Curator/EXHIBITOR Maksut Vezgishi, Pavilion Of The Republic Of Kosovo. Earth is Home / The role of urbanization is to create sustainable environments that bond humans with Nature and it is part of planetary biodiversity. Hence, this is the noblest mission of architecture. Global urbanization is in expansion: population growth, constructions of megastructures (housing, economy, communications, etc.). The process involves countries and societies where every decision—making has a global impact, thus lack of sustainable planning places Earth at risk. The most acute issue is the global warming crisis. We lack the awareness and coordinated actions in order to avoid the effects of climate disaster. Today we learned that no human action can be viewed as an individual anymore.

Termokiss Story

The story of Termokiss is a story of transformation, hard work, volunteering, acceptance and support. Termokiss is a community run social center, open to a range of non profit and educational activities. Activities and organizing processes are managed by the community, which are determined by both the needs and skills of the volunteers who are engaged. We work to promote ideas of mutual aid and cooperation. It is a product of a generation of citizens with a large amount of social and cultural capital, lacking financial resources, but with a high degree of energy and commitment, and great willingness to improvise.

It all started with an international voluntary project which united young people from Belgium[1], Switzerland[2], and locals from Prishtina. For 10 days, by using mostly upcycled materials, participants reconstructed and legitimized that much can be attained with little resources. By the end of the project, for decades abandoned, the local ex-Heating building became functional, with an improvised floor and roof, windows made out of bottles, but without any heating, water or electricity.

This was an attempt to give an alternative solution to the issue of urban regeneration and open space system through reuse and temporary use practice. However, that was enough to provide a place where the community could meet, be active, initiate dialogues at a grassroot level, bless ourselves with a collective name: Termokiss, and work on a weekly basis – everyday since 2016. This, in a society that was going through major transformations and comprehensive transition, where very little attention is paid to the community, cultural and artistic spaces.

We aim to achieve our vision by catering to the needs of the community and by maintaining a multi-functional space. Our community is composed of people from all paths of life, and different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and religions, coming together seemingly by chance, and finding a strong purpose in unity.

Termokiss community members meet every Wednesday to discuss the issues of the week and make decisions together. Most of the members are volunteers, but we also have full-time staff members that bring us together on a daily basis to take on responsibilities related to community, space and administration. For a long time, young people in Prishtina have had little opportunities to move forward because of the absence of large-scale collaboration and support. The inexistence of common grounds in Kosovo has resulted in the lack of inclusiveness and freedom of expression, and we directly try to tackle that through our open platform and activities.

All the decision at Termokiss reflect the will of the collective as a whole with respect to diversity, differences and disagreements. This open approach and horizontal structure has led our community to be diverse – from artists, musicians and dancers, to physicists, computer scientists, architects and engineers, and has formed our activities to be interdisciplinary in their nature. Providing a welcoming space for everyone, including those whose voices and contributions are not always heard or appreciated, is a top priority for us.

From workshops, to flea markets, concerts, gardening – the community tries to create and offer key community activities, such as playground activities for children, as well as activities for senior citizen groups. Clubs are an important drive and aspect of our program and community spirit as well, namely groups of people with similar interests, wanting to create concrete events or products regarding specific topics.

Woodworking, juggling, chess, salsa, yoga and meditation, slam poetry, musical workshops, natural sciences, neighborhood club, arts and crafts, open mic performances, local movie screenings, and much more, clubs are a way to share knowledge and skills through informal education, and to teach community members the basics of organizing events and managing projects.

Our space is comprised of the co-working station, the library, the kitchen, the garden, the event area.

We view Termokiss as an evolving concept, and as a school where people can learn the basics of organizing events and projects, maintaining spaces, developing communities and much more. The staff and members of Termokiss have to be renewed with time in order to allow others to create experiences that will empower their generation.

Additionally, in 2018, we started a campaign called “mundësipërkrejt” (chancesforeveryone) the aim of which was to push forward a change in legislation regarding the use of public property which is administered by the municipality, for non-commercial reasons. We were advocating for a law that values and offers opportunities for organizations and citizens working for the public (NGOs and Initiatives). Through a series of advocacy actions, we were calling for a law that acknowledges the right of non-commercial subjects to claim public property, and managed to get not only the needed signatures, but also to put pressure on institutions, highlighting the logical flaws in the previous law, which prioritized only commercial subjects.

This led to our requests being integrated in the new law, which states that NGOs and social initiatives now can request to get a space from their municipalities, if their activity serves public interest.

Finally, through Termokiss we also get to broaden our views  by travelling and helping to build social centers around the world. We have participated in international projects such as Documenta 14 in Kasel (2017). Additionally, since 2018, we take part in organizing yearly projects with our international partners, where we have revitalized buildings into community centers together with friends and locals in Tetovo (Social Cultural Space Tetova) and with locals of Tirana (“Uzina Cultural Center”), as well as Sarajevo is planed to start in 2021.

As a community, we aim to inspire civic activism and collaboration, especially among youth, and empower new generations who will trigger change. That is why we strongly believe in the impact of horizontal grassroot initiatives to affect, support and change the community, as well as policies. Young people should be heard, and these initiatives, especially when youth-led, should be trusted and supported. We envision a future where every neighborhood has a community space in which decision making is a collective process, contributing to a more inclusive and democratic society.

[1] NGO “Toestand” Brussels

[2] “Info Quartier Mache” Biel