Plav is a small town in the north east of Montenegro. The 10.000 inhabitants form a mixed community of Montenegrians, Serbs and Albanians. 80% is muslim, 14% orthodox, 2% catholic. Among the Montenegrians there are both muslims and orthodox, among the Albanians both muslims and katholics. Part of the population are refugees from the Bosnian war (1992-1995) and the Kosovo war (1998-1999). The town is very isolated, surrounded by mountains and six hours away from the capital Podgorica. In autumn last year, a small group of people set up an NGO, Plagus_M, with the aim to activate the local community and the youth culture.
Interview with Merlinda Djesevic from Plagus_M:
There are no cultural activities, no civic initiatives. There is very little going on here, except for some sport activities for boys. For girls, there is nothing. There is no youth cultural centre. Plav is a sleeping town with a sleeping civil society.
What do you aim to change?
We want to wake up the community and activate youth by involving them in cultural activities. Art is a very strong mean to develop and express yourself. In the end we want to set up a youth cultural center as a safe environment for young people to come and share their ideas.
What is activism in Plav?
Activism in Plav means setting the basic steps on the way to an active youth culture. First getting passive people organised and active, then getting them involved in decision making and campaigns. If young people get more involved in the local community, they will not all want to leave Plav and find opportunities elsewhere. Plav can offer opportunities, they don't have to go away for that.
One urgent issue is the need to fight local corruption. For example, there is a small fund available for civic initiatives in Plav. This money is coming from Podgorica, but a local commission here decides where this money goes. In this commission are people from the municipality. These people have set up there own NGOs, which don't do anything in reality and only exist on paper, but are the way for these corrupt bureaucrats to bring the money into their own pockets.
They are like a small ruling class dividing the money among themselves, ignoring the needs of the population. This is a public secret, but very hard to change. It will take a much stronger civic demands and action to change this. So activism is about making youth culture so strong and active that the authorities here will listen to our demands.
Art and Activism Indymedia