At the final evening the gathered viewed a documentary and a sketch by the participants showcasing the outcome of the Croatian language and heritage workshop. The participants are people with ancestry in Croatia that travelled here from Mongolia, Bolivia, Argentina, Italy and France, and participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Eco Ližnjan 2021 is a joint event of the Municipality of Ližnjan in the south of Istra County and the Croatian Heritage Foundation’s Eco Heritage Task Force project, which aims to preserve our natural environment and cultural heritage by bringing young people with Croatian heritage to the country to learn about and connect with the homeland of their ancestors, and make a contribution to the ecological revival and preservation of Croatia’s natural and cultural heritage through volunteer work in cooperation with the host local community.
Over fifteen participants of Croatian ancestry from Mongolia, Bolivia, Argentina, Italy, France and Bosnia-Herzegovina gathered rubbish along the coastline area in Ližnjan municipality, more precisely at beachfronts facing seven coves: Uvala Kala, Vela Draga, Mala Draga, Rudine, Kargadur, Punta Uljeva and Lakošaše. They gathered over thirty-five square metres of garbage, mostly small plastic items, but also including plastic sun lounge chairs, chairs, car tyres and similar discarded large refuse. The participants travelled to the seaside sites that needed cleaning up on bicycles to contribute to promoting environmental protection and a healthy lifestyle. A particular aspect of the project saw the meals consisting primarily of fish as a way to promote and encourage fish consumption.
Along with volunteer work cleaning the beachfront areas, the afternoon hours featured workshops on the Croatian language, the sea—learning about fish and other marine organisms, and the fabrication of miniatures from gathered pebbles and souvenirs from gathered driftwood. All of the activities were led by Robert Piršl and Mateja Kokalj, and coordinator Barbara Buršić, head of the CHF branch office in Pula.
The participants also visited other places in the Ližnjan municipality, the Nesactium archaeological, and toured Pula, including the local film festival which was a particular delight and a special cinematic experience.
The group also visited the interior of Istra County, learned about the Glagolitic script, and sampled local products. Certainly a highlight of the event was a media workshop that produced a short documentary film aimed at raising awareness of the importance of protecting the environment in the example of Ližnjan municipality. Post production of the film is scheduled for late July.
At the final evening on 20 July the gathered viewed a documentary and a sketch by the participants showcasing the outcome of the Croatian language and heritage workshop.
Reactions to the event among the participants included their impressions and how they engaged with the project content:
Iva Puškar, Bosnia-Herzegovina: “It was awesome. We saw, learned, sampled and experienced a lot, from the cleaning of the beaches and bike rides, to the excursions and socialising. We had a great time and I would love to visit Ližnjan and Šišan again.”
Yerko Franulić, Bolivia: “The sea is great. I’d love to come again.”
Macarena, Bolivia: “Even though we did find a lot of garbage, the nature here is really well preserved. I think this place is beautiful and would recommend to everyone that they come and see this beauty.”
Marko Ravnić, the mayor of Ližnjan municipality, our partner in the project, spoke of the event: “We are very satisfied with the realised project, which is truly specific in that young people of Croatian background from around the world visited our municipality and, besides contributing to the broader community by cleaning up the beaches, learned about the cultural and natural heritage of our part of the country, and of the importance of preserving the environment, especially the sea and shoreline. I would take this opportunity to thank all the participants and would say that I am confident that at least some of them will come back to visit our part of the country again.”
Natali Palko Zirdum, the director of the Tourism Board of the Municipality of Ližnjan had this to say about the benefits of the project: “In this way, emphasis is placed on sustainable social development without adversely affecting the environment. By learning and getting to know the heritage, the participants directly promote and popularize the fishing tradition and encourage interest while preserving plant and animal habitats, and through educational activities and hands-on work on cleaning, garbage is removed from the terrain, and of course this is another way to promote this tourism destination, where we clearly communicate that we are aware of the contamination and that each of us can contribute and put an end to leaving garbage lying about.”
The project was financed by a grant of public funds through the European Union’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
The project benefits the whole local community and the local fishing activity because it involved direct activity that contributed to protecting the environment through activities such as eco campaigns, educational workshops, recycling collected garbage, creating souvenirs, the consumption of fish-based meals, and learning about the fishing traditions and heritage.
Taking part in the project along with the Croatian Heritage Foundation were the Municipality of Ližnjan and the Tourism Board of the Municipality of Ližnjan, with the active participation of employees of the Ližnjan Brnestra municipal utility company, the Puls event company and sole trader Bubić.