5. EVENT: ÖRKELLJUNGA (SWEDEN)
5. – to 7. MARCH 2019
Event title: TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF CULTURE CONNECTING WITH UNEMPLOYED YOUTH
DAY 0: MONDAY, MARCH 4. 2019 – DAY OF ARRIVAL
Check-in in Strandhem
Free evening, stay
Quite a few participants came to accommodation complex Strandhem before noon, but because accommodation in Strandhem was not possible, we went to the centre of Örkelljunga, where we found an excellent and inexpensive inn and tasted the first Swedish delicacies. We visited the city centre, and then returned to Strandhem, where we could settle down in the late hours of the afternoon, and the organizers prepared a cold evening meal for us.
DAY 1: TUESDAY, MARCH 5. 2019:
7.30 – 9.00 – Breakfast
9.15 – 9.30 – Departure to the open-air museum – center Ingeborrarp – by bus and registration. In the morning, our kind hosts distributed useful plastic raincoats, which made it easier for us to move in the heavy rains. At Ingeborrarp, Anka and Lovro welcomed the partners and wished them successful cooperation and work. They expressed the hope that they all create magic, but nevertheless, we did the magic again, in which the wish to also hear it in Swedish language came true. Lovro presented the schedule and staffing of the hosting partner. It has changed considerably from what was planned. The leading manager of IFALL (host partner) apologized for having to go to Cambodia, and Minna, who was supposed to replace Gemma had just given birth. We found out that over the days of the event the leading organizers from Sweden will be replaced by: the volunteer Vincent, Mattias Persson, head of the Örkelljunga department of organizations, culture and sport, and his wife, a director, Felicia Campbell.
Lovro ceded the word to Mattias, who presented the Ingeborrarp center and Örkelljunga. He welcomed us, and then pointed out that Örkelljunga is a very remote and isolated place, which is certainly not the centerpiece of the world, and he would be very surprised if anyone had ever been to visit it before.
He works at the department of culture, recreation, and sport in the municipality of Örkelljunga, with the office placed right there, at the hall called the Black Box. The department in which he is employed is responsible for libraries, the music school, documenting events related to football and other events, by preparing various exhibitions and presentations in schools and in other public places. The mission of his department is to enable people living in Örkelljunga to use their leisure time effectively. In their department, they work towards this in a variety of ways, organizing 20 to 25 different events per year – concerts, conferences, theater performances – and supporting associations.
Support is primarily intended for schools, because when you are a child it is easier to learn at school if you are active in your free time. In the cultural department where Mattias is employed, there are 18 employees, all of whom feel happy with their job and have fun doing it.
Their job is also making efforts to make Örkelljunga a citizen-friendly place in order to entice people into moving there. His wife Felicia and he moved there three years ago and had never been to Örkelljunga before that. They lived in Göteborg for more than 10 years. Örkelljunga is not a place without reasons to come. Not because it would merely be a nice to live at, but because it is somewhat more remote. This is where the Swedish wilderness begins. If you are traveling by bus, or driving on a highway, the landscape you see is very bare, but when you arrive in Örkelljunga the area becomes very dense with trees. This is the reason that the Danes, the Germans and the Dutch are buying up weekend getaways in this area. That’s why there are 600 people from these countries who either live here permanently or just over the holidays. Mattias and Felicia live near the lake, and four of the five nearby neighbors are Germans or Danes, because they simply adore the forest. The forest is a great asset to Örkelljunga.
The mission of the Örkelljunga cultural department is therefore to enable people to spend their leisure time well and to support associations, sports clubs and non-governmental organizations for this purpose. IFALL is one of them.
Associations in Sweden have a long tradition and are entirely based on volunteering. Every association is a voluntary association. For example, if you go to a football club in Örkelljunga, there are coaches who teach young footballers up to 4 times a week in the evening, and they do it all without pay everywhere. It’s a consistant practice. Volunteers do the amount of work worth 7,000 full-time jobs with their volunteer work in Sweden. They do this in their free time, which is quite amazing. Sweden is known for its exceptional athletes.
In the functioning of associations in Sweden, it is also important to note that they belong to their members. This applies both to IFALL and the biggest football club in Sweden. It is not a property of some person of importance – it is the members who are the owners of the football club. This means that members must meet each year and appoint a board of directors, in which they can at any time replace the president. It’s democracy.
In the workings of leisure activities in Sweden, the right to universal access to nature is a very important factor. This right can be exploited by individuals as well as by associations. Nature is open to everyone! Everyone can swim in any river, lake, or can take a boat. They can also set up a tent and spend time anywhere, even if the land is private. Because of this, the Swedes love nature very much and can have their mountain biking clubs anywhere. However they must respect nature, they must respect private property, but they have the right to be anywhere in nature.
There are 90 different associations in Örkelljunga. 20 are focused on sports activities such as football, badminton, tennis, table tennis and the like.
25 societies are cultural, and they thematically cover theater, photography, film clubs, and the like. There are 10,000 people in the Örkelljunga municipality, and 4,000 of those in the city itself. IFALL is, of course, one of the associations, and there, in Ingeborrarp, there is an association responsible for folklore and the preservation of cultural heritage. So far all of the work has been done voluntarily. But it’s getting harder to get people to volunteer; more and more people became alert only to themselves; they are increasingly presccupied with their smartphones, which will surely be a big problem for the future.
The association that operates in Ingeborrarp attracts the most of the tourists, which visit Örkelljunga. The board of this company consists mostly of seventy-year-olds, which will soon become a problem. What will happen to this area in 20 years, and how to persuade young people to participate, are the two basic concerns of those employed in the municipality. In the future, they will probably need employees in the associations.
In Sweden, associations are funded by the government, local authorities and the municipality. For this purpose, they collect an estimated € 250,000, which is 15% of the total budget. Associations need money from the municipality, and the community needs associations to carry out activities for young peoplethe youth. 85% of funds are allocated to libraries, music schools, and salaries of the employees.
The companies are additionally financed with the help of sponsors, suppliers and other donors.
There are 10,000 people living in Örkelljunga, and it is one of the smallest municipalities in Sweden. They have a main road, which is 30 km long, and then ends in a small village. In this part, there are many technologically sophisticated companies with approximately 100 to 200 employees. Over the past twenty years, they have lost some hundred lesser-skilled jobs that businesses outsourced to cheaper Eastern Europe. In this part of Sweden, a high unemployment rate, as well as the level of average educational, is lower. The challenge of the Örkelljunga municipality is to attract employees and educated people who would buy houses in the municipality and pay taxes.
Real estate in Örkelljunga is very cheap, Mattias and his wife Felicia bought a house by the lake for 100,000 €; in Helsingborg, which is 15 km away, they would pay four times as much. The challenge is how to persuade people to move from the coast to the inland, to Örkelljunga. Mattias thinks they can offer a lot.
Interactive presentation of the Ingeborrarp cultural center (Felicia Campbell)
In the rainy and cold weather, the authorised representatives of the host organization did their utmost to present to us, as best as possible, the Ingeborrarp cultural center, an open-air museum, the small homestead, planned to be the Heart Point of Sweden.
Felicia Campbell told us in her basic personal introduction that she is an actress and director, and also a children’s teacher. Her special interest and theatrical involvement lies in the fact that the Ingeborrarp cultural center directed the play, about an event which was really happening here in 1858. It was a murder of passion.
The show featured 19 people who had never played before, it was very interesting, and the viewers liked the play so much, that in a short while there would be another repetition within the museum.
Ingeborrarp has a long history. In the 15th century there were several buildings in this area. One is originally original from that time, the others were are moved to the same place.
Since Ingeborrarp has very small spaces, we had to split the participants into three groups so that we could all see the houses. Felicia presented the culture and the way of life of the Swedish countryside from the middle ages to the present day.
In the 18th century, the people of Sweden were very poor, more so in the Swedish countryside. They survived by grass, ropes, soup made from the ropes. The clergy owned everything – the land, the houses, the crops. From the crops they produced, farmers got to keep barely enough to survive. For main crops, the clergy paid farmers in alcohol. That’s why men were mostly alcoholics.
We saw the ironing room. The ironing device consisted of a trough in which heavy and warm stones were placed, which had to be moved, by two family members, along the lower level surface where the crumpled fabric was spread. Felicia also presented us with a model of an ironing iron with charcoal, which we also know in Slovenia. Looking at the history of individual nations, we find that we have a lot of similarities, which is welcome in the situation when nationalism is again awakening, and must be stressed on several occasions. In the work room, Felicia also introduced a beater for washing.
We also looked at the central space of the house. In this central living room, the men ate soup and bread, and drank alcohol, and the women were in the kitchen. There was no gender equality, women were in a subordinate position. They also ate separately. When the family got a visit, women were not allowed to participate in the social gathering. The guests would be served, and then they continued to work in the kitchen. The current way of life in Sweden is just the opposite of that. Today, there are many feminist organizations in Sweden, almost certainly because of the oppression in the past, and they mainly have the main word in the house.
In Sweden they have a long history of handcrafting. There were traveling shops with a variety of home-made products: from socks to wooden utensils for work and decoration. In Slovenia, a similar phenomenon is the crafting of wooden items around Ribnica and Kočevje. At Christmas time in Ingeborrarp they organize a handcrafts fair, attended by various craftsmen. They have as many as 5 active blacksmiths.
Formerly traveling merchants were young men. When they were selling house-to-house, they also slept there overnight. For this purpose they had a special room, which was the best room in the house, because it was always warm.
By 1658, this part of Sweden belonged to Denmark.
Women also made clothes, weaved and made flaxen garments. They lived in great filth and confinement. Three or even four family members slept in extremely small beds in the main room is in order to make it easier to keep warm, because they were small and slim due to malnutrition. The sheets were not washed, so there was a stench throughout the house – especially near the bed.
Ingeborrarp is already visited by many tourists. Since now there is also one of the heart points of Europe, it is expected that a strong point of cultural tourism will emerge here eventually.
11:00 – Black Box in the Cultural Center
After visiting Ingeborrarp, we took a bus to Örkelljunga, where we had a reservation for creative work in a place called the Black box. We sat down in a circle and Felicia suggested that we first introduce ourselves to each other. She herself told us that she was an actress who finished acting academy in England, and now with her husband, Mattias Persson, lives in Sweden in Örkelljunga, where she is very happy. She would very much like to share her mission with us.
Then, we, the participants of the project Heart of Europe, He-art introduce ourselves to Felicia and to each other – although we already know each other well. Each member of the partner organizations introduced themselves, told us what their work is and how it is related to the project.
11:45 – 13.00 – Introductory preparations for the project theater performance under the direction of Felicia Campbell continued with a variety of motion and technical exercises, which were mostly cognitive and relaxing, as most of our partner participants – other than partners from France and Spain – did not have practical interactive theatre experiences.
14.30 – 16.00 – After lunch we continued to prepare for a joint show that would present our project connection and thematically highlight the address of our fifth meeting in Sweden: TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF CULTURE CONNETCTING TO UNEMPLOYED YOUTH
In a conversation with Felicia, we found out that she was not sufficiently familiarized with the project task, and her vision, albeit focused on culture, was somewhat different from the project. But as an excellent director, she successfully adapted to the notions of the contents of the leading partner, the Association Theatre Kolenc, which was also strongly supported with excellent practical and conceptual experiences by the Mata-Malam Theatre, which was led by Valentine Cohen. At the same time, the project partners immersed themselves into the main sense and goals of the project, which are gradually realized from event to event.
Anka Kolenc emphasized that the objectives of the project are not to identify the problems that plague us as European citizens. Those have long been defined. Our goal is to create a system of working and living through which we will build compassion, by means of art, culture and cultural heritage, at out Heart Points, and with the help of that, acceptance, admiration and friendship. We need to build up the compassion on all levels and also towards ourselves, because we need to preserve our identity so that we can admire and accept others. Valentine thought that, now that we know the project best, we can relate it in a simple way, as children would express themselves. Like children who are open and curious and do not fear. She proposed what is also in the project plan, that through this performance each of us would try to relate, what is the project’s Heart Point for us all. Ilina joined this thinking. In the time we spent socializing and participating in the events, we learned a lot, but now let us be open and let the project come to life.
Genti said that the European Union is donating money to many projects, but this one is his favorite. The project teaches about love, acceptance, culture, values, and the imagined differences that we think exist between us – until we come to each meeting. Then we find that these differences, which we think that make us different, are common and connect us. Meetings help him, for sure, to rediscover the power of love, which sounds like a cliché, but this is actually the truth. Every time we see each other, we, our project team, discover that we are similar and that we can spread our specific cultures through art, which is magical again and again, and each time even more effective. He emphasized that for him, this is a sign that the project is heading in the right direction.
In accordance to the information of her predecessors, Felicia suggested that – given that we are not all actors – it would be very nice if we became children again, and give a perspective of events through children’s eyes. Children are very loving, they are all love; then as we grow up and marked by life, we forget what love really is. Through the eyes of children, the truth of life and love speaks, and does not accuse.
Following, the majority of the members of the partner organizations gave their starting points and ideas for the performance. We discussed possible topics and their theater presentations.
Lovro, the representative of the leading partner, summarized that in the following workshops dedicated to expression with a movement, voice and which will be dedicated to the framework content, 4 to 5 participants would be divided into groups, which – given the many ideas about emotions, child feeding and various subjects, each made their own story. Each member can contribute with one word that is related to the project, but can also help with tips, movements, etc.
We continued with workshops that introduced us to the planned theater event Heart of Europe, He-art. We carried them out partly in Orkeljunga, and continued in Strandhem.
In our final bit of work, our partners composed mixed groups of 5 to 7 members and began to create their own core content. This was then presented to each other, as the first stage of the creative process. We were surprised and happy. We had the feeling that we were making good progress.
Before dinner, we checked the solutions of the quiza bout Sweden that we had been solving during the coffee break with Vincent Slottheden. We learned a lot of key facts about Sweden.
DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6. 2019:
7.30 – 9:00 – Breakfast
9:15 – Departure to Örkelljunga, to the Black box hall, and morning connective activities.
10.30 – 12.30 – After introductory tasks, under the direction of Felicia Campbell, we continued with workshops for the development of the project drama and preparations for the performance. After each joint performance, the hearty dramatic potential and messageability grew. Everything grew from itself, it was building, crying, laughing, singing, sowing. And all this with the elements of the past and the present, with the energy of art from a variety of sources for the young, who in this time look for their place under the sun. The text formed as well, and until lunch at the Forum, the drama was finally set up. We did not give it a title, but we were all firmly convinced that we were building important “Heart messages from the heart of Europe, from the Heart Point of of Sweden” together.
14.00 – 17.00 – After lunch at the Forum, the final preparations for the performance of the drama came to our took place, which we, the lead partners, named as Heart Messages From the Heart of Europe. We decided that the background of our drama would be formed with the projection of Valentine’s film. After a successful rehearsal, we only had enough time to clear the hall, and a public event started with a lecture by Jenny from the organization Europa Direct. She presented us with the role of Sweden in the EU, in connection with work, culture and democracy.
19.00 – 20.30 – The representative of the leading partner, Lovro Lah, presented the project Heart of Europe, He-art. He briefly presented the Heart Point of Slovenia, GEOSS, and its heart’s values: compassion, acceptance, love, and friendship, on the personal, national, and international level – regardless of any differences between people. These values are the foundation of the Heart of Europe project, which would create 7 new European Heart Points, imbued with cultural tourism. In addition to Slovenia, these Points would be in Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Sweden, Italy, France, and Albania.
Then the project partners played their wonderful performance that made us immensely happy. We were aware that we relayd our greatest message to the viewers who applauded us for a long while: the message of love.
20.30 – 21.30 – In Strandhem, dinner was waiting, which was an introduction to a long and hearty night of socializing. Valentine had a birthday on tuesday, but we sang her a happy-birthday song only just then. On Tuesday we could not. We worried too much.
DAY 3 – THURSDAY, MARCH 7. 2019
After breakfast, the partners of the project Heart of Europe, He-art, came to gather in Strandhem, in the large lecture room.
At the end of the evaluation, the general conclusion emerged that we were tired, but extremely satisfied with the successful performance, the drama, the hearty messages from the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART.
A representative of the Italian partners spoke about the program in Rieti, with the affirmation that the meeting will be somewhat shorter, but there will be many new experiences, and the meeting shall be rich and hearty.
Anka Kolenc summed up that the leading partner should be given, in English, a description of the experience of how a Heart Point came to be in each of the individual organizations as soon as possible. All descriptions, including the description of individual organizations, will be made into a guidebook, a guide to the creation of Heart Points, points of heritage and cultural tourism, of promoting respect for identity, of the use of art for the promotion of peace and volunteering, overcoming stigmatization, promoting intercultural dialogue and fostering active civic participation on the level of the EU.
She stressed the need for a plan for all future activities and cooperations, which will have to be up-to-date at all times:
- A plan for the technical set-up of the Heart Point, and its funding should be implemented and a suitable Heart Point demarcation should be taken care of.
- A substantive plan for permanent project activities in its environment is needed; each participant must be thinking of the best approach that would be appropriate for it in their environment;
With hearty hugs for the happy journey and with the final thoughts about the work that is still awaiting them, the partners of the Heart of Europe departed Sweden.