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Umbrella 2.0 Tourism and Culture worskhop

May 04, 2021

By Małorzata Maria Klawiter-Piwowarska, BSSSC Executive Secretary

This Awareness Raising Event of Euroregion Baltic, Union of the Baltic Cities and Baltic Sea States Sub-regional Cooperation was referred to by the organisers themselves as an occasion to "raise the awareness" on the current "hot topics in the Baltic Sea Region" related to sustainability, tackling the EU Green Deal, the EUSBSR and UN SDGs.” It attracted local actors from civil society and the public sphere and to inform about the possibilities and entry points to the implementation of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and other relevant policies. Also, it aimed at collecting information from the newcomers themselves about the obstacles they face when attempting to get involved into BSR activities.

It is one of the goals of Umbrella 2.0 to challenge these difficulties and make it easier to undertake actions for small local actors.
One of the workshops during this event was dedicated to culture and tourism and to those, who would like to focus on developments in these areas while joining or initiating actions related to EUSBSR implementation. The key intervention was given by Ms Kaarina Williams – the EUSBSR PA Culture Coordinator and the BSSSC Board Member.
The presentation attempted to answer the question: how to engage more local actors to EUSBSR/SDGs and EU Green Deal topics in the Baltic Sea Region? The main actions led by the PA Culture Coordinators in this context are:
1. Promoting the BSR cultural and creative industries, encouraging creative entrepreneurship
2. Promoting BSR Culture and European values, using culture for sustainable development
3. Preserving the BSR‘s cultural heritage, strengthening regional identity

This job is done by supporting projects and initiating new ones. Strategic project development workshops are organised frequently to make sure that all interested entities have the tools to work with their initiatives and further develop them. They also give political impulses for a better funding framework for cultural projects (low threshold funding schemes, micro-funding, seed money). It is also of special importance to encourage youth and civil society involvement in BSR cultural cooperation, not only institutional parties. In this context, Kaarina mentioned especially the Baltic Sea Cultural Cities and Regions project, which is an ongoing project led by the Council of the Baltic Sea States and funded by the Swedish Institute. Its focus is “the co-creation of cultural activities by citizens themselves, involving especially young people and those from often overlooked parts of society.

The key idea of the project is to biannually nominate a “Baltic Sea City of Culture” that would rely not on competition, but rather on cooperation between cities, encouraging them to find similarities and synergies between each other”. Kaarina also addressed several questions from participants, encouraging them to take part in the upcoming 12th and 13th Project Development PA Culture Workshops in May and June. Everyone interested was invited to register and fill out the 2 questionnaire with a project idea. She promised to guide the newcomers in their undertaking to develop valuable projects.

The next intervention was given by Ms Magda Zakrzewska-Duda from the Baltic Sea Cultural Centre in Gdańsk – the regional cultural institution of Pomorskie Region. “I am the matchmaker – she said - I match people, ideas, projects in the BSCC as a senior specialist”. BSCC leads really many cultural projects and Magda shared the view, that the best way to get involved in is the “learning by doing”method. She referred to her own experiences with the small projects that have evolved along the way into big international ones that really make the change. One of them was the Culturability seed money project, which evolved into URBCultural Planning INTERREG BSR project that is now in its final phase and engages 14 project partners and 36 associated organizations in 9 countries around the Baltic Sea. “Don’t be afraid to jump in and explore new areas and events. It is an empowering experience.” – she motivated the workshop participants.

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Sokndal, Norway

Mikenorton, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There has also been an intervention by a local stakeholder: Mr Nils Jacobsen of CittaSlow Sokndall in Norway. He works for the Sokndal Municipality, a small community along the Norwegian coastline, and shared the story of joining the CittaSlow initiative that moved active local people to make the change in the life and space via close communication with other residents, together, in an innovative and close-to-nature style. Cittaslow originates from Italy and refers to slow food movement. With time it transformed into a good-quality-of-life cities network that follows sustainable development ideas and goals. It is now present in 276 cities across the globe. Nils underlined, that the leader of the movement in Sokndal is an 18-years-old boy from the Youth Council and the whole team works very well together.

The actions they undertake are very much connected with the wellbeing of the citizens and tourists that are referred to as guests – a more welcoming and heart-warming attitude than just tourists. So one can find here 200-300 years old wooden buildings, old fishing boats and many many hiking areas in the municipality. Even a lighthouse is available for rent. There are special places dedicated to youth and families in the city. Sokndal is now building an innovative science museum, expected to be ready next summer. CittaSlow way of thinking moved them to organise a “love week” for all inhabitants and establish a one in a kind job centre to encourage and educate the unemployed and to build a little house for fishermen along the river – just to make them feel good and more comfortable during fishing – a very popular activity in Sokndal. “We love CittaSlow” – these words closed this interesting presentation. It had also been good advice of Niels to learn by doing. After all, when you start, you can only go ahead and gain experience.

Ms Marta Czarnecka-Gallas, the BSSSC Secretary-General, who moderated the workshop underlined, that she could see Nils’s passion for what he works on and it is very important to have it in all our entrepreneurial activities.

The workshop finished with a short discussion among all participants with a promise of much more to come in the Umbrella 2.0 ahead.

The Awareness Raising Event was organised by the Euroregion Baltic with partners as Union of the Baltic Cities and the Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation.