Sustainability from the Perspective of Reindeer – pt 3

So, back to sustainability. I keep asking myself, what’s the most important thing that I can give you – who read?
And the answer is: the holistic perspective.

To be able to see things clearly in relation to sustainability. Being able to answer the question of “what’s best for the reindeer”, I would need to keep myself very well informed. Making my decision based on the best available knowledge without being driven by money. Both climate scientists and UNs climate change experts have stated that the best available knowledge is science together with indigenous knowledge.

Then how do we practically do this?
I would start with the easy way- follow the new science. Maintaining your mind well informed and capable of learning new things. Listen to the news to understand the different forces driving policies. Our world sees no boundaries.

Then comes the more difficult part. Indigenous knowledge. The knowledge of how to be observant. Noticing how she is feeling, our mother. How she is responding. Listen to those who knows her, and who spends time with her. Never be afraid to ask questions. Spend time with her yourself. Knowing you are a part of her too.

I take note of the day when the snow sparrows arrived. When did the sallow show its first bud of the year. Remember to gather spruce this spring. Knowing that in some places it takes a while for them to show. Noticing the perfect spot for collecting those long, roots that aren’t too difficult to get hold of. The shallow once living in long time fallen trees. They are good for making containers keeping the salt dry. Remembering the need to find a new place to gather sweetgrass for our shoes. The old place where she enjoyed living has dried up, and looking at the old place-names of the area is no good.  Deforestation has altered her home too much, she has disappeared. Such a punishment for our crime. Recognising the smell of old damp snow. Created mold in the bottom. Do you know how fresh lichen taste? How did the liver look on the last reindeer we received for food, and where did the grouse live last year? Leaving the food to silence me. Wondering why the moose have moved into my dreams. What date was it now again, when the swans left? Counting how many times the wind decided to change yesterday. No one would have been able to navigate in the deep forest by then. Exciting to have a look at the lake, to see how much water has left the ice. Its said that we can learn the future in the fish stomach. I don’t really know much about that. But suspect it has to do with a certain fish, sure of that its not the first one caught during fall time. That one is going back to the lake. It’s not ours.

Carefully *respectfully* I’m putting salt on the pieces of meat, that eventually will be hung to dry. Summerfood. Closely together they go. Its best in the wooden barrel. Its possible to do it in plastic as well. But the price will be payed in the taste. Nature loves nature. The barrel is suppose to be completely air-dry, and to fix that -I’m gifted the lungs. Or the diaphragm if the barrel is close to full. Air-tight. Back home in Dalarna we are hanging it to dry after a month in the salt. Up here i Jåhkkåmåhke they like to smoke the meat first. The air is damper here. Maybe that too will change.

Indigenous knowledge is informative, a practice, observant and responding. As ever changing as need be, when nature is changing. Since they are one.

To live a sustainable life and making sustainable decisions, It’s not a simple task. But maybe that’s how its suppose to be. When is the easy way the best way? There are so many lessons to be thought.
Do one really need to make decisions based on what’s best for all creations?

Unfortunately. Yes.

We are all answering to nature. And to our own spirit.

At the end of the day its our spirit who is paying the real price of our decisions. That’s something we can’t outrun.

Im convinced that if all were to make decision based in the best available knowledge. Based in both science and indigenous knowledge in relation to our surroundings – we would be heading in a better direction than we are currently. Climate change wise.

Lastly. To our indigenous youth: follow the path of our ancestors. The tracks are still there. They can be found in our now living elders. Even if its sometimes feels like too much have been lost. Forgotten. Know that the knowledge is still there. It can’t be undone. Its only resting. Since she herself is the keeper. We just need to learn how to listen. Again.

What is she showing you in your dreams.

Where is the place where you accept her gift and give back?

Blogtext by Jannie Staffansson
Photos: Private

Sustainability from the Perspective of Reindeer – pt 2

When global media are reporting on climate change and indigenous peoples, I often hear the phrase “the most vulnerable”. Often It comes off as Indigenous peoples are weaker, and therefore more exposed to the challenges of a changing climate. That the reindeer is starving and dying because its helpless. That’s why we need help.

I find that a bit arrogant. It’s rooted in the fact that most people do not understand what indigenous peoples are. Have no knowledge of our worldviews and knowledge systems. That we mirror nature. When nature is sick. We are sick.

Neither nature nor the reindeer or indigenous peoples are standing clueless and overwhelmed. However, over centuries we have evolved into specialists. Learnt how to survive and thrive in conditions difficult for others to survive in. We are indigenous to one place. Not the other. I would not have the same chance of surviving in Amazonas jungle as I do in the Arctic as a saami. Nor would my friend Hindou from the Mbroro peoples in Chad having of surviving in Sápmi. She who knows the dusty sand dunes, and not how to make shoes out of the reindeer. I who cannot find water with the help of a cow but I can read the storm from the stars. As indigenous peoples we have adjusted. We have been resilient. But in this state of climate change happening at an unprecedented rate, our inner and outer systems are struggling to keep up. Yours are too.

How amazing isn’t it really. In the middle of a stormy winter, one can find such a big mammal, as the reindeer, high up in the mountain tops. Surviving. Sometimes I catch myself thinking “how can you even find something to eat in that harsh moon landscape”. During perfect conditions she would love to migrate from coast to coast during the year. Spending the winter down in the forest, grazing lichen from the ground and occasionally whenever a storm toss down lichen from the high old trees, she would eat that as well. However, if she does get caught in the mountains during the winter she will spend it walking from stone to stone, eating lichen that has been growing there for some time. The wind will help her clear the stones from snow and ice. Not many other big mammals are depending on stone and the wind quite like her.

In our area there isn’t the same amount of different herbs, plants or other species that can be found in the deep forest of Aoteora. Our biodiversity is some what more limited. We do not have an abundance. But we do have little of some, and more of other during our eight seasons. That’s how the reindeer sustain herself. She can try a piece of the herb, but not take the leaf. She will taste the root but not the stem. Continue on to a flower. Chew of the whole plant but never take the entire system of roots. Always walking, always on the move. Leaving some and never taking all of what’s to offer. She does that to more than 250 different species. Sustaining herself and the landscape so that other will find food when they arrive. Where she graze the landscape will be nourished with the leftover processed food of hers, while she maintains the landscape an open place. Where she travels other birds and mammals will follow. She feeds the ecosystem that feeds her.  

That is what she teach. Always be on the move not to leave traces. Migrate and share. Never take all of what you like, some other might be arriving soon too, in need of food. It is the small movement that will keep you and others alive, the small change. Do not become dependant on the same thing everyone else is depending on. That wouldn’t create for a sustainable environment. There is a limit of how specialised one should become. The reindeer is targeting a specific area to sustain herself. Becoming a specialist in that area, where not many other bigger mammals are living and can force her to move. She has made that possible by becoming dependant on many many creations and species over a years cycle. Its somewhat like that advice one so often hear in the beginning of saving money in shares. “Spread the risks”. That’s what she does. She is spreading her risks and being a good citizen. At the same time.

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By living a healthy life the reindeer has become healthy. She contains omega 3 fatty acids, where other meat does not. Even her blood is healthy. Humans need vitamin-c in our diet. During the summer season vitamin-c is easy to come by, as it is located in plants and herbs. But during the snowy winter its made more difficult. By drinking the fresh blood gifted by the reindeer you will be provided for. That’s how many indigenous peoples in sibiria survives.

Mimicking reindeer and our animal- and plant relatives will help us to learn how to survive. It will help us create those sustainable societies we so desperately need. Not leaving big poisonous wounds in the land for generations to be sickened by. Instead leaving food for our generations to come.

Become dependant of each other.

Give back to land

and create family.  

Blog by Jannie Staffansson, Jokkmokk, for the GRUDE project
Photos by Jannie Staffansson

Sustainability from the Perspective of Reindeer – pt 1

In this time of climate crisis and the rapidly extincition of species, its been shown that Indigenous peoples knowledge has a huge role to play for the world. The Interngovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that in their latest report released this February this year. In short the report summerized that the world leaders aren’t doing enough to put in place the strong efforts that the world needs to sustain life for all.

A few years ago the World Bank released a study showing that 80 % of the worlds biodiversity is located on Indigenous peoples´ land.. and that Indigenous peoples are only 5 % of the total human population. I would say that the Indigenous Peoples have done incredibly well in relation to the world leaders. What is it then that we are doing differently from the major society? I will try to give you some food for thought in Indigenous knowledge and our worldview. What is it that makes the reindeer a key player in the Arctic? 

But first, you might be curious about who I am. My name is Jannie Staffansson and I live in Forshällan close to the lake Purkijaur, with my life partner and our animals. Im not from here, but grew up in Eajra (Idre) in the southern part of Saepmie, in Dalarna. I was blessed to grow up closely to the reindeer, and she is still a big part of my life. Although now I live in Tuorpon reindeer husbandry community. It’s fair enough to say that the reindeer have made me into who I am. I have always heard people stating that “we will do what’s best for the reindeer” as a guiding principle. Not only from reindeer herders, but also from elders and other saami in our are. That guiding principle- do what’s best for the reindeer- has helped me find my path through life.

Maybe the most challenging part with that guide is the fact that the reindeer doesn’t speak. She doesn’t tell you what’s best for her, what her needs are or what she wants. However she communicates. If you learn how to listen. Learning how to listen will take years, some might never learn it. It is difficult to listen. One shortcut that’s tempting to take is that of asking others who have learnt the needs of reindeer- knowledge holders. But in our culture, its not always you get an answer when you show up with a question to an elder. They might show you, or show you something else. Or stay silent with a glistening eye or give you a story. That frustrated me as a child. I was schooled in the Swedish school system that always provided you with an answer whenever a question raised. Answers that I often forgot as soon as I heard them, and went on to solving the next assignment. Teachers saying that one need to hear something three times in order to remember it. Though In my experience, whenever I actually figured out the answer to my late grandfathers riddle, I remembered it. In that process of learning I also learnt other lessons. As how to be observant, to use my mind, to watch and see the connections in nature and around me.

To listen.  

Blog by Jannie Staffansson. Photos are private.

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Green Transition – Promoting Circular Entrepreneurship in the North

How could we accelerate green transition in the rural North? This was our question in the GRUDE project’s final Greennovation Camp in March 2022. In this blog text, you will find concrete examples of green businesses, tools for developing your company’s circular practices, as well as information on new sustainability-based educational initiatives.

Evelina Lundqvist & Malin Leth: Zero Waste Business Model Canvas

Every year only 8,6 percent of all waste material is recycled. Global warming and the rapid loss of biodiversity are happening right now. This is why companies need to move from being part of the problem to becoming a part of the solution. The change requires tragical transforming of business models and setting clear zero waste and circularity targets.

The Zero Waste Business Model Canvas has been created as a tool for companies who want to strengthen their social and environmental impact according to the UN Sustainable development goals. It adds a societal perspective to business development by recognizing a broader set of stakeholders in the company’s range of influence.

The Zero Waste Business Model Canvas helps companies dive into questions such as:

  • How might our company’s value proposition contribute not only to regenerating the company itself but society in a larger perspective?
  • How might our company provide regenerative products and services that don’t produce waste?
  • How could we contribute to reducing consumption in general?

Download the Zero Waste Business Model Canvas for free

Tomas Knuts: Sustainability in the Region of Ostrobothnia, Finland

In Ostrobothnia, the work towards circular economy started about three years ago. The process has been a journey towards a new normal, and today, there are about 60 different sustainability related projects ongoing in the area.

One part of the sustainability process has been the creation of concrete green transition strategy for regional and business development. The strategy is based on the identification of ten most crucial activities for green economy in the area, as well as, creating check-list for entrepreneurs on how they can get started with circular economy.

The experiences in Ostrobothnia region prove that the key elements for successful green transition are 1) close collaboration between different sectors of society, and 2) indicating the benefits of green economy which creates motivation for change in companies and municipal decisionmakers.

Ostrobothnia in Transition: Road Map for Sustainable Development and Circular Economy

Emelie Isaksen: Fremstr Sustainability Programme

Fremstr is a sustainability focused trainee programme in Troms region, Norway. The goal of the programme is to challenge the local businesses to become more sustainable, and also increase their attractiveness in the eyes of young people entering labour market.

According to the Fremstr training philosophy, learning is most effective in a group of students coming from various educational backgrounds and in close collaboration with local businesses. In order to enrich the learning experience, the companies offering trainee positions are also chosen from different fields of business.

The programme has been received with great enthusiasm by the local companies, and about half of the next year’s trainee positions are already set. In addition, about 100 people have signed up for the mailing list so far, to receive more information about the programme.

Read more about Fremstr trainee programme

Ruben Alkhalil: New Ways of Growing Food with Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil by using only mineral nutrient solutions. The method saves both land and water, is completely pesticides-free and helps decreasing CO2 emissions.

The business idea of HydroGreen AB is to do indoor farming in old abandoned houses in Swedish countryside. Their vision is to make it possible for everyone to grow natural food anywhere in the world with just a tap of a phone. The company offers both the hardware and software that allow other companies and municipalities to start hydrofarming where-ever they want.

Despite the potential of their idea, it has yet been challenging to find investors for the hydrofarming business. Hydroponics is a new technology, and making it appealing requires a change in the mindset of potential target groups, who are stuck with the idea of traditional agriculture.

More information about hydrofarming

Emma Dahlqvist, Emilia Keinström & Sofie Olofsson: Making Rings from Old Spoons

Emma Dahlqvist, Emilia Keinström and Sofie Olofsson are last year students in their high school’s technology programme. They founded a company called Återsmycka AB on a young entrepreneurship course which goes on for the whole last year of their studies.

The young womens’ business idea is to make unique rings from old spoons which they receive as donations from friends and relatives or buy from thrift stores. The guiding principle for their business, is the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production.

The young entrepreneurship course and the concrete experiences of starting their own business have taught Emma, Emilia and Sofie many useful skills, such as the process of creating a product, reaching out to customers and marketing.

Check out Återsmycka AB’s designs on their Instagram page

Anne Raudaskoski: Green Consulting

Ethica is a consulting company with a mission to inspire and guide entire industries to regenerative and circular future. They want to make people see that we should not only settle for minimizing the negative effects, but instead, consider how we could start giving the planet back more than what we are taking.

The key principles for creating a better future are 1) designing out waste from our businesses and production, 2) keeping materials in circulation and 3) regenerating natural ecosystems. The means of reaching these goals are profound foresight work, a mindset of curiosity, creativity and awareness as well as, understanding the biological parameters for sustainable business.

Contact with Ethica

Want to learn more? Check out the event recording from GRUDE YouTube channel!
Keynote Speeches & Panel Discussion

Chance for International Networking

In the Camp, we also started a process of identifying problems and bottlenecks that are hindering green transition in the public and private sectors. The ideation process will be continued in workshops and in a networking webinar in May, and we’re hoping that it might result in new development ideas and collaboration in the project area. You can join the process now, by
FILLING THIS FORM

Check out our Padlet-walls from the Camp and fill in your thoughts for consideration in the coming workshops!
Padlet: Green Transition in the Public Sector
Padlet: Green Transition in the Private Sector

Blogtext by,
Henna Kukkonen, Project Specialist, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Northern Sweden Bubbling with Circular Initiatives

Cradlenet Norr on March 1st invited to a meeting about events that are taking place within circular economy in northern Sweden. We quickly gathered that it was a lot! Just under 2022 are several new investments leading to concrete and large circular transitions in the north.

There are enormous investments in the green industry in northern Sweden, and there will be big investments in the infrastructure and community service departments. Investments in electrifications, fossil free productions, and circular industry processes make northern Sweden a leader in the climate transition. It is not only businesses that are driven. There are ongoing initiatives for the transitions within smaller businesses, businesses within service sectors, within culture branches and public sectors. Here is a brief sampling.

Renewcell: for a Circular Fashion Industry

One of the businesses that contributes to a circular transition is Renewcell. The company’s chief of communications, Nora Eslander, was a guest at Cradlenet and talked about the company’s ambitions and their investments.

Renewcell is a fast-growing sustainable tech-company that follows a process of recycling cellophane from cotton textiles into a fast-dissolving mass, Circulose®. It is then used to produce new clothing. This summer they are opening the world’s largest chemical clothing recycling in a previous paper factory, Ortviken, in Sundsvall. This facility is driven by 100% renewable energy and has the capacity to recycle 120 000 tons of textiles per year.

The fashion industry currently has a negative impact on the climate. Eslander illustrates that it takes 10 000 liters of water to produce one pair of jeans. 35% of microplastic in the ocean comes from polyester clothing and only 1% of all clothing circulates the entire way around to being new. There are large climate benefits with a circular fashion industry.  

Renewcells fiber mass Circulose® has already used in collections for global brands like H&M and Levi’s. Their demand is increasing. Logistics presents an underlying problem for extreme textile waste.

Commonly, when you want to get rid of worn-out clothing and textiles you must pay for someone to collect them.  However, Renewcell has chosen to pay their manufacturers so that they can create a long term, sustainable infrastructure for sorting and gathering. In this way, they can ensure a stabile accessibility to high quality raw materials.

To have high enough volume for collaboration, businesses like Beyond Retro and Myrorna collaborate with Sysav for sorting help. According to circular principles, and to hold quality as long as possible, they only accept clothing and textiles that cannot be resold or reused in any other way except as raw materials for recycling.

The world’s new unique factory in Sundsvall, Renewcell is an example of a green industry that according to the Government makes it possible that northern Sweden can “be the leading in climate change that is happening in the whole world and within all sectors”.

Further Strengthening of Knowledge for Circular Business Development

The circular changes are not only happening in industry. There are several initiatives all over northern Sweden that help small and medium businesses adapt to the changes. A few investments focus directly while others focus on business advisors and business development. These are a few actual projects that are presented by Cradlenet Norr:

CEBANS stands for Circular Economy Business Accelerator Northern Sweden and is driven by the company Esam together with North Sweden Cleantech and Umeå’s municipality. Within the framework of the project and under one year, both business developers and business coaching can help the future safety of circular business model. Businesses from all over northern Sweden are welcome to sign up by contacting Esam. You can also read more at https://esam.se/esam-tjanster/hallbarhetskommunikation/  

SVID leads the project Response together with Region Jämtland Härjedalen and Södertälje Science. They will “strengthen the capabilities in businesses in a practical development of own circular products, business models and services”. The project will examine the possibilities with a digital platform for circular shopping with a residual flooding in the region. Furthermore, they will offer an increased knowledge where the businesses in the region receive expert experience about sustainable methods and business models based on circular design. The strengthened knowledge begins in the fall of 2022.  https://svid.se/vad-vi-gor/projekt/response/mer-om-response/ 

Arena Samisk business sector development started a knowledge campaign about Samiskt businesses aiming at business promoters and funders to “show the way to sustainability”. The project leader, Erika Unnes commented in an interview with Utveckla Norrbotten:
-The traditional industry has improved in parallel with nature. We learn to not take more than we need, and that resources in nature need to be left behind for the coming generations. In this way Samisk values and knowledge have shown a way to create sustainability in the societal transformation that is happening because of the climate crisis.
Read more about the project at https://sv-se.facebook.com/valljeforetagsutveckling/ 

Strukturum business service in Jokkmokk’s municipality is undergoing a test pilot with business developers for small and medium businesses. There is a focus on circular business modeling. The pilot will be finished and ready for showing in May.

Östersund’s municipality is preforming a test over sustainability growth with a focus on understanding the level of knowledge and need to support and give advice on the circular change in businesses within events and hospitality. This project will also be ready for presentation in the spring.

Circular Shopping

During 2022 at least two commercial recycling initiatives will see the light of day: Re:Store Höga Kusten will open in the spring on Köpmangatan in central Härsnösand. This is a shopping center where everything that is sold is recycled, reused, or sustainably produced. Starting in the fall, Boden will see recycled products in their normal shops. This is made possible through an investment from the municipality. They will begin gathering recycled products and deliver these items to shops where they will be presented alongside new merchandise.

These are just a few examples of everything that is happening with circular transitions in northern Sweden. Several are being developed, and many changes have taken place over an extended period of time. Circular economy is slowly, but surely becoming the new normal. There may be good circumstances for circular changes specifically in the north. This could be due to availability of fossil free energy, and the proximity to nature. Not to mention, the want to keep and improve knowledge pertaining to the use of resources and how we can live alongside other living things.

Cradlenet Norr is a local network with the national organization Cradlenet that works to accelerate the changes within circular economy. Cradlenet Norr has digital meetings approximately four times per year and focuses on everyone that is interested in circular economy in northern Sweden. (Approximately north of Gävle). Every meeting has a specific agenda and weight is focused on meeting and exchanging experience with one another. Would you like to receive more information pertaining to Cradlenet Norr meetings? Contact Sofia, sofia@cradlenet.se.

Blogtext by,
Amanda Mannervik, Project Manager, Strukturum Jokkmokk

Hey traveller, want to be sustainable or unsustainable, responsible or irresponsible?

How many of us have lost our hearts to a travelling destination and dream of one day going back? Probably quite a few. And how many have stopped to think whether that place will remain as beautiful, clean, versatile, or even exist in the future? Hopefully more and more.

During the Sustainable Production Development project, which is a part of our studies, we were able to dive deeper into the different aspects of sustainable tourism in the Arctic for the Grude project. The importance and timeliness of sustainable tourism dawned on us in the early stages of our work, when we realised how easy it was to find well-informed partners.

Communicating about sustainable tourism became the core idea of our project. The subject was discussed from different points of view in a four-part podcast series and the culmination of the whole project was a two-hour webinar. During the webinar, experts opened the concept of sustainability to the audience through presentations about the Sustainable Travel Finland label (STF), certified entrepreneurship and regenerative tourism. Concrete and practical examples brought the topic closer to the participants and created a good interaction between the presenters and the audience through questions and discussion.

The people living in the world today, need positivity, continuity, and reliability. Finland has every possibility to be one of the most sustainable tourist destinations in the world, says Visit Finland’s Virpi Aittokoski. This is because we are already good, so why not be the best?  The idea behind Visit Finland’s STF certificate is to create a new standard for sustainability, a key factor in the tourism industry that covers the social, ecological, economic, and cultural aspects. With the STF label, an entrepreneur or destination gets the tools to build their own business in a direction that withstands a high-level international review. This is a perfect continuation on the international path Finland is already proceeding after being selected as the happiest country in the world and the best country for people’s well-being.

If there is a genuine will, the busy everyday life of an entrepreneur does not prevent development of operations in a more sustainable and responsible direction. It is understandably important for local people and entrepreneurs that their own living and operational environments remain in good condition, as Reijo Lantto of Himmerki Tourist Center summarized. The STF certificate awarded to Himmerki, is seen in the everyday life of the company as a positive branding tool, a marketing advantage, and a clear attractiveness-factor, especially among the international tourists. In practice, the STF brand, which stands for sustainable and responsible operations, is a marketing advantage today, but will certainly become a prerequisite for successful business in the future.

But what do we find behind the beautiful sceneries and holiday villages? The concept of regenerative tourism was a whole new thing for us and caught our interest immediately. According to Mood of Finland’s Anu Nyholm, regenerative tourism takes sustainability thinking a step further and goes naturally alongside it, complementing it. The conscious traveller today and in the future, wants to see the bigger picture beyond the beautiful landscapes: the real life in the destination, the threats, and problems it faces. Regenerative tourism is based on the idea of improving and supporting, rather than just trying to avoid more harm. Regenerative tourism is feasible for any of us. For example, we can support locals by purchasing their sustainable services, or instead of physically travelling, how about making an armchair trip to the nature destination of our dreams that is relaxing and saves the destination’s delicate nature and our own purse. Regenerative tourism is limited only by our imagination.

We want to thank all our partners: you made our project – podcasts and webinar –possible. With the experience gained through this project, we cannot imagine making other than sustainable and responsible decisions, whether we travel near or far.

Thank you to the municipality of Posio, a small but brightly shining star on map of STF.

Many thanks to the entrepreneurs at Posio, Kota-Husky and Lomakeskus Himmerki, you gave the voice of the entrepreneurs’ busy everyday life under the STF brand for those who joined our project.

Visit Finland, you opened the content, purpose, and goals of the STF label to us, thank you very much for it!

Olli Järvenkylä, a specialist of outdoors traveling, thank you for your golden tips on how we can hike more responsibly from now on!

Many thanks to Anu Nyholm / Mood of Finland for telling us about innovative tourism and the examples that have already been put into practice.

Thanks also to the Grude project and Lapland University of Applied Sciences for the interesting assignment, background support and guidance.

Blogtext by,
Elina Elsinen, Heli Heinäaho, Päivi Kahelin, Tanja Satta ja Niina Viitanen
Lapland UAS Master School students

Härnösand’s Återbruksgalleria

Project Härnösands Återbruksgalleria wants to bring life back to Härnösands City Center and create job opportunities with new businesses. Recycling and circular economy begin with increased experience and consciousness, resulting in the goal to build an entire destination around a circular and sustainable concept.

Linda Lundberg is the project manager for “Härnösands Återbruksgalleria”. This project is driven and financed by Härnösänds’ municipality. The assignment came from the head of administration that works at The Administrations for Labour Market Integration or Labour Administration in the municipality, after they saw a high unemployment rate. Previously, they went on a guided tour that resulted in two projects that were grounded in creating job opportunities. Re:Store, and a separate project that was named “Stadsnära odling” where several foreign farmers are active.  One of the guided tours resulted in the inspiration of Eskilstuna and ReTuna Återbruksgalleria. However, in Härnösand, they choose to further develop the concept into a mall with a shared register, a market in the city center and mall employees.

Linda started working in the middle of March 2021, they had already done a guided tour and a pilot study. The municipality had written a project directive, assembled a management team, and then Linda was able to get the ball rolling. Three years before Linda started working on this project, she wanted to start a recycling mall herself. Linda is a licensed interior designer who gladly uses recycled materials and materials found in nature.  It is important for her that you recycle and restore existing furniture. “I have worked a lot with restoration within my entrepreneurship.”

Throughout her work on this project, Linda has collected insight around the laws of waste management and what happens in a recycling center. There is exceptional work done by the muncipality that she had no idea about.

The plan is to lift hand crafters, artists, and new designers in this mall. The main objective is to minimize unemployment, but to MINIMIZE landfills. This adjustment can be accomplished by establishing a circular approach.

The mall creates several job opportunities, generates new businesses, livens up the city center and most importantly – enables live trade. These later benefits restaurants and shopper, and in turn benefits the population’s physical well-being because there are more activities that take place. This strengthens Härnösand as a tourist destination, more people will be curious about Härnösand and Höga Kusten!

“When we create job opportunities, we lift individuals and families through social sustainability, and in this way save money because they contribute back to the community. But most importantly, they get a meaningful employment that increases their well-being.”

Linda sees advantages with living and working in an arctic sparsely populated area, “It is easier to collaborate. Nearness makes things easier. We live a little further from each other, but that does not need to be a disadvantage.  To make a mall with all these events, is not so easy, but by creating a market in the city center you can stay and sell your items just once a month. It is quality of life. We can even produce sustainable items in a different way than in bigger cities. We have different experience and circumstances.”

Many of the services that they make would not work in a big city. For example, the municipality takes on the responsibility of picking up furniture for recycling from people’s homes. They have chosen to put the mall central and not near a recycling center, which is possible in a small community. Linda is even working at implementing a service that would pick up service, and then restore so that it could later be sold.

But, collaboration between municipalities can be a little tricky. They cannot compete with the existing local businesses and they can look at the development of different services to collaborate with the existing. In Härnösands the recycling mall has chosen to develop an online shop to help the small entrepreneurs, thus providing a service. However, first a means of sustainable shipping must be obtained for this to become a possibility. This requires a constant focus on the entire field.   

According to Linda, it is fantastic to go through The Administrations for Labour Market Integration or Labour Administration and their programme for labour market measures. They are creating a model that other municipalities can use. The thought is that you will be able to include several companies so that you can replicate this to other locations and other municipalities.

“I am looking forward to starting Re:Store Höga Kusten in other locations, and countries. But even that this spreads in neighborhoods. To build a recycling neighborhood. This is a lifestyle that will expand in the entire destination. It is sustainable in all aspects. I usually say, I will be pretty satisfied the day that Re:Store Höga Kusten opens in Manhattan!”

Current locations are being renovated with more energy efficient electricity. This initiative wishes to inspire several new malls in the entire recycling trend. They are looking forward to opening the doors to Re:Store Höga Kusten during the first quarter of 2022.

Furthermore, they wish everyone a warm welcome!

Meet Goncalo Rodrigues Marques and Linda Remahl at Moskosel Creative Lab

Northern Sustainable Futures presents Moskosel Creative Lab. A former rural school and a full-sized sports hall on 35 500m2 of land, that can be utilised as working studios, exhibition rooms, creative offices and performance spaces.

In the rural village of Moskosel, north Sweden, Linda and Goncalo offer a place that merges art, nature & living accommodations. 13x wooden living cabins, a large building with 20+ studios, a full-size gymnasium (800m2) for performances or/and sports, a cinema room, a black-box room, an artist designed bar and more.

All to provide you a base to explore and create your own undiscoverable possibilities!

Goncalo Rodrigues Marques is an engineer who studied in England and is originally from Portugal. Linda Remahl is a dance artist with a vision to create a space for artists where they can live and work and where collaborations can occur. A place where meeting is at heart and where new ideas can grow.

Goncalo and Linda met in England. They saw the potential of mixing different disciplines which inspired them to create a sharing and meeting place. They started to try to develop this first in England but Linda wished to move back to Sweden, where she is from originally. They decided to move to the north of Sweden,  Arvidsjaur municipality where Linda’s grandmother was from.

At first in 2013 they bought a small village school in the village of Lomträskand started to hold workshops and residencies. It was when they were working with a Spanish company to organize a larger international dance festival, they were in need of a bigger place.

It started with them renting a sportshall in the nearby village of Moskosel, that was part of a school that had been closed down for a few years. They saw the potential of the school with so many different rooms and different facilities. Straight away in their minds they saw all their ideas of mixing disciplines would be perfect to implement in there.

It has been a little bumpy journey. We come somewhat as “outsiders” moving into a smaller town with a slightly different approach with our project and it took some time for the idea to be embraced. It is not just cultural what we do, we want to create a new concept of mixing disciplines where art can be a cataclysm for growth. The concept is to let people be partners in the creation, without having them as working for us, but working for their own visions and aspirations together with us. We truly believe that together (us and others) we can develop a stronger multi-location that cover many areas with the same core goal – the growth and development of each individual’s visions. It is a sustainable concept that somehow is difficult to spread: to work together without having to depend on each-other, but being advantageous to everyone.” Goncalo says.

They have been doing this initiative since 2019, and see themself in between the cultural and business sector. ”It feels like often it’s hard when projects tick several boxes. That can be very confusing, it somehow becomes a grey area which I believe will be “the norm” in the future. It will take a bit of time and I think it is time to start something new, and that is what we are trying to achieve here. Many claim that they want innovation, however innovation involves accepting new ideas, and many are not perhaps ready to do so.” Goncalo says.

They don’t have any founders or cultural support for operational costs at the moment and are running the place mainly privately, with occasionally projects funding and by organising activities. They want the place to hold several working studios, for many people to work together and be a hub for creation. ”It is funny and so apparent, every time people come up here they feel inspired to create. Going from zero to eighty without any effort, just by showing the place.” – Goncalo.

We believe that it is so important to have a meeting place here in Arvidsjaur, a creative environment that one can be a part of. For those who want to work on their artistry, try new ideas or meet people with different skills and culture. For the children and youth, that is our future to experience and see that one can work within the creative field and live here in the north of Sweden, in rural areas.” – Linda.

Linda and Goncalo are driven by passion and talk warmly about their ideas and vision. ”We can see people that come to this place meeting other creators which leads to other projects as collaborations occur. They do other initiatives. People have moved internationally to the north of Sweden. It is great to acknowledge that our actions have a positive effect on regional development. We feel very happy about it, and we just need to continue our journey.” – Goncalo.

The people coming to Moskosel Creative Lab are mostly artists and creatives at the moment, they mainly contact directly and want to come in residency. They have a lot of international but also regional artists. It would be fantastic to be a benchmark for other places. There are so many abandoned places, like large schools in the rural villages that could be a place not just for culture but art, nature, sustainability and entrepreneurship coming together. The problem is that these kinds of initiatives don’t even have a name yet, to explain it becomes complex.

There is great expertise in the north of Sweden. I think it is really important how we can care for and preserve this cultural knowledge and skills.” – Linda.

What Linda and Goncalo are doing here could be used as a benchmarking in different places. The culture is the way forward for mental health among others, even more in remote locations.

”We want a place where we can work together, to create synergies together. And we want an involvement to create a community not only for the incoming individuals but for the local people as well.” – Goncalo.

”For some we might be remote, so how can we connect without having to fly everywhere and travel so much? How can we through the use of immersive techniques build immersive rooms where we could connect to different locations (e.g. other residencies, universities and classes for example). The imagination is the only limit, really. So we are looking into how we can build these rooms, because then people could come here, live, and get access to so many endless possibilities. A portal to a real hyper metaverse” – Linda

”Geographically, we might be limited. We could only attract x amount of people to stay. But with digitalization we are limitless. We want to attract those kinds of initiatives. A connection between physical and digital realities, where both work in synergy. A correct, responsible and sustainable balance. We have plenty of ideas.” they say.

The difference with Moskosel Creative Lab and other co-working spaces would probably be that they are located where they are and are offering accommodation in living spaces on site. Linda and Goncalo want people to be in a place that mixes different sorts of disciplines.

”We strive to offer a place for artists and creators to use without cost. Where we get finances from other activities (e.g. digitalisation) and we are able to pay people to come here. A reverse to a hotel. To pay people to come and create their own vision.“

When we are getting a tour of the old school we see one amazing room after the other and each room is unique with its own feeling.

We come to a golden room, made as a dance studio and Linda presents it. ”This is a good example of how we would like it to work: An artist wanted to create an art project, and as part of this idea was to create a golden room, and we said ’Great! come here to us and do it at Moskosel Creative Lab’. Together with support from Region Norrbotten we co-financed and supported this project. Now it is an artwork, but also as a consequence of creating this golden dance studio, it has developed into a space that now also can be used by professional dancers in the Region.”

Goncalo explains more of the idea with different moods. ”This is the beauty with these kinds of creative spaces. You can change rooms and locations according to your mood. If you want to sit in an artist’s installation to work, or if you want something more general, you go to the coffee area. If you want something else you can go to the bar, sporthall and coworking office. So you can easily change. It gives different feelings and emotions.

Linda adds ”Different people and their ideas, that is what is inspiring me. To not narrow it down but keep it changing, this is the experience and journey that we want to do.”

”I don’t know why many people struggle individually in trying from scratch to find solutions for many obstacles that creations bring. Why can’t we sustainably come and grow together? We understand that individuality is very important, however there are many hard steps that can be shared and developed upon previous work done by others. This is similar to open-source software and that is what we are trying to create in a physical location, that every space is unique and gives inspiration for the following development. Everyone is welcome to join and create!” – Goncalo

Moskosel Creative Lab is a true creative place and you can’t visit it without feeling inspired by the energy that Linda and Goncalo have put into it. It is innovative, developening, changing and inspiring. All at once. A real good example of a sustainable way of combining different sectors and also showing the power of collaboration!

Thank you Linda and Goncalo!

Learn more about Moskosel Creative Lab at www.northernsustainablefutures.com

And @Moskosel Creative Lab at Facebook and @moskoselcreativelab at Instagram

Good Practices of Green Economy in Lapland

Between spring 2020 and summer 2021 we interviewed local government employees and entrepreneurs in Finnish Lapland about how green economy and sustainability have been implemented in their work and in the municipalities in general. We also wanted to find out what were the bottlenecks in implementing sustainable practices and what actions should be taken in order to advance green economy in a most efficient way in the area.

From the sphere of business, we interviewed people from, for example, fishing, heating, travelling and construction industries. From the municipalities, we spoke to a central kitchen manager, energy production worker and a fishing brand officer. In this text, we introduce the main results from the interviews.

Sustainable Wood Chip Heating Systems

One of the green economy practices that was pointed out by the energy production company was updating of heating systems from oil to wood chip heating in municipal properties. According to the business owner, the use of wood chip heating systems increases employment, security of supply and degree of self-sufficiency while decreasing dependency on fossil fuels. In addition, wood chip heating systems are also cost-effective.

The heating industry entrepreneur also presumed that one of the reasons why wood chip heating systems are not more common in municipalities is that the decision-makers are not aware of its potential and the positive effects it would have on local economy.

Developing Arctic Fishing

The fishing industry representative explained that their local fishing community has benefited significantly from development projects. Through the projects, the community has been able to recruit more fishermen, and thus, secure the continuity of the business and sufficient production volumes in the area.

The new fishermen have been welcomed in the community and they have been given information about the best fishing places, transportation and processing methods, as well as, other important professional knowledge. The fisherman we interviewed, however, recognized the low level of general knowledge about the industry, as a potential threat for professional fishing in the future.

Cooperation in Tourism Business

The travelling business operator explained, that they utilize local knowledge in their village as a resource when producing travelling services. The company had, for example, mapped out the know-how of the local people and other travelling businesses in the area, and their aim was to develop the local services in collaboration with them.

This mode of operation allowed them to focus on their core business activities as accommodation service producers. Moreover, the business owner considered that collaboration with other service producers supported their position in the local community and increased profitability of their business.

Ecological Building with Timber

The timber building entrepreneur considered timber building itself as a sustainable practice. He explained that timber sequestrates carbon for tens or even hundreds of years. Wood is a renewable building material that can eventually be utilized in energy production.

The increasing problems with indoor air quality, especially in public buildings, has also motivated municipalities to build schools, day-care centres, etc. from timber. The business owner believes that the increasing good experiences from timber building, will positively affect its popularity also in the future.

Responsible Procurement in Municipalities

Some of the municipalities in Lapland have set a goal to increase the amount of local food in public food services. The central kitchen manager we interviewed, explained that understanding the logic in bidding, is one of the key factors in procuring local food.

The procurement law itself does not compel to choose the most inexpensive bidding. Instead, it leaves room for the implementation of other criteria that, for example, favour locally produced items. According to the central kitchen manager, the main challenge in utilizing local food production, is the lack of knowledge about public procurements in municipalities, as well as, insufficient local supply.

District Heating with Forest Chip

Forest chip is the primary source of energy for district heating systems in Finland. It is a renewable source of energy which also provides employment in municipalities. Furthermore, ash, which is one of the sidestreams of energy production, is refined into a form that is suitable for forest fertilization.

According to the local government employee we interviewed about energy production, the demand for ash is stable, and by spreading it in the forests, it is possible to reduce the costs of storing ash in landfills. One thing that needs to be monitored when using ash as a fertilizer, is the amount of heavy metals it consists. This can be controlled, however, by choosing the correct burning technique.

Municipal Branding

One of the local government employees also pointed out the importance of branding for active business life and local economy. Municipalities are key actors in creating strong local brands that attract many kinds of businesses to the area. When municipalities support businesses that sustainably use natural resources, they help accelerate green transition in the whole society.

Blogtext by,
Kalle Santala, Project Specialist, Lapland University of Applied Sciences
Henna Kukkonen, Project Specialist, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Workshop: Increased Collaboration Between Universities, Students, and Nearby Municipalities Through Traineeships and Assignments

2 December, SINTEF Nord hosted a 2.5 hour workshop with Northern Norway municipalities, county municipalities and the University of Tromsø (UiT) department Narvik. Participants joined to discuss the potential for increased collaboration between students, universities, and municipalities in northern Norway – in particular in the area of engineering.

Interviews conducted throughout 2021 by SINTEF Nord (unpublished) shows that recruitment of engineers to municipalities is a challenge. In addition, few municipalities have a formal, continuous collaboration with the regional universities regarding bachelor and master thesis, traineeships, and summer internships. Thus, the aim of this workshop was to bring the municipalities and university faculty members together to inspire and encourage increased cooperation.

To start with various forms of collaboration between university, students, and the municipalities were presented by UiT. They emphasized the importance of professor networks in order to achieve good collaboration. Today, a lot is created through such contact networks. UiT also wants to put in place a simpler system for submitting proposals for student assignments. There are student assignments every fall, even though it is easy to forget, and they consider having a system for reminding those interested about this.

Several of the participants have good experiences with bachelor theses, summer internships and part-time positions. They agree that these are good recruitment arenas, but that they require a lot of resources for sufficient follow up. Master theses are becoming more advanced, and many do not know if they have the competence internally to follow this up. Several request more support from the university in this matter. Further, many see great benefit in formalizing expectations to a greater extent – something the university agrees upon.

The conclusion from this workshop is that a simpler system for submitting proposals for student assignments is needed. There is also a need for formalization of student collaboration, including communication channels and requirements/guidelines for content in student assignments. The municipalities are encouraged to establish a list of contact persons for student collaboration, and lastly the collaboration and dialogue should continue through formal networks. Greater collaboration between the regional university and municipalities is a key factor in bridging the recruitment gap and thus ensuring a sustainable, innovative public sector and region.

Blogtext by,
Grethe Lilleng, SINTEF Nord