By Anda Ene
OZB’s Anda Ene spoke with Tica Darie, founder of the Made In Rosia Montana Project, about the work he’s done and how it has changed this troubled community.
What drew you to this remote area and particularly hooked you to Rosia Montana rather than other parts of Romania that also need protection and support?
The first time I stepped foot in Rosia Montana, more or less by accident, I was 14 years old and attending the FanFest Festival. It was then that I discovered the beauty of this mountain village, but also the danger it was exposed to due to the proposed mining project. Later on , when I was a student in Copenhagen, the situation in Rosia Montana was escalating and I decided to get actively involved. So I started all sorts of activities that were meant to increase visibility. Rosia Montana and the fight for getting the community out of the economic, social and cultural blockage has become the main focus of all of my energy and resources.
In January 2015 you started the madeinrosiamontana project. Hot has it evolved since? Can you say today that is a sustainable business?
We are in our fifth year of activity and we work together with 30 women from Rosia Montana. Each year we’ve had better results. But the fact that is a seasonal activity does slow the growth process.
Who are your clients?
We have clients from various backgrounds, private buyers, who purchase our products for themselves or their families, as well as companies who wish to gift their employees beautiful, useful, and high quality products for different kinds of events.The story that our products tell is often a factor in our clients’ decision.
What did you learn about social entrepreneurship how to change a community?
My own personal experience has taught me how I should be looking at this business and how to be financially fair to the women who produce these products. But mostly, I have learned how to efficiently invest the profit so that it will have a maximum impact on the community. We are directing 10% of our profits to creating and maintaining an appropriate climate so that children and young people in Rosia Montana will have better access to education. The 30 women from our Made In Rosia Montana Team, besides the extra income they earn from knitting every winter, also gain a sense of belonging to a social group. This is bringing lost friends back together who were separated due to the conflictual state brought upon the village by the mining company. One can see the community being reborn.
How is life in Rosia Montana now? What are the changes that you see happening?
It’s quiet now in the village. There is a noticeable amount of uncertainty, but even if the conflict with the company is still quietly brewing, it appears as though many locals have turned to more sustainable ways of earning a living. For example, the number of tourists coming to Rosia Montana is continuously growing and as a result, more and more locals are starting to improve their accommodation offers and services. There are new initiatives and projects that help better the experience of one’s visit to Rosia Montana.
How do you see the place in 10 years? And where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope that in the next 10 years Rosia Montana will grow into a beautiful village, with many small entrepreneurs and alternatives for spending free time for youngsters and children. I hope that it will become a place where people can feel accomplished, where they feel they can grow, and also a place where tourists will keep coming to events here. I also hope that in 10 years, Rosia Montana will have all of its houses restored to their former beauty, and it will become what it once was, a lively and prosperous community.
As for myself, I see a future in “Spontaneous Roșia”, as I like to call it, with my small family, Larisa and Mira. I see myself continuously involved in resurrecting this village, but with more experience and motivation from my part, so as to be sure that if I moved all the way here I will have done everything I can to make the place a little better than it was when I found it.
Why should foreign tourists come to visit RM?
Rosia Montana is special because here, with every step you can “read” the story of a place that is so full of historical significance. Because it’s set in between the mountains, you can get to a mountaintop straight from the centre of our village and admire a beautiful view over the Apuseni Mountains. There are guided tours available, on foot or with a mountain bike. The Mining Museum with its Roman galleries is open and one can attend a variety of cultural events organised in the village, mostly during the summer. Although at first glance it may seem a forgotten and deserted place, there are still a lot of activities that happen or could happen here, as to give every tourist a fulfilling experience in Rosia Montana.