VOX POPULI Documentary Studio
The LIFEBOOK is urgent campaign for preserving memories of elderly residents in depopulated settlements. In a global situation of rapid changes and direct life threat to the elderly, we need to restore the bonds and raise public awareness to the extinction of a generation that carries the memory of 60 years pre-digital life. We aim to create a personal archive book for each respondent, containing photos, family tree and recorded memories, ready to be passed to the next generations.
28 villages with a population less than 50, representing the 28 districts of Bulgaria.
A 2016 official statistics reveal that out of 5000 villages in Bulgaria, the total number of villages with a single-digit number of inhabitants is 411, and 160 are the settlements in which there is not a single permanent inhabitant. The LIFEBOOK is dissemination project, aiming to cover a larger territorial range, specifically in villages with less than 50 inhabitants. The project activities will take place in 28 villages from each of the 28 districts of Bulgaria. In VOX POPULI’s 2012 anthropology expedition to Rhodopes mountains we faced the real scale of the processes that challenge us to initiate The LIFEBOOK today - drastic urbanization, causing social distance and alienating the “rural” generation from the rest of the society.
The LIFEBOOK is communication channel for those, excluded from the digital context; it is a gentle call for social attention and acknowledgement. We engage the participants in a social activity that is not exposing them for public interactions, violating their privacy or enforcing them in any way, yet providing them with a toolkit for social expression. The LIFEBOOK helps to strengthen the bonds between generations, developing new communication tools and means for social inclusion. To attend, acknowledge and appreciate - we hope that these three simple steps will initiate an active civil dialogue with and about our disappearing fore-parents.
The project aims to engage the most marginalized members of society - the elderly, who have made the choice to remain in their home villages and thus detached themselves not only from the active civil life, but also from their own heirs. We want to assist these people to make an oral journey through their life. Our mission is to document their testimonies for their successors, but also to give them social recognition as the most important and endangered members of our society.
Our initiative aims to activate the vanishing dialogue with our living predecessors, engaging them in a series of “memory sharing” sessions that will result in making of personal LIFEBOOK, giving their history back to them and their grandchildren. The process of implementation follows specific steps: 1. Mapping, logistic and building local network. 2. Field research, personal encounters with potential respondents. 3. Organizing Memory Sharing Sessions (documentation, recording, photographing) 4. Content building, Design and Print of personal LIFEBOOK 5. Final encounters 6. Organizing exhibition with volunteered samples 7. Making and distribution of LIFEBOOK template.
The most desirable result from our initiative is to: 1. Implement the project in 28 villages, responding to 28 memory sharing sessions, resulting in 28 printed archival books, containing biographical data, family tree, personal memories of relatives, important events, family folklore, photos of important people, favorite places and sentimental items. After we give the people their history back, it will be ready to pass to their grandchildren. 2. To use The LIFEBOOK methodology as toolkit for creating a template LIFEBOOK, thus empowering the community to continue the project as personal experience. An year from now we want this project to be out of our hands, having the first LIFEBOOK made from a session between a grandchild and their own grandparents.
The LIFEBOOK corresponds to the democratic model established in Europe, especially in the post-World War II period, when the idea of preserving inter-generational continuity in order to preserve public memory, was imposed. Technological life today inevitably sets boundaries between representatives of different age groups. In this process, older people are threatened by a social blackout. Their experience, history and historical memory risk being neglected in the acceleration of social noise. Our idea is to raise civic awareness to one of the most vulnerable social groups, starting a campaign for the preservation of historical memory, which is personal and local, but also social and European.
This project is very important for us for the same reason as the preservation of water, endangered species, climate, traditions are important. We believe that the elderly (born up to 1940), are the most vulnerable group in our society and COVID - 19 came with a terrifying reminder that there is no time - if we do not react now and take responsibility for preserving the most valuable heritage - the oral history and the testimonies of the last truly "analogue" generation, our European and global culture will lose its most important connection with the historical past - the directly transmitted experience of our ancestors.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Travel and accommodation costs - 12 000 EUR
Fees and salaries - 14 000 EUR
Production costs /LIFEBOOK design, printing, etc./ 8 000 EUR
Photo and video editing - 1300 EUR
Website and PR - 2500 EUR
Final exhibition - 3000 EUR
Technical equipment - 2500 EUR
Administrative costs and office expenses - 1300 EUR
The feedback we would like to get from Civic Europe Community is about the capability of our idea in terms of its implementation. Is the form of the project relevant to its target group and the global situation and does it have the potential to respond to the identified challenges?