Blog Archives

2 Years Breaking our Couches!

Break The Couch team blowing its second candle on the 11th of May 2014.

All this 365 days we were working on different levels, in different projects and most of the time from different countries. Greece, UK, The Netherlands were some of the bases of our team. We did several things and we want to brag a bit about them, if it is ok with you.

It's fun to be two

In May 2013, we celebrated together the first year of Break The Couch. Having the experience of one year full of dreams and plans we entered to the second year of our life. The Second year we have to say that it was a bit more demanding but also rather fulfilling. We can say we are kinda multitasking since we end up having several projects and for some of them you are not even aware of. Most of them though, you already know them so, we can just count them: Read the rest of this entry

Being Special

Few thoughts from Olga Karageorgiou, Greek participant of the Youth Exchange “Generation Y: Between Dystopia and Utopia” happened in Olde Vechte Foundation between 1-12 February 2014, in Ommen, The Netherlands.

GenY_Fotor_Collage

Living in a country with more that 50% young unemployed people and having applied unsuccessfully more than 50 times for a job, I never felt special in my life. At least I didn’t feel that the others considered me as someone special. Coming to Olde Vechte for the exchange “Generation Y: Between Dystopia and Utopia” the people that showed us around asked us this very question: ‘Do you feel special?

Read the rest of this entry

In the army now

Workcamp #5, Soesterberg, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

BasisAlmost a month ago, 13-15 September 2013, two different members of the Break The Couch team reunited in the Netherlands in order to film the last Workcamp for the Alliance Video Project. This time Spyros flew from UK to meet Panagiotis who lives in the Netherlands in order to film the workcamp happening in the Festival de Basis.

Arriving late night in the facilities that the volunteers are hosted we realised that we have to issue passes to enter the premises of the accommodation. The reason is that the volunteers were actually hosted inside a military base. Therefore we ‘ve been treated like a soldiers. Both Spyros and Panagiotis recalled memories from their military duty back in Greece, and it’s better to drop this topic since it is pointless to compare Greek and Dutch army facilities.

Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of September we spend the whole days strolling around the old military airport of Soesterberg. Utrecht province was celebrating the 300 years of treaty happened in their town. For more information for the whole event click >>here<< . Therefore the whole airport was transformed to a huge festival event. Concerts, galleries, art, theater, opera, sports, restaurants, games for children and many more activities were planned for the visitors of  the Festival de Basis.

Within the Festival de Basis, in Soesterberg Royal Netherlands Air Force Base there was a workcamp of SIW Internationale Vrijwilligersprojecten happening. The reason is to bring along with the local volunteers a bunch of international volunteers who will assist the Festival for 2 weeks. Volunteers from America, Europe and Asia joined forced with the local Dutch volunteers and carry the whole festival.

Dutch_Collage

Despite the rainy weather Break The Couch team grabbed some bikes and stroll around the base for two days filming events and the interaction of the volunteers with the guests and the rest of the volunteers.

game overThis workcamp was the last planned workcamp to visit during our video project. Now all the members of Break The Couch team are back to their own Bases and the most important part of this project, the post production has already started.

Stay tuned for the results of the Alliance Video Project.

Photo album of this workcamp: http://on.fb.me/1aFCcUi

Filming the Alliance itself!

Alliance Conference & Meetings, Brussels, Belgium.

BrusselsStarting again from two different countries and by two different means of transport (car and airplane) Panagiotis and Vasilis met in a quiet corner of Brussels on the 2nd of September in the Youth Hostel Vincent Van Gogh. Last time they were together  was just after the filming road trip, from the Netherlands to Athens. Over the dinner table once again and with the happiness of all our travels floating around we started discussing about the filming of this part of our trip.

So first of all this part of the trip of ours it was not a workcamp. But what we are doing in Brussels if there is not a workcamp? Well the reason is that here we were going to meet all these people that they are involved in organizing and realization of all the workcamps and a common strategy around them. All the days we were working and filming with members of the “Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organizations“. They were there working separated in working groups and committees carrying the organizational part of the Alliance network.

Brussels_collage

During the first day of our stay in the conference and meeting we were working hard in order to make a sneak peak preview of our filming so far. Therefore we edited some of the material and we present it the next day during the open event. The second day of our stay we filmed the open event and we got 3 interviews from people working in several committees.

The meeting have been hosted by JAVVA Belgium and will it was combined with the Final Event of the “Learning Bridges” project of the Alliance with South American partners.

There is just one more workcamp to film and finish our physical journey around Europe and start our digital one in the editing suite..

Stay tuned for the next workcamping experience at the Air Base Festival in Soesterberg, the Netherlands.

Photo album of this workcamp: http://on.fb.me/1fbGY3F

It was MADtastic!

Workcamp #4, Midhurst, West Sussex, UK.

DSC00022After a short break and a reunion in Athens the Break the Couch team went back on track. Vasilis and Spyros flied to London to take the train for Midhurst, a perfectly formed town, one of the jewels of the lovely county of West Sussex.

We were very happy to join the team of the volunteers on their last days of this workcamp of Concordia UK. The small number of 8 volunteers helped to form a very strong bond among them, they became a family! Members of this family where also the locals, spending everyday time with the team.

The project was the support of the MADhurst festival to bring together a diverse program. The MADhurst Festival (Music, Art & Drama) is a true community event that brings together all the creative, artistic and musical talent of this wonderful town. The program consisted of concerts, workshops, dance performances, art exhibitions, a parade and many more in various locations of the town. The volunteers made their own float – an amazing dragon – and participated in the parade.

The Parish Church Room (also the Old Town Hall) was hosting all the volunteers and it is located in the market square. All the work was close to the center. The dragon was built with the help of a local artist in a nearby garden kindly offered by the locals. The parade took place in High Street and ended at the amazing Cowdray Ruins, at Cowdray Park where the main festival took place.

Fotor0828172230

More than 2500 people enjoyed the free and open to everyone atmosphere of the festival. The idea of combining international volunteers with the local community to promote art and culture is fabulous. It is the fourth consecutive year and thanks to the amazing combination of locals and the volunteers this festival has been well established!

Break The Couch team had a fantastic experience. After 3 days we left with very kind feelings for everyone and everything we met and saw in Midhurst and we are preparing ourselves for the next trip in Brussels.

Stay tuned for the next workcamping experiences.

Photo album of this workcamp: soon

It is suddenly all Greek to me again

Workcamp #3, Pentalofos, Kozani, Greece.

φωτογραφία (20)Waking up in the northern part of Serbia at 5:30am and knowing that you have to drive through the whole Balkan peninsula its not what you want to do everyday. Again driving in 3 countries and now not always in highways we experienced for 13 hours a bit of the balkan nature and of course taste.

Destination was Pentalofos a small village on the most mountainous area of Greece in the middle of Pindos mountain range 84km from Kozani. Entering Greece we had very mixed feelings, it felt like we reached the end of a roadtrip from the Netherlands till Greece. However the trip was not finished since we had to drive through the mountain range for 2hours. To make ourselves more comfortable for the last part we made a stop to experience Greece. Specially for Panagiotis was kinda obligatory since he hasn’t been in Greece for 8 months. Traditional Souvlaki in a local restaurant and Iced Cappuccino (Freddo Cappuccino) gave us the strength to drive uphill without any nagging.

Arriving in Pentalofos we got really overwhelmed from the accommodation of the Youth Center and it was really what we wanted for a proper sleep.

It is the 7th time that the village is hosting a workcamp and all the locals are really familiar with the presence of international people walking with shovels and hoes early morning in the narrow streets of the village. The last 6 years volunteers are taking care of several manual works. Keeping the tradition the volunteers this time were involved in the cleaning and opening a path which is leading to a chestnut reservoir, taking part on the renovation of a historical building, living in a monastery for 3 days and assisting the monk, refreshing old works done by previous workcamps and many other big and small projects in the village and the surrounding area.

Workcamping in Greece

The group of the participants was coming from every side of the planet. Mexico, Belgium, Korea, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Czech Rep., Italy, Poland, Slovakia, France and of course Greece. During our stay there we had the chance to experience 2 very interesting evening activities. Due to one of the biggest religious celebrations in Greece on the 15th of August there was a folklore festival in the nearest village 2km away from Pentalofos. Volunteers visited the village and had the chance to listen live folklore Greek music and taught by the locals, how to dance. The second night the volunteers invited the locals in their place and they had arranged many surprises for their hosts.  They arranged a big intercultural evening where they were presenting their countries speaking in Greek! They also cooked traditional food from their countries.

By visiting this workcamp we actually finished the first half part of our filming for the Alliance Video Project and a huge roadtrip of 3000km almost came to an end. Next day early morning we drove back to Athens where we officially repatriated.

Our team is officially physically located in Athens at least for a week.
On the 23rd of August Vasilis and Spyros are flying to UK where they will film another Workcamp
On the 26th of August Panagiotis is sailing back and by car driving back to the Netherlands where he will meet Vasilis in Belgium to film in the Alliance conference and meet Spyros in the Netherlands to film the last Workcamp in Utrecht.

Our filming project is almost in the middle and we are really happy with the so far results. If you want to know more about the project stay tuned for the next workcamping experiences.

Photo album of this workcamp: http://on.fb.me/1agHk65

A seed planted in Ukraine bloomed in Serbia

Workcamp #2, Mali Stapar, Sivac, Serbia.

Mali StaparIt took us 12 hours, 7 energy drinks, driving in 4 countries until we reach the tiny village of Mali Stapar, located 5km from Sivac one small town in the north part of Serbia 90km away from Hungarian borders.

The trip was very interesting and fascinating and it kept us awake all the time. However arriving in the workcamp revealed some way more interesting facts that made us forget our tiredness and join the group of the volunteers instantly. It was really clear, that even though the workcamp had started 5 days before our arrival, there was already a very nice bounded gang of participants enjoying every moment.

The project by itself has a very specific and clear vision. It happened because a local girl, named Sofija, participate in an Alliance workcamp in Ukraine last year and decided to bring a project like this in her home town. She came back she spoke with her parents, got in contact with the Serbian organization “Young Researchers of Serbia” and here we are now that Sofija is the workcamp leader and her mother the instructor of the project arranging every detail regarding work and leisure time.

The old school of Mali Stapar was hosting all the volunteers and it is located in the heart of the village. The main project was taking place inside the school because the plan is to make the school an educational environmental center.  The jobs were to renovate the building, demolish some very old buildings, prepare the garden, build a fence, repair some old bicycles so visitors can use them and explore the village.

Sebia_Collage

The group of the participants was consisted of 5 local youngsters and 11 international volunteers. The whole village knew what was happening in the old school of Mali Stapar, the accommodation of the workcamp and they were visiting very often the group. Every time a local was visiting it was a time that something was tasty was entering along. One more time the local community embraced the volunteers by arranging apart of bringing food, they were organizing all short of activities for the leisure time of the volunteers. Visiting vineyardsDanube cruiseSightseeing in the nearby villages and towns, visiting Spa, a swimming poolhistorical buildings and art galleries.  Also they arranged many activities with the local community such as: Playing football with the local football club, dancing traditional Serbian dances. One of the highlights was the cooking competition of a fish stew that was organized by the locals exactly in the forest on the side of the workcamp site just to bring more locals from the nearby villages to meet the volunteers.

Break The Couch team had really good time there and got convinced to spend one more day there. We couldn’t say no this kind request. After 3 days we left with the best of the impressions from Mali Stapar with direction to Greece and 1000 more km on the road to reach our last workcamp for this roadtrip.

Stay tuned for the next workcamping experiences.

Photo album of this workcamp: http://on.fb.me/1ePuTf1

 

Giving life to bikes!

Workcamp #1, Georgensgmünd, Bayern, Germany.

After 6,5 hours of easy riding in the German Autobahn we reached Georgensgmünd,Germany, where the first workcamp which have to film is located.

It is a very interesting project where 17 people from all over the world along with many locals they work and relax at the municipal building named “Don Camillo“. Don Camillo is a lively cultural center where the last 6 years workcamps of IJGD are taking place. The name of the project is “Energy Recycling – Bicycle Creativity”

This years theme, “(RE)Cycling”  is about using old bikes to create art and leisure constructions. By the end of the 3 weeks of this workcamp the participants will create several constructions made out of nearly 60 old bikes. Rest stations for bikers, recharging points for electrical bikes and some sculptures made out of bicycles.

Bikes Break The Couch

Our team members Panagiotis and Vasilis had a very nice welcoming from the camp leaders, participants but also from the local community who actively embraces this project. On the morning of the 6th of August we started the day by shooting many interesting working activities. We cannot hide that the project is so photogenic so we couldn’t resist on filming everyone giving a new life to the old bicycles.

We are almost in the middle of the workcamp and the atmosphere of the group amazed us. Some of the results are already visible. Filming for 2 days the daily life of the workcamp we are leaving with very good feelings. The last night also since it was exactly the middle of the workcamp we celebrated it with a very nice vegetarian and non vegetarian BBQ.

Next morning is finding us on the way to Mali Stapar, Serbia a tiny village on the north of Serbia. 1050 km on the road driving in 4 countries with the need to use 3 different money currencies.

Stay tuned for the next workcamping experiences.

Photo album of this workcamp: http://on.fb.me/15OCgS7

1 Year Anniversary!

Break The Couch team blew its first candle on the 11th of May 2013.

All this 365 days we were working on different levels, in different projects and most of the time from different countries. Greece, UK, The Netherlands were some of the bases of our team. We did several things and we want to brag a bit about them, if it is ok with you.

Fun to be oneStarting that day of May 2012 in Athens we had lots of dreams. Time show to us that we have to make small steps in order to achieve the a big step. We can say we are kinda multitasking since we end up having several projects and for some of them you are not even aware of. Most of them though, you already know them so, we can just count them:

  • By the end of 2012 we managed to finish our first documentary named “More than a Marble Path/Κάτι Περισσότερο απο Μονοπάτι”.  ( http://www.MoreThanAMarblePath.com )
  • We made our first official video clip for the composer Nicolas Livaditis on his song “Nanourisma” (Lullaby) sang from Krinthi Zira (>>click<<)
  • We present Break The Couch as an initiative in several trainings. Specifically:
    • November 2012: “Share and Promote” training (Miltenburg, Germany)
      We presented a first cut from our documentary since the training was about how to promote your voluntary work
    • February 2013: “I See Green” Youth Exchange (Ommen, The Netherlands)
      We presented on a workshop Break The Couch as a New Media initiative. How we use social media and the best practices so far.
    • April 2013: “Taking Changes!” training (Arnhem, The Netherlands)
      Break The Couch was invited from the organizers in this training for Youth Entrepreneurship along with other people 3 people working on the non-profit world to explain about Break The Couch as an informal group, what we did, how we did them and which are the future perspectives of the whole project.
  • We became partners with Olde Vechte Foundation in the Netherlands in the Youth Exchange dealing with the usage of media and a sustainable lifestyle named Levers of Change. So in August 2013 we will send 5 Greek people to attend this event.
  • We took part in the initiative Re-Think, Re-Act organized by the Citizens in Action with the support of the European Youth Foundation which focus on the Youngsters of Greece and how they deal with the financial crisis. Our initiative by itself it has been mentioned as a good example on a self-motivation and paradigmatic idea overcoming the jobless economy and being productive on a booklet. (>>click for the booklet (only in Greek)<<)

BTC1year

Apart from that we travelled in several places with our camera, even on the summit of Greece, Olympus mountain, we hitchhiked a pick up van in a Greek island, we worked several hours without a break, we consumed many bottles of wine, countless “gyros” and most of them not sitting on a couch. We mainly used a round table, some other times on Google Hangout, sometimes through WhatsApp and of course many times while doing something else but we got distracted on how to break the couch.

We hope that soon we will be back with news an updates that will signify a new prosperous year full of creation, fun and learning.

Stay tuned many surprises are coming soon!