Pioneering at Mindspace - Kristóf Simonyi

Summary about the placement's experiences from Kristóf Simonyi:
A series of seemingly random events led me to parking my bike at the bike stand in front of Cafe Lumen on a sunny May morning. Freshly back from 2 months of organic gardening in Scotland and just crashing my backpack at a friend’s apartment last night - I was walking into the bar with an open mind empty of any expectations. Entering a new context again and again in the recent years - I learned to take in whatever experience I had waiting for me.

Cafe Lumen itself - though having its renumé in the cult life of the VIIIth district - was going through an intense transition, having recently reopened with a new setup in it's management. Interestingly, the bare interior - with freshly painted white walls and upcycled wooden furniture - already carried character, an obvious sense that there is some profound mission to the place. Shaped by the passions of the management trio - ever present around the place - Café Lumen is a place of quality café, great wines, craft beers and healthy snacks combined with a palette of cultural and environmental programs
on offer. Not that I came for any of that. I walked through the door excited to measure up my office for the next month.

Little did I know, that Mindspace was preparing for it's climax event of the year, the Danube Day. A diverse list of assignments were already waiting for me: writing articles, putting together quiz games,
playing with children, painting tables to river colors, and even organizing the transportation of live sturgeons among others. Café Lumen being the meeting point - my assignments gave me a new and intensive introduction to Budapest's sparkling day and night life and even took me to the city of Győr on a few occasions. As I got immersed with the job I had the chance to meet a group of young talents centered around Mindspace's way of environmental education, and to understand more about the thinking behind that.

Level Zero

"There is no such thing as level zero" - Master Shifu says to Po, when they start the Kung-Fu training. You got to take a first step, or a first try even to get to a level zero. In the broad topic of environmental awareness Mindspace aims to aid that first step, to put people to the level zero. Reaching out to the wider public with light public events in the city, the education part is almost informal - it just happens. You bring your child to Margit Island on Children's day and as he plays with the giant Beluga puzzle you have a conversation with the guy in DanubeFlow T-shirt - that’s me. “Really a fish of this size was living in the Danube? It's not here anymore because of overfishing and power plants blocking it's way swimming up here?” Just a few lines and the thought is planted - an inception. A thread to follow, something to look up on the internet, just a micro-bit of more awareness. Environmental education made light and cool.


A dominant focus of Mindspace in the last years - the river is a central and tangible theme. What you've never experienced you won’t miss – say green river banks in the city centre. Six years of studies in Budapest and it's maybe one or two times that I actually put my hands in the river. I always had a little frustration about not being able to approach the water, yet didn't understand how important part of the city the river actually is. Just a few days within the perks of Mindspace and my perception of the river changed – I started to notice it, then stop on my bike to look at it when cycling by, later to purposefully walk to it’s banks almost every evening – especially during the flood. The flood – the highest the river ever reached – became a central topic of my days. When I look at the Danube in Budapest, or just think about it, I see the green shores in front of my eyes, spotted with trees, small pathways, and of course bars facing the river for the people to enjoy it’s beauty. I’m certain we will get there - and Mindspace plays an essential role in that.


Sunset at Kopaszi gát, Budapest. Flat-orange sunbeams, live jazz music and the grass spotted with small groups of people, children, families. And behind - of course – the Danube. The whole setting is that of an ideal summer Saturday. But there is something special about the group sitting in white T-shirts, beer in hand. Those relaxed, smiling faces reflect it all: the intense work of the last weeks, the stress, the mistakes and also the experience and results of the last two climax event-days. I know these moments of celebration, I’m lucky to have experienced it several times. Yet they are rare and precious and I certainly didn’t expect it to happen one month ago when walking into that café. I didn’t expect to get so much a part of it in such a short time. A passing moment of unity: great work, great people. I must quote Richard here who describes it best:

“And me? I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it's not some place you can look for. Because it's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something. And if you find that moment... It lasts forever.” (The Beach)

Thanks for that, Mindspace.
Kristóf Simonyi