A person is a product of genetic heritage and environment i.e. cultural heritage,
which means that the environment is important for the development
and formation of itself. The environment is thus a cultural heritage reflected in the language in the songs and dances, in the mythology in the natural work, in the economy.
We Sámi consider ourselves one people and cultural, linguistic,
economic and political unit. "our land is our life"
various indigenous people held this concept.
(The Sámi - national minority in Sweden)
The following research explores and brings to the surface the Sámi people's colonial past and its present consequences. What is the struggle for the land Sámi people are facing in their own territory and how mining company’s plan threatens the traditional lifestyle of locals and furthermore what damages it can bring to the environment and surrounding habitats.
Data on the above topic has been collected using qualitative methods such as observations, interviews (general guiding approach), online articles, document review, and books. It is important to notify that all the five interviews and additional informative documents were conducted and researched in English which decreases the voice of the local Sámi and national Swedish language informative contributors. Information and knowledge are the first product of the colonial past and it isn’t easy to avoid replication of the dominant ideology and narratives which feed the main colonial knowledge production.
‘The increasing mining activities in Northern Sweden, which negatively affect part of the population, was for a long time not considered newsworthy events. By being selective in regards to what kind of articles are being published, the affected part of the population is consequently subordinated in relation to other social actors' (Fraser, 2000). (1)
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Sámi are considered to be Europe's only indigenous people in their own land - Sápmi. Today, the Sámi population is estimated to be between 50,000 to 100,000 people. The Sápmi area, where Sàmi people live, spreads on four different countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia's Kola Peninsula. The settlement of Sámi people in this region dates back to more than 2000 years ago.
Sámis are historically known as nomadic people following reindeer herds three or four times a year with changing seasons. They are also known to be occupied with fishing, hunting, small scale farming, gathering, and forestry. The Sámi identity is based on several criteria such as language (i.e people who speak Sámi themselves or had at least one grand/parent who spoke the language), ethnic and cultural bonds and employment in traditional Sámi occupations.
A core concept in Sámi culture used since the prehistoric times, Siida (also known as localized community), represents a group of people who lived together in villages, migrated together and shared hunting and fishing rights in specific territories.
In the past, depending on the availability of resources, Siida would regulate the access rights to land for members of these villages with varying sizes from 25 to 130 people. Nowadays Sámi villages are regulated by a Swedish law called the "Reindeer Husbandry Act." One of the interviewees, local Sámi activist and photographer Tor Tuorda remarks: "My Sámi identification is based on the land, I feel connected to the land I walk on. I hunt, fish and tell stories about the landscape."
Phases of colonization
Today's cultural, political and legal struggle of the Sámi in Sweden is rooted in the colonial past and its present consequences. In the general patterns of colonialism indigenous people have been exploited in accordance with the interests and needs of the governing people. The theory of the inevitable extinction of primitive people and the natural expansion of western civilization justified the inhumane consequences of colonization.
We face a similar case when the outsiders came to Sápmi & Laponia. They spoke in terms of owning the land, the hunting grounds and fishing waters. For Sámi people these attitudes weren't familiar. Instead of owning the land they felt more as though the land owned them and that they were a part of it. Strangers they met, told them that the land belonged to the king and to the Swedish state. Several of the interviewees expressed a common perspective about the land colonization. "Swedish state hasn't done it through physical violence, it has been doing it with the pen, the administration, laws and decisions to colonize Sápmi. 1905 it was a land-grabbing not even one bullet was shot. No one was killed, it was only on the papers. They make laws and then taking the land away. (...) The Sámi had paid taxes on this land for more than 500 years." But the colonization of Lapland and exploitation of its resources began in the middle ages and grew during the 13th - 14th centuries, when the trade with Sámi flourished and taxes were levied on them by the Swedish crown. As there were several states claiming ownership of Lapland, Sámi were forced to pay taxes to several kingdoms at the same time. The first missionaries worked quite brutally to gain psychological and thereby political control over the Sámi.
Struggle for control over Sápmi areas of northern Fennoscandia was decided by the outcome of the inter-nordic wars of the 17th - 18th centuries. In the 17th century the kings had the interest in finding silver and gold in the Sápmi area. The Sámi who owned semi-domesticated reindeer were forced to transport people and supplies to the mines, causing many Sámis to emigrate from the area to avoid forced labor. As a result, the population of Northern Sámis decreased greatly.
Besides the land colonization, the Swedish state allowed a series of churches to be built on the inland Sápmi area. By the beginning of the 18th century the monks controlled the land areas and the Sámi were forced to pay a rent to the monasteries for the rights to fish in the lakes.
The promise from the church was as follows: ''A share of all liberties, grace and goodwill which our beloved Christian brethren are privileged to enjoy.'' Åsa Lindstrand emphasizes on this issue: ''When the state came - church came. They were very close and it was double colonization: Christianity and the politics, that was the time the extinction of Sámi culture began.''
Under the rules of the forceful king Gustav Vasa, the Swedish state-imposed itself upon the north. "Such land as is unsettled belongs to God, ourselves and the Swedish crown, and none other." During the last 400 years Sámi culture has been greatly influenced by the external world. Forms of contact included trading, tax-collection, state borders, colonization, religious missions combined with cultural oppression and assimilation. Jonny Aira brings a personal example to demonstrate how his ethnicity was undermined (as a form of oppression): "There has always been oppression towards Sámi. When I got the highest grade at high school here, teachers told me: ‘you're not a real Sámi, you cannot be a real Sámi, you get such good grades,' it just came out from their mouths, without thinking."
© Artist: Anders Sunna: “I’d rather be rebel for life than a colonial wife”
Division of Sámi community
It is important to clarify one more historical fact which divided the Sámi community into two groups and created a strong archetype of Sámi reindeer herder's lifestyle. Tor Tuorda considers the issue as one of the significant phases which made a huge impact on the Sámi community and still obstructs the unity of the community: "Most Sámis are colonized in their heads - they are in the system, they work at the mining company in Gällivare, Kiruna, and also work with the reindeer. They don't see the dreadful things that happened in 1928, when 90% of the Sámis were forced by the government to move from this land to the cities - to become ‘Swedes.’
stop talking Sámi,
stop wearing Sámi clothes,
stop everything and become Swedes!
my grandmother didn't want to talk Sámi or about their history,
it was shh..
it was ugly,
it was shameful,
it was dangerous to be Sámi. It happened in the beginning of the last century and it is alive even now and Sámis forgot about everything."
In 1928 the Riksdag (Swedish government) approved legislation to facilitate the development. Such segregation led to discrimination between Sámi reindeer owners and other Sámi. A perception soon formed that Sámi without reindeer were insignificant and worthless with no respectable livelihood. This had a demeaning effect on the coastal and forest Sámi and on their way of life.
Sámi poet Eira Inga Ravna Eira reflects on this issue in her poem:
"I have no herd
I have no homestead
I do not hunt
Am I a Sámi?
I do have
a Sámi will
a Sámi thought
the Sámi tongue."
This division plays a significant role in the present situation, creating a conflict between Sámis, as Anders Sunna addresses the topic: "Government wanted to get rid of the other Sámis who were like hunters, fishers and forest people, and a good way to do that is to get more support from the 'Real Sámis,' by giving them the identity, by pressing that in schools and in the media; because then they start to think: ‘OK, we are the real ones and other Sámis aren't’ and that's how you start the conflict between the groups." The attitudes of Swedish supremacy can still be traced in the 1971 reindeer farming act. The act continues to allow state authorities as guardians, to administrate and grant hunting and fishing privileges within Sámi villages.
Parallel with the modernization, the local economies went into crisis because people became more dependent on cash income as a barter economy faded away. Population growth also made it difficult for many villages to maintain a profitable gain from the field activities that had been a source of income for all. Rapid technological and social changes, characteristic of the Sámi area in the north, came with such force that local cultural foundations were overshadowed. Tor Tuorda: "It's huge, it's on every level, it's like starving to death. The government and all the forestry, windmill and mining companies, do everything to extract all the resources from nature. Convert nature to money - that's a goal."
Case of "Gállok"(Kallak)
By briefly explaining the political history and the cultural and religious assimilation of Sámi, I wanted to draw your attention to the modern colonization and its present consequences, by following the Gállok (Kallak) mining case.
In 2009 the Beowulf Mining, a British company, and their Swedish affiliate Jokkmokk Iron Mines were allowed by Swedish government agency Bergsstaten to explore possibilities for mining iron ore in Gállok (50 km west of Jokkmokk). Iron mineralization was first discovered in Gállok area by the Geological Survey of Sweden in 1947/48. According to the Environmental Justice Atlas (2), potential environmental impacts of the mine are air pollution, biodiversity loss, loss of landscape, noise pollution, oil contamination, soil erosion, deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, surface water pollution, decreasing water physico-chemical biological quality, groundwater pollution or depletion, large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems.
In addition, building and operating the mine ignores the Sámi Peoples' rights. The area had been used by Sámi people as winter pasture land for reindeer. Besides, the mine could severely impact the cycle of traditional grazing practices, which are an integral part of Sámi's cultural and spiritual identity. The mine will be at least three square kilometers large and approx. 400 meters deep. Approximately 1 500 hectares will be claimed by wastes rock, sludge ponds, and infrastructure. Scientists have expressed concerns about the dam that is needed as part of the mining project since potential problems or leakages with it might endanger water and power supplies in the area.
There are some additional issues that the activist group Gruvfritt Jokkmokk (Mine-free Jokkmokk) points out:
- The village of Björkholmen will cease to exist;
- Local people's opportunities for the supply of meat, fish, herbs, berries, and mushrooms endangered for all future;
- Jokkmokk’s credibility as a natural and cultural municipality will be eroded;
- Lule river will be poisoned - (water supply for the city of Luleå is 75,000 inhabitants.)
- A 90-ton truck every 90 seconds can drive on the highway with increased noise and the risk of fatal accidents for residents, cabin owners, holidaymakers, tourists, reindeer and other wildlife.
- The only remaining old forest in the area, on the mountainous land of Roavvoajvve will be felled and covered by a wastes rock deposit.
Group states that a mine in Jokkmokk is not a sustainable investment for jobs, economy, people, animals or nature. Iron ore is a finite resource and the life expectancy of the mine is calculated only to be 15-25 years only.
Tor Tuorda was involved in these processes of resistance from the very beginning: "It was 2006 when I heard about this mine inside Laponia, I was really afraid and angry about this madness. I called the Radio, Television, different Sámi villages and several departments of the Swedish government, looking for the answers to the questions no one cared about. It was too heavy to fight alone. In 2010 the same company left the place for Gállok down here, closer to Jokkmokk closer to people and the opposition started to grow."
Sámi resistance started and grew since 2010, when the first drilling program was carried out. With the company breaching its own ethical guidelines, the National Saami Association stated: “In contrast to what Beowulf has reported to its shareholders, the company has not shown any willingness to cooperate with Sámi communities, as required by international conventions. This is demonstrated by the company’s refusal to assist the communities’ participation in impact assessments, which are necessary to obtain knowledge of how the proposed mining would impact the Saami communities and their land uses.” Sámi people's statement clearly showed what was at stake: "We would rather do everything possible to protect our lands and livelihoods for future generations. The profits Beowulf is planning to make will only be short-term, but the devastation for the Sámi people and their environment will be permanent."
‘Sweden has an expansive mining industry and is considered to be one of the most attractive countries to invest in (Wilson and Cervantes, 2014). The Swedish mining industry association estimates that the mining production in Sweden is going to threefold until 2025, directly or indirectly creating more than 50.000 new jobs (SveMin, 2012). According to estimates, Sweden holds 60% of Europe’s identified iron ore deposit and is currently responsible for 90% of Europe’s iron ore extraction (Björling, 2012).
One critique raised is that minerals in Sweden are almost given away to foreign corporations for free, as expropriation fees are set to 0.02% of the market value of the minerals (Petersen, 2013; Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning, 2006).’ (3)
If we follow the annual reports of the Beowulf, Kallak magnetite iron ore is the company’s most advanced project with SEK 77 million investment so far. "The Company continues to advance its Kallak project whilst waiting for an Exploitation Concession to be awarded, in addition to progressing with its portfolio of exploration assets in Sweden and Finland." According to the statements of the mining company and Jokkmokk municipality, the main arguments for opening mines are bringing economic growth, creating jobs and slowing down the population decline. With good marketing, companies present the coming mines as "environmentally friendly," that "they will destroy almost no nature," and that it will be possible for all other industries to co-exist with them. (4)
Jonny Aira expresses his opinion: "They want to have what they see, the richness of this land! they don't see clear water as richness they don't see the fish as richness. What they see is the mines; the things in mines they can dig up and sell. Or the wood/forest industry or the latest windmills. Nothing goes back to the Sámi people who have been robbed of the land. This is a land-grabbing!"
In the summer of 2013, activists created a protest camp in Gállok to prevent workers of Beowulf from drilling and exploring the area with blockades. Police dismantled these blockades several times but protesters set it up again and continued their resistance by occupying the place creating protest art installations etc.
In 2014, Norrbotten County said “no” to further mining in Kallak, the case would have been closed if the Swedish governmental geology decision-making body Bergsstaten had agreed with Norrbotten County. However, Bergsstaten overruled the county and it is now up to the government of Sweden to give a final answer to the question. As Åsa Lindstrand explains the process: "The Gállok case is pending because the Bergstaten said Yes, and regional authorities said No. So it went to the government and it’s been on government’s table for several years now. We are waiting, and waiting... I don’t exactly know what is happening but I suppose they don’t agree on the case and that is why we don’t have the answer."
The Swedish Minerals Law raises serious questions about the state’s ability to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of the Sámi with regards to the extractive industrial activities. Marketing the North as a "treasure chest" of the country, containing minerals worth millions of dollars, and sponsoring the mapping and exploration of the rich mineral deposits increased the tension between Sámis as well. Mainly due to unemployment and immigration, not all the Sámis are against the mine.
Old and new exploration permits. marked location: Gállok (5)
Despite its name, the Sami Parliament is only an authority under the Swedish government, it is more of an advisory board and expert on Sami issues. The demands of the Sámi Parliament for Sweden’s ratification of the ILO 169 (6) and its compliance with international human rights standards have not led to any significant change in Sweden’s position on these issues so far.
A prominent expert of Sami history, Lennart Lundmark, argues that the reason why Sweden does not sign conventions such as the ILO 169, which deals specifically with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, is that it would require the state to give Sámi population stronger rights over the land (Lundmark, 2008:p. 243). (7)
The case is on-going and the final decision on the Gállok-case is still pending. Sámi activists, politicians, artists, lawyers, and others have been protesting against Beowulf for several years now. In the meantime, the mining company remains confident about the positive outcome of the project despite the environmental, cultural and risks to the traditional way of Sami life: "So far, Kallak’s potential impact on Sami culture and reindeer herding rather than jobs and finances has dominated the debate. Our view, which has been shared by past Ministers in the Government, is reindeer herding and mining can prosper side-by-side, which has proven to be the case across Sweden."
In August 2019, a European rainbow gathering took place in Gállok area, where more than two thousand people gathered in the area to support the Sámi people through peaceful protest. From the perspective of local people, the gathering brought more visibility to the on-going case and raised international awareness by spreading the word about the issues Europe's only remaining indigenous people are facing.
Neoliberal market economy has brought us to the edge of an environmental crisis. The power and support that big companies are receiving by the governmental policies, create an extremely unequal market economy, accessible to very few while bringing enormous dangers for our environment. The way that the government’s taxation regime encourages mining activities and investment in Sweden illustrates the ‘actually existing neoliberal state approach’ (Heynen et al., 2007). Harvey argues that neoliberalism is an intensely political project, one in which economic elites more or less intentionally seek to increase their wealth and income, but also their political and economic freedom and flexibility (...) with evident consequences in spiraling social inequality. (8)
The conditions for reindeer herding in Sweden will be significantly affected by climate change. Vegetation period will be prolonged and plant production during summer grazing will increase. Areas of bare mountain are expected to decrease in extent, and pressure on coastal winter grazing may increase as snow conditions become more difficult inland and in the mountains, which may lead to more conflicts of interest with other sectors of industry. The most serious consequence will be a threat to Sámi culture if conditions for reindeer herding worsen.
Temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as temperatures elsewhere. High temperatures have produced more rain, which freezes to form a thick barrier of ice on top of the snow. Unable to dig through it to reach the lichen below, the reindeer starve. The decline of reindeer has contributed to a mental health crisis among indigenous herders. The changes are sometimes really dramatic, and they are caused by both changes in the environment and weather conditions and the economic and political measures climate change gives rise to. Suddenly, we see great variation in temperatures: in winter, we may go from –30°C into 0°C – and rain – in one day. ”The ones who are least responsible for global warming and who live in harmony with nature may be the ones who suffer from the impact of climate change most,” Jaakkola explains. (9)
Jonny Aira shares a fair perspective of a given situation: "It's important to see the reality as it is, even though everyone can experience their own reality - which changes all the time even while we are speaking. In one way or another it will have an impact, if not on the other people then at least on nature and us. If someone actually reads or hears about this, maybe they would get affected too. We all have an important role to act and be aware.
In this world, we should be conscious that the sun might not shine in 5 billion years. We should be able to learn how to cooperate, all races and the whole of humanity, to create a good ecological foundation. I am not thinking about my shortness, maybe I'm only alive now but the world will continue to exist long way, until.. I don’t know. We need to have that long perspective in mind, and that's our responsibility. We are who we are because of our ancestors, and our children and children's children will be because of us, therefore we have to be careful with our thoughts and the things we put in action."
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(1; 3) Source: Sofia Perssona, David Harneska,b, Mine Islar:
- What local people? Examining the Gállok mining conflict and the rights of
the Sámi population in terms of justice and power; Nov 2017;
(2) Source: It is a teaching, networking and advocacy resource. Strategists, activist organizers, scholars, and teachers will find many uses for the database.
(3) See also: Simon Haikola and Jonas Anshelm “Swedish mineral policy at a crossroads? Critical reflections on the challenges with expanding Sweden’s mining sector”; 2016;
(4) Mining – too difficult for journalists – or too dangerous?
(5) See also: Tor l. Tourda The planned mine in Kallak threatens Laponia directly
(6) ILO 169 – Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention - is an international treaty that deals exclusively with the rights of indigenous peoples.
See also: Jonathan Eng: A Discourse Analysis on the Swedish Non-Ratification of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention A Critical Postcolonial Perspective;
(7) See also: Heidi Pikkarainen och Björn Brodin; Discrimination of the Sami – the rights of the Sami from a discrimination perspective; 2008;
(8) See also: Book: Nik Heynen, James McCarthy, Scott Prudham, Paul Robbins: Neoliberal Environments; 2007; Ilari Nikula Neoliberal Environmentalism
(9) Professor Jouni Jaakola from the university of Oulu. See also: Study: Sámi more vulnerable to the impact of climate change than before; 2018 Nov; Inger-Elle Suoninen.
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Anders Sunna - Sámi artist & activist;
Åsa Lindstrand - Local Swedish journalist, chief editor of magazine: Sámefolket;
Jonny Aira - former chief in the Saami village: Jåhkågasska (were the Gállok is situated); MDc; PhDc
Moreno Gaelok - Local Sámi activist;
Tor Tuorda - Local Sámi activist/photographer;
Interview location: Jokkmokk, September 2019.
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This research has been realized by activist/researcher Nino Khuroshvili as a personal project part of the ESC (European Solidarity Corps) participation within RELEARN Suderbyn. September - November 2019.
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After 5 months of online meetings with the You(th) for Climate Ambition Delegation, it was finally there:: The European Youth Event at the Parliament in Strasbourg. On June 1 & 2 I was honored to represent Suderbyn, Ecolise and CAN Europe to speak up about sustainability and climate change. For 11 days I had been traveling from Suderbyn to Strasbourg. Our delegation challenged each other to have a low carbon footprint going to the event. So to reduce my carbon footprint, I avoided flying and went by ferry from Visby to Stockholm, by Flixbus to the Netherlands, and for the last 600 km I biked 8 days to arrive on May 31 in Strasbourg, France.
Pizza and getting to know each other
It was magical to meet everyone in real life since we only had been in contact online before. Sharing stories of the organizations we all represent while having (in my case vegan) pizza: a great pre-start of the event. Next day at 7:30 we had to check in our group: 20 young people from 17 different European countries and representing organizations on climate change and sustainability. Together with more than 8000 young people and 400 activities, the EYE was about to start!
The You(th) for Climate Ambition Delegation!
The dry toilets outside of the European Parliament made me feel like home in Suderbyn ;)
SDG Quiz, Burning Question and Battle of Ideas
The first activity I joined, together with Niall and Laura from my delegation, was the Sustainable Development Goals and young people: Time to change the world! Having been involved in Erasmus+ the youth exchanges Yes To Sustainability as a participant and as a youth leader, I was curious to hear how the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) was dealing with challenges to engage young people in sustainability. Their experience: make it fun! We were mixed and put in teams of 5 to test our knowledge in a UN Sustainable Development Goals Quiz via www.kahoot.com, indeed a fun way to involve young people with SDGs.
In the afternoon it was time to get on stage during the poetry slam. Battle of Ideas: Man vs Machine. At first, I felt quite confident about my contribution, but when I saw the quality of poems from the other participants I was feeling a bit shaky. Truly well written poems and great performances. In my view, the best poem from a British artist, won. Soon they will all be online to read. I felt humbled to be among many talented young people. It was awesome to share my poetry in front of an intimate audience of about fifty spectators, including support of my delegation.
After the poetry slam, our delegation gathered at the discussion around “The Burning Question: Should Europe take the lead on Climate Action?”An audience filled with young people passionate about sustainability, the answer in this room was a clear YES. To what degree, and in whose mother tongue we should speak wasn’t that clear and that it is important to motivate people less engaged with the topic, was applauded loudly. All ideas were written down by the EYE reporters for the final report going to all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). A great deal of our delegation was joining the discussion and stayed around for the science slam to support Rosaria Pileci, an Italian PhD in Environmental Chemistry of our delegation who shared her scientific findings on air pollution.
Left: “Sustainable Development Goals and young people: Time to change the world!”, organized by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI)
Right: “the Burning question: Should Europe take the lead on climate action?”
Sustainable cities & Facebook live
During my morning workshop on sustainable cities on the second day, a participant from Turkey told me he knew me from the Instagram post on the @EP_EYE account. It felt good to receive feedback on my bike trip and my day couldn’t get better when I received a button saying INSPIRATIONOF THE DAY from a German youth organization that also joined the sustainable cities workshop.
In the afternoon, together with Zanna, Elias set up a Facebook livestream to report live from the European Parliament. AFter that, we were interviewed by the Forum Of European Muslim Youth And Student Organisations for a project Humans of the EYE.
Photo taken by Forum Of European Muslim Youth And Student Organisations
The closing ceremony in the Hemicycle was an awesome finish of the intense two-day event. After a Mexican wave and some singing, the Vice-President of the European Parliament Ramón Luis Valcárcel held a passionate speech: “You are the children of a modern, democratic and open Europe”. Equally passionate were the burning questions to the Vice-President from the young people in the MEP seats. Questions on hot topics such as the situation in Catalunya, Brexit, Trump, the refugee crisis and the power of multinationals. The Vice-President in turn, shared his views and the views of the Parliament on these challenges for Europe.
After a last glimpse of the Parliament, our delegation continued with our own closing ceremony. This started with vegan burgers at Velicious, which I would definitely recommend if you are ever in Strasbourg, and developed into a fun Karaoke night. “I bless the rains down in Africaaa” and “I’m walking awaaay”, were still singing in my head the next day!
To conclude, it was a unique event. I was impressed by the diversity, inspired by the bright ideas and questions of fellow participants and fellow delegates taking serious climate actions. Overall, I am grateful for the new connections with young Europeans passionate about sustainability and concerned about the future of Europe.
წარმოუდგენელია მიდიოდე ასტრიდ ლინდგრენის სამყაროში და შენი თავგადასავალი არ გავდეს ზღაპარს. ყველაფერი თბილისის აეროპორტშივე დაიწყო ავია კომპანიამ თითქოს სპეციალურად ჩვენთვის განსაკუთრებული თვითმფრინავი შეარჩია. ფრენაც შესაბამისი აღმოჩნდ
ხანგრძლივი მოგზაურობის შემდგომ, დავეშვით სტოკჰოლმის მახლობლად არლანდას საერთაშორისო აეროპორტში, სადაც ჩვენი მენტორი ლარში გველოდებოდა. დანიშნულების ადგილამდე ჯერ კიდევ ბევრი გზა და დრო გვქონდა. სანამდე კუნძულ გოტლენდზე გავემგზავრებოდით, ძველ ქალაქში - გამლა სთანში გასეირნება გადავწყვიტეთ. ბავშვობაში, კარლსონის წყალობით, სახურავებიდან დანახული სტსტოკჰოლმის მიმზიდველი ქუჩების და ყოფის გასანობად.სანახაობებმაც არ დააყოვნა. გადავაწყდით საინტერესო ადამიანებს, რომელბიც ცეკვავდნენ და კრიშნას სადიდებელ სიმღერას ასრულებდნენ. ვეწვიეთ შუასაუკუნეების და ხმელთაშუაზღვის კულტურების მუზეუმებს. აღსანიშნავია ის ფაქტი, რომ ორივე მუზეუმი დამთვალიერებლებისთვის უფასო იყო. შეუძლებელია არაფერი თქვა ორღანის კონცერტზე, რომელსაც წმ. კლარას ეკლესიაში მისულები დავემთხვიეთ.
ემოციებით და თავგადასავლებით სავსე დღის დასასრულს ბორანით გავემგზავრეთ კუნძულ გოტლენდზე ეკოსოფელ სუდერბინში, სადაც გველოდებოდნენ ჩვენი მასპინძელი სუდერბინის ოჯახის წევრები.
რთულიამოკლედაღწეროყველაისგანცდა, რაცთანახლდაამპერიოდს. ახალიგამოცდილება, ახალიცოდნა, ახალიურთიერთობები, საინტერესოადამიანები, თვითშემეცნებაესისმცირეჩამონათვალია, რაცუკავშირდებაჩენსთავგადასავალსდაცხოვრების დაუვიწყარეტაპსსუდერბინისთბილოჯახში, მსოფლიოსსხვადასხვაქვეყნისწარმომადგენლებთანერთად, რომლებსაცაერთიანებთერთიმნიშვნელოვანისამყაროსადასაზოგადოებისმიმართღიაობადასიყვარული.
თავგადასავლის პირველი კვირა გარემოს გაცნობის და სუდერბინის ოჯახში საკუთარი ადგილის პოვნას დაეთმო. ამავე კვირაში გვქონდა ქართული საღამო, რამაც მოგვცა საშუალება წარგვედგინა საკუთარი თავი და გაგვეცნო ჩენი კულტურა სუდერბინელებისთვის.
ამავე კვირაში აქტიურად ჩავერთეთ ძირითადი საქმიანობის პროცესში. გავეცანით მუშაობის პრინციპებს. განსაკუთრებით უნდა აღინიშნოს ორშაბათი დილის შეხვედრა, სადაც ოჯახის წევრები უზიარებენ ერთმანეთს თავიანთ განწყობებს, გეგმავენ კვირას, კონკრეტულ დღეს და ინაწილებენ პასუხისმგებლობებს ოჯახში მიმდინარე პროცესებზე. იქნება ეს სასათბურე მეურნეობა, ინჟინერია, მებაღეობა, საოფისე საქმიანობა, სოციალური პროექტები თუ ორგანიზაციის მართვა. სუდერბინელები ამ საკითხებს ინაწილებენ სურვილის და კომპეტენციის მიხედვით. ასევე მნიშვნელოვანია საოჯახო საქმიანობა მაგ. სადილი, რომელზეც ყოველ სამუშაო დღეს ერთი ადამიანია პასუხისმგებელი იზრუნოს დანარჩენების კვებაზე. ეს ის მომენტია დილის შეხვედრის შემდგომ ყველა სუდერბინელი ერთად, რომ იყრის თავს და გემრიელად შეექცევა მადისაღმძვრელ და დაუვიწყარი არომატების მქონე ვეგანურ კერძებს.
განსხვავებული და ნაკლებორგანიზებულია შაბათი-კვირა. ერთადერთი რაც გაწერილია, ესაა კვირა დღის ტრადიცია, საუზმეზე უგემრიელესი ბლინები ჯემით.
გოტლენდზე ყოფნის პირველი შაბათი-კვირა დავუთმეთ ექსკურსიას ბალტიის ზღვის სანაპიროზე მდებარე შუასაუკუნეების ქალაქ ვისბიში. ვიხეტიალეთ ძველი ქალაქის კოხტა და ფერად ქუჩებში, დავტკბით ულამაზესი ხედებით. ვესტუმრეთ ასტრიდ ლინდგრენის სახლმუზეუმს. ადგილს, სადაც დაიბადა ამბავი ჭორფლიან პეპიზე. ვეწვიეთ მუზეუმს, სადაც გავეცანით კუნძულ გოტლენდის ისტორიას. განსაკუთრებულად შთამბეჭდავია გრავირებული ქვები და ისტორია, რასაც თითოეული მათგანი გიყვება. სავსე დღის დასასრულს ვესტუმრეთ სუდერბინის ოჯახის წევრს, ინგრიდს და ულამაზესი ხედების ფონზე ერთად მივირთვით უგემრიელისი ვახშამი.
შემდეგი შაბათი-კვირაც თავგადასავლებით დატვირთული აღმოჩნდა, გამოვცადეთ საკუთარი თავი ველოსიპედსა და სკეიტბორდზე. გვქონდა საღამოს ფართი. შევიგრძენით ვიზბის ღამის ცხოვრების რიტმი. კვირა დღეს გემრიელი ბლინების შემდგომ კვლავ გავემგზავრეთ ვისბიში ამჯერად უკვე დამოუკიდებლად. ვცადეთ სტოპი, თუმცა მცდელობა უშედეგო აღმოჩნდა. მიუხედავად უშედეგო მცდელობისა ქალაქში მაინც ჩავაღწიეთ ვიხეტიალეთ ქალაქის ქუჩებში და მაღაზიებში. საღამოს ქალაქის მთავარ ბიბლიოთეკაში დავესწარით არაჩვეულებრივი აღალგაზრდა შემოქმედების კონცერტს. არ გამოვტოვეთ ბოტანიკური ბაღში და ბალტიის ზღვის სანაპიროზე ხეტიალი. ავივსეთ ფილტვები სუფთა ჰაერით სხეული კი ახალი ენერგიით. ეს, ძალიან მოკლედ ჩვენი თავგადასავლების შესახებ.
რაც შეეხება,უშუალოდ ჩვენს საქმიანობას ეკოსოფელში. სამი კვირის განმავლობაში,ჩართული ვიყავით ყოველდღიურ საქმიანობაში, რამაც შესაძლებლობა მოგვცა გავცნობოდით ახალ მეთოდებს, რომლებსაც იყენებენ სათბურებში და ბიომეურნეობის მართვის პროცესებში. გავეცანით სხვადასხვა სახის კომპოსტის მომზადების და ნარჩენების მართის ადგილობრივ მეთოდებს ნულოვანი დანაკარგის პრინციპით, ასევე გადამუშავების გზებს. განვივითარეთ უნარები, როგორ შეიძლება დაგეგმო ღონისძიება და სისრულეში მოიყვანო შენი ინიციატივა. ასევე, არ შეიძლება არ აღინიშნოს, საინტერესო ვორქშოპები და ფილმის ჩვენებები, ინგლისური და შვედური ენის გაკვეთილები და ვეგანური სამზარეულოს გაცნობა, რომლებიც ცოდნის გაღრმავებას, გაზიარებას და ახალი უნარების განვითარებას ემსახურება. შეუძლებელია არაფერი თქვა სუდერბინის ოჯახის თითოეულ წევრზე, რომლებმაც ინდივიდუალურად თუ ერთად უმნიშვნელოვანესი წვლილი შეიტანეს ჩვენს განვითარებაში.
ჩვენი სუდერბინში ყოფნის პერიოდი გავს ჩვენს მიერვე დათესილი ყვითელი პომიდვრის ზრდის პროცესს, რომელმაც სულ ახლახანს გაიღვიძა და ისწრაფვის ზრდისა და განვითარებისკენ.
As a part of the project "Growing leaders, growing change: Green city youth “, we had three unforgettable weeks at Suderbyn. Suderbyn is an intentional community, ecovillage and NGO involving open-minded people from various countries and cultures, located on the island Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea, working internationally for environmental and social regeneration.
It’s impossible to go to Astrid Lindgren’s world and not have your trip look like a fairytale. It all started at Tbilisi International Airport. The plane which was waiting for us was colorfully painted. Flying was full of emotions, because it was our first flight.
After a long flight we arrived at Arlanda Airport near Stockholm at noon. There we met our mentor Lars. We had a long trip ahead from the main land to Gotland. Since our ferry was in the evening, we had some hours left for museums and sightseeing.
Stockholm is a very interesting place for us. We met Krishna prayers, they were singing and dancing in the street. After walking through the old town Gamla Stan, we ended up in the Medieval Museum. An underground museum showing everyday life in Medieval Stockholm. Second, the Museum of Mediterranean culture. Here we enjoyed the treasures of ancient Greece and ancient Egypt. Interestingly, these museums were free for tourists. The most pleasant was an organ concert in the Saint Clara church. In the evening, we had the ferry trip to Gotland, where our Suderbynian family members were waiting for us.
It’s hard to describe these three unforgettable weeks. There were people from all over the world. They were connected as open-mind beings. During this phase, we got new experiences, knowledge and relationships. Here is a short summary of our journey.
First week was about getting to know Suderbinians and Suderbyn. To know our self, our place in this community. On Friday, we had a Georgian traditional evening with music, food and dancing, a good opportunity to introduce our self and our culture.
From the first Monday we took part in daily activities and workshops. Monday is a special day at Suderbyn. During the Monday morning meeting Suderbynians plan
their whole week. The meeting starts with sharing their feelings. In what mood they are, why they are feeling the way they do. Family matter is also important. They go over what is left from past week and what kind of work has to be done during this week. This is work such as: the building of a green house, gardening, social projects, office work and organization management. Then, these areas are divided into responsibilities according to competences. Every working day there is at least one person responsible for the lunch which takes place around noon. In the weekends this is less organized although every Sunday morning start with a delicious breakfast with pancakes and jam.
During our stay in Gotland, the first excursion was to Visby. It is a very nice town from the medieval era with colorful houses and modern shops. We visited Astrid Lindgren’s House Museum, where the story about Pippi Longstocking was born. We made a trip to the Gotland Museum and saw the fantastic exhibitions and history of Gotland. At the end of the day we visited our family member Ingrid and had a delicious dinner at her apartment.
The next week was full of adventures. We were challenged to ride a bicycle and a skate board. We experienced a night out in Visby, feeling the rhythm of Visby nightlife. On Sunday we decided to go to Visby hitchhiking. It seems that Swedish drivers are not as easy going as Georgian drivers, but still we made it. We took some photos and closed the day attending a concert in the Almedalen library.
During these three weeks we have been actively involved in the community life. Taking part in organic farming and green house management were new experiences to us. We gained knowledge on composting and about recycling, upcycling, workshops and vegan cooking. Pati hosted an Acro-Yoga workshop. And we improved our skills in English, project management and many informal guidelines, that will be helpful for the implementation of our project.
These three weeks are a bit like the growing of tomatoes, which we have planted here. It was sprouted and has enhanced the desire of growing and improving skills.
Looking at that photo I am thinking about fancy and trendy term of 'personal empowerment' and what it actually means.
Just a few days ago our beloved interns came back from a training with interns from other places. Our 1-year program is to build up a long-list of their competences and skills – including meta-competences such as leadership, creativity, critical and system thinking, etc, and that sophisticated 'personal empowerment'. In formal applications for grants we describe it as 'young people learning to be active agents of their own life and of local and global society'. But in fact we do not speak about it much on a daily basis. We "just" live, work and build the community in a way that young people are encouraged to take the responsibility, to initiate, to feel accepted and loved as they are, to unfold in their qualities –
the qualities which have been often pressed down by the society's boxes. Unlike in other places, it is not residents telling volunteers what to do, but us together walking the path. We might be doing mistakes on that path, but it will be our collective mistakes – bringing us closer. We might slow down the development of the place – but on the way discover so many new things, our weaknesses and strengths, and learn how to accept them and bring to the world around. This is what for me 'personal empowerment' is.
Young people come to us from so many different countries, under different programs, scholarship and personal initiatives. Many come through financed by Erasmus+ program EVS – European Voluntary Service, which is worth to explore for all under 30. In Sweden it is supported and managed by Myndigheten för ungdoms- och civilsamhällesfrågor, MUCF. This year the EVS training where our interns went was especially cool as, besides our EVSs, even two of volunteers in other places also firstly have walked "Suderbyn path". Big extended family, taking responsibility for their life.
After Robert and me arrived at Tbilisi Airport in the afternoon on the 4th of January, we went to the International Scout Centre Rustavi (ISCR). First thing that impressed us positively were the number of solar panels that have been planted right in front of the airport’s entrance. Secondly, a bit more disappointing was that the traffic was quite a bit more interactive from what we were used to, as in a less clear division of driving lanes causing us the shivers. After we were assigned to our room, we went to the main building where the Contact Making Session was kicked off with information about Georgian Youth for Europe (GYE) and the ISCR, name games and getting to know each other.
The International Scout Centre Rustavi (ISCR)
Friday it was presentation day! Presenting Relearn and Suderbyn was fun and it was challenging to put it all on one paper. But even more challenging, the candidates had to present themselves and their municipalities in a pitch. Within the Kvemo Kartli province, there are 7 municipalities that the candidates represent. Next to Rustavi, there is Bolnisi, Marneuli, Gardabani, Dmanisi, Tsalka and Tetri Tskaro. Such diversity! Similarly, in the organizations. For example there was the Latvian organization Radi Vidi Pats that takes initiatives to make bicycling more attractive by making so called FreakBikes. The other organizations Bison, from Latvia, Sende from Spain, Grüner Grasshalm and Trial&Error from Germany all had an interesting story and a clear connection to sustainability aswell.
Friday night, there was the Tasty Quiz! In this quiz, a couple consisting of a Georgian and a foreigner could taste typical food and guess what and wherefrom the food was. The evaluation showed us the difference and similarities in food culture. For example, the interesting discussion whether Apple juice is typical German or that it could be considered typical Georgian too. To our delight, the Swedish foodstuff was popular too. The Finnerödja Tranbär juice, Salto Råg Knäckebröd, home-made äppelmos and hazelnut-cacao paste were all received very well.
Lars and Robert presenting Relearn & Suderbyn
Saturday, we started off with the matchmaking interviews. The first interview was with Baiko and Pati. Although we had some other pleasant matchmaking interviews afterwards, we were happy that Baiko and Pati chose NGO Relearn & Suderbyn! During the evening out in Tbilisi we enjoyed a Christmas dinner in a restaurant with a singing and dancing show included. After dinner, we went up to the top of a hill and had a stunning view of Tbilisi by night.
To celebrate the matchmaking, the following morning, we went to the municipality of Tetri Tskaro and were treated with a tour in and around the area. We went to see some projects that Baiko and Pati had been working on, such as painting their bus stops and planting trees. Furthermore, we went to the history museum of Tetri Tskaro, took a jumping picture by the Algeti reservoir nearby the Trialeti National Park and had a delicious lunch at Baiko’s home, with home grown veggies and Jon Jolie! When we got back to the ISCR, we got some more information about the Erasmus+ program and non-formal education. Also, we were introduced to challenges and basics in conflict resolution. The day was closed with a nice game called Sustainability Passion in Action. Guessing what passion goes with who, was a fun way to test just how good we know the other teams.
Flying by the Algeti reservoir
The next day was all about sharing ideas on the exchange and planning the coming weeks before the exchange would take place. In the evening, interesting videos and clips were shared, such as clips by young Ukrainians taking sustainable action by the initiative Active YouKraine!
The last day was about sharing best practices and tools for easy communication and online sharing. After the final closing circle, it was time for the farewell! To conclude, I would say that it was a rather intense 6-day visit. It was just enough time to get an impression of Georgian culture, see some of Tbilisi, Rustavi and the Tetri Tskaro region. And of course, make plans for the three weeks exchange to Suderbyn in the first three weeks of March, which we are looking forward to a lot!
To be continued...
By Lars van Dorsselaer
GOTLAND - From 17 to 20 August Suderbyn hosted the No More War Festival. The Swedish newspaper Landets Fria Tidningen wrote an article on the festival.
Read the full article here
How can we build more social inclusion in the Baltic Region? How can we deal with challenges and struggles the society faces and how can we help each other?
SIBREC project funded by Swedish Institute and led by non-profit organisation Relearn Suderbyn brings together practitioners and researchers, community-builders and universities from Baltic Sea Region in order to explore together models and methods of social inclusion in communities and ecovillages. We bring closer to each other the community life and academic research, we collect information of needs and opportunities in the region, we connect people and facilitate the birth of further initiatives. Our question is how various communities can help marginalised groups to become an active part of the society and how we can mainstream methods from ecovillages to the broader society. We believe that the eco-communities have an immense potential to help socially-excluded groups, those who are often left aside. Our focus areas are wide: people with physical and mental disabilities, immigrants and refugees, children with learning difficulties, rural youth, burnt-out employees and other groups whose voices are often not heard.
We do not try to protect marginalised people from the society by building shelters.
A few of us from Suderbyn went for "winter holidays" as volunteers to the Greek island of Lesvos to help refugees and support other volunteers and NGOs working for that mission day and night.
We were part of RefuGEN -- the project of Global Ecovillage Network -- volunteering at two different camps: Pikpa (or All Together village) and Moria.
We share with you Leila Dregger's article as an example of why people move and how difficult their way is.
What's happening in the ecovillage? What projects are we running at the moment? Here you can follow our work and find out about exciting news and events!
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