Russia, 241000 Bryansk box: 83
tel/fax(0832) 446059

Webmaster Maharych

History of Organization  
    Our organization began its existence in 1993 as an association of like-minded people, concerned with environmental problems in Bryansk region. Provided the majority of members belonged to the sphere of education, "Erica" began to tackle ecological enlightenment and education problems. At the very beginning the tasks of the organization were defined rather vaguely, the directions of work developed gradually. At first we viewed handling problems of building up the organization as not important for us, regarded that kind of activity as waste of forces and distraction from real work. 
  However, soon we came to understanding how naive that point of view was. 
  Reality turned out to be more harsh. We came to realizing, that without creating valuable Non Governmental Organization having legal status we would not be able to do serious work and influence significantly the processes that take place in region. The experience of Bryansk Ecological Non governmental Organization "Viola", to the seminar of which we had been invited, contributed to that realization. From that seminar on "Erica" began evolving as a real organization.
   The first project, that got financial help of ProgramISAR-Moscow,, carried the name"Ecological school" (1995, $1,447) and comprised organizing environmentally conscious play courses for school children in four summer vacation camps. Children became aware of the part their families played in water and energy consumption, in waste "production", and what can be done by each person to reserve resources. All the work done we summarized in a text-book "Ecology in our home. Methodological recommendations for teachers to small ecological practice."
  Having completed the project, we began taking part in a new Program SAR-Moscow. on the competitive basis. And we won again. During the work on project"Address service of ecological education" (1996, $6,000) we were able to create the bases of the constantly active ecological enlightenment structure, which began to interact with the media, radio and TV. We mastered such form of the work as guest ecological lecturing bureaus, and program "Ecological education in the zone of ecological disaster". We produced three video films on the problems of environmental pollution and published the text-book "How to get ready for public speech".
   As a result of fulfillment of these projects, we came to realizing several important truths, regarding ecological education:- It can not be restricted to simple informing function, in such a "pure" form education produces little effect. 
  • Ecological educationshould be targeted, that means that there should be a clear understanding what and for what audience is presented. The preliminary study of interests of that or another social group gives an opportunity to understand what they want and can learn, how the work should be prepared. For example, owners of the country cottages. To speak about ozone holes with them is useless, but problems of pollution, preserving biological variety are relevant, but they should be presented in the context of other data, which is interesting to that group, for example - the methods of organic agriculture.
  • Ecological education should be visual. "Erica" has now video fund (videothek) of teaching films, including those of environmental content. (about 2000 cassettes). The schools in Bryask region find constant use of them. We continue to produce our own educational films.
   We came also to realizing that the organization must think constantly not only about the present-day work, but also about the perspectives of its developments. We can say that the work on the projects created "Erica" as an organization. New people came, permanent employees emerged that increased in great deal efficiency. We mastered legal and accounting wisdom, so that we could already consult other non governmental organizations. In process of realization of projects "Erica" became known to a wide circle of public audience and many state organizations. To prevent spreading unrealistic hearsay about our "profits" from grants, we acted openly: did not conceal the sizes of the grants, widely notified the public about our activity, set up connections with media, made offers of mutually beneficial cooperation.
   Having developed interesting projects and successfully realized them, we got invited by ISAR-Moscow to the ecological Forum, organized by them and held in Kiev. There we were able to get acquainted with many good people, set up important for the organization contacts, to participate in work of several seminars. Soon "Erica" became a full and equal member of Social Ecological Union.
   Having gotten an experience, we applied to participate on the competitive basis in Program ROLL of Institute of Stable Cooperation (ISC) on the project "Wild herbs at home" In Bryansk region, as well as in many other regions of Russia a great number of species of wild plants came under the threat of disappearing as a result of mass storing up medicinal herbs. We suggested to move from non effective (especially today) banning measures on their storing up to organizing mass growing of these herbs in culture by the population of region. This allows to lift up unduly stress from natural habitat and provides a necessary combination of personal interest with possibility to favorably influence the state of habitat of plants. It also increases the size of audience for ecological education. Thus, "Erica" moved from pure enlightenment work with people to organizing their practical work. As a result the project got financed by the program. The fulfillment of this project requires to unite efforts of NGOs, administrative structures of region, system of education and health system, entrepreneurs and farmers, media and a number of other organizations to grow medicinal herbs on school yards of rural schools, which are situated on ecologically "clean" territories. The project cannot, obviously, solve at once and completely the problem of preserving disappearing species and arrange for the protection of the health of the community of the whole region, but it develops the resource base available in the region, which becomes capable further of self-sustanence.
   To strengthen our influence in region we went beyond the framework of mere ecological problems and began to seek interaction with any public organizations, no matter what sphere of their activity is. We began to create an independent regional center of support of public associations. It will render help to any NGO of Bryansk region in solving common for many organizations development problems. The necessity for creating such a center is driven by the crisis situation of the third sector in the region. Many NGOs out of registered ones in 1991 (they are around 200- It is a small number in comparison with that of other regions) stopped their existence or don't work actively. The majority of those have extremely weak material base, don't have financial means, and don't know the ways of attracting those. They are isolated from each other and don't have any idea where to get help.    We organized setting up a seminar "Technology of success", held by Institute of Problems of Civic Society (Moscow) to teach activists of 47 Bryansk NGOs. The idea of creation of regional center found support on the seminar. With that the process of formation of the organization as a valuable NGO was accomplished.