Let’s start with a brief presentation of “Foundation 42”. How everything started and why the number “42”?
Everything started from one group of independent youth trainers, that was actually the first group of trainers of the National Agency in Bulgaria -the first one ever-.
We started doing some trainings together and wanted to call ourselves somehow. Since we are from a type of generation where fantasy books were not the ones of Terry Pratchett, but The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we chose the number “42”.
“42” is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question about life and universe. The play with words belongs to this book, in which there is one place where people are trying to ask to one computer the answer to this ultimate question and it appears to be 42.
The final conclusion is that people not always know what they are asking. They need first to think about what is the question and then it’s much easier to get the answer. (Have you found yourself in this situation?) All the time. You find one answer and then you realize that is just the beginning of the next question. It’s always in this way.
What is your mission and what are the activities you do related to it?
With this independent group of non-formal trainers we started to organize something like a TedX that we called “Klutch” (the Bulgarian word for “key”). It is actually the first and unique Bulgarian event of this type which is big as TedX -it means something like 400 people in the audience, speakers, etc.-.
In the beginning it was organized by itself, we didn’t need any sponsorship, we cooperated just with universities; but then, when we moved to a theatre, we had to pay. Paying means finding sponsors, finding sponsors means that you aren’t non-formal anymore.
You need to have an organization, so we created Foundation 42. That’s how, from a youth training group, Foundation 42 moved to a group which is trying to give a stage to everyone from the NGO sector or some people with a pure cause to talk in front of others and to be understood.
And actually that’s what we want to do, because people from the NGO sector usually speak about indicators, outputs, outcomes and the others don’t listen to them. We are specialized in public speaking and we are trying to teach people how to express their causes in a catchy, sexy and interesting manner.
Survival BG is also connected with this idea, isn’t it?
Survival BG is connected, also in the sense that we are trying to find something funny, related to humor. We were already specialized in organizing events, but foreigners haven’t been our target group until now. There was nothing for foreigners in Sofia where they could get together and make laugh about the way they live here in a positive manner – which is exactly what Bulgarians like: we are pessimist, but there is also national proud. You can say something wrong about us, but not too far-. So that’s what we are trying to find here: have fun, organize events for foreigners and laugh on us.
What does “good practice” mean to you? Can you give us an example of it based on your experience?
People cannot invent anything, everything is actually already invented. There is nothing that can be called surprising practice. A good practice is something different, because it is well presented and well understood by others.
This good practice can be an “aha moment” for other people to lighten up their creativity. Being creative means to be able to combine lot of ideas, a piece of here with a piece of there, and to present them, so people can put them together for themselves.
Once we had one presenter on the stage of our big forum “Klutch”, who was doing some environmental activities in Sofia. She presented how easy is to organize them and create a community around. People from Studentski grad took part in the initiative and combined it with social entrepreneurship. Now they are collecting garbage, doing compost and selling it. So it’s all about taking pieces from here and there and creating something new.
What do you wish the youth and the volunteers around the world?
I love the idea that stands behind all volunteers engagement. I just wish you to exist. Being a volunteer is something personal and self-engagement is a need. If this need exists, then everything is fine. And if it exists in people who are full of energy, like youngsters, then this need can do miracles. Don’t lose this energy, invest it in something. It doesn’t matter whether a social cause, sport or business, this energy should be used.