I will be traveling to Croatia as a recipient of the DeBoer Prize from the Department of Landscape Architecture here at Rutgers, as well as the SEBS Study Abroad Program. My goal is to explore different ways that local communities are dealing with a post war trauma.
Croatian War for Independence ended in August 1995, over 15 years ago but country still faces issues like high unemployment rate, many cases of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), political instability and a negative migration rate (many people are migrating to Western Europe, US, Canada and Australia). I am especially interested in the role that community gardens play in the process of community recovery. My plan is to take a look at community gardens in three distinct areas of Croatia: central part with it’s capital Zagreb, border-line (towns of Sisak and Gospic) and sea-side (Island of Rab and city of Rijeka).
I know that Croatian landscapes will be stunning, but am nervous about documenting everyday lives of everyday people as this requires a bit of invading other people’s privacy; not my favorite thing to do.
While packing for the trip many thoughts are racing through my mind.
I am starting to get nervous about Croatian gardens in August. August is the best harvest time in NJ gardens, while in Croatia I run a chance of looking at a handful of dried up plants and the gardeners away on vacation by the Adriatic sea or visiting family in another town. August is traditionally a vacation month, when most Croatians take off of work and head down to the sea. Large companies close for the “Collective Summer Vacation”. Some of my contacts are now referring me to other people who will replace them while they are on vacation, and some of “other people” are leaving on vacations too.
On the other hand, I have received news of my friend Mex joining me and Sandra (his girlfriend) with his Volkswagen bus, and now we have an “official driver”. Volkswagen will be our transportation and our home for the ten days that it will take us to travel around Croatia in search of community gardens and community binds.
I am looking at my packed suitcase now and know that I must keep on going and hope for the best.