Mihai Eminescu Trust’s (MET) mission is to revitalise local communities in Romania by valorising the natural and cultural heritage, multicultural integration and encouraging local economy. MET’s development plan is based on an integrated sustainable concept that engages and empowers local actors, preserves the heritage’s authenticity and aligning it with the community needs.
Background and the organisation:
MET Romania is a non-profit organization founded in 2000. In the beginning, MET focused mainly on the building heritage in the Transylvanian villages. The focus on this region can be explained not only by its special history and cultural richness, but also by the emergency situation that arose as a result of mass emigration of Transylvanian Saxons in the 90’s.
MET started working with multicultural communities, where locals were open to learn how to work with local materials and use traditional construction techniques.
During the transitional period that followed, MET helped shape the “new community spirit”, bringing local cultural values back to the foreground, and restoring an emotional connection between the community and the cultural heritage. At a smaller scale, MET also worked in another picturesque region of Romania, Maramureș, where it saved a few wooden houses, decorated by skilled wood carving masters.
MET’s activity has developed progressively, diversifying with respect to intervention areas, and expanding the scope of implementation of its projects. Today the Whole Village Project sustainably develops and revitalizes rural communities.
Location and Team:
MET is based in Sighişoara, in the heart of Transylvania, where MET carries out most of its work. The foundation’s office is located in the historical area of Sighişoara in a building that dates back to 1676.
The members of the team are devoted and are key pillars in carrying out MET’s mission. The team consists of experts with complementary specialisms, such as community development projects, project management, project funding, managerial support for rural entrepreneurship, consultancy & supervision in traditional patrimony restoration, communication and creative arts. In addition MET can rely on several key partners who support the mission and works of MET.
MET has carried out its mission by implementing the complex and integrated development plan “The Whole Village Concept”. This aim of this concept is achieved through three key objectives:
- Restoration of the cultural and natural heritage: buildings, landscape, crafts and traditional farming practices
- Development of local entrepreneurial capability, by supporting small rural businesses, providing training for villagers, creating jobs and career opportunities.
- Development of cultural sustainable tourism, by promoting rural heritage, walking routes, traditional guesthouses, home-made products and the unique experience of traditional rural lifestyle.
The innovative character of The Whole Village Project is given by the integrated and multidisciplinary approach of this concept. The projects implemented by MET integrate cultural heritage and landscape, entrepreneurship based on local crafts, traditional and organic agriculture, environmental protection, education of adults and children, local know-how and practices. Under the umbrella of the Whole Village concept, MET has developed and implemented 1.230 projects with and for the community. The main results are:
- People and Skills:
– 190 locals trained in traditional building skills;
– 48 locals trained in agro-tourism management ;
– 28 locals trained in cooking;
– 40 locals taught basic vocabulary in English;
– 100 local jobs dependent on MET projects;
– 120 temporary jobs during tourist season.
- Rural Entrepreneurs:
– 20 master craftsmen helped to set up a business;
– 4 blacksmith and 3 carpentry workshops supported;
– 2 brick and tile kilns built;
– 20 villagers helped to establish their own guesthouses;
– 2 weavers supported to produce and sell traditional carpets and embroideries;
– 1 organic orchard and apple juice factory;
– 1 enterprise for wood pellet production;
– 5 village associations established in: Alma Vii, Archita, Biertan, Mălâncrav and Viscri.
– 8,500 pupils from rural areas helped to plant more than 2.200.000 trees under a reforestation campaign supported by Accor-Orbis Hotels
– 7 school orchards were planted
– Since 2012, 150 children participated to the 5 thematic summer camps organized by MET and supported by Stichting Horizon
– 25 children took for 1 semester an optional initiation course in architecture
– more than 120 children involved in recycling and cleaning activities in their village.
Strategy for the future
Mihai Eminescu Trust’s future plans are based on sustainability and the step by step contribution in the consolidation of “The Whole Village Concept”.
MET strategic objectives are as follows:
1) Organisational development of MET, by expanding and specialising the team, for the improvement of its capabilities as educator, trainer and consultant.
2) Revival and sustainable development of the community by training local leaders, integrating vulnerable groups and non-formal education.
3) Development of the local economy through the sustainable valorisation of the cultural and natural heritage.
4) Ensuring the sustainability of the organisation and the projects through communication and fundraising activities.
Relationship with Horizon
The projects that Stichting Horizon has supported over the past 20 years were a steppingstone for structuring and creating “The Whole Village Concept”. Stichting Horizon’s support enabled MET to develop and complete more than 80 sustainable projects in 13 villages and cities under the umbrella of the Whole Village Concept. This integrated concept has been acknowledged and promoted as best practise example at the Council of Europe.
In addition, Stichting Horizon offered MET the possibility to explore new routes, as many of the projects supported represented pilot projects aimed at demonstrating feasibility. The lessons learnt from these pilot projects have helped MET in successfully attracting more partners.