Ideas of world peace and harmony as well as initiatives for bringing new life to our grey and ugly cities are widely spread worldwide. At the same they combine and adopt the above mentioned activities and goals diversifying them with charity elements. As a whole, all of these campaigns are mainly welcome and sincerely appreciated by open-minded to the world and creative guys who do see and realize the slogan of these initiatives. The rest just consider them the nth event held in their city during which they can kill some time at weekends without getting the major message at all. Poor them! 🙂 Anyway …. It’s more important that there are folks like me (and, for sure, like YOU 🙂 ) who will get fascinated while attending such events and taking part in such campaigns. So what do I have in mind exactly?
More than a decade ago, in 2001, Klaus and Eva Herlitz together with the sculptor Roman Strobl created life-size Buddy Bears from glass-reinforced plastic (i.e. fibreglass) which were colourfully painted. Those 350 creatures appeared in the streets of Berlin and turned into a true decoration of the city or participated in other city events together with other animals and buddies. Four bear designs were made and thus locals and tourists alike could enjoy sitting and standing (on their four paws, their head and two legs) sculptures of Buddy Bears which filled up their hearts with joy and happiness. After the street exhibition in Berlin many of the original sculptures were sold out at auction and the money raised was donated to charity organizations for children. The others has been travelling to the other parts of the world (Shanghai, Buenos Aires and St. Gallen in Switzerland) where they fetched the same “cheerful and colourful” mood to the locals.
The whole idea of the urban event was so warmly welcome so a year later, in 2002, it was enlarged to a global and international initiative proclaiming that all peoples and cultures should live in peace and harmony, and all people on the planet should be more tolerant to one another and understand each other. 140 United Buddy Bears were on display and a special arrangement was set for the event. All sculptures had to be arranged in a circle called The Art of Tolerance and all 2-metre United Buddy Bears stood hand in hand. On the other hand, the arrangement “rule” followed the alphabetic order. This subset of arrangement requirements has been observed in any country where the sculptures have been on display in public ever since. And again many of the sculptures have been sold out at auction and the money has been given to UNICEF.
By the way, Sofia was the host of the United Buddy Bears in 2011. Believe me it was a great experience and a real delight to have a stroll in the St Nedelya Square in the centre where one could get acquainted with each United Buddy Bear, shake hands and have a photo taken with it. Apart from the great fun, the whole idea of the event was more than transparent and obvious, i.e. “Peoples from all over the world should get to know one another because thus they can understand each other much better and it builds trust between them. And all this makes them live in harmony and more peacefully.”
And last thing. Again the idea has evolved. The “mini” initiative was created in 2003. Smaller 1-metre sculptures were displayed and the United Buddy Bears-The Minis kept the whole concept but, as I said, they were smaller in size.
I came across two other similar initiatives some time ago. They’re related to buddies again but this time they are Gromit the Dog and Shaun the Sheep. Both initiatives (Gromit Unleashed and Shaun in the city) have charity goals for raising money for children in hospitals all over the United Kingdom. The forthcoming initiative, actually, is Shaun in the City which is planned for next year when a flock of 60 ewes will appear in London in spring and they will unite with other 60 ShaunS in Bristol later in summer. Thus more than 100 ewe sculptures of Shaun (1.52 metres tall each) in varies guises and decorated by creative artists and designers, will be the main attraction in these two cities. Afterwards, the sweet and colourful Buddy Sheep will be sold out at auction and the money will be used for sick children.