Pioneers into pratice at Mindspace

When did two weeks pass already? One moment I’m packing, wondering what is waiting for me in Budapest, the next one I find myself half-way into the programme. It’s hard to grasp your feelings and experiences from the middle of them, but one thing I know for sure. I wish the day had 40 hours instead of 24. There’s so much that you can do, and so much you want to do, that the one month that seemed a lot at the beginning becomes nothing.

So what is there to do? First, there’s Mindspace, my placement organization, and Mindspace offers a lot of opportunities to get involved. I spent the first days here researching their projects, activities, and guiding concepts, and I got lost for hours just doing that. Because besides their own projects, they have a lot of partners and these partners have a lot of projects as well, and all these projects are pretty interesting. And when I though I finally had the whole picture in mind, I joined their informal meeting and they reveled some other five or six upcoming projects. Mindspace is more than just the organisation itself; it is its people – creative, proactive and committed to what they do even if they do it on a voluntary basis and in their spare time.

The whole atmosphere is informal – they meet at a café and we, the pioneers, are allowed to work from wherever we want (reason for which we discovered a few nice places in the city). Lumen itself is trendy and cozy (and it has good music), the kind of place you want to find near your home or work but keep it to yourself. We were also given the opportunity to choose what to work on from their projects... which can be quite difficult actually. Eventually we all decided to focus on the Smart City Budapest concept which I was happy about since I’ve been interested in this topic, and develop some ideas around it. So, what we have to do now is to develop a toolkit of informal education, a game that children and not only can play and learn from. We will also carry out some interviews with initiators of projects that contribute towards Budapest becoming a smart(er) city and, at the end we will maybe have the chance of participating in the Danube Day Festival that they organise.

Then, there’s Budapest, and Budapest is an amazing city. Beyond the odd-sounding language, grumpy services in bars and cafes, the urine-smelling streets in the VIIIth in the VIth, Budapest has a charm of its own (that doesn’t exclude these things). I had been to Budapest before and I got this impression that it has the best parts of both Western Europe and Eastern Europe – a beautiful and developed city with history for you to see, but a bit more chaotic, a bit less rigid, and a bit less well-kept. And yes, my opinion has been confirmed so far, but to that I have to add that it has something specific, a character of its own. And this character you see (or feel) when you walk the streets to see the mixture of buildings old and new, refurbished or close to falling, walk along the Danube with beautiful views, when you eat things you don’t understand at their bisztros, or drink a Soproni (the local beer that everybody hates but everybody drinks) in a local garden bar.

Then, there’s also Balaton, the lake that everybody is talking about and what seems to be the central piece of Hungarian pride, there’s all the events, the places, the people... So yes, there goes my two weeks, with two more to come, two that I am definitely going to take advantage from and in which I hope to do as much as possible.

Anca Micle

It all started with a sunny monday morning at Lumen cafe. Great coffee and nice company combined in the perfect beginning for a new month in Budapest. One by one, team Mindspace kept coming and going from the table we were sitting, felt like they where to meet me and not the other way around, like I was holding the interviews :). Wonderful people and beautiful energy made me sure this was going to be a great experience.

energy the team left me with that very fist day. I began researching about Mindspace projects, their vision, their activities..every new page was opening another three for later­on reading..i was swimming through new information for two day, just to be fooled when thinking I might have gone through most of my task. A new meeting with the team enlarged my curiosity as I found out there's much more about them than they have published. Their future plans and projects filled my week with more reading and getting deeper and deeper into new info, new technologies, start­ups with great initiatives, new policies and ways of thinking.

started to discover the life of Hungary's capital. Tasty cuisines, diverse cultures, friendly people were to find everywhere. So entering a second week, and getting comfortable in this space which began to feel like my home neighborhood, a new adventure started. Having some exacts tasks, allowed me to have a "mobile" office. So every morning the roads took me to a new place in town. Have never felt so amazing, passing and stopping through the most diverse places, from business­like coffee houses with busy people in fancy suits, through colored student study caffe places.. to old libraries where you could just enjoy the tranquility not very often met in the hart of this city.

I began to study the smart city concept the organization is working on, found out about the great technologies and innovative ideas people are working on everywhere. After a while I started to compare the things I read, with the things I see around me happening, with the things happening in my own country. I started to see a bigger and greater image, and was already trying to find ways to implement all this knowledge where needed when I'll get back home.

A new task Mindspace has given me involving interviews led me to really understanding the importance of the Danube river. You can walk around in the city center, pass the bridges, enjoy the views and it's all beautiful. What many people don't see, especially the busy with their everyday life locals, is that the river is keeping the city alive. It has all these wonderful places on both sides, not being valued at their real worth. Lanes of cars usually keep people away from the banks which remain unexplored. Valyo is one of the organizations fighting this problem. They set up cultural activities to attract people to these places, to show them how the banks can be used and enjoyed at their full potential.

Squeezing the time spent here till now would result in amazing people all around working to make Budapest a greater and smarter city than it already is and i'm very happy i got the chance to know them. Looking forward to the next days.

Patri Banu

Sunny Tuesday morning... took a drive on the highway leaving my beautiful home town to meet again the wonderful Budapest. It was already afternoon and there I was in the great metropolitanity. Luggage over luggage... all cornered up in a hotel room while searching for a place to stay. What to expect? Challenging with changes... I had no idea of what was to happen next days... All of this where traveling my mind randomly. A thought and then another.... Leaving routine office back-home, I was excited about the new projects to come.

Cafe Lumen was there like waiting for me and I felt like a warm "welcome" atmosphere once there. Happily I found Mindspace in the preliminary prepares for their year event Danube Day: assignments were ongoing and got me also along and each day I became more and more interested. While participating to all the events met a lot of talented and grate people here, open minded in a pleasant and educational environment, a place to learn a lot from and opportunities to develop myself both personal and professional.

I have visited Budapest several times before, being one of my favorite european capitals, but never thought this new experience would bring up sides of it that I was just discovering... lovely and so many small streets like a labyrinth, happy people, brightness of the sights during the day and the glow of the city during night.

From one side to the other along with the magical Danube it is a real pleasure to live here, to visit and visit again ... in a few words enjoying the charming surroundings and take the pulse of the city life. Danube Days is a great event adored by each and every one and opens great opportunities to develop the smart city concept. Within the little entertainments that could be organized with this occasion for the children's amusement they can understand and apply the ecofriendly tips for our environment protection and care.

Nicoleta Culda