What is poverty? Is it the inability to generate money or wealth? The incapability to reproduce oneself both biologically or by affecting the own surrounding? Is it a lack of chances to master ones own life? Or should we also call it poverty if people do not want to achieve changes, if they accept their fate as it is? These were questions, which artists and people from social science debated during a workshop on “Poverty in the Balkans” in Belgrade on 22-24 October 2010.
As a result, they came to the conclusion that all those can be called “rich” who are capable to take care of themselves in the way they want. Thus, fighting poverty might be an economic issue in effect but at the same time one of attitude and creativity in essence. The group identified one questionable assumption as the root of failing development strategies in the Balkans: All attempts to improve the situation expect people to fight, to work towards a better life, to be entrepreneurs – while many simply are not able to meet such expectations as they lack experience and self confidence. The meeting was meant as an open and constructive space rather than a formalised conference. It aimed to encourage alive debates and to set the basis for future collaborative projects and fresh ideas among participants that will contribute to relieve the current situation. All participants were asked to bring personal viewpoints, mainly based on their fields of interests and concrete experiences. We succeeded in avoiding strict „academic lecture“ approaches, giving a more practical dimension to the discussions.
As all participants experienced the meeting as interesting and inspiring, they decided to meet again in March 2011 in Belgrade. The aim is to develop common ideas over time in a collaborative way, taking the meetings as a good starting point not only for contact making, but as a „ground zero“ for concrete follow-up activities. In the end, the group named itself “Terazije” group as we meet at a building at Terazije, one of Belgrade’s main squares where for decades already political and civil society gatherings take place.