Red Cross in Östersund
As the community in Östersund, Sweden, undergoes a societal change, newcomers’ integration and social inclusion can be facilitated through cultural heritage. Jamtli, the regional museum, acts as a catalyst by inviting local refugees and asylum seekers to meet at the museum. Through letters written to their future grandkids, newcomers share their stories which, along with their pictures/objects, will be preserved and form part of the museum collections and future exhibitions.
Östersund is a small city with a population that was previously very homogeneous. During the last five years since the Syrian war, the local community undergoes constant and rapid changes, with refugees and asylum seekers comprising a larger number of ‘newcomers to Östersund’. There is an urgent need for integration and a need to capture and preserve the history of today through oral history and storytelling. We want to give voice to the various people who hide behind the term of refugees.
We aim at strengthening the relationships between the newcomers and those living here longer. We wish to empower people through conversations with others and the local community to gain a better understanding of each other. During the implementation of the project and with the final exhibition, and collection of archives and objects, we can ‘paint’ a picture of Östersund's population as it is today. This collaboration will preserve the multicolored stories for the next generations.
A pilot study, funded by Jamtli, is planned for March-August 2016 with a focus group of newcomers who, after regular visits to the museum, will share their stories, which Jamtli will collect, preserve and exhibit at its café during the summer. In September, NCK will evaluate this pilot study while the other partners meet and discuss about the project. Five meetings are planned for October 2016 - January 2017 at the museum with 50 participants, who through discussions, will be asked to share their stories in the form of a letter to their future grandkids. They will – if they want, accompany their letters with objects/material culture. An exhibition is planned for March 2017 when the project concludes with NCK conducting an evaluation on the learning outcomes.
The target groups are (i) the participants, (ii) the museum and the partners, (iii) the community and (iv) the future generations. The project works on many levels, aiming at achieving better social cohesion and contribute to the museum’s role as a social agent. The final product of the project – the exhibition, will be a visual aid to achieve a better understanding of each other’s stories and life paths.
What distinguishes "Letter to my Grandchild" from other projects is that it fosters intercultural dialogue by bringing together the town’s newcomers with those being here longer. We will collect their oral history and their cultural material by involving them in an activity that almost every human being carries out in his/her everyday life – that is, to write a letter. We will also link objects and clothing to the stories that add to the preservation of oral histories.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
1. Material costs 26859 € Office expenses (e.g. telephone, internet, office supplies, postage) 880€ Travel costs (e.g. participants, speakers, artists) 2400€ Accommodation and subsistence 4200€ Event costs (e.g. room rental, materials, etc.) 7500€ Fees 5000€ Public relations 600€ Unforseen cost 1279€ 2. Personnel costs: 18000€
If possible, how to engage newcomers into deep and emotional discussions while participating in art and intercultural activities?