mniej to lepiej
less is more
Once upon a time, far, far away in Alden Biesen castle in Belgium, an Idea was born. It had no name, no shape and it flew across Europe looking for a way to come alive.
One day it flew over Krakow and suddenly it noticed the Wawel Dragon.
The Idea approached him and asked: Do you really exist, I thought you were a fairy-tale figure.
Well, answered the dragon, I do exist, but, hmmm . . . actually I'm not the Wawel Dragon, I'm ErasmusPlus. You know, next year there will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage, so they've asked me to dress up as the Wawel Dragon, just to see how goes . . .
ErasmusPlus ??? The EU program?? So maybe you could help me – and the Idea told him about its problems.
Yes, sure I could help you - answered ErasmusPlus - to get a name, shape and I could even give some money.. but …
... you have to find three magic places: the first should be an old seat of kings and universities where people think a lot (too much actually), the second should be shadowed by high, high mountains, where people perform miracles with their own hands, the third should be far, far away in the middle of empty land, where people can make something out of nothing. Once you find the places, find and unite like-minded people living there and make them partners, then they'll give you the name and the shape and make you alive. Then come back to me and maybe I'll give you some money.
The Idea look down – and there was Krakow, an old seat of kings and universities, then it looked south and saw the High Tatra Mountains and behind them – the Folk Craft Festival with hand-made miracles. And finally, it looked northeast, far, far away and it noticed very active people …
So finally the Idea found places, found people, and made them Partners and Friends.
They changed the Idea into a living project, found a suitable shape – the Strategic Partnership - and gave it the name - Apstell.
The EU project - it's just magic – Ieva (from Latvia) once said, and she was right.
It was magic that the Idea came alive and became the Apstell project and it was magic that people living far away from each other came together and became Apstell’s godmothers (officially called “the Project Coordinators”).
Now was the time for the biggest magic of all – getting money.
Let’s go and ask Erasmus+ for money – said Apstell – I have fulfilled all his conditions.
They came together and they looked everywhere for ErasmusPlus , but they couldn't find him. Instead they met a strange figure - a tall man with plaits and beautifully embroidered trews.
Excuse me - said Apstell politely – have you seen ErasmusPlus somewhere here?
Well, answered the man a bit embarrassed, actually I am ErasmusPlus. You know the European Year of Cultural Heritage is coming, so now I am Janosik, the Slovakian folk hero, who takes from the rich and gives to the poor.
That’s excellent! - exclaimed Apstell - we are poor and EU is rich! Please take some money from them and give it to us!
Well - said ErasmusPlus - first you have to tell me what you are going to do and answer a lot of other questions . . .
Ok. - said Apstell - we're going to introduce applied storytelling as an effective strategy which will encourage and motivate low-qualified adults from rural regions to participate in non-formal learning, and we . . .
Hold on! - interrupted ErasmusPlus – here's a form with my questions – you have to answer them all in writing.
50 pages?? - shouted Apstell in disbelief.
Calm down Apstell - said the oldest godmother (called officially the Main Project Coordinator) – we'll do it!
And they did. They did!
Apstell triumphantly handed the completed form to ErasmusPlus: well, where's the money?
Not so quickly – said ErasmusPlus - I have to think it over.
And he thought, and thought, and thought .. for more than 3 months! But finally he said “yes” and gave them the money.
Apstell was so happy! He jumped for joy and sang: we have money, we have money, let’s have a party .. oh no.. of course not a party - let’s have a storytelling event!
NO! - said categorically the oldest godmother – first we have to produce documents: agreements…. proceduresss.... planssss.… schedulessss… templatesssss…. time sheetssssss….
But do we really need them? – interrupted her Apstell – Papers don’t go well together with storytelling . . .
Absolutely – said the godmother firmly – otherwise we simply won't know what to do.
So they produced a lot of project documents, (more than 50 actually). And then they all come to Krakow. But not to see the Wawel Dragon, not to meet this silly Wanda, who didn't want to marry a German man and have a comfortable life, not even to hear a broken bugle call sounding every day from the tower of St Mary’s Church. They met to plan how to make Apstell beautiful, strong and – most of all – useful. They met to discuss what the essence of storytelling is, what makes it so powerful. They met to develop a charming logo for Apstell – a bird of paradise, as colourful and free as stories themselves.
They met to make friends….
When the meeting came to its end Apstell asked a bit impatiently: What are we going to do NOW??
Now, my dear, said the oldest godmother - we are going to find your relatives; storytellers, stories, storytelling projects and books, organisations and events, teaching materials and trainers……….. and ask them how they might be useful.
There are hundreds - let’s go and search!
Do I really have so many relatives in Latvia – exclaimed Apstell with delight.
So many amateur and professional storytellers and raconteurs! So many storytelling organisations, networks, projects, events: festivals, competitions, workshops!! They are all so wonderful!! And they are my family!
Am I really like them? – he asked a bit shyly.
Yes my dear - answered the eldest godmother (called officially the Main Project Coordinator).
You are also wonderful! You are gentle but powerful. You bring people together and make them feel safe and cosy, like a family. You help people to understand their lives, you provide them with patterns they can use to tidy up their experience, to make their existence meaningful. You are a great teacher, who takes people by the hand and shows them what they like to know, so they don’t have to swot up. You can comfort and heal. You bring laughter and tears, love and anger, you make life real and vivid, tasty and juicy.
Oh godmother - exclaimed Apstell deeply moved - please, please tell me what to do to make all this come true, to serve people best.
Well - said the eldest godmother (officially called the Main Project Coordinator) – it is just what we have in our working plan – we should now develop a list of ideas for how to use you to increase motivation and involvement in learning among low-qualified country folk and then test the ideas we choose in our pilot activities.
That’s great! – said Apstell - let’s do it! We could…
Stop – the godmother interrupted - first we have to produce more papers: guidelines, forms, templates, curriculums, teaching materials, analyses…
More papers – sighed Apstell resigned. But could we go to Latvia one day - he added quickly, seeing the godmothers’ face – I would love to see that wonderful storytelling country.
Yes my dear – answered the godmother stiffly – that trip is also in our agenda. But first we have to work hard.
So they all worked hard and they solved many problems. They adjusted and adapted their work to reality, which wickedly changed its face every now and then. They were sensible and flexible.
And when the time had come, they all went to Latvia – the country of miracles. They saw beautiful Riga and they make friends with Milda, the goddess of love and freedom. They travelled across the country to the little town of Akniste and wandered around and see more miracles. And – of course - they worked together on project issues.
The visit to Latvia was simply handmade – said Apstell happily and started to enumerate: we made our welcome gift – the Lajkonik (the symbol of Krakow) figure from cardboard; and the delicious potato pancakes we ate were handmade, and the illustrations for our project and all the beautiful folk crafts we saw, and pottery on the potter’s wheel and even a very sophisticated laser machine for producing Jumis, Usins, Zvaigzne, Saule, Darzins - the Latvian ornaments controlled by hand!
Don’t forget the important agreements and decisions that were made – said the eldest godmother (officially called the Main Project Coordinator) – responsibility sharing, administrative arrangements ...
Of course, of course – exclaimed Apstell quickly – and the wonderful ideas for the project pilot activities each partner presented … which would implement diverse ideas for storytelling using – the godmother interjected.
I hope that you already understand the difference between the idea for using storytelling and the idea for the pilot activity – she added looking threateningly at him.
Sure, sure – answered Apstell – but all the pilot activity proposals are so exciting. I wish I could take part in all of them ….
You have no time even to think about it, you have to prepare guidelines to organise and to analyse the pilot activity. You have to prepare all the other materials and reports ...
So stop dreaming and get down to work!