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They have made their home their creative space. From the house situated in the small village of Kaykino, with the forest around the corner, a big garden space for sculptures, and the outhouses with great potential for future ideas, project manager (and former fashion designer) Olga and sculptor Viktor Gracheva have created a space from which they run their artistic and cultural projects as well as exchanges and seminars.
Their home turns into an inspiring and warm space for discussions in a second, and on October 23–27 this is taking place. Their mission is to try to with art and culture turn the negative trend in the villages of Begunitsy and Kaykino, situated around 100 km outside of St Petersburg.
The villages have long struggled with a negative population trend; young people leave the countryside to move to the cities. Agriculture is declining, unemployment is high. There is a need to find new development tools to end this negative spiral.
This and lots more was discussed during the Creative Camp Kaykino where Swedish sculptor and owner of Stonezone Lukas Arons attended, as well as local municipal Commissioner and the Cultural Secretary of Munkedal Municipality in Sweden participated. Nätverkstan was also there.
Take the tram fifteen minutes from the center of Göteborg – and you arrive in the periphery. At least that’s how many feel if you live in suburbs or areas around the city center. Hammarkullen is one such area outside Göteborg and where many initiatives have started with the aim of bringing the art, culture, and social work done in the area into the spotlight.
Ten Russian visitors representing culture, art, business, and the authorities in St Petersburg is on a tour in Göteborg and Region Västra Götaland with the aim of discussing the role of art, culture, and social work in the rural areas and to address the question of the center versus periphery.
One stop has been meeting people in the area of Hammarkullen, with visits to different initiatives such as Hammarkullen365, Folkets Hus, and the local radio. Another Nätverkstan located in the city center, and then visits to the artistic workshop for sculpture, textile, ceramics, to artist Lukas Arons and his sculpture precincts, and Gerlesborgsskolan (School of Gerlesborg) along the coast-line. And today the visit is to the artistic collective Not Quite in the very small town of Fengersfors, a two and a half hours drive NorthEastly from Göteborg.
The visit was initiated by NGO Creative Project Kaykino in St Petersburg and is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund. Next step is to Stavanger in Norway, and the project ends with a seminar in St Petersburg in November.
See here a former post on the topic of center vs periphery.
It’s almost unbearable to read.
Belarus writer Svetlana Aleksijevitj’s book with Swedish title Kriget har inget kvinnligt ansikte (The war doesn’t have a female face, my translation) is a remarkable project that took her years to finish. She has interviewed women all around Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, has loads of cassette tapes where these now elderly women tell their horrifying stories of joining the army at ages 16–18 years and the hardships and terrifying work as snipers, nurses, pilots, military seargents, soldiers, engineers, and as members of the partisans and resistance movement.
Women’s role in the military during the Second World War in Russia has never been highlighted. They continued their life after the war, bearing their sorrows, trying to forget while the victory of the war has been contributed men. Aleksijevitj wants to let them be heard, wants to tell their stories, the choices they had to make, their everyday struggles in the war, in life, as daughters, wives, mothers, and soldiers.
At points I have to put it aside, but then I pick it up again. I’m obliged to listen to these women and what they went through during the war and nine hundred days of siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg) by the nazists during 1941-1944. Swedish journalist Ulrika Knutson writes in her resumé in Expressen last week that if you only read one book this year, this should be the one.
I read it as I am on my way to St Petersburg to speak on a seminar about women creativity. I am shaken.
Nätverkstan has been invited to St Petersburg to speak in connection to the opening of the exhibition Creative Women on October 23, exhibiting Inventions from Swedish women.
The exhibition is an initiative by Tekniska Museet (The Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology) where Museum Director Ann Follin realized when looking through the 55.000 objects in their collection that only 100 of these were made by women. It also showed when looking deeper that of all patent applications in Sweden only five percent came from women.
This raised questions of whether women are less inventive than men? Or perhaps less creative?
They didn’t believe this to be true and put together the exhibition of women inventors, an exhibition that in cooperation with Swedish Institute has toured to around ten different countries raising questions of the role of women in innovation.
The St Petersburg-based organisation Social and Economic Institute arranges the seminar inviting a Swedish and a Russian speaker. Olga Gracheva gave a very interesting contribution of the NGO Kaykino Creative Projects she just started two years ago with the aim of promoting and develop interest for the rural area around St Petersburg. An amazing initiative.
The women in the book are with me.
The only connection between these two things is that it’s about women and their hidden voices. Women in 1940s and women in 2012.
Swedish Institute supports the seminar and project, host organization in St Petersburg (run by two charismatic women) is the Social and Economic Institute, an institute focussing on educational initiatives, projects, conferences, and exchanges of experiences between women in the world. The exhibition is shown at the Water Museum, a museum examining the role of water with both an educational and interactive part for children and an open part for the public.
Svetlana Aleksijevit’s book ”Kriget har inget kvinnligt ansikte” is translated by Kajsa Öberg Lindsten (Ersatz 2012).
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