The Balkans Coworking Musketeers!

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Luka Piškorič and I started Slovenia Coworking initiative in 2012 in Ljubljana and knew from the start we need strong regional partners to develop coworking culture in the Balkans. At that time it was not possible to buy a domain name of hr ending if you were not a resident of Croatia. So Luka’s cousin from Zagreb bought domain name coworking.hr for us and we started searching for somebody who could share and upgrade our vision.

It was June, 2012 and we went to see Design D exhibition in Zagreb. We stroll around designer teams tables and were totally impress by the work of two young designers, a girl and a boy, so we started talking with them. A 5 minutes talk turn to a half an hour, a half a hour talk into 2 and 3 and 4, … At the end of a day we haven’t looked at any other works, just sat behind their desk and brainstorm, developing ideas what can all be done in the Balkans to improve life of self-employed creatives. It was like love at first sight,  a professional love at first sight! :)

It was instantly clear that Matija and Mirna Ptiček are the ones who we can give coworking.hr domain and all the materials we have already developed. Mirna could understand Slovenian, so they translated everything. And so our beautiful and rich cooperation began. We mutually developed concepts of the events, workshops, platforms and we successfully implemented ones in Slovenia, ones in Croatia and some in both countries at once. We became spokespersons for self-employed and innovators of tools to empower our communities.

It was hard, at times very exhausting, putting almost infinitive hours in project development. We were often working with very little or no funding. We sometimes talked that’s not healthy for us, that we should take more care for ourselves, taking more breaks, live more healthy with less stress. But every small win for self-employed was a motivation to go further, to do more, to put more extra work.

Looking back now I think we should take it more easy. Matija’s illness came as a big shock. “What’s going on with Matija? He’s not posting anything on social media? Something serious is going on,” Luka phoned me all worried. The worst fears came true, but with them also Matija’s positive attitude that cancer can be beaten. The incredible crowdfunding campaign brought so much power, all the positive messages, it was overwhelming. Matija being back online, plugged in the activism mode again … it seemed that he is gaining back the strength. And that slowly but surly he’ll be back.

He was even planning to come to attend our conference in Poligon on the topic of “Gaining sick leaves for self-employed people” at the end of the May, however at the end he could not make it. Just before the summer, in June, he sent us the last recommendation letter as a president of HDNP to add it to a grant application. “1000 times thank you, Matija” I wrote him on Facebook and he replied “Eva, no thank you needed, I will be super happy if you get money for your employment on a self-employed research project. For the first time. That’s important!”

Four days ago I received a positive reply for the grant.

Yesterday the news of Matija’s death came.

So at the end of summer I received an employment grand and I lost an amazing friend.

I wish it would be the other-way around.

Dear Matija’s family.

Matija is an incredible soul!

I promise we will continue to work hard on everything we always planned and work together.

I know Matija did not like to hug much.

I really wish I hugged him more.

Our condolences,

he will be always always be in our hearts,

Eva Matjaž (Perčič) and Luka Piškorič

– Eva Matjaž

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