“What I want to do is challenge the norm of the urban environment as the most important, or even single, place for development”.
What messages can we share that have value to the world at this moment? Is it reminding each other to value health care staff? Is it reminding each other to stick to the new way of social distancing?
Since my last blog post, my career took a new direction. In addition to being one of the winning teams of the first virtual hackathon in Sweden, which had more than 7,000 enrolments from all over Europe, I was promoted to Interim Cultural Affairs Director. My new position included management of the three local libraries and the independent elementary school of arts.
What I brought to my new role was the understanding that the pandemic is still a reality we only can escape in solitude and never has it ever been so important to stick together. Even if we cannot stand shoulder to shoulder or face to face, we can do so in spirit and in hope, in the belief in science and the digital devices we have been using for a long time now. If I can, if we could—so can you, no matter where you are. I understand there are other barriers to this, such as socio-economic status and the continued need for essential services, but I do believe we all have a part to play. Whether that is serving in a necessary role and reducing our risk to others.
The mission of the definition
“Only we decide what to do and how to lead and where to start”
Pajala municipality, where I live, is demographically speaking, a sparsely populated area. This is also how decision-makers in the European Union define our region all together. Another way to describe the municipality of Pajala is as a spacious area, where we’re all able to keep distance and buy a spacious house for the price of a room in the bigger cities. The territory of Pajala is almost as large as Lebanon1 and includes around 82 villages where 2 to 2000 people choose to lead their lives. One version depicts the outskirts of service and the other shows the epicenter of access to nature and fresh air. Both could perhaps be home to a writer’s den or the HQ of a high-tech development company—only we decide what to do and how to lead and where to start.
Possibilities regardless of city or country base
Let me get back to the fact that I participated in the hackathon that, at the time, was the biggest hackathon in all of Europe. While my teammates were located in Frankfurt and Stockholm, I was participating at my computer in Pajala, surrounded by the village sounds the world makes in late spring. Around here, the sound is of snow mobiles, cars and sometimes a drone of one of the many creatives capturing the latest view of a landscape made for an escape—or a life well spent in proximity to coffee shops and natural goods. These things are found everywhere and that’s the thing, so are intelligent and driven people.
What I want to do is challenge the norm of the urban environment as the most important, or even single, place for development. In doing so, I attempt to address familiars along with the uniqueness of the spacious area of the world that I live in. I also want to exemplify the possibilities that are here, which I’d argue, are not thought of as something that could develop in an area like this. For me, this is where creativity lives, at the center of focus, outside the city blur; at a perfect pandemic-distance if you like. Speaking of possibilities, the Swedish International Feature Film Entry for the Oscars was partly recorded in you guessed it—Pajala! The movie Charter, by Amanda Kernell is well worth a watch, not only because I was an extra in the movie, but for the incredibly taunting emotional thriller with dept and perspective.
Access, not alien
“But still, all these wonderful discovered places filled with culture, history and a whole world of ancient techniques and ideas that shaped our lives”
Aliens belong on the moon or somewhere in space I reckon, but why do we linguistically (and dramatically) keep on choosing to describe individuals in areas like Pajala as alienated? In Pajala, we have an airport, it might be small, but the ride is mighty. We have grocery stores and all you can eat blueberry-supply for free, and it’s all just outside the door. Is it’s unique? No, not really, but it is rich. The air is less polluted, the water is clean and the land is a lot less exploited than in other places of the world. There might not be a queue to look at the landscape from the UNESCO World Heritage site in Jupukka in Pajala municipality, which is close to our above ground mining facility, but it’s no less remarkable than Aachen Cathedral in Germany.
Alright, I might be a tad partial on the matter of deciding it’s greatness! But still, all these wonderful discovered places filled with culture, history and a whole world of ancient techniques and ideas that shaped our lives as humans on this Earth did all make it to the UNESCO World Heritage site for a reason. The site in Jupukka in Pajala is part of a chain of survey triangulations from the north in Hammerfest in Norway to the south of the Black Sea, this world heritage site is called the Struve Geodetic Arc. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage site as the first accurate measurement of a meridian. Recently Finland’s sauna culture was inscribed on UNESCOS list of intangible cultural heritage. Here, in Pajala that is a part of the cultural territory of Tornedalen, very close to Finland, the sauna culture is as important as our very peaceful boarder, and perhaps as important as eating and breathing.
Linnea Huhta is a millennial and DP graduate of Björknäsgymnasiet in 2009. She is a polyglot, author and also serves as the administrative director and head of unit for the municipality of Pajala, Sweden. She is, slowly but surely, working towards a Master of Law & Society at Umeå University. Other than that, she contributes to the development on revitalizing the minority language of Meänkieli in the Swedish, Finnish and Meänkieli-speaking region of Tornedalen, a cultural territory along the Torne River that includes both Swedish and Finnish municipalities. You might hear her voice on the air as host of a podcast soon available at urplay.se or reciting poetry through her business, “Words by Huhta.” You can learn more about Linnea here. Don´t hesitate to make contact; ideas are meant to be shared people!
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