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“Place of 60 Towers” – Khada Gorge

General:

IMG_0942If one wants to feel medieval spirit of Georgia, should visit Khada Gorge. It is one of the most marvelous locality of the country, which it astonishes a visitor with spectacular nature and amazing architecture. Towers from feudal past stand alongside modern houses. They are still well preserved, but desolate. According to the legend, golden rams used to pasture at the main tower, which is located further from the settlement and high up in the mountains. These golden rams protected the gorge from evil. Nowadays no one lives in these towers, only sanctuaries are kept there. Decades ago people preferred to build more up-to-date dwellings. But due to hard living conditions, absence of school, hospital and shops they left ancestral place – moved to the city. Only few families stay in the gorge year round. Others arrive during summer time or great holidays, especially local religious celebrations.

Location:

IMG_0998Khada Gorge is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) far from Tbilisi, in Mtsketa-Mtianeti region. It is near Gudauri ski resort, starts at Kvesheti village. Total length of the gorge is about 7km (4.4 miles). The way runs along the twisted river, then goes higher and higher. Small villages stand on either side like eagle’s nest. Some of them consist of several houses and it’s kind of shocking for those, for whom definition of “village” means at least thousand inhabitants. Sights and settlements can be reached by car till the end of the gorge. Khada also represents excellent place for trekking. Camp or picnic can be arranged any place – at the waterfall, near the river or on the valleys near the village.

Major sights of the gorge: 

  1. Elguja’s Fortress is first sight of the gorge. In 1881 famous Georgian writer Alexander Kazbegi described it in his novel “Elguja”. It is still well preserved and represents a fortification built in the slope of the mountain. The Fortress is constructed by bare stones, without cement. It overlooks the surrounding and had intelligence-defensive functions. Its defenders were the first who noticed enemy and fought against them.
  2. IMG_0903Acidic water – on the way to the villages, on one place the soil is covered by rust. It’s because of acidic water, which naturally runs from the ground. It contains useful minerals and iron. As it’s considered, the water is characterized by healing properties.
  3. Korogho fortress and church are constructed on the high mountain. It’s amazing how the builders could carry heavy materials there. The village existed in the early middle ages. It connected the gorge to the Northern Caucasus. Locals protected the road and gave shelter to the people during invasions. The church has unique relief images – 12 scenes, which describe its construction process: oxen carry stones, women take food to the builders, people prepare mortar, architect stands with model of the church, etc. Such decoration is very rare in Georgia. In other words, ruins of Korogho are unique in the whole country.
  4. Towers, towers everywhere. Khada gorge is known as “place with 60 towers”. Every family in every village had own one – once they served as residential and defensive buildings. Otherwise it was impossible to survive in the hostile environment: Locals often used to fight against enemies. Some of the important towers are Tsetskhijvari (which dates back to IX-X centuries. It has strategic location, overlooks to whole panorama. When its guards noticed enemy, set fire to warn people about upcoming threat), Mindelauri Tower (belonged to Mindelauri family, dates to X-XI centuries. It has inscription into old Georgian alphabet Asomtavruli and 2 faces, which symbolize sun and moon); Tower of Naraidze family in the village Tskere – it has carved image of the hand on the wall.
  5. Waterfall – beautiful place to have a rest and enjoy with splendid nature.

In short, Khada Gorge is for those, who want to experience new adventures and get lost in the medieval villages. Calmness and wildness of the spot is combined with breathtaking beauty of the mountains. Indeed, it’s worth to visit!

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Useful travel information for Georgia

Information about Tbilisi (sights, events, hotels, bars and so on) – http://www.info-tbilisi.com/

Georgian Railway – Trains, passenger transportation, schedules, booking online
Traffic General Schedule: http://railway.ge/?web=1&action=page&p_id=479&lang=eng
Regional trains: http://www.railway.ge/samg/searchTrains.aspx?lang=en-US

Mobile operators:
Geocell: http://geocell.ge/en/
Magticom: http://magtigsm.ge/index.php?section=8&lang=eng
Beeline: http://beeline.ge/en/index.wbp

Sights to visit:
Kakheti – (full information transportation, tours, monumnents…)
Kutaisi – Bagrati church, Promete Cave, ruins of Geguti Palace, Gelati.
Tbilisi – Narikala fortress, Metekhi, Sameba church, Mtatsminda (pantheon of public figures and park at the top of the mount). Museums,… more at: info-tbilisi.com
Mtskheta – old capital of Georgia. Svetitskhoveli church (Christ’s robe), fortress over there, Samtavro monastery (with graves of the first Georgian king and queen).
Stepantmisnda – Gergeti church. amazing view
Vardzia – cave city of the middle ages.
Rabati in Akhaktsikhe
Gori (stalin’s museum) and Upilstsikhe cave city (of the ancient times) near it.
Shatili – vilalge of castle
Abudelauri lakes in Khevsureti (green, blue, white).
Svaneti
Borjomi – Mineral waters, national park, cableway, sulfur springs, Gogia’s castle and other sights nearby

Rallies

Rallies are part of the political culture. They are forms of non-violent resistance, widely used all over the world. In this way large numbers of people express their opinion about a certain political, cultural, environmental or social affairs. Speakers are part of the process. They can use signs, banners, other forms of creative expression, symbols, messages and so on. Some rallies can change thoughts of the people and development of human history.

List of famous rallies in the world include:

– Martin Luther King’s struggle for civil rights, his famous march on Washington DC in 1963

– Rallies in Iran from in August-December 1978. It lead to revolution and establishment of Islamic state

Iran Revolution

– “Colored revolutions” in Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004). Hundreds of thousands people demanded change of their governments

Hundreds of thousands of people demanded change of government in 2003 in Georgia

–  Anti-war protest on February 15, 2003. It was the largest scale rally in the human history. Citizens of various countries, in hundreds of cities demanded to stop Iraq war. Estimated number of all protestant varies from 8 to 30 million.

– In December 2010 revolution in Egypt and so on.

It is considered that rallies are stronger if they involve many people. Though large number of the attendants does not always define success. Government may restrict freedom of speech with different means: legislation, police attacks, creating unfavorable environment, etc.

Legal regulations of rallies and demonstrations vary according countries. USA defines “Free Speech Zones” (also known as First Amendment Zones) where public can enjoy their freedom of speech, express opinions on political, social, economic issues and so on. Though they are limited spaces and in some cases organizers need to get special permission from the government.

The case is different in Republic of Georgia. Constitution provides freedom of assembly, but recent amendment in the Law of Meetings and Manifestations defines 20 meter distance limitation from the buildings. Organizers should apply for permission 5 days in advance and indicate exact date and time of the rally.

On June Rally in the central street of Milwaukee was devoted to huge military spending of US budget. They believe that USA needs to decrease war expenditures and increased finances in education, social projects, environmental issues, etc. They tried to gain attention of the citizens with slogans and different banners.

Have you ever participated in rallies? What’s your experience? Was it effective? Could it reach desired aims? Do you believe that protest of large number of people can make changes just standing together?

Locust Street Festival 2011

35th anniversary!

Sounds incredible, does not it?

Locust Street festival is one of the most famous festivals of Milwaukee, WI. It involves more and more artists and visitors year after year.

Different activities last all day long. Bands, performers occupy every corner. There are food stands, crafts, live music and street shows. People enjoy different genres of music. It is the day of universal entertainment.

This year it took place on June 12. It was the first festival that immediately followed my arrival in Milwaukee and I was really happy to feel the soul of the city.

Locust Street Festival opens with Beer Run! It’s amazing show with hundreds of participants! Men and women rush to the finish, making 4 beer stops. It’s funny and exciting!

Other street activities include giant dancing puppets, theater, shows of martial arts, hosting poets and authors, etc. Festival attendants can taste different food and beverages as well.

Besides, many organizations consider the festival as a community outreach opportunity. There they present various materials about their activities: newsletters, posters, T-shirts; talk to visitors; it is face-to-face conversation, direct dialogue of the organizations and their focus groups, mutual sharing of opinions.

Even in the crowded place you can notice Peace Action Milwaukee. Festival was a good fundraising opportunity for my organization. Selling goods, bumper stickers (which support peace) they get money for future events.

This kind of activity is common for American non-profits. They are not focused only grant writing. They also use different creative methods in order to get funds and meet organization’s needs. That’s what I learnt in Nonprofit Financial Resource Development class. Here I saw it in practice. Useful experience, is not it?

Peace action was not the only non-profit represented here. Woodland Pattern Book Center organized several activities, among them Community Ties Raffle and declared that “All the money raised by the Community Ties Raffle supports Woodland Pattern programming.”

You can learn more about the festival from the following articles and videos:

On my neighbor website you can read minute-by-minute report

You can join FaceBook page of the festival. It might be late for this year, but will get timely updates for the following one.

Watch video and fill the soul of the festival

One more video from Festival 2007. Enjoy it!

Peace Action Wisconsin

Hello from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is the city where I will spend summer internship. It’s a good place to get involved in various organizational activities, as well as in the cultural affairs.

 Milwaukee is a large and interesting city with a lot of historical places, multiethnic composition of the population. It is located at the Lake Michigan, counts more than 1.750 000 population in the metropolitan area.

 The city was founded in the early 1800s and still preserves old buildings, churches, etc. It is a center of festivals during summer period.

Milwaukee, WI

Here I will enjoy exceptional intercultural community, as well as contribute my time and ideas to Peace Action Wisconsin. It’s great opportunity to for exchange practice and learn how US non-profits work. I will compare experience of Georgian NGOs to the local one and will also see whether the theories I learned at Kent State work in the real world.

This is my internship host organization, with long history and experience.

October 8, 2009. PJSA conference participants took a "field trip" to Peace Action Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

 Starting from 1977, it was part of different groups that worked on anti-nuclear issues.

In its mission statement you will read the following:

“Peace Action-Wisconsin is a peace and justice organization which works for a world where human needs are met, the environment is preserved, and the threats of war and nuclear weapons have been abolished. We are committed to non-violence as a way of life and offer our members opportunities for education, lobbying and public witness.”

Peace Action Wisconsin is involved in local, national and international campaigns; lobbies, develops educational events on the following issues: Disarmament, Middle East Peace, Truth in Recruitment, Schools of the Americas Watch. Activities include film shows, round table discussions, public events and so on.

Peace Action is a member of coalitions, such as United for Peace and Justice, the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, the Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba, Friends of Palestine, Milwaukee Bolivarian Circles and the Milwaukee Justice Coalition.

Check the website of Peace Action Wisconsin for more information. Do you share same values? Do you want to live in the safer world? Do you want more expenditure on economic, environmental, cultural, social issues instead of military field?  Do you want to make difference and contribute in peace-building? Then join Peace Action and make donations. The organization offers different packages (individual, student, family household and so on) for various terms (one year, 3 years, lifetime).

If you are a resident of Milwaukee or its neighborhood, you can also visit Peace Action at 1001 E. Keefe Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53212. Phone number: 414-964-5158. Get a membership and access on free books and video library, magazines and other informational materials.

Join Peace Action on FaceBook! Here peace activists post about upcoming events. It’s also a good way for networking. There you will meet people with similar values.

Donate for Peace Action!

Get involved in the peace work!

Promote non-violent action!

International PR actors in the emergency situations – Case of Georgia in 2008

This post was published on PROpenMic as my graduate project for Online PR class. Please read it and feel free to express yourself, ask questions or share experience.

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We live in the globalized world. It means that societies from different parts of the earth closely interrelate with each other. They share information, viewpoints. They establish political, economic or cultural relations. They also consume goods that are produced in various countries such as: Turkey, China, United States, Ukraine, Russia, Indonesia, etc. Role of transnational companies has increased and the world became interdependent on the high level. It means that now we have stronger economic, political, social, even cultural connections than ever. Continue reading

Nigerian in Tbilisi

After a long break I am back and trying to continue stories about different experiences, policies and inter-cultural relations. This time my story refers to African guy who lives and works in the Republic of Georgia. His name is Brian and he is a footballer. He arrived there couple of years ago. Here is a documentary (with English and Russian subtitles) which tells you Brian’s story.
As I can see he did not have easy life, he was a foreigner in the new country. In the first days he did not have even a shelter, but now everything is changed. Local family gave a space in the house. Recently Brian has a job and a family in Tbilisi. He speaks Georgian quite well and He’s a star of TV shows.

Please watch the video and share your story. Have you lived abroad? Was it easy to integrate in the local society? How they addressed foreigners? Were they helpful?