Beyond the News

A MitOst Blog

Velociped Festival – or how to make a first step

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Did you always want to organise something interesting and impactful? Do you have amazing ideas all the time and a burning desire to positively change your environment? But in the end, and out of different reasons, it rarely actually happens? This is how I and my friend Vlad felt half a year ago when we heard of an opportunity to get support from MitOst for a socially relevant project.
1-downhill-contestAn article by Mikalai Vincheuski, one of the organisers of the bicycle festival and MitOst member project “Velociped” that took place 20 to 21 August 2016 in Belarus 

We had some ideas about what we would like to do in Belarus and which issues we would like to tackle, but as – up to that moment – none of us had experience in organising something big, we had some concerns. Finally we thought: if you never start, you never learn! So we wrote a project proposal and applied for the “Mitmach” grant. The issue we wanted to work on was the low level of public engagement in socially relevant topics. As Vlad is active in a bicycle movement in Belarus we decided to take this as the foundation for the project and build the idea around it.

Our vision was to create a sharing space somewhere in the nature, where people from different countries would exchange their experiences and success stories in this field, get inspired, and have some tangible results. We also aimed at creating a collaborative space for NGOs from different sectors of activity and business in order to help them to build up cooperations. All this would be framed by a supporting programme of sport activities, competitions, art and music.
Of course, we were more than happy when our project was selected. Straight on we started working, looking for a site, contacting partners and speakers we wanted to invite. The five following months went by fast and were busy with preparations, calls, emails, promotion and negotiations. When we arrived at the farm where the festival was going to take place we understood that our dream would come true.

3-keynote

We had a big team of volunteers focusing on making the supporting programme of the event, so we could focus on the educational part. People were happy, speakers delivered awesome keynotes which inspired and showed new perspectives to listeners, logistics worked well, one project which was prepared during the festival has got nominated by a partner from a PR-Company and will be supported by them in realisation. We saw people and organisations connecting, exchanging contacts, discussing and sharing their experiences.

2-teilnehmerinnen

During these two days we also faced several challenges which we did not foresee, and some things did not go exactly as we planned them. Yet in the end of the last evening, when the last speaker had finished, last winners of competitions were awarded and the band started playing, we were completely happy while seeing a wonderful atmosphere and reviewing events of the day. These moments are unforgettable: when dreams materialise, when synergy between people who want to move things forward creates something beautiful, constructive, impactful.

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Now looking back to the very beginning, we are very happy to have been brave enough to take this opportunity despite of our insecurity and lack of experience and are very grateful to MitOst for giving us this chance back then. So if you want to move, change, develop something around you and don’t have the experience, just make the first step and let your dream lead you, everything will come. Good luck in your beginnings!

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