by not engaging communities in public policy decision-making or project implementation. When it comes to listed heritage buildings, a lack of governance transparency, complicated bureaucratic processes and high costs discourage local communities to take action towards protecting and restoring their shared heritage assets. This not only contributes to further heritage deterioration, but also overshadows a local understanding of the socio-economic benefits that heritage could bring if properly valorised.
The “Ambulance” project is aimed at implementing a community engagement mechanism for heritage-led rural revitalization. Importantly, the interventions target public buildings (including school and church) in order to foster social cohesion and development. The project is designed to involve locals from the early stages of documentation, organizing the fundraising events to the intervention itself. This is envisaged to raise awareness about the socio-economic benefits of heritage valorization, enhance community sense of pride and ownership over shared heritage and empower them to take future action for heritage preservation. Such models could also be replicated to other traditional communities in Balkan areas with similar socio-economic and cultural contexts.
The “Ambulance” project brings together a diverse range of groups with different ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
Local communities are the primary owners of heritage buildings and the primary beneficiaries of the project.
Local authorities are involved in supporting with decision making and resources such as materials.
The project also aims to educate a new generation of specialists, by bringing together local craftsmen and young professionals who undertake “hands on training”.
Our vision as an NGO is to contribute to the development of a structured and strong civil society in Romania by carrying out knowledge transfer and capacity building for other NGOs. By encouraging philanthropy in the field of heritage, we raise awareness and responsibility across vast audiences.
Activity 1 (A1): Project management, 12 months (M1-M12)
A2: Documentation for authorisation for the 4 interventions (community meetings, partnerships, contracts, survey of the building, historical study, technical expertise, inquiries to the authorities etc.) (M1-M3)
A3: Preparation of the intervention: (tools, equipment and lorry acquisition, materials acquisition, making contracts with the volunteers etc.) (M3)
A3: Urgent interventions on 4 historical buildings (M4-M10)
A6: Exhibition with the achieved results (M11)
A4: Content selection and design for the brochure (M11)
A5: Dissemination and evaluation of the project adapted to different age groups (local community, local authorities, pupils from the local school, university students, specialists etc.). (M1-M12)
Apart from increasing the number of safeguarded buildings, the project creates a model of sensitive interventions based on the preservation of cultural diversity in an area where this is slowly fading. This will have been achieved through collaboration, and it is hoped that empowered communities will emerge with a sense of belonging and a stronger capacity to act for the preservation of their own cultural heritage. This will contribute to not only future maintenance, but also starting a process of socio-economic development, with local communities being involved in local decision-making processes, even implementing entrepreneurial ideas for tourism development. The project can also lead to attracting future funds for a more comprehensive restoration following the urgent intervention.
At the beginning of each intervention, community consultation is organized for collective decision-taking. Public participation in the field of heritage involving numerous actors thus contributes to increased democracy and transparency. The project strengthens civic cohesion by bringing together professionals, craftsmen, and community members with the support of local authorities. Our initiative creates a holistic approach for citizens to initiate ideas, and this for us is the strongest motivation for a comprehensive democracy: active participation in community development through innovation and local authority support. By now, the “Ambulance” had interventions on buildings owned by Saxon, Ukrainian, Hungarian minority groups and has brought together volunteers of different ethnicities.
The idea was born in the mind of passionate experts on monuments in 2016, among them the coordinator of the “Ambulance for monuments”, Eugen Vaida, who owns a large collection of ethnographic objects, collected from the age of 14, and gave up his business in the city a few years after finalising his studies for moving back to his home village in Transylvania to develop a museum and to start saving rural architecture.
The mission of the ambulance is to preserve, to promote and to valorise built heritage through a sustainable education process based on creating a network between four main actors: owners (community), professionals, policy makers and mediators (NGOs).
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Management costs 6.000Eur
Tools and equipment 14.000Eur
2 second hand lorries 20.000Eur
Transport expenses for participants and materials 2.000Eur
Design and printing a brochure of the results 3.000Eur
Construction materials 20.000Eur (from the authorities)
Unexpected costs 2000Eur
It would be great to find success stories on how heritage improved life conditions, democracy and access to informal and non-formal education in the rural areas around Europe. Feedback about how the initiative is perceived from another European country, would be useful!