MET participated in the conference “European Heritage: Common Experiences, Regional Particularities” held in Sighisoara between 11 and 13 April. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Culture and National Identity along with the National Heritage Institute. While in attendance, Michaela Turk, MET’s Planning and Developing Project Manager, gave a presentation on the foundation’s work in the region.

            This conference welcomed dozens of internationally renowned experts to discuss the quality of current cultural heritage practices. Amongst participants were those representing European institutions specializing in cultural heritage, academics, and professionals of the non-governmental sector. Along them were also many community representatives and citizens who were actively interested and participant in work on the subject.

            The event was comprised of general informatory meetings, debate sessions, and also visits to Apoș, Alțâna, and Alma Vii’s Center of Interpretation of Traditional Culture, which is in the village’s fortified church, which was recently restored by MET.

            Our colleague Mihaela Turk represented our organization in a debate titled, “The Wider Perspective” during the conference’s second day. This was moderated by Mr. Pete Kercher, of Design for All Europe. Ms. Turk was joined by Mr. Terje Nypan (Norway’s Cultural Heritage Directorate), Mr. Șerban Țigănuș (International Architects’ Union), Mr. Barry Gamble (international heritage expert), and Mr. Glafkos Constantinides (IPS Planning).

            The debate was held in Sighisoara’s city hall and began with each participant’s presentation, followed by 60 minutes of discussion prompted by questions from the audience. Our colleague’s presentation, “Building a Sustainable Future Based on the Past,” covered a general description of our foundation, its vision, and its past implemented project, in particular our concept of the Self Sustaining Village. The purpose of these projects is to revitalize and sustainably develop local communities. We do this by protecting and giving tangible value to cultural and natural heritage, which in turn helps us stand hand in hand with communities on their way to becoming self sustainable.

            Some examples of the way MET intervened which were also discussed at the conference were: restoration and revitalization of cultural heritage agriculture, environmentally friendly practices, encouraging local farmers and tradesmen, along with promoting locally made products and responsible tourism.

            Concrete results achieved by our foundation were also discussed, some of which include: 400 beneficiaries from rural communities, 100 farmers and tradesmen who were led to begin their own small businesses, 7 community organizations formed and permanently maintained, 5 annually held summer camps for learning and practicing traditional crafts, over 8 thousand volunteers with our projects, over 2,340,000 trees planted, 700 historical buildings restored, and 10 communities in which our Self Sustaining Village concept was implemented.

            Following presentations the discussions ranged in subjects. Some of these were: different methods of undertaking tangible and intangible heritage projects, choosing terms such as “benefit” over “profit,” the interaction between cultural heritage and the businessworld, and finding a suited way to approach dialogue by professionals from the field.

            The general conclusion was that civil society, whose consolidation and development must always be supported, represents the founding pillar of the public heritage protection system. MET’s presence in this event meant a well merited recognition of the values and positive change our projects have instilled up until now, to also be noted at a highly visible European level.



Photo Credits: National Institute of Heritage