SLOVENIANS IN BUSINESS
Peter Ogorelec: The joy of making models and miniature worlds
Peter Ogorelec has been a professional model maker for more than half a century – nearly 70 years to be more precise. Already in elementary school, he enrolled in a model-making workshop that was organized as an extracurricular activity. “Those very first achievements encouraged me to carry on and things just developed on their own from there on. Under the guidance of our mentor, my schoolmates and I made kites, rockets, boats, and airplanes,” Ogorelec explains in his interview for Rodna gruda. “Instead of preparing for the finals, I spent my last year of secondary school making a model of a motorboat. Of course, I also passed my finals.” He recalls making about 20 models at the time, but he did not save any of them for keepsake.
In 2016, to commemorate 60 years of his model-making practice, Ogorelec published a book entitled 100 in 1 maketa (i.e., 100 and 1 models). It’s a long read that talks about the nostalgia for an economic activity that is – in light of technological developments – becoming merely a hobby. Out of gratitude, the author who started counting his age anew upon his heart transplant has dedicated his book to my parents.
Ogorelec invites all readers of Rodna gruda, their friends and acquaintances from all around the world to send or bring with them to Slovenia pieces of wood that are still missing from his collection. The contact information, types of wood he is missing, and the dimensions are specified in the photograph.
Lita Stantič: A Slovenian at the top of the film industry
This time, Rok Fink is reporting from Argentina with an interesting interview about the film industry. The opening lines reads “Some time ago, I stumbled upon Lucrecia Martel, a well-known film director and screenwriter. During our conversation, my Slovenian origins were brought up and she exclaimed she cooperated regularly with some Slovenian. ‘It has to be Lita Stantic!’ (this is how they pronounce Stantič around these parts) I exclaimed, to which she replied ‘Of course!’”
Stantič is one of the most prominent film producers in Argentina (an unofficial translation of the Wikipedia text published in Castilian: She is one of the most prominent producers in the so-called New Argentine Film, who is credited for the breakthroughs of some of the most notable new directors, such Lucrecia Martel, Pablo Trapero, and Israel Adrián Caetano. “Already as a young girl, I was drawn to film. In Parque Chas – the district I grew up in – there was a cinema we often visited. I decided to study literature and journalism because I envisioned that, in those times, becoming a film critic was the only way for a woman to work in film.
In mid-1960s, I was presented with an opportunity to produce short films and commercials. Toward the end of the 1970s, I established my production agency together with Alejandro Dorio,” Stantič recalls her beginnings in the film industry, adding that she hopes she will get a chance to visit Slovenia again someday.
Generations of Science: A tribute to karstologist prof. dr. Andrej Mihevc
At the 2023 Generations of Science, the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) held its annual 29th award ceremony. They presented awards to researchers, one of whom was a Andrej Mihevc, a ZRC SAZU researcher who has dedicated his life to st7yding the karst. He is mostly interested in the morphology and speleogenesis of the karst, but he has also studied hydrology, cave climate, sediment dating, and the use of caves. In his work, he relies on the findings from different subject fields – geography, geology, paleontology, archeology, history, and biology – which is something the participants of the International Karstological School learn every year. It was partly thanks to his engagement with the School that he was able to establish the Karst Research Institute in Postojna as the headquarters of the International Union of Speleology. As a professional spelunker, he has contributed to the exploration of Slovenia’s half-past history. Mihevc spoke about his work on karstology and the importance of the karst in general for the readers of Rodna gruda.
In the interview, he also explains the difference between the Slovenian karst and the karstic regions in other parts of the world, lays out the most important and surprising findings, as well as explains the role of caves in Slovenia’s half-past history.
Cross Cave: A jewel of the subterranean karst
The Cross Cave (Križna jama), lies in the triangle between the Lož Karst Field, Cerknica Karst Field, and Bloke Plateau. The world-renowned karst cave with subterranean lakes is located two kilometers from the Bloška Polica village, in the direction of the Lož Valley. As explained by the Friends of Cross Cave Association, the cave is known primarily for its 22 subterranean lakes where crystal-clear waters pass through the flowstone walls. It is also known for being the archeological where cave bear bones were discovered (among them is the largest cave bear skull found to date) and for its biodiversity – the Cross Cave is the fourth most biodiverse cave ecosystem in the world. Water from the south edge of the Bloke Plateau drains through the cave toward the eastern part of the Cerknica Karst field.
“The first known explorers were people from the Metal Age. Thus, archeologists have found some ancient pottery at the entrance to the Cross Cave, with the oldest pieces being around 5,000 years old,” explains Gašper Modic, the President of the Friends of Cross Cave Association. The beginnings of tourism around these parts were strongly linked to exploration. “The first signatures, which are proof that the cave was visited, date back to 1557. The cave was first detailed in writing in 1832, whereas the subterranean hydrological system was studied as late as 1926 by Slovenian spelunkers ,” Modic explains.
The Cross Cave is very different from the Postojna Cave due to its 22 subterranean lakes with flowstone walls permeated by crystal-clear water, and due to the archeological site where a collection of cave bear bones was discovered. Other notable differences include the number of visitors, how the caves are managed, and how well they are preserved. The Cross Cave is visited by 7,000 people annually, whereas the Postojna-Planina Cave System saw a hundred times as many visitors this year. The way the caves are managed differs a lot: the Friends of Cross Cave Association is merely the caretaker of the Cross Cave, whereas the Postojna-Planina Cave System has a concessioner. Lastly, the Cross Cave is one of the most well-preserved caves in the world.
April marked by Minister Arčon’s visit to the Slovenian Emigrant Association, charity and solidarity
In the first few days of the month, Minister Matej Arčon paid a visit to the Slovenian Emigrant Association. Boris Jesih, the President of the Association, thanked the Minister for this year’s financing, which allowed to Association to continue all existing and planned projects. The Minister was acquainted with our journalistic endeavors and the digitalization of our archive. After his visit, Arčon highlighted, “We need to find ways for all organizations dealing with emigrants to connect.”
Due to climate change, Slovenia is facing increasing numbers of wildfires each year. In mid-April, Defense Minister Marjan Šarec, signed a contract with Air Tractor Europe SL to secure the purchase of four firefighting planes. The first two aircrafts, which are suitable for training, should arrive to Slovenia before the summer, while the remaining two will be delivered next year.
Once again, Slovenians have shown that we are charitable and compassionate. Thousands of citizens did their best to participate in and help with the largest-ever charity campaign in Koroška, where the Frater brothers from Dravograd managed to sell the former President Pahor’s Renault 4 for over EUR 250,000. The proceeds were given to healthcare and humanitarian institutions. With the campaign, the Frater family has raised the bar of solidarity.
In mid-April, a high-profile caving accident occurred in Vranjedolska jama. On Saturday night, a 33-year-old experienced member of the Rakek caving association was caving 100 meters below the ground when a rock broke away from the wall, pierced her helmet and injured her head. With the help of cave rescuers, other services and organizations, she was brought to the surface at 4 am on Monday morning, transported to Cerknica with an ambulance and then flown to the University Medical Centre Ljubljana with a helicopter.
In the last week of April, the National Gallery in Ljubljana opened an exhibition entitled Rembrandt. Prints by the Greatest Old Master, which features Rembrandt’s prints from the Rembrandt House museum in Amsterdam. This is the first time in hearly 25 years that Rembrandt’s prints have been on display in Slovenia. The exhibition with works of one of the greatest artists of all time will be on display until 30 June 2023.
Bela Krajina flatbread
People in Bela Krajina are only known for their kindness, but for their hospitality as well. And there is no welcoming to a home in Bela Krajina without the Bela Krajina flatbread (belokrajnska pogača) – a type of round flatbread that is broken into pieces and eaten with hands. The flatbread is protected with a mark of traditional reputation and has been certified in the EU as a dish with a protected designation of origin.
Throughout history, housewives in Bela Krajina have developed and tried out different recipes, each of them leaving their own mark on this traditional dish. Jerica Draginc from Bušinja vas near Metlika kindly invited us into her home and reveled her own recipe. When we entered her kitchen, two pieces of flatbread were already waiting for us on the table!
As she explains, the ingredients required to make one piece are:
600 g of white flour
3 dL of lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 cube of cake yeast
»Mix milk, water and sugar and let the dough leaven,” Jerica explains. “I also add a tablespoon of sour cream and some oil or grease.” But traditionally, people in Bela Krajina only used water, yeast and some salt or cumin to taste. “Every housewife adds something else to the recipe,” she says. “Some add bacon, dried greaves, sesame – whatever they can find in their kitchen!” Let the dough leaven for a bit, slowly spread it out and bake it in the oven for 15 minutes at 210 degrees.