“With top hat and cane around Bucharest” is the project of a Bucharest-based NGO - ARCEN (The Romanian Association for Culture, Education and Normality), comprising of so-called cultural journeys around the city, for Bucharesters and tourists alike. During our tours, we don’t only talk about the history and architecture of the buildings one can see around, but we aim to recreate the atmosphere of past times, namely periods that proved flourishing for Bucharest. Thus, a cultural journey provided by ARCEN is not only about what exists and can be seen, but also about what used to be and, unfortunately, cannot be seen anymore. It is about places and people alike, about respected individuals who cared about the city they dwelled in, it is about the neighbourhood heroes, the elegant ladies of the city, and about many other characters that “created” Bucharest through time. We endeavour to underline the link between city and citizen, given that we want today's citizenry too to feel emotionally tied to the city they live in and to intervene for its defence, if the case be, or contribute to its better unfolding.
Since we launched the project in 2010 we have created four cultural journeys in the central area of Bucharest (comprising Calea Victoriei, the Magheru Boulevard, the Old Centre, Cișmigiu Park, the United Nations Square), where we have guided Bucharesters and tourists, free of charge, every summer, from July to August, every single weekend. In spring 2014, we launched an adjacent project of the same nature, which regards pericentral neighborhoods, ex-suburbs (mahalale) of Bucharest that had once been true islands of identity and unfortunately became “The Fading Bucharest”, due to numerous inappropriate interventions. Among these, we’ve already checked „Mahalaua Flămânda” (the Starving Suburb) and „Mahalaua Mătărsari” (the Mătăsari Suburb). People have followed us (literally, not only on Facebook) in great numbers - around 150-200 persons joined every two hour tour, and we expect that this summer, the fifth one already, and those to come we’ll be as appealing as their precedents.
For a while now, we’ve been thinking we should do more for more people. And we do know how to do that. On one hand, we want to improve the tour experience through technical means. As mighty and charismatic the guides may be, they painfully cope with a crowd of over 200 persons when the traffic goes crazy during the weekends or when the wind blows in the wrong direction. For this reason, a discreet audio system would come in handy at this moment. On the other hand, we aim to do something that’s even more ambitious. We want to turn our project into a cultural-touristic instrument that would be available to be used day and night by anyone willing to have a knowledgeable stroll. Basically, we wish to create a digital brochure for each of our tours which we will post on a site dedicated to Bucharest, and, eventually, to develop an app for smartphones. In this manner, both Bucharesters and tourists will be able to become their own guides or to share with their friends more about the city they inhabit.
Usually, each cultural tour involves the efforts of around ten persons, volunteers in ARCEN, students and graduates of several faculties, all sharing the wish to duly know the city they live in. The drill is this: we establish the route and the bibliography, we do research to find out the best stories, we write the text, we translate it and then, finally, we do the guiding.
For all our efforts not to turn lacklustre, we truly need your support. First, in order to improve the tour experience and to support the team of editors, translators and guides, second, to cover the costs for the site, the digital brochures and the prototype for the smartphone app.
Out of all these, the costs for developing the app exceed the sum we wish to obtain through this campaign. For this reason, in a first phase we want to work at the mobile version of the site where the digital brochures will be posted so as to use this as a prototype for the realization of the app (for which we need to access more funds). Prospectively, the app will be available free for Bucharesters and tourists alike and will be attuned to the latest technological and design standards. Until then, we will arrange the content in the most ingenious way possible for the mobile version and we will provide downloadable brochures for tourists that don’t have access to the internet.
In short, we want to turn Bucharest into a city that’s easier to get along with, more pleasant to the foot and to the eyes.
Maybe you already like what we’re doing, but you’ll like it even more if you help us!
One fine body…