City Rijeka, Croatia
Since its closing in 2005, the Hartera paper factory in Rijeka survived many interim use scenarios. With it, the connecting Vodovodna and Ružićeva streets became marginalized in the eyes of both the citizens of Rijeka and the municipality. The complex ownership, infrastructural and bureaucratic contexts made sure that the formal Local Council format can't bring sufficient change to the zone. Hence, the format supposed to offer a way of communication between the municipality and a specific region of the city yearns for a new and working model. Therefore, the fictional Local Council of Hartera was formed in 2020 with an effort to host and nurture community-in-the-making. The Ćakula tool came to be an important performative part of the project, where local communities, existing practices in the area and active initiatives from Rijeka and beyond gather in a place of sharing, thinking and being. Inspired by the Latourian Parliament of Things, Ćakula continues to offer a nonconforming method, time and space to rethink the notions of agency, mandate, community and place.
You can embark on this journey by following two paths - find a location or a problem. Most of the time the two are interconnected, forming a specific context. If you choose a location, think about its spatial, political or social problematics. If you choose the other path, find a deprived community, unheard or marginalized voices and find those in need of care - both human and non-human. How can your agency in this context help bring about change? How to make sure you aren't intruding a fragile community or territory? With Ćakula, context is everything. How can you translate specific, sometimes abstract and complex problems into conversations understandable to all? Who should be a part of these talks - neighbours, the municipality, local initiatives, kids, dogs, bees or trees?
People Power Making a Promise
To make a Ćakula is to make a promise. The location you wish to transform, the community you wish to understand and the problem you wish to solve need you more than once. Ćakula is a process that needs your commitment. Find help. Make everyone understand what you feel and inspire them to join your cause. Find a group of peers that share your drive - some may be your close friends, some might live near the location you wish to work on and some may be inspiring individuals from your city. Together, you need to make a promise to all places, people and ideas you will discover during your Ćakulas. Promise them you will provide a space and a method to amplify their needs, problems and ideas until they are heard.
Communication Developing a Community-in-the-making
To make a Ćakula is to become a friend of all. Print or handwrite posters, knock on doors, sit in parks and talk to people in the street. Be open, share your intentions and motives. Make it understandable to all. Listen to those affected by the issue you wish to solve - let them influence your preparation, communication and development of the conversation format. Then, the day will come when your first Ćakula becomes reality. Maybe there will be five enthusiastic people. Don't give up, because you are witnessing a community-in-the-making. Evolving, shrinking and expanding with each and every conversation you host.
Things you need Hosting a Community-in-the-making
Are these logistical needs that need to be addressed for your Ćakula to happen? Where will people gather and is there going to be someone to greet them? Will a grandma have a chair to sit comfortably? A bowl of water for the neighbourhood dogs, a megaphone to amplify voices, a cheer to motivate someone shy or a warm light if it turns dark? Who will moderate the conversation and make sure everyone is comfortable and heard? Do you have a set of questions prepared or a fall-back plan up your sleave? Ćakula is a fluid environment and a dynamic conversation with outputs hard to predict. Be open and listen, let others direct you where they wish to head.
Conversations amongst various groups of people can get messy, loud and hard to follow. Take your time beforehand, lay out and prepare a way to document and hear what everyone is saying and feeling. Is it an audio recording, a video camera, a transcript or a form everyone fills out at the end of a Ćakula? After a Ćakula, find a peaceful setting and a block of time to evaluate the discussion that was held. What can you do better next time? Is there a new method you should use or an old one to improve? Maybe someone didn't feel comfortable or you forgot to get an extra set of batteries for the camera. Oh and, listen to this! One day, the problems that motivated you to start using this tool in the first place might be solved as a joint effort of your community in-the-making. If for nothing, do it because of that - document everything to the best of your abilities. Imagine sharing that collectively created knowledge with the world!
One day you could take a walk and chat on your feet and the other you could collectively swim in the river nearby. You could jump while talking, scream your ideas out loud or lie with your eyes closed while having a discussion. Ćakula is more of a feeling than a fixed set of parameters. It is a sense of belonging and of being as one. Solving an immanent problem together, as a community.
A community in-the-making