Big Foot “Experiments”

Based on the Participatory Mapping of the area, intensive consultations with the local stakeholders, and advice from the Big Foot partners, the municipalities decided on their activities – “experiments” of applying the Intergenerational learning approach, which were distinct from each other, and reflected the nature and needs of each local area.

Berkovitsa, Bulgaria

The Big Foot experiment in Bulgaria focused on the area of tourism.

During the Mapping phase, it became clear, that the younger generations in Berkovitsa are no longer familiar with the surrounding Mountains: they did not remember the names of the mountains, nor the rich historical and cultural heritage, associated with them. At the same time, the active and engaged older population was not familiar with basic technological tools, such as using a computer, and wanted to learn how to use the Internet and e-mailing.

The long-term vision in this case is not only to develop the feeling of appreciation and connection with the local area, but also to think as a tourism provider, about what local natural and cultural riches can be attractive, should be advertised, and could support economic development of Berkovitsa.

Big Foot organized excursions and field trips, where seniors and school students participated together. The Intergenerational group thus visited the most popular tourist landmarks of the North-West Bulgaria, such as Zdravchenica, Haidushki Vodopadi, Kim, Stаrkovitza, Todorini Kukli and Lopushna. The seniors guided the students to the above places, shared historical facts, legends and folklore, and conveyed their knowledge about the local fauna and flora. The students were taught to read topographical map and compass, and the basic techniques in surviving in the mountains.

Each excursion lasted 1-2 days, during which students not only became familiar with the local surroundings and developed appreciation for their local nature and cultural heritage, but also had a chance to act as trainers, when teaching the seniors how to operate digital and video cameras, and how to use multiple features of mobile phones, such as GPS navigation. In fact, the ICT training continued even after the excursions, and included teaching to the seniors several basic digital competences, such as communicating trough the Internet and other Social Networks, under the guidance of ICT professionals.

Gubbio, Italy

Based on the Participatory Mapping in Gubbio, the local cooking tradition was acknowledged to be the most appropriate tool for transmitting traditions linked to the cultural heritage of the area, and to promote preservation of natural resources, sustainable consumption and the importance of buying local products.

As a part of the experiment, Intergenerational Cooking Courses were held, led by the members of the Elderly Center in Gubbio. The adults were the ‘trainers’ of the youngsters, and provided them both with the skills of how to become a great master chef, but also with information about their cultural Identity and traditions. In exchange, the young master chefs showed their mentors how to use ICTs and Social Networking Sites.

In addition, eight monthly intergenerational courses ‘Food and Thoughts’ and ‘Culture and Intangible Heritage in Today's Life’ were held in the schools. The elderly adults shared their own life stories, connected with each traditional recipe, fostering reflection among the students on the local traditions and the importance remembering them today, for the development of a better community.

Moreover, “Big Foot” grandparents were for the first time involved as master chefs during at 31st Truffle Event in Gubbio: the most famous event in Italy, which celebrates the precious white truffle, the cooking traditions and the natural beauty of the area. The youngsters coming from all Italy got the chance to cook the traditional recipes, such as the Gnocchi, Tagliatelle, Crescia. This high-level attention to intergenerational exchange was evidence of a growing importance given to the Intergenerational Learning Service.

Another part of the experiment were several cooking courses with the immigrant women in Gubbio, which both enabled the newcomers to feel welcome, and of interest to the local community, and brought variety to the traditional Italian cuisine, familiar to the young participants.

Trikala, Greece

The experiment in Trikala first centered on the local production of traditional sweets. However, as more interested local participants joined, it soon became clear that the cultural and natural riches of the area provide a much broader spectrum of delightful discoveries for the local youth. To encompass it more fully, the Big Foot testing was organized around four thematic sessions:

  1. Traditional local products and gastronomy;
  2. Culture: Folklore and traditional handcraft;
  3. Historical monuments – rural heritage;
  4. Natural environment and rural tourism.

The thematic sessions took place on a monthly basis. The teachers received detailed information about the visits a month in advance, in order to prepare the students properly in class, including home assignments of research about the upcoming trips. The teachers also accompanied the students during the visits.

In each thematic session, the elderly locals were the main trainers: demonstrating their skills and traditional family crafts, teaching the students, sharing their memories, ideas, and knowledge, and “stories” that were otherwise in danger to be lost.

Through these diverse sessions, the young inhabitants of Trikala had a chance to meet the people, who carry on the local cultural and gastronomic traditions, to discover previously unknown facts about their local history and heritage, to visit previously unseen historical monuments, learn how to cook traditional jams, collect traditional recipes, folklore music and personal stories from their own families, and consider their own future in Trikala, perhaps through traditional entrepreneurship, agriculture, nature and tourism.