A stronger role for culture in a sustainable Baltic Sea Region?

A stronger role for culture in a sustainable Baltic Sea Region?

How do you grow new, and connect existing pathways for positive change and qualitative growth when your geographical area covers 11 countries, hundreds of disciplines, different political ideologies, and when many of the areas are separated by water, language, and economic diversity? Creating coherency is the task for EU’s so-called EUBSR Strategy.

You may not think of the Baltic Sea Region as a region as such, but improving the glue between nations and societies around the Baltic Sea has been part of the EU BSR Strategy since 2008. Of course, promoting sustainability is an important string in this strategy, and culture has a role to play.


Picture: Symbols are an important part of creating common strategies – such as the swan that guards the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen

Since 2010, the founders of Growing Pathways have been involved in mapping and intervening in the cultural and creative fields in the Baltic Sea Region. The aim is to understand and influence how these sectors can contribute to a greener and cleaner future in the Baltic Sea Region.

In 2013, we mapped the field of cultural players working in this “meta-region” working from a cultural perspective towards greater sustainability. This led to a report to the Nordic Council of Ministers emphasizing the importance of three fields: social entrepreneurship/innovation; urban change and culture, and creative industries. Since then, we have been active in working to bridge policy, art, business, and sustainability, all the way around the region. We are devoted to this work across many different fields, languages, and interests, which are connected in the past and the future. We add value to micro-levers that can be used to support local social entrepreneurs, and challenge and inspire macro-level policy connectors across countries. Therefore, it was a pleasure for us to accept two invitations to go back to Vilnius this fall.

Forum Culture for Sustainable Development

The “Forum Culture for Sustainable Development,” hosted by the Lithuanian National Association for Creative and Cultural Industries aims at promoting “the positive influences of the creative and cultural industries to stimulate economic growth and social well-being, encourage dialogue between public institutions and regional political representatives. Additionally, support the implementation of best practices of the Baltic Sea region in Lithuania and lead discussions about the role of culture and creative industries for sustainable development.” The forum in October on culture for sustainable development, mainly through social innovation, entrepreneurship, and urban/regional well-being.

Growing Pathways co-founder Oleg Koefoed’s keynote talk on “Culture and Sustainable Development in the Baltic Sea Region” will be a presentation of an update to the mapping we did three years ago. Before the forum, Growing Pathways will carry out interviews and research on the role of culture in the region. Our central questions will focus on how to improve the effectivity of cultural work, not only for economic growth, but equally for liveability, connectedness, social equity, or the quality of urban nature. Mainly, two questions are crucial: how do we increase locally situated entrepreneurship, and how do we create strong communities around this, taking our relation to the sea and the land as a vital factor?

Picture: Hubs such as Kultuurikatel in Tallinn are important players in going from gray to green, and connecting to both citizens and start-ups



Culturability – stimulating entrepreneurs

Since 2014, Culturability has sought to go into practice and inspire innovative collaboration projects within the culture for sustainable development. The project was originally designed in a collaboration between Growing Pathways and our partner Innogate; it was subsequently adopted by the Danish Cultural Institute and a range of other partners. After an inspiring, network grounding the first phase, time has come to develop actual prototypes across three fields: Urban Social Inclusion; Cultural and creative industries and Cultural Tourism; and Digital Tools and Gaming.

The workshop in Vilnius will focus on Cultural Tourism, a field that holds great possibilities for life-enhancing practices, although not often enough carried out in real life. Life enhancement is one of the focus points of Growing Pathways, one in which we aim to engage through concrete projects and community engagement, in the coming months. We, therefore, see the workshop in Vilnius as an excellent opportunity to share our thoughts and build new partnerships across the borders between Nordic and Baltic Sea regions.
Do you want to learn more about the role of culture in the Baltic Sea Region? Do you want to see your visions connected to the fields and actors engaged in positive change? Get in touch and let’s see how we can help each other!

Growing Pathways

Growing Pathways is a think tank and agency. Our vision is to create new pathways to follow: fields in which we can grow with, for, and as life, instead of trying to harness earth's resources and people's goodwill. Imagining and prototyping for the future.

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