In partnership with:
2018 Juneâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;September | Free magazine
CREATIVE NORTHERN ENERGY
This issue has been created in partnership with:
N WIND is the movement of New North. We encourage exchanges of creative Northern energy. Free magazine Events People Curated by: Giedrė Stabingytė Andrius Skalandis Text editing: Emma M. Bokaldere
TRUST Portrait of Monika Katkutė Photography by Linas Masiokas
The magazine is distributed in public places in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and online at issuu.com/n_wind ISSN 2424-5895 2018, No. 14 Circulation: 10000
Emma is an editor, translator, and artist living in Oxford, UK. She works for the editing agency Radošā Rakstu Darbnīca based in Riga, Latvia. You can contact her at: email@example.com Authors: Ulf Andreasson, Mindaugas Jurkynas, Paul Emmet, Eglė Obcarskaitė, Karolis Vyšniauskas / NYLA, Fionn Dobbin and Krists Feldmanis / Age5, Andrius Ropolas, Victoria Dias, Simon Chandler / Cryptonews.com, Giedrė Stabingytė, Heiki Eesmaa, Silvia Urgas, Emilie Toomela, curatorial team of Baltic Triennial Design: Marija Kisieliūtė Say hi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising and projects: email@example.com Created and published by:
Subscribe to N WIND: firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Swan Brands is a branding bureau. You don’t hire us to design a logo, you hire us to build brand as structure in chaos.
Address Vilkpėdės 22, LT-03151, Vilnius
Get in touch: email@example.com
Printed in Lithuania Partnering with:
Print brokering company printstorm.eu www.nwindmag.eu nwindmag
'TRUST IS GOOD, BUT CONTROL IS BETTER,' The Russian revolutionary Lenin once claimed. But the Nordic countries beg to differ.
In many ways, this story gets to the core of social trust. My wife had never met the man before. Still, she decided to give him money for the taxi. When I asked friends and colleagues from the Nordic countries, almost all of them told me that they would have done the same thing. In this case, it proved to be the wrong decision. It was a scam. The man never returned with the money. But my wife says that she would do it again, if confronted with a similar situation. Even though it might seem naive, individuals like my wife are very highly valued in our society, and there are a lot more like her in the Nordic countries. Researchers have especially pointed out the economic aspects; in a society with low levels of social trust you need a lot of lawyers and an extensive legal system to guarantee that an agreement is honored, whereas in a society with high levels of trust those resources could be put to use in more productive ways, thus stimulating the economy. It has quite an impact on GDP: raising a country’s social trust levels by 10 percentage points would raise annual GDP by 0.5 percentage points. These numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, but we are definitely not talking peanuts. It definitely impacts the economy—increasing trust increases trade and entrepreneurship, for example. High social trust levels are also beneficial outside the economic sphere: they incite people to take more responsibility for the society they live in. Where there is a lot of trust you can expect people to get involved—politically, in sports organizations, and in cultural or social causes, and this, in turn, increases the level of trust in society. Additional benefits include: a lower crime rate, increased overall happiness and people feeling more in control of their lives. I am sure most of us would prefer to live in this kind of society. Not only because most of us prefer to have trusting relationships with other people, but also because things simply function better that way. In the 2014 European Social Survey1 people around Europe were asked to grade the general trustworthiness of people, with 10 indicating that people can be fully trusted and 0 if you ‘can’t be too careful’. The highest-scoring were four of the Nordic countries, with a national average ranging from 6,90 for Denmark to Sweden with 6,25. Estonia scored 5,57, Lithuania—4,94. At the bottom of the list were Poland and Portugal with 3,92 and 3,63 respectively.
How did the Nordic countries achieve such high levels of trust? Well, first of all we need to understand how trust is created in more general terms. In many ways it comes down to people feeling kinship with one another. Psychologically, it goes something like this: since I know that I am a good person, the people I meet on the street must be good people as well, since they (more or less) share experiences, views and circumstances with me. I might even see them as another version of myself. What you don’t want is a society where there are many different groups—or several “them” rather than one big “us”. The question follows: how do you create a trusting society? One way to achieve a society where people feel connected is to strive for inclusion; economically, politically and otherwise, so that we all can feel as part of one big family. One thing
WHAT YOU DON’T WANT IS A SOCIETY WHERE THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT GROUPS— OR SEVERAL “THEM” RATHER THAN ONE BIG “US”. you definitely want to avoid is a situation where there are groups that are, more or less, permanently poor. That would certainly create an “us” and a “them”. Another way to create trust is a little more complicated and is related to the state. To be more precise—to how we interact with the state and how we view it. In many ways, the state is the structure and main representation of the society we live in. The state also determines many outcomes of our lives and so it is very important that we view the state as treating us in a fair, efficient and transparent manner. Also, as long as people feel the structure of society is working in an orderly fashion, it is very likely that they can connect to other citizens and also take responsibility for the society they live in. If we see the state as corrupt, it means opportunities aren’t equal and everyone is for themselves. As one Swedish researcher put it: when a fish rots, it is the head that rots first. Civil society also plays an important role, it forms a sort of social glue in society. If we are tightly knit like for example in grassroot organisations, we tend to trust each other. In short, creating social trust relates to
politics of inclusion, the role of the state and a civil society. Is this how the Nordic countries became trusting? Social trust was never a goal for their politicians. Instead it was the outcome of historical processes in the Nordic countries. In the modern Western world, they have stood out as being egalitarian, or what an economist would describe as having a low Gini coefficient2. Furthermore, they always come out in top when transparency and (a lack of) corruption are measured. People in the Nordic countries are also very much involved in activities in organizations on a local level. It seems that the Nordic societies form a perfect storm of the causes behind high levels of social trust. Writing the report made me think about how the state relates to its citizens. I realized that if a hypothetical group of people in the Nordic countries would form an organization with a long-term goal of overthrowing the government, their first course of action would probably be to apply for financial support from their local government… and they would likely get it! The government might even wish them good luck on their endeavour. In light of this transparency and fairness, I am naming the role of the state as the most important in creating and maintaining high levels of trust. 1 “Trust—The Nordic Gold”, norden.org 2 The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income or wealth distribution of a nation’s residents. Ulf Andreasson, policy analyst of the Nordic Council of Ministers and author of the report “Trust—The Nordic Gold” Policy Analyst working for the Policy Analysis and Statistical Unit, Nordic Council of Ministers Former Senior Adviser responsible for Working life and Energy, Nordic Council of Ministers Former Counsellor of Science and Technology, Embassy of Sweden to P.R. of China Ph. D in History of Science and Technology from the Royal Institute of Technology “Travelling around in Denmark in summer I’ve seen farmers’ produce for sale by the road, but no people in sight. You just pay by putting the money in a box or sending it via mobile phone. That is trust on a deep level.” ■
Ulf Andreasson Essay
Let me give you an example of my wife’s experience. A few years ago, we moved into a new neighborhood. One early morning, just before 7 am, there was knock on our front door. My wife was the only one awake, and as she opened the door she saw a man she did not know. He claimed his wife had fallen and needed to go to the hospital. Could he borrow some money to take a taxi? He promised to return the money that same afternoon.
The Nordic Council of Ministers—the formal governmental cooperation body between the Nordic countries including Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Aland islands—asked me to write a report on the topic. I spent months reviewing the vast amount of research in the field and considering the positive impact of social trust. I titled the report: “Trust—The Nordic Gold”. My judgment—trust truly is a valuable resource and should be valued as we would a goldmine. In the long run, maybe more.
Trust can mean a lot of things. For example, ask yourself how much you trust individuals that you know, perhaps your neighbors or your colleagues. The answers will probably vary. How much do you trust institutions that you have interacted with—the government, the police force, or media in your country? This kind of trust is called particular trust. When researchers talk about trust they usually refer to something else. They normally talk about social trust, which is how much you would trust a passerby on the street, someone you’ve never interacted with before.
Norwegians are known and respected for their honesty, practicality, and hard work. They have a close bond with nature and legendary sailing skills. In the 1970s their farming, forestry, and fishing industries were radically transformed by the discovery of oil. Now finance is Norway’s greatest export. The country is home to the world’s largest Sovereign Fund, with more than 1 trillion dollars, that comes with a brief for ‘socially responsible finance’. Add to this incredible journey a certain Mr Steinar J. Olsen. He is one of Norway’s most innovative, influential, and respected entrepreneurs as well as the Founder and Chairman of the sports and outdoor clothing brand Stormberg. Under his captaincy Stormberg has sailed into uncharted waters when it comes to social inclusivity, ethical sourcing, and trusting their staff. 1% of sales are allocated to charitable projects and Mr Olsen has been recognised by the Nordic Business Forum as the second most responsible Nordic leader. Rather than talk business on the golf course, Mr Olsen goes hiking in the mountains to discuss matters with the prime minister, encouraging the government to follow Stormberg’s policy that part of their workforce is made up of those who are typically excluded; this includes people with substance abuse problems, ex-prisoners, and those who suffer from mental health problems. NWIND spoke with Mr Olsen about trust—one of the cornerstones of Stormberg’s success, and part of the company’s ethical and sustainable business approach that positively shapes government policy and improves communities. What's in a name? Paul Emmet (PM) Looking on the map of Norway, I could not find Stormberg, (maybe
I overlooked a really tiny village). I travelled through the impressive Stormberg mountain range in South Africa last year—where does the name come from? How did you know this would be the right name for your company? Steinar J. Olsen (SJO) I hadn’t heard of the Stormberg mountains when I founded the company. The reason I chose Stormberg was that I wanted a name associated with Nature. We Norwegians love the mountains and live in a country with harsh weather, so the name consists of ‘storm’, which means the same in Norwegian, and ‘berg’, which means mountain. The name works well in English and in all Scandinavian languages. We tested it and came to the conclusion that we had found the right name. I grew up near the sea and spent my time on boats and also in the mountains, which had great trekking areas, so I did lots of hiking. PM Your organisation and its structure are based on trust, respect, and politeness. What were the moments in your life when you learned to trust, and how did you come to have the sense of integrity and decency which you later instilled in Stormberg? SJO When I was a little boy I always believed that people are intrinsically good; I trusted people, and that has influenced the way I run Stormberg. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter what they may have done in the past. It isn’t easy to pinpoint a particular starting point, but I think it has to do with the way I was brought up—with belonging to a loving family. My family and close friends have always been very important to me. I believe in loyalty and long-lasting friendships. We are all shaped by the past, by our life lessons, and by
Photography by Jan Rune Eide, Stormberg
Steinar J. Olsen My story about trust
TRUST, STORMBERG, AND STEINAR J.
Steinar J. Olsen My story about trust
I BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE, NO MATTER WHAT THEY MAY HAVE DONE IN THE PAST.
Photography by Jan Rune Eide, Stormberg Steinar J. Olsen My story about trust # TRUST 6
the people we meet, especially those who have inspiring stories to tell. For example, the first time I employed someone from a prison was back in 2002. He was still in jail when he started working for us. He was allowed to leave the prison at 7 o’clock in the morning to be at Stormberg by 8, and he had leave at 4pm to be back in prison by 5. I remember interviewing him for the job. It was difficult for him to speak because he was rather nervous. I was the first potential employer he had met since he went to prison, and he was not very familiar with the Norwegian language. But I felt I could trust him. At the end of the interview he said, ‘If you give me this chance you will never regret it.’ That was 16 years ago, and he is still an employee today. He has played an important part in the growth of Stormberg. It was very important; he is a very positive employee and that experience made it possible
for me to employ more people from prison. At the beginning, in 1998, I had started to employ people who had various difficulties getting a job, but 2002 was the year I began working with someone directly from prison. In the following years I recruited employees from prisons all over Norway. PM You had several businesses that failed before Stormberg. How were you able to find trust in yourself and your abilities? What gave you the motivation to start again? SJO Well, I was 16 when I started my first business, and 27 when I founded Stormberg. Of course, it was tough when the previous businesses failed, but I knew I would never give up. In fact, it was never an option to give up because I had a family to provide for, and a debt I wanted to repay in full. I have always believed in hard work, endurance, willpower, and capable
employees. I also believe in the value of having an influential business that really changes things—I have these skills, and this is also what motivates me. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too...
Planet – People – Profit PM When you founded your company 20 years ago, what kind of response did you receive from investors, backers, and customers? Was it difficult to win their trust? SJO The sports industry consists of many strong international brands which had a very different level of financial resources compared with Stormberg. Supporting Stormberg was
Trusting your intuition PM After 20 years of building your company on a platform of sustainability and inclusion, while still making a profit, you are now focusing on ‘inclusion, diversity, sustainability and animal welfare’—how did you know that it was time to step into something else full-time? What did your team think of this decision? SJO In 2014, I spent a month hiking in the mountains. When I returned I was glad to see that the company had had one of its best months ever. That was a very good feeling. I have very competent colleagues, which is calming, because I know that Stormberg’s daily operations now go on smoothly without me. I think it’s a natural process. I’m very content to
SJO The Norwegian public sector is important for Norwegian society, employing around 40-45% of the workforce. Earlier this week I met with government leaders to discuss a new initiative. At Stormberg, 25% of our employees are people who have had difficulties entering the workforce. Now, in the areas that join the initiative, 5% of new employees in the public sector will be such people. If this works out well in Norway it will be a big step in the right direction, benefiting many people who are struggling to find jobs, especially young people. We are doing our best to inspire the government. Last autumn I went hiking with the Norwegian prime minister and this was one of the issues we discussed. It’s very important to work to influence both businesses and government. If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone
I believe in telling the stories, showing what is possible. Many businesses understand the story of money, so maybe Stormberg can be an inspiration. Stormberg is the best-selling outdoor clothing brand in Norway—maybe the way we run our business can be an inspiration to others. We have been successful in doing our part to change social norms, and we have also grown successfully, reaching excellent economic results. If we work to make society better, it is also better for the company. We are all part of the same society and we need it to function well. The first 10 years I travelled around China a great deal, and I have colleagues in China who follow up on the factories where our goods are produced. The positive thing here is that we can have an impact on the factories that produce our clothes—by improving working conditions, by paying a fair price to factory owners who then pay a fair salary to their employees. If we all do our part, it really makes a difference.
PM Stormberg has an exemplary record PM What do you delight more in, the known when it comes to workforce practices, community empowerment, and a sustainable business model. or the unknown? Where does your confidence How do you find the right people to carry your vi- stem from? sion forwards, what do you look for in a person? SJO To create something new, I think we SJO In order to succeed I have focused more need to explore new paths; we need to have the on finding people with the right qualities and val- requisite trust to walk them. I can say, from my ues, those that are important to us at Stormberg. own experience, that it's ok to make mistakes, Diversity and inclusion is a goal in itself, because and if we learn from those mistakes we do betit gives us the opportunity to do better for our ter the next time. As a child I was not expected customers, and it allows us to better understand to be the best, to perform at a high level. I was society. To me, the most important thing is that expected to do the best I could, and that was alwe associate ourselves with people that believe ways enough—to do what I could. That gave me that what we do is important. a sense of achievement and better self-esteem. And maybe that also gave me the confidence PM Good intentions can have unfortunate to try new things, to venture into the unknown, consequences—how do you create trust between and to walk a new path. your business and your customers? Norwegian winters are long and dark—perSJO It is important that our customers can haps the trust people have in themselves and see and feel that the company is doing everything one another comes from having to deal with it can to contribute to a more sustainable future, such an unforgiving climate? Or maybe the and that can sometimes be difficult. It’s imporanswer can be found in the distant past, when the Norsemen went on raids, leaving their wives tant for us to have a collection made of recycled in charge of the farmsteads, rowing thousands plastic, because we need to use the plastic that of kilometres, relying only on their fellow men. already exists; it must be given value, and in a positive way. If all the world’s clothes were made It is clear that trust forms the foundation of any from cotton, we would have a big problem feeding community. Enabling those who have been left out in the cold, for whatever reason, to rejoin everybody. 5% of the world’s cultivated land is society and contribute the best they have to ofused for cotton production, these 5% could be used for food production instead. Also, pesticides fer—this is part of the success of this extraorare used on cotton plantations, which is neither dinary businessman, and a call to action for the good nor sustainable. At the moment we are par- wider business community. ■ ticipating in a research project led by Norway’s largest research institute, SINTEF, in order to stormberg.com learn more about microbeads and how to combat plastic pollution. We are trying to be part of the solution. PM 1% of your profits go to charity—what response has this commitment earned from other business leaders? When can we expect all large companies to make a similar commitment, despite the travails of the stock market and the world's economy?
Steinar J. Olsen My story about trust
not an obvious decision, and no one wanted to give us money. Therefore, I chose not to focus on investors. I decided to start with the small amount of money I had, and then carefully build the business, stone by stone. In the first year there were four of us, and now we are 370. We have enjoyed careful, but positive growth over these 20 years.
PM What initiatives are you planning?
SJO Our customers, partners, and other businessmen greatly value Stormberg’s efforts to make the world a better place. However, I’m rather surprised that more businesses have not committed in the same way that Stormberg has—that might be a sign that it is difficult to move from words to action. Many agree on the idea, but there are only a few who translate their beliefs into action as enthusiastically. I believe all businesses rely on a well-functioning society, which is why it’s important to get engaged beyond our business interests.
be able to spend more time working for sustainability, animal welfare, diversity, and, of course, the inclusion of people with mental problems, substance abuse problems, and prison sentences into the workforce. This is very important to me. The team were very pleased to be responsible for everything related to daily operations, and they are happy that I have more time to do the things that are close to my heart. But no doubt I will still be a very active chairman.
IF YOU CAN’T TRUST OTHER PEOPLE, YOU CAN’T HAVE A COMMUNITY, YOU CAN’T EVEN HAVE A CORPORATION.
Dr. Mindaugas Jurkynas
A NORDIC WOMAN IN LITHUANIA: HELÉN NILSSON
N WIND sat down with the director of the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania to talk about trust and whether geopolitical definitions could help to increase it.
Helén Nilsson Trustful societies
Mindaugas Jurkynas (MJ) How did you, Helén, a successful Nordic woman with an international career profile, appear in neighbouring Lithuania? Helén Nilsson (HN) It’s a privilege to be able to work in our region, the amazing region with Nordic-Baltic cooperation and for the Nordic Council of Ministers knowing our mandate. I strongly believe that our organization can facilitate cooperation with the five Nordic countries when it’s relevant for Lithuania. I must confess it goes hand in hand with what I studied, especially political science and human geography, the then so-called Eastern Europe, Russia. Thus, Lithuania falls within my professional interest—I have covered Lithuania working for Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) and found some old business cards—amazingly, some of the same people are still around, but in higher positions now. I feel that I am in the right place and deem I can use my knowledge and experience in a good way. MJ Sting sang about an Englishman in New York: What does it mean for you to be a Nordic woman in Lithuania today? HN I think this is a very nice comparison at the end of the day, although I don’t know the lyrics too well. I have to admit I don’t speak Lithuanian either and cannot use my native language as the ‘Englishman in New York’ would, but I think we share the same values, such as democracy, equal opportunities, and human rights, and I would like to develop them in our societies in the best way possible. That makes it relevant to be here with my Nordic portfolio. I would also like to refer to our most recent public
opinion survey, which we commissioned early this year. We surveyed 1.800 (600 per country) women and men, between the ages of 16 – 65+, with different educational backgrounds, from urban and rural areas in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The opinion polls aimed to discover people’s opinions about cooperation with the Nordic countries. As expected, all three Baltic countries have a positive attitude towards closer cooperation with the Nordic countries. As many as 75% of respondents in Lithuania would like to see even more cooperation with the Nordic states. Of course, this makes me very happy and gives us inspiration and encouragement to do even more together. Lithuanians would like to see more cooperation between institutions, and the most important basis for collaboration is the small countries cooperating with each other as well—we do share the same values and have cultural similarities. In the people’s opinion, the top five directions/sectors for cooperation with the Nordic countries are Economy/Business, Education and Science, Tourism, Innovation and New Technologies, and Culture. Cooperation would result in: 1) both sides learning from each other, 2) an increase in trade and regional cooperation that will strengthen Lithuania, and 3) greater ease of movement for studies and work. These are the top three. People in Lithuania believe that they could contribute to the Nordic region through innovation, scientific achievement, and natural resources, as well as contributing to the labour force and sharing culture. We also asked about Nordic values. From the Lithuanian perspective, the most typical values of the Nordic countries are: social welfare, environmental awareness, responsibility for future generations, and freedom of speech. Trust and people’s trust in each other were not among the top three, but were nevertheless seen as an important value connected to the Nordic Countries. MJ How would you characterize Lithuanian proximity to the Nordic community? HN First of all, once more I would like to mention our shared values in establishing a good society for all and not leaving anyone behind. Furthermore, I would like to refer to the survey
again: small countries need to cooperate, we are part of the same geographical area—we are Northern Europe (in terms of climate and the yearly cycle) and we have cultural similarities, as well as similar social structure, although there are differences too. MJ The Baltic presidents think of their countries as Baltic, yet a Northern European, if not Nordic, identity is next in line. What are the pros and cons being part of a Nordic-Baltic a.k.a. Baltoscandian community? HN That is a tricky question. Politically, we use the term ‘Nordic-Baltic community’. NordicBaltic cooperation is seen as quite neutral and not a sensitive issue for our organisation, because we are not in a politically hot area. For us ‘Nordic-Baltic’ is a safe sphere for cooperation. I like the term ‘Northern Europe’. Maybe we are ‘Northern Europe’. It sounds nice from the EU perspective—global, too. That can be linked to identity. In terms of branding it can be interesting. But now we also have Nordic and Baltic. Small countries need to cooperate and want to cooperate, and that’s why we could think in terms of Northern Europe, as the Nordic-Baltic region is also divided due to our different histories. But we can become friendlier with one another. Other relationships and politics come later. The term ‘Baltoscandian’ might exclude Iceland and Finland. But we can learn from each other, increase trade and competitiveness, strengthen our voices in the world, and use our resources more efficiently. MJ Opinion polls reveal Lithuanians want more cooperation with Norden. Where could it develop? HN I believe we already have developed relevant cooperation. It has been a tradition since 1991, when the Nordic Council of Ministers was first to open an office in Lithuania. We can always improve and do more and, according to the survey, the people of Lithuania would like to see more cooperation. I would like to see more youth cooperation and greater involvement in Agenda 2030, and we should continue to cooperate in the field of digitalization—here I’m referring to the MR-DIGITAL1 programme and the declaration. I believe we should also streamline and digitalize things like child care, Women Go Tech, and other initiatives to make things easier for the end-user. We should work more closely with the private sector, although not directly focus on or aiming for profit. Working together on values, trust, and leadership is a good way to build up a good partnership. MJ What are your associations, images, stereotypes with the Baltic states and Lithuania in particular? HN The Baltics differ, and so do the Nordic countries. We don’t share the same history. History is very important in Lithuania. You cannot change mentality fast. In Sweden, we do not put such a big emphasis on history compared to Lithuania. And here more importance is attributed to hierarchy in state structures and families. Swedish society is more egalitarian, I would say. The role of discussions is smaller here. In my opinion, Lithuanians are also fairly modest. I wish they were more outspoken, as this is a young and relatively unknown country. They have started to communicate more about what they are proud of and what their strengths are as a people and as a country. Furthermore, I think Lithuanians are careful, because they don’t want
HN Picking mushrooms (laughs), and many other things you don’t notice immediately. We learn from each other when we meet. We always notice small, positive examples. I would underscore innovation, science, and resources. Also the market, trade, and the mobility of talent – ‘talent mobility’ is a term…. We compete for the same students, for those who today decide to go to the US and UK. We want them in our region. Tourism helps us learn from each other. An ecological approach is important too, Lithuania is ecologically attractive; in fact, there is a lot of untouched nature here. MJ How do you value trust, or the ‘Nordic Gold’, in Lithuania? HN Trust should be the glue of society, it needs to be developed and to be maintained. The Nordic people, our region can also benefit from it. Lithuanians like to talk about trust. The issue of trust was brought up during some of our meetings and our office decided to participate in this discussion and put more energy into the subject with some facts and figures. The level of trust in Lithuania could go up. I don’t see it yet, but the discussions make that clear. It has to increase. It is cost-effective to trust people. You need to spend less money on persuasion, and the legal system and the use of tax money are more legitimate with trust. Trust provides a positive environment—who doesn’t want that? Our office does everything in partnership, we trust our partners. We translated ‘Trust— the Nordic Gold’, into Lithuanian and we see ourselves as facilitators, connecting people and organisations between six countries. We bring the issue of trust into our Nordic discussions – “Nordic Talks”. If you want to talk about trust, talk to us. We also talk about trust in the democracy festival ‘Būtent!’, and we have workshops on trust. This interview with N WIND is another way to reach out and raise the issue of the relevance of trust. 1 On 22 June 2017, MR-SAM decided to establish an ad hoc council of ministers for digitalisation (MR-DIGITAL) for the period 2017 to 2020. MR-DIGITAL has one minister each from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Åland. Dr. Mindaugas Jurkynas is a professor of Political Science at Vytautas Magnus University. ■
Stina has pale blue eyes, like a good fairy. She is confident and direct, yet soft spoken, and trusting her comes easily. Intuitive as it is, trust is a matter of utmost importance for Stina and for Tillitsverket. The flow of trust is as crucial to the development of a country as running electricity. ‘Our co-founders, fifteen strong professionals from different backgrounds, came together to find out why progress towards a better, more sustainable future is SO SLOW, and why we don’t do more about it. We have found that the answer lies in trust and the lack thereof.’ When social trust is measured, Sweden ranks at the top. Yet the country is dealing with various pressures: the need for a bigger labour force, accelerated automation, reform of its fabled welfare state, and greater social integration—all difficulties making the country vulnerable to breaches of trust. Stina offers a different perspective: her country has achieved a lot in terms of creating and meticulously ensuring environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Tillitsverket aims to put Human Sustainability at the core of future development. ‘We can do so much more. We believe that if we focus on Human Sustainability, we focus on human capacity, and the possibilities and responsibilities that come with it. This has to do with trust, collaboration, empathy, creativity, playfulness and openness.’ Human potential can be tapped for growth and when it happens, new solutions for existing problems can be born. New thinking and collaboration are what the world needs right now. Until now, Tillitsverket has been mainly working with kids and with employees in the public sector—more than six thousand of them— facilitating greater levels of trust to enable change and new thinking. ‘Trust can grow when you step out of your role’, says Stina. Using games and workshops to aid them, Tillitsverket helps people do exactly that— integrate empathy with intellectual, rational thinking. If we don’t want social divisions to continue growing, such integration is necessary— polarisation in societies, less time meeting with others in person, a decline in empathy (studies by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have shown that the ability to feel empathy has decreased tremendously in young people over the past few decades). Tillitsverket cares deeply about these issues, and its mission is to create a social movement for building trust. ‘Having trust gives us so much hope for humanity.’ ■ Reach out to Tillitsverket to learn more about building trust at tillitsverket.se
Ministry of Trust Trustful Societies
MJ What could the Nordic region learn from Lithuania or the Baltic region?
to be disappointed—they expect the best, but are prepared for the worst, and they don’t get carried away with opportunities. Lithuanians are extremely educated and proud of that. They are also very down to earth—nature, forests, mushrooms, and berry picking mean so much to them. More and more are also travellers who have new experiences and are learning to adapt to different cultures. Basketball makes them stand out and so does the importance of family and religion, to some extent.
In the early nineties, an arena dedicated purely to sound was opened in London—the Ministry of Sound. In 2014, enthusiasts in Sweden opened another ministry, this time dedicated to a subtler matter—trust. Tillitsverket can be loosely translated as ‘the Ministry of Trust’. N WIND met briefly with one of the ‘ministers’, Stina Balkfors, right after one of their trust-building workshops in Vilnius.
MINISTRY OF TRUST
I LIKE THE TERM ‘NORTHERN EUROPE’. IT SOUNDS NICE FROM THE EU PERSPECTIVE— GLOBAL, TOO. THAT CAN BE LINKED TO IDENTITY. IN TERMS OF BRANDING IT CAN BE INTERESTING.
Almedalen Week Eglė Obcarskaitė
# TRUST TRUST
Eglė Obcarskaitė Trustful societies
It was four years ago that I arrived in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, ready to experience something that would forever change my views on civil engagement. The country is home to the world’s largest Almedalen Week (Almedalsveckan, or Politikerveckan i Almedalen) is a societal performance with over 4000 discussions, panels, debates, meetings, demonstrations, you name it, on virtually any societal issue you could think of. It was election year, or ‘valåret’—the summer before the parliamentary elections in Sweden, to be precise. The charming medieval town of
Olof Palme at Almedalen
IN DEMOCRACY WE TRUST Working on democracy as a state of mind
Visby was overcrowded. The streets felt like an endless bazaar. This was something I had never experienced before. Having come of age in post-Berlin-wall Lithuania, I never thought discussions about national (or local, for that matter) construction policies and environmental regulations could be exciting. Here, I saw people of various ages and backgrounds participating in these debates and doing so proficiently. People were traveling from all over Sweden, staying in expensive (think a couple of thousand euros a week) rental apartments or on the city outskirts, in camps or on sailing boats. Although many were critical about the lobbyists, management consultancies, and media agencies who have made prices skyrocket (for accommodations as well as for event locations) over the last decade, they had come. If you want to be ‘in’ Swedish public life (whether you are a politician, an NGO,
a management consultancy, a communications firm, a governmental agency, or a private equity firm), you have to go to Almedalen. Almedalen Week—the first version of what we now call democracy festivals—is a special case. This summer it will take place for the 50th time. The story of how it came about is now a bit of a legend. It started with Swedish politician Olof Palme1 giving a speech from the back of a flatbed truck in the vicinity of Almedalen park. He had an audience of a couple hundred people. Why Visby? Palme used to spend his summers on the island. The occasion of the first democracy festival was somewhat serendipitous, but interestingly enough it anticipated the latent need of future democratic societies in the region. It was in
Eglė Obcarskaitė Trustful societies # TRUST TRUST
— MADS RANDBØLL WOLFF
‘WE HAVE BEEN REDUCED TO CONSUMERS WHILE WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN CITIZENS. WE NEED TO WORK ON DEMOCRACY AS A STATE OF MIND.’
Lithuanian democracy festival ‘Būtent!’
Šarūnas Frolenko, the co-founder of the Lithuanian democracy festival ‘Būtent!’ says that this is precisely what their team did. The first ‘Būtent!’ festival took place in September 2017, in the Lithuanian town Birštonas. ‘We are a group of like-minded people coming from different sectors who felt the lack of meeting spaces for people coming to discuss societal issues that are equally interesting to everyone. We knew about democracy festivals—most of us either have been to or heard of Almedalen in Sweden, as well as democracy festivals in Estonia and Latvia. We felt that our society needs one too, and right we were,’ he says. the early 2000s, after decades of being ‘lowkey’, that Almedalen’s popularity skyrocketed. At the same time, the concept expanded beyond national borders: a democracy festival was arranged in Finland in 2005, followed by versions in Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. Finally, the model was introduced in the Baltics—Estonia, Latvia, and, most recently, in Lithuania. The idea has even moved outside the Nordic-Baltic region: last year, Germany and the Netherlands launched their own festivals, Brussels is interested in the model and is on its way to adapting it for an EU-wide event, and Ukraine is planning its own democracy festival.
# TRUST TRUST
Eglė Obcarskaitė Trustful societies
Why now? Mads Randbøll Wolff, one of the founders of the Democracy festivals’ community, says that democracy festivals are gaining popularity because they fill a gap in modern democracy—namely, civic participation. ‘Our understanding of democracy has shrunk to perceiving it as an institutional system where our participation is limited to voting in elections. Democracy is much more than that. Historically, the democracy model in the Nordics was largely influenced by citizen movements, namely labour movements, feminist movements, farmers’ movements and the like. They provided a way for the people to participate in democracy, bringing forward the issues directly related to their everyday lives. Today we don’t have such movements, which results in us missing out on the link between our daily lives and political systems. We lack platforms to talk about how we live today, as a society,’ explains Mads. According to him, the role democracy festivals fulfill is straightforward: they provide a platform for discussion. The key to understanding democracy through this model is that it is not limited to legislation.
Why does society need this? According to Šarūnas, there is a great deal of mistrust present in the public political discourse in Lithuania today. It comes across in the news, it polarizes various groups, and contributes to social and political segmentation. Politicians speak with politicians only, make decisions in closed circles, and alienate the private sector. At the same time, Šarūnas continues, Lithuanian civil society is maturing, which is evident through the ever-increasing forms of civil engagement, such as volunteering, and philanthropic and charitable projects. These are the signs telling us there is an audience for this new initiative. What is particular to the Lithuanian event? ‘Like other democracy festivals, we emphasize the importance of having different perspectives present in the discussion, as well as the participation of various sectors. So far, political parties have less of a presence in the Lithuanian model than in our counterparts in the Nordic countries. When adapting the model, you have to think about what your audience needs. We knew from the very beginning that we had to be a place for everyone, and we focused on ensuring that families with children could participate. So, we created a festival daycare, where parents could leave their children to play while they attended seminars and discussions. This was appreciated,’ Šarūnas told us. The first edition of ‘Būtent!’ had around 3000 participants. This year the organisers expect at least 5000. The first time the festival team had to look for topics for the programme, whereas this year they had 3–4 times more applications than programme slots. The future looks bright for ‘Būtent!’—if it continues this way, Šarūnas’ dream of having 10–15 thousand participants
‘It is all about what connects people in various local communities. It is the state of mind, the way we act. We have been taking it for granted, reduced to consumers while we should have been citizens. We need to work on democracy as a state of mind,’ he continues. I asked Mads whether there is any ‘correct’ form for a democracy festival. His answer is no, there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula, but there are common characteristics: it is usually a nationwide event, everyone can join, admission is free, and the events must focus on subjects relevant to society.2 However, each democracy festival needs to find out what works best in their own national context.
in ten years’ time does not seem unrealistic. And when I hear Šarūnas describing the audience not as ‘the elite’, but as ‘the people who care about the well-being of their country,’ I silently wish for his dream to come true. 1 Some humorously refer to the park as ‘Palmedalen’ in reference to the founder of the event. 2 You can find more about the common characteristics and criteria of democracy festivals here: democracyfestivals.org Eglė Obcarskaitė has background in journalism, international relations, and most recently—digital management, process design and facilitation. Based in Stockholm for seven years, she’s been involved in various innovation and creative industry related initiatives, e.g. as director of the SheSays Stockholm chapter and mentor in ethics for the VR Sci Festival. ‘For me, trust is where humanity starts and ends. It is what makes it possible for people to do things together. Trust is the earliest form of currency. I recently learned that neuroscientists have found a way to prove that when we experience the breach of trust, our brain is triggered in the same area as when we experience physical pain. Makes the perfect sense to me.’ ■
14 – 17 June Folkemødet, Bornholm, Denmark 29 – 30 June Sarunu Festivalis LAMPA, Riga, Latvia 01 – 08 July Almedalsveckan, Visby, Sweden 16 – 20 July SuomiAreena, Pori, Finland 10 – 11 August Arvamusfestival, Paides, Estonia 13 – 18 August Arendalsuka, Arendal, Norway 07 – 08 September Būtent!, Birštonas, Lithuania 07 – 08 September D’RAN festival, Roombeek, Enschede, The Netherlands
Lithuanian democracy festival ‘Būtent!’
08 – 09 September LYSA, Iceland 08 – 09 June : Launch/beta 22 – 24 September JUBEL, European democracy festival
Eglė Obcarskaitė Trustful societies # TRUST TRUST 13
The organisers agree that the Statement Looking at the increasing popularity of Festival is not a solution. ‘Our long-term goal democracy festivals, it feels like there’s been is to shut down Statement Festival. Our hope a millennial shift in our society: the coming is that festivals like Statement serving as a of age of a new society with a need to debate safe zone free of sexual assault will not be issues and claim rights; a society that wants necessary in the future.’ In the short term, to feel safe, included, empowered, and its aim is practical: to create a safe space acknowledged for what it is. This is a new kind for those most vulnerable to acts of sexual of co-ownership of public discourse, and it has violence at festivals. On the other hand, novel ways of expression. the issue of sexual violence needs to be finally discussed with the seriousness that it A good example of such grassroots initiatives deserves, as one of the largest problems of our is the Statement Festival—an event for society. ‘Not all men are rapists, but 97 % of around 7000 trans- & intergender persons sexual violence is executed by men, towards and women (no cis-men allowed!) that will women. Sweden is considered one of the toptake place August 31st – September 1st in ranking countries in the world when it comes Gothenburg, Sweden. The festival idea came to gender equality. Still, we see sexual violence about when Emma Knyckare, a well-known appearing everywhere—from festivals to TV Swedish comedian, artist and public figure, stations to the circles in the Swedish Academy posted a tweet last summer as a reaction to that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature,’ endless reports on sexual abuse at festivals says Emma, yet she concludes that she is in Sweden: ‘What do you think about putting hopeful. She feels that the recent discussions together a really cool festival where only nonabout sexual violence have contributed to men are welcome, that we'll run until ALL men a better social climate—stricter legislation, have learned how to behave themselves?’ One more responsible male citizens, and a better of the largest festivals Bråvalla has chosen to understanding of patriarchal structures in cancel the 2018 event altogether in response society. ‘We still have a long way to go, but in to the number of reported cases during the the meantime, women, trans- & intergender 2017 festival. persons have a festival to attend where they can simply have a great time.’ The tweet became a reality due to overwhelming feedback from the general public, with many volunteers and artists expressing their wish for the idea to be brought to fruition. Emma says that the audience was ready—and no wonder, as it happened just months before the outburst of statementfestival.se #metoo.
THE BELIEVER Silvana Imam, Sweden’s leading queer rapper, devoted her life to resistance. As a woman who battles patriarchy, homophobia, and racism, she believes in people’s ability to change for the better. Silvana’s start in music was raw, loud and passionate. ‘Go kiss your f*cking swastika’ she rapped in one of her early songs, often performing in a balaclava. ‘You say my love is breaking the law. I say you have a super thin dick.’ Silvana had a reason to be angry. Being a gay woman from an immigrant family, with a Lithuanian mother and a Syrian father, put her in the position of an outsider, even in modern-day Sweden. In the end, she won. Her 2016 album ‘Naturkraft’ won Silvana the artist of the year
# TRUST TRUST
N WIND x NYLA My story about trust
‘YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE. OTHERWISE, YOU MIGHT AS WELL DIE.’
award at the Swedish Grammis. At the Gaygala ceremony she was announced as ‘gay of the year’. Silvana received the award from the hands of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a member of the legendary pop group ABBA. Her partnership with artist Beatrice Eli set an example for young gay women in Sweden not be afraid of who they are. Silvana’s and Beatrice’s love and art story is also depicted in the documentary Silvana: Wake Me Up When You’re Awake, directed by Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, and Christina Tsiobanelis—a trio that followed Silvana’s every step for two years. When I saw her in Lithuania, the country where Silvana was born and grew up as a child, I was moved by her bravery. At the opening ceremony of the Vilnius Film Festival, in which Silvana: Wake Me Up When You’re Awake was screened, she was presented as a ‘provocative artist’. Instead of answering the host’s questions, she started to raise questions herself. ‘What is so provocative about my ideas?’, she asked, and talked about why people should resist the rules of patriarchy and why it’s crucial to support local queer community. I’ve been to the festival opening four years in a row and never before was the event so political, and yet so humane. Silvana remembered her Lithuanian language, started talking in a local accent, and overcame the barrier between
the stage and the audience. Her ideas, seen as radical by Lithuania’s mainstream, were accepted as a new norm—at least for those few hours when Silvana was in the room. Silvana wouldn’t be able to bring her ‘lesbian revolution’ to the minds of so many if she didn’t trust in herself, her family, and her community. Before the concert in Stockholm, in which she presented songs from her new album ‘Helig Moder’ (‘Holy Mother’), I called Silvana to find out how she learned to trust herself and others. Trust in herself ‘I believe in myself. I always have. I think it’s just something in me. I’ve gotten this question a lot of times—‘How come you have this confidence in yourself?’ But I can’t explain it. I just believe in my power to change. And I get inspiration from the people around me. I’m careful with whom I surround myself with. That is very important. You just feel whether you can trust
Trust in her fans ‘I get a lot of messages from my fans telling me how I helped to change their lives. For me that is a big thing. They don’t know me and I don’t know them but we are connected through music. The support of my fans helps me a lot, that’s 100% a fact. They give me the confidence to make more and better music. I love them.’ Trust in humanity ‘I think it’s possible to regain trust. If a person proves to you that you can trust them, you can. Don’t stick to old habits and old prejudices. If a person changes, then you can start something new. I believe that people can change for the better. You have to believe. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of anything? I might as well die if I didn’t. You have to believe in the goodness of people. That is crucially important for your own sake, and for the world’s.’
Karolis Vyšniauskas is a journalist of Nanook multimedia agency in Vilnius, Lithuania. His team started the first professional Lithuanian podcast NYLA. A weekly podcast focuses on social and cultural issues and is produced in both English and Lithuanian languages.
N WIND x NYLA My story about trust
Hear the conversation with Silvana Imam in Vilnius for NYLA podcast at nyla.lt
# TRUST TRUST
‘When I was growing up I didn’t have friends. My sister was my best friend. She helped me get through a lot of bullshit in life. With my mother, the relationship grew into something. Some people say ‘My mother is my best friend!’ It’s not like that for me. We are mother and daughter. It’s a different kind of relationship. But she has always supported me. That made me stronger. Trusting your family is really important. But if your family is abusing you, I’m not gonna tell you to trust them. Because it’s wrong to abuse another person. If this happens to you, seek friends, seek something new. I don’t believe that we have to stick to each other just because we are related by blood. No. I believe in good relationships, not blood relationships. Because we are all related. We are all people.’
‘The people of our community have to trust each other because we are a minority. We have to stick together because we don’t have power in the government or in other positions of power. When your group gains power, then you can start questioning it. Because power per se is not good. But right now, the power belongs to patriarchy. We have to be united to fight it.’
Trust in her family
Trust in the LGBTQ community
N WIND X NYLA
that person. You don’t choose your friends, you become friends.’
JUST A PALE BLUE DOT
An Annual Overshoot Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day? It’s a report that marks the date when our use of resources in a given year exceeds what earth can regenerate in that year. In 2016, that date was August 8th, in 2017, it was August 2nd. We are borrowing resources from future generations. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, featuring 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that seek a balance between social and economic development. Essentially, a blueprint for both developed and developing countries to adopt in order to meet the demands put on our Pale Blue Dot1.
One would think that the Nordic countries would be at the top of the class when it comes to this. As it happens, the Nordic Council of Ministers have produced an honest report called Bumps on the Road to 2030, which highlights that things aren’t so rosy in Scandinavia after all, and that there is no room for complacency. The report plainly articulates that when things are not going right, it’s better to own up and face the problem. A refreshing and distinctly Nordic approach to governance. ‘Sweden and Finland score very poorly for SDGs 14 & 15 relating to land-based conservation and the rate at which their forests are disappearing’. Regarding aquatic and terrestrial conditions, ‘the entire Nordic region needs to find more sustainable ways to engage with its natural
environments2’. Scandinavian countries rank consistently high in the Transparency International Corruption index, with Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark in the top 10—essentially, the most honest countries in the world. We trust that the Scandinavian nations are green, yet there is no Nordic country in the world’s top ten recyclers list3. Waste-to-Energy (incineration), in which Sweden and Denmark are leading Europe, is a fraught, complex and emotional topic. Trash is being shipped from around the world to be used as fuel, a constant consumption of resources that eats into any recycling efforts. Every incinerated tonne requires extraction of new raw materials, depleting resources in other parts of the world and adding to the total of carbon emissions. In Denmark people generate more than 759 kg of trash per year, compared to Estonia at 357 kg4. Living standards are rising, and there seems to be a correlation between wealth and garbage, but we can fight that with composting, recycling and reclaim schemes. Germany produces around 660 kg, a number which hasn’t increased in 20 years, while
in Denmark it has increased by almost 50%. Denmark is highly invested in Waste-to-Energy, a leader in global incineration rates, annually importing 800,000 tons of waste. During the last few decades, the huge expenditures in incineration have caused a ‘lockin’ situation, whereby the need to secure waste for incinerators hampers many efforts for separate collection. An incinerator costs around 500 million euros, and once is lit it has to be kept burning. The resulting dilemma is why Denmark or Sweden are not among the top recyclers.
Photography by Adam Whitlock, norder.org
Just a Pale Blue Dot Environment – Collection of stories
Bumps on the Road
Whom Do You Trust With The Future Of Your Grandchildren?
# TRUST 17
Not since the 1960s have there been as many young people and concerned older generations exploring new options and discovering fresh ways to become more sustainable: such as a community cleanup, where a deeper awareness may blossom. We interviewed luminaries in the field of environment and sustainability, champions of the Circular Economy, Norwegian entrepreneurs, Estonian ecologists and a Swedish grandfather activist who want to usher in a new era of people, planet and profits. We can all agree that we want to live in a fair, safe, and clean society but is it compatible with the way we are accustomed to living? NWIND asks: ‘Whom do you trust with the future of your grandchildren?’
Just a Pale Blue Dot Environment – Collection of stories
For some it will be about developing technology for cleaning up the ocean, or banning plastic drinking straws, saying no to single use plastic bags, buying a bamboo toothbrush—placing their trust in the belief that doing something is better than doing nothing and that someone somewhere is also working on these global problems. On May 5th this year, more than 45,000 people turned up for Beach Cleaning Day in Norway, double the amount in 2017. Millions of people are engaging in similar activities around the globe. Perhaps, when you have bent over to collect the hundredth plastic toothbrush or single use packaging from your favourite beach, you start to question your own lifestyle. The pursuit of ‘sustainability’ can and will reshape society. There is now potential and, arguably, an imperative to create a whole new paradigm about resource use and management as we approach 9 billion souls on this earth. What information and news sources can we believe? Trust is a big factor when it comes to sustainability.
Päl Martenson 18
Just a Pale Blue Dot Environment – Collection of stories
The Gothenburg Garbage Man ‘START THINKING ABOUT YOUR OWN ACTIONS. IF YOU DON´T DO THE RIGHT THING, THEN DON’T EXPECT OTHERS TO.’ —PÄL MARTENSON
Sustainability—the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. I first met Päl Martenson five years ago in Tallinn at the Let’s Do It!—Clean World Conference. Activists, environmentalists, philosophers, politicians and business people from around 100 countries gathered for 4 days of lectures, debates, panels, workshops and group exercises to spread the message of global cleanups and raise awareness about resource depletion, mismanagement and the cost to communities. Päl Martenson: 6 foot 4 with a silver mane and a twinkle in his eye, larger than life. Sporting a Zero Waste—No Burn No Bury banner in every photo opportunity, Päl sits on the Zero Waste International Alliance Board and is a regular speaker at Zero Waste Youth events around the world. Just who the hell is Päl Martenson, and why should people trust him? Paul Emmet (PE) What was your role in Gothenburg and what is your key take-away from that time? Päl Martenson (PM) I was the Coordinator of the Department of Sustainable Waste Management in Gothenburg, Sweden and in charge of 5 recycling centres. I was also the creator of the world’s first and largest recycling/reusing park in 2006, a concept that has since been copied all over the world. The whole idea was to prolong the life of all kinds of products and have fun along the way. I love the city of Gothenburg—the Recycling park was my vision and gift to the world, all in the spirit of waste prevention. PE How do you define sustainability and how is this word being used—how can we trust anyone who throws this term around? PM I always stick to the Brundtland Commission’s definition of Sustainability, ‘avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance’. Many companies across the world are involved in raising awareness and have a sustainability agenda, a lot of words, documents, agreements, codes of ethics, conducts, etc. We must constantly monitor what they do, how they act in different world markets, they may have an agenda that looks good on the paper, but does this reflect in their behavior? We
have to work with them, make them understand their actions, get consumers to act, maybe even threaten to boycott. Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble are the ‘elephants in the room’, we constantly find their products on beaches. So, we begin with naming the ones that are always in the top ten with the most ‘junk on the beach.’ PE Sweden has a great reputation for sustainability, what is done well and what can improve? PM We are mostly famous for our ‘very high recycling rate’… 99%, it is very impressive. This statistic to promote ‘The Swedish Way’ has been successful, but it’s not a totally true story. How can you count incineration as recycling or renewable energy? Actual recycling in Sweden is very low, around 40%, a very poor percentage for such a rich and technologically developed country, and far from the recently approved EU targets (65%) stipulated in the Circular Economy Package. We have more than 32 incinerators in Sweden, and we are the largest waste importer in the world of waste. Sweden needs to improve in reusing, recycling and waste prevention to be the model country we are quite capable of being. We have a great logistic system, a fantastic infrastructure, almost zero corruption and a strong EPA, if all this would work together we can make miracles. We have reduced taxes on repairs and reuse, we have subsidies for electric bicycles, electric cars, solar cells, but also energy taxes of various types that in some cases counteract circular thinking. One company that impressed me is Pling Transport—a logistics, delivery and removals company that do everything via bicycle. PE If people care about their environment and want to make a positive difference, what can they do? PM My motto is, ‘everybody counts’, it means every little step you make has an impact. Look under your sink—can I do better, recycle more, waste less food. Think before you buy stuff. Think about the end of the life of the product you plan to buy, what is going to happen when I’m done with it, how will it disappear, can it be recycled, reused, etc. My life has been great, and I now do this for my grandchildren, so they also can enjoy a clean world and all the benefits of nature. Just start thinking about your own actions. If you don´t do the right thing, then don’t expect others to. Change your mindset, be smart, be active, make an impact, be stubborn, be an activist and never give up.
PE How can more information provide a solution, especially when people are too busy or too overwhelmed to take in more information unless it affects their livelihood? KK Actually, that’s the point. We need to connect the information to their livelihood. If we manage to create this connection, they will ask
KK I want people to start thinking about waste, how much there is, where it comes from, how it gets where it shouldn’t be, and what can we do with it. As geeks, we would like to know all the different materials that were collected and send as much of it as possible to be recycled and composted, but we are also aware of the very different situations in different countries and the fact that it is not possible everywhere. In the end it’s about regaining the hope that we can do something about our surroundings and that everyone can be part of it. PE What can the people who are interested in a cleaner world do right now? KK Download the World Cleanup Day app on your phone, start geo-mapping all the trash you see where it shouldn’t be (on the beaches,
‘YOURS IS THE EARTH AND EVERYTHING THAT’S IN IT’ Kadri Kalle
—RUDYARD KIPLING, IF
for information themselves. People pick their own priorities. I think it’s already happening with plastic. The topic is everywhere. You need enough people to push for some change (a regulation, for example) and the rest will adapt. PE How can people trust information from the Knowledge Team? KK Our team is bunch of nerds and geeks. We are fascinated by waste, and, above all, by science. Most of us have some background in environmental sciences. You could say it’s our code of honour to provide correct information and get to the bottom of things. We are aware of all the greenwashing and know that the devil is often in the details. We wrote a paper on biodegradable plastics, which highlights both the detailed approach and our role supporting the Let’s Do it! network in orientating in the
in the forests, etc.). This info not only helps the cleanup organisers to prepare for cleanup day, but also feeds data into the World Waste Platform, a huge piece of tech we are building in order to have a better overview of the mismanaged waste around the world. Later on it might help us predict where trash tends to pile up and why. You can always consider reducing the amount of waste you create. It’s quite easy—use less or no single-use items. And finally: share this article and info about World Cleanup Day. Mark September 15th on your calendar and participate in a cleanup. Invite your friends. You can contact your national cleanup team and sign up as volunteer. All of us have talents that can be useful—be it marketing, logistics, connecting to partners or local communities etc. Offer your help in making this initiative a real success.
Paul Emmet: ‘What does trust mean to me? It is a heart crushed, reputation in flames, ego in turmoil, paranoia, a laughing stock, betrayed, despised, forgotten and usurped—and trusting that it’s only dead wood burning, that I'm gonna cool and rise, because what anyone ever wanted was for me to be the best I could be.’ ■
1 In reference to the iconic photograph of planet Earth from ’Voyager I’ as it left our solar system. 2 Source: Kroll 2015/HSU 2016. 3 Source: the World Economic Forum. 4 Source: Eurostat 2014.
Just a Pale Blue Dot Environment – Collection of stories
Kadri Kalle (KK) We plan the steps towards improved waste management solutions, and offer guidance and clarity in the world of waste. As with other environmental questions, there are a lot of grey areas and misinformation.
PE What is your dream for World Cleanup Day Sept 15th, and what will happen in reality?
Well done, you made it this far on a complicated, emotional and controversial topic. The government certainly has its role, but can we really trust our fickle elected officials? Or business, with bold promises about sustainability 20 years away. Achieving sustainability inevitably points to reducing the amount of consumption and this terrifies most politicians and corporations. Fighting over resources is often the cause of conflict and a huge use of resources in itself. The European Union imports over 70% of raw materials from overseas, simultaneously burning resources which could be recycled or repurposed. If we can’t trust ourselves to make the right decisions, how can we trust others? Can we trust our partners, colleagues and fellow citizens, our scientists, advertisers, and lobbyists to strive for a sustainable future? The unavoidable fact is that it is our decisions—that next coffee, trip to the store, the contents of our garbage bags—that shapes and influences our world, bit by bit. Trust and confidence are vital in our actions now. And while the Pale Blue Dot will always keep on spinning, it will be our grandchildren who will inherit the world in twenty years where either sustainability is the norm or everything has gone up in smoke.
Paul Emmet (PE) What does the Knowledge Team do?
complexity of the world of waste. We have people in the team with decades of experience in waste management, people who have borne witness to countries evolving in their approach to waste. We are also constantly communicating with the Let’s Do It! network, asking teams where they are and what kind of help they need from us, thus creating a feedback loop.
Kadri Kalle is a young Estonian ecology graduate working with Let’s Do It! World, an initiative which began in 2008 when 50,000 Estonian citizens organised a national cleanup of their country. The movement spread rapidly around the world and is now coordinating World Cleanup Day on September 15th. Kadri is part of the Knowledge Team working hard to determine ‘facts we can trust’ about resources and waste. Freelance sustainability educator and occasional chef Kadri outlined what is going on.
All You Need Is…Knowledge —with Kadri Kalle
Fionn Dobbin. Photography by Marcis Rukis
N WIND introduces Exchanges – a series of conversations between bright minds.
N WIND x Age5 Exchanges
For this issue Fionn Dobbin, one of the founders of the Age5 transformation design agency, sat down for a talk with Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius, the CEO of Kaospilot, a Danish educational organization. Kaospilot describes itself as a “hybrid business and design university, providing a multi-faceted education in leadership and entrepreneurship.” It is first and foremost a higher education institution. Unique teaching methods are applied within to create better leaders and entrepreneurs for an increasingly complex world. Initially founded by Uffe Elbæk, the current leader of The Alternative party in Denmark, Kaospilot stems from a social project & youth organization called the Frontrunners, a platform against youth unemployment, which recognized the necessity of providing a dynamic education for young people in the dawn of a new and changing era. Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius bore witness to the transformation, having started his Kaospilot journey as a student when he enrolled in 1995. In their discussion, Fionn & Christer discuss creativity, leadership, trust and the future of entrepreneurship. Fionn Dobbin (FD) What was it like for the
organization to shift from an organized movement against youth unemployment to becoming a full-fledged educational powerhouse working with high-ranked corporations and building future leaders? It is almost as if these two things were worlds apart. Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius (CWL) Absolutely. Kaospilot expanded from working with just a select number of students every year to hosting courses, workshops, and programmes for professionals, as we realized that diversification is essential to achieve our targets, to not only prepare people for the future but to also create it. FD Is there a key to building better leaders? How do we aim to achieve that?
CWL We are reasonably agnostic when it comes to defining what makes a remarkable leader. The most important part is not pushing a universal agenda—we ask for opinions, find out what our students think are essential leadership qualities and help them achieve that. In that sense, we do not have sacred views on what is undoubtedly better. Instead, we look at effectiveness, for instance, helping students understand their goals and use less effort to achieve their goals. When it comes to working with companies, we do not only work for them; we work with them. When we create leadership programmes, we ask them for the traits, skills, and attitudes that they consider desirable and help them integrate that into their daily operations. FD After understanding the pains and gains of the clients and students, what sort of steps do you take to unleash their full leadership potential? CWL On the one hand, we have an open space where we help people improve their creative thinking and enhance their abilities in a free environment. On the other hand, as a school, our mission is to make the students a better version of themselves, so we have a set of ideas we like to nudge towards our students.
IN THE END, IT IS NOT ABOUT THE ABILITY TO STAND ALONE; INSTEAD, IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE RESILIENT WHILE STANDING SIDE BY SIDE WITH OTHERS. IT IS THIS KIND OF RESILIENCE I WISH STUDENTS WERE TAUGHT.
CWL When I work with my staff, I work on a trust-based principle. Trust is something that is given before it is proven. When I hire someone, I give them the power to work; I put my faith in them before I know what their value is to the company. It is their responsibility to live up to the expectations they set for themselves. This freedom, in my opinion, builds better employees.
FD It just occurred to me where this unwillingness to change stems from. For example, I am critical of the school system, as I have seen students who lose their confidence due to their educational experiences. They lose trust in themselves and end up confused about their path in life. So what kind of school system do you think would help students to build their creative confidence, find their passion and guide them onto their path to becoming great creative leaders? CWL Believing in yourself and knowing your strengths can make a huge difference. At Kaospilot, we use an ideological system which can be grouped into three columns. Mental tough-
ness, resilience, and self-efficacy. These are fundamental leadership traits, as they can help anyone to persevere and continuously perform at a high level. What’s surprising is that none of these qualities are taught in higher education. The ideas young people are exposed to shape their view of the world, and the students of today’s generation are very different to those of previous generations. They have a lot of exposure to what goes on around the world, and that can be very stressful for someone who doesn’t have their foothold in life just yet. Therefore, it is vital to train and develop your mental toughness to prepare young students and creatives who believe in themselves. That does not mean we go around and pat everybody on their back for each successful thing they have done, but it is something that can be curated, similarly to how athletes train. There is something that can be taken away from each loss, each hardship. We must not punish students for their mistakes; instead, we must tell them to learn from them in order to grow.
FD I believe that also helps them build trust in their leadership abilities and develop creative confidence, which are traits of a great leader. However, there’s often a conception in society that organizations and their leaders are built through selfishness, trying to dominate and forcing their way to the top. How do we get rid of codified practices and start accepting new customs and paradigms?
This philosophy also carries over when working with clients. Rarely do we tell a company that they are doing something incorrectly. We are not experts; we are process facilitators. We assume that the client has the things that they need, we help them realize this and take the necessary steps to achieve their goals from within their organization. So, you do not need to demolish the foundations to extinguish these old paradigms, it is easier to instill change which the client never knew they were capable of. The unwillingness to break the mold can be hard to conquer, but it is an important step.
When they are completing their exams, we use a principle called “win-win-win,” which helps students grasp the impact of their work. We help them gather connections and introduce them to contacts; companies then receive feedback from the students and afterward, the project can be molded into something that can benefit society. We strongly believe that great leaders should see broadly, to not only think about business in regards to monetary success but to understand the positive impact their views can have on the general population.
N WIND x Age5 Exchanges
– CHRISTER WINDELØV-LIDZÉLIUS
Finally, resilience—students must learn how to fail, to get back up, to change. In schools, we do not have that. We glorify the idea of the individual, the mastermind, but I like the idea of entrepreneurship and creative leadership with a team-based approach. In the end, it is not about the ability to stand alone; instead, it is important to be resilient while standing side by side with others. It is this kind of resilience I wish students were taught.
Fionn Dobbin is not a new face at N WIND. Once mind-opener in our “Games” issue a few years ago, today Fionn is the creative director of Age5, a transformation design agency with offices in Riga and Berlin. Age5 consists of a versatile team working with clients around the globe, improving their internal efficiency, coming up with innovative design solutions and instigating long-lasting change within organizations and individuals.
N WIND x Age5 Exchanges
N WIND (NW) When did Age5 start for you?
CWL Those three columns are the ones that we associate the most strongly as being the pillars of creative leadership. Empathy is one of the qualities that runs the risk of becoming a cliché since it applies to so many fields, but at Kaospilot, we believe it is essential to understand that it is not only about helping your coworkers and treating your employees with respect, but that it also works in a broader context. Smart entrepreneurs have a sense of understanding with their customers. Empathy is not only about reducing pain, after all, great products do something to alleviate a need. FD What has been your own most significant challenge in the field of education?
Fionn Dobbin (FD) When we created the company, I was working as a lecturer at the Stockholm School of Economics, and as a consultant for different organizations. At one point, the demand for consultancy became too high to handle alone, so I teamed up with industrial designer Georg Dwalischwili and jazz musician Henning Grambow and started laying the foundations for what eventually became Age5. Creating a platform together made sense, since I had collaborated with Georg and Henning on various projects before. They are not only my partners, but have also been my friends for more than a decade.
NW You and Georg have a background in industrial design, so further collaboration does not seem peculiar, but how does a jazz musician fit into this?
mind. We must understand that the new generation is continuously evolving and bringing new ideas to the table. With age, you become more experienced, but at the same time, it is easy to get accustomed to specific concepts. In a sense, the most prominent challenge is having a large-scale impact while keeping the advantages of staying small, nimble and intimate. In the age of MOOCs and free online university courses, I can offer my classes in the form of a .pdf or a video, but after they download it, I have no impact, I never find out what they learned. That is my challenge, how do we lift our value proposition without losing the closeness, the intimacy, the nerve? We want to grow, but it would be a tragedy to lose what makes Kaospilot so unique. ■ Kaospilot.dk
CWL For me, Kaospilot is an idea that helps people learn how to create and how to become leaders, and that is an ongoing quest. I always try to stay curious. Tomorrow I have an application workshop, where I will meet the new applicants who want to study at our school. It is crucial to establish that sense of curiosity in our staff, to continually look at things with an open
Photography by Colya Kärcher
FD Mental toughness is perhaps not a trait traditionally associated with creative leadership. When we think about these old structures, we see a fierce businessman at the top of the chain, only concerned about financial growth. In my experience, it is empathy and understanding that have become crucial in today’s world. Toughness is still essential, but toughness
doesn’t allow you to gauge the feelings of others or help you understand yourself better. Where do you see the role of empathy between those three columns?
Photography by Kaspars Kursišs
Secondly, self-efficacy is a trait that we traditionally associate with growing up, something that is taught by our parents. However, we have research backing up the fact that the quality is still lacking in teenagers and there are definitely ways that we can improve on that. We can compare life to a long adventure—at some point, we as the adventurers must learn how to thrive on our own.
trust. A project can have unexpected twists and turns, but by building a confident relationship with our clients, we can cooperate to create a refined and polished product.
FD At Age5, we do not have a strict, rolecentric approach to our employees. Often the most exciting projects come from people with no prior experience in design. Jazz music is primarily based on improvisation within a framework. When working with organizations in the creative industry, that is exactly what you need to do. Having a multidisciplinary team breeds a harmonious and efficient work environment. Our team includes designers, communication strategists, artists, and academics. NW How do you manage to work with such diverse teams on such different projects? What are your methods? FD Our creative solutions and innovations are the outcome of a very strategic approach. We believe that the quality of our solutions is often decided by how well we define the problem. We have developed various tools and strategies to identify the issues and needs of our customers, as well as fields of innovation and potential opportunities within the enterprise. Such insights are generated by creating workshops, mapping, using certain observation techniques and gathering data. Before beginning the development process, we identify opportunities. The customer is involved in the design phase to shape the final vision. After leaving the studio, our solutions enter a permanent beta. During this stage, we emphasize the role of
NW Besides working with global brands, you are also involved in the field of social business and sustainability. FD Yes, social innovation and sustainability have always been critical drivers for us. We started to work in the fields of academia, design, and music to make a social impact. We have developed a curriculum for universities, various workshop formats, worked with the Nobel Peace prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, created logbooks & guides for aspiring social business entrepreneurs and devised social business accelerator programs. Since design and construction determine 80% of the environmental impact of a product, we are pleased that some of the world’s leading companies have approached us for help with developing sustainable products. NW What can we expect from Age5 this year? FD We have a handful of exciting projects we’re launching this year. We have nearly finished a design thinking laboratory in Riga. We are also preparing to expand into the Baltic market, starting off with some flashy activities in Kaunas, the creative capital of Europe in 2022. So, stay tuned! ■
The Kaunas Architecture Festival, Tallinn Architecture Biennale, Chicago Architecture Biennial, International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, Venice Biennale of Architecture—so many biennales, so little time. There is a huge number of architectural events where companies, organisations and even entire countries compete for attention. Architects fly to these events from all around the world to attend opening parties where they discuss social awareness and sustainability over glasses of champagne. Are these events necessary at all? Are they even relevant? I have asked many people over the past year while preparing for the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Among them were curators, architects, professors—James Taylor-Foster, Pippo Ciorra, Peter Swinnen, Beatriz Colomina. Answers were mixed and often more complicated than I expected. Rather than simply answering “yes” or “no”, people shared a broader view on the subject. Most suggested looking beyond these events and focusing on the projects and initiatives presented. In the end, I started to realise that these (often flamboyant) events are just naïve projections of our trust in architecture. People organise, participate and attend them because they put trust in architecture’s ability to do good, even if all bets are against it.
Eero Lundén’s proposal for Nordic Pavilion, entitled Another Generosity, explores the relationship between nature and the built environment. Lundén Architecture Company.
Andrius Ropolas Essay
TRUSTING ARCHITECTURE — A NAÏVE NECESSITY
Sweden, Norway and Finland, as per tradition, share one space called the Nordic pavilion, where they explore nature’s relationship to artificially constructed environments. Denmark, on the other hand, focuses on the power of collaborative innovation. After having a closer look, it is easy to notice that these interests may overlap. Natalie Mossin, curator of the Danish pavilion, explains that we face a series of challenges in artificial environments, and that we can’t just continue doing things the way we do today. She thinks that we need to develop and implement new solutions—collaborative efforts and generous architecture are key to a sustainable future. One of the versions of how this might be realised can be found in the Nordic pavilion: designed by Finnish architect Eero Lundén of the Lundén Architecture Company, the proposal entitled Another Generosity explores new ways of creating buildings that emphasise the delicate but often invisible interactions between the artificial and natural worlds.
The Baltic countries explore separate paths this time. The Estonian pavilion investigates the concept of a “weak monument”. Curators Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa, and Tadeáš Říha offer a bold statement, suggesting that weakness, creative ambivalence, and incompleteness in projects are not things to be ashamed of, and could be seen as strengths instead. Latvia found another angle, focusing on a very tangible aspect of architecture—apartment blocks. Or, to be more specific, elements that cannot be privatised or placed in an individual apartment, such as staircases, balconies, courtyards, partition walls. Curators Evelīna Ozola, Matīss Groskaufmanis, Anda Skrējāne and Gundega Laiviņa are interested in apartment buildings as an architectural category that simultaneously offers both communal and private accommodation, life ‘Together and apart’. This is a natural interest for Latvia, as almost two thirds of Latvian residents live in apartment buildings.
Today, despite being one of the most sparsely populated regions of Europe, nearly two thirds of Latvians live in apartment buildings which is the highest ratio in Europe. The Latvian pavilion, ‘Together and Apart’ looks at apartment buildings in relation to architecture’s role in organizing the society. Photography by Reinis Hofmanis.
Lithuania offers a most mysterious proposal named The Swamp Pavilion, curated by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas—artists and educa-
Curatorial team of Pavilion of Latvia: Anda Skrējāne, Matīss Groskaufmanis, Gundega Laiviņa, Evelīna Ozola. Photography by Lauris Aizupietis.
Andrius Ropolas Essay
This is particularly true for the Venice Biennale of Architecture, where different countries and regions bring their forces together to explore social and environmental issues orbiting architecture. It is probably the most important architectural event in the world. Two years ago, the biennale was visited by 260 000 architecture enthusiasts. They all had the chance to witness Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joining forces to present a Baltic pavilion—an incredible example of trusting architecture to bring countries together. This year, the Venice Biennale of Architecture is curated by Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, opening in late May under the theme “Freespace”. As usual, the main theme of the biennale is extremely vague with an underlying focus on social and environmental responsibility, leaving room for interpretation for the participating 65 countries and 71 individual architecture offices. The entire Nordic and Baltic regions have come up with their own interpretations, ‘trusting’ many different aspects of architecture, from nature to apartment blocks. This gives us an elaborate insight on what the future might be like.
Weak Monument examines architecture’s capacity to be political, by juxtaposing two antithetical notions – weakness and monumentality. Kalevipoeg in Torma, Estonia, photography by Roland Reemaa. Curatorial team of Pavilion of Estonia: Laura Linsi, Tadeas Riha, Roland Reemaa. Photography by B.Draaistel Rather than passively researching specific challenges, The Swamp Pavilion will actively engage in pedagogy, imagination and constant re-creation. The project will be grounded in three major workshops in the headquarters of the Swamp Summer School in Venice, where influential artists, architects and creators will work for periodically. The Swamp Pavilion also touches upon collaboration and incompleteness—key themes of the Danish and Estonian pavilions. Architects are always actively thinking about the future, it is part of their job, but I think that we are always lagging behind the artists. To understand the future, we should look at the work of contemporary artists. The Swamp Pavilion is a good example—you can trust it, for a while, to guide you. Looking at it, I would say that we can expect an increase in hybridity and complexity in our environments as well as our bodies. It is impossible to know exactly how these pavilions and the Venice Biennale of Architecture itself will contribute to something concrete. We can never know if this incredible amount of work each participant has contributed will be forgotten after the biennale closes its doors in late November. But being naïve and trusting architecture’s ability to change and improve our lives is the driving force behind all of these creative approaches. Without trust we would not submerge into the imagination of the swamp, would not look for collaborative innovation. Without trust we could not dive into the unknown and invent the future. Estonian pavilion “Weak monument” weakmonument.com
“Trust, for me, means being naïve. It takes a smidge of stupidity and handful of courage to trust something. This combination is a recipe for discovery. However, discoveries are a short-term pursuit. The only thing it is possible to trust long-term is time. In other words—time is the best judge for telling if something is correct or not. There have been many different ideas in architecture about perfect cities and societies, but time has shown that they do not work, because you cannot trust people. They change their minds and start to despise what they have previously desired.” – Andrius Ropolas
Andrius Ropolas is assistant curator to The Swamp Pavilion by Lithuania for the Venice Biennale of Architecture, and an architect, having studied and worked for several years in Denmark, Belgium, United Kingdom and Japan. He is currently practising in the Office De Architectura in Kaunas, Lithuania. andrius.ropolas.eu
Andrius Ropolas Essay
tors working and teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Swamp Pavilion is not about swamp ecology, and it is not about sustainability. Instead, the word ‘swamp’ refers to a mind-set. It is a project about blurring the line between humans and nature, reimagining our relationship and the potential benefits of moving beyond a human-centric conception of architecture.
Lithuanian pavilion “The Swamp Pavilion” swamp.lt
Latvian pavilion “Together and apart” togetherandapart.lv
Andrius Ropolas Essay
‘WHILE DISCUSSING IN VARIOUS CREATIVE WORKSHOPS, WE HAVE WADED THE SWAMPS OF PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTIONS.’
– G. URBONAS Chief curators of The Swamp Pavilion Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas. Photography by Dovaldė Butėnaitė.
Expedition to Čepkeliai marsh
Andrius Ropolas Essay # TRUST 27
The Swamp School operation scheme
Architects are always actively thinking about the future, it is part of their job, but [â&#x20AC;Ś] to understand the future, we should look at the work of contemporary artists. â&#x2013;
Victoria Dias Essay
TWELVE PIECES STANDS FOR ACCEPTANCE AND FREEDOM OF THOUGHT.
Fashion has been a truth-manipulating, reality-enhancing industry since the Victorian era. Limitless fantasy is what made fashion so desirable, so poetic, so necessary, but all these enhancements have an interesting relationship with our personal and collective identities. From illustrated propaganda and digitally retouched images to the augmented fashion & design we know today, brands have grown used to artificially enhancing images. And I don’t have to explain how relevant the power of images is to our decision-making processes and self-acceptance, right? Yet fashion’s secret battle with reality isn’t merely related to visual appearance. We have all probably experienced confusing clothing sizes that mistake proportions, seen ‘made in Italy’ tags in a street market in Istanbul, or purchased a ‘100% wool’ sweater containing at least 20% acrylic. This lack of transparency has become the elephant in the room for the fashion industry (allow me to use the euphemism ‘lack of transparency’ instead of ‘lack of truth’). And transparency in fashion production is just the tip of the iceberg—the fashion industry needs to be clear about how it will make the changes required for real impact. At present, transparency is an all-too-familiar word that brands pepper throughout their media strategies, but the ‘real truth’ is still missing. I sincerely believe that the truth must be approached holistically in fashion—the design concepts and ideas we see are often lacking. Are brands and designers true to themselves and the culture they represent? As questions of identity remain a core theme for art and design, it is important to have an open dialogue with other designers and become who you want to be in the industry. In a world where people are asking for truth and transparency, designers, manufacturers, fabric suppliers, and retailers are urged to be disruptive and challenge the status quo, to expand their influence beyond the products they make and move into critical design or social design. The future of fashion must include true long-term commitment to combating social, political, and environmental issues. The question remains, how?
When asked if fashion brands should assume a more prominent political stance, Amir answered that fashion should focus on people and on the more universal aspects of humanity. Twelve Pieces stands for acceptance and freedom of thought—ideas that reflect the core values of their customers.
The company takes its name from the beautiful, symbolic number 12, which often appears in science, religion and magic. This has been reinterpreted as standing for the business model chosen by the company, which makes only 12 copies of each item of clothing it produces. Twelve Pieces engenders a certain feeling and creates a true dialogue among cultures without censorship, making it truly unique. This is exactly what we’re missing from most brands. Genuine action. Cultural dialogue. New norms. New points of view. Hopefully the demand for transparency in fashion will grow as we become more conscious of wearing designs that represent ideas that nourish our minds, bodies, and lifestyles, allowing us to be gentler with ourselves and the world around us. A 2017 Unilever report reveals that 966 bn EUR of untapped market potential is out there for brands that are genuinely transparent about their methods and produce fashion sustainably. We don’t need the same old lies, we value brands that have the guts to think and act differently; we value original ideas, quality materials, and sustainability. I have worked happily in this complex industry for 16 years and I love fashion for its capacity to impact and decode culture, and for the technical skill required to realise these powerful concepts. And I value truth, as does any other responsible consumer and wearer of fashion. Coming back to the first question: can the lack of truth make us idiots? As we are investing our money rather into education, both intellectual and spiritual, quality leisure activities and personal development, we find a situation where consumers that are far more intellectual than product creators and designers. It has come the time where fashion industry has to rethink contents and purposes. As we are more in synchrony with our emotions, products, stores and services should be designed, produced and retailed with honesty and thinking in how they make us feel and perform better. ■
MORE AND MORE ‘TRUTHS’ ARE BECOMING PERSONAL COSTUMES.
Victoria Dias Essay
By reading the work of artificial intelligence expert Ray Kurzweil I learned our brains can be hacked as quickly as the digital tools we use, truth becomes personalized, and augmented reality and other technologies could change the future of our physical and emotional identities. And no, this is not a script from Black Mirror; it is a direction we are going right now.
Victoria Dias is a fashion branding innovator, a conceptual fashion product and image consultant, and a macro-trends analyst and researcher, based in Vilnius. She works for several local and global brands, studios, and agencies. Victoria is also a passionate lecturer on fashion business topics—from the creative process to market intelligence.
The lines between fact & fiction are becoming increasingly blurred, and truth has become a fluid concept—tailored to fit our needs instead of our realities. It almost feels like we are trying to separate our personal truths from the real truth. More and more the ‘truth’ is becoming a personal costume. Is it a passion for ‘the abstract’ and a tendency toward escapism that drive us to sacrifice the ‘real truth’ for a sugarcoated one?
It is not impossible. One small creator in Denmark has become an excellent example of such commitment—Twelve Pieces, an ideological and aesthetically curated brand. In an inspiring conversation with founder and designer Amir Hassam we discussed the need for deeper identity and cultural transcendence in the industry. He asserts that ‘as human beings we feel more defined by our experiences, our culture and ideas, than simply by products’. Twelve Pieces is a fresh and powerful streetwear brand that uses Arabic calligraphy strategically to promote cultural understanding of the Middle East. The brand also challenges society with a strong message of ideological liberation, debunking prejudices and racism. As a young entrepreneur, Amir feels blessed to have grown up in Aarhus, where he developed and matured as a designer, artist, and thinker, empowered by a deeper identity he learned from his Egyptian parents. His collections are powerful and brimming with social commentary, for example The Spring, in which he addresses the social pain and cultural erosion of the Arab Spring.
Victoria Dias. Photography by Tomas Adomavičius, for Another Unicorn
While browsing Instagram, I happened upon one of those ‘hey-I-am-trying-to-make-youthink’ quotes: ‘Knowing the truth. Seeing the truth. And still believing the lies. That’s how you became stupid.’ The hashtags #formydaughter, #lies, and #stupid were attached in an attempt to add a crisp, yet parental sentiment. I wondered why this person left out #truth as it seems to be key here. Anyway, it made me ask myself— can the lack of truth ‘idiotize’ us? Can the lack of truth transform societies into armies of stupid walking dead? I think it can.
# TRUST TRUST
Monika Katkutė My Story About Trust
Monika Katkutė. Phtography by Linas Masiokas
CURIOSITY IS TRUST IN ADVANCE TO TRUST IS TO LEAVE SPACE Indeed, this piece has two titles and they are both great, even if they seem to oppose each other. Dear reader, take a closer look: both of them speak of letting go of control.
Technology and empathy ‘We always ask kids how they feel in virtual reality, or working with different creative technology tasks. When they scream ‘It’s impossible!’ in the middle of a task, we stop and try to explore the problem’, says Monika. She continues by saying that people rarely create breakthrough achievements alone, and that relationships with technology in isolation give technology the upper hand. Our strength lies in our social interactions, not in the technologies we have surrounded ourselves with. Technology has to be approached in inconvenient social situations, in the face of personal challenges, especially when working with kids. We must encourage them to work together, to work with the emotions they face in difficult tasks and different dynamics. Empathy is crucial.
Monika Katkutė My Story About Trust
‘I WANT BIT&BYTE TO BECOME A WORLDWIDE ACADEMY, AND OUR LITHUANIAN OFFICE TO BE THE THINK-TANK.’
Monika has chosen to address technological literacy as a new language in society: ‘The kids are ready to learn about technologies, but we are not ready to talk. We don’t speak the language.’ She is über serious, saying she wishes, daily, that she could give a magic wand to every elementary school teacher so progress could happen faster, kids would become fearless with technologies, and teachers would rediscover their work. ‘It’s the age of artificial intelligence. Soon we will have to question the role of the teacher.’
From day one, Monika designed bit&Byte with international development in mind, employing diaspora to expand, and leading talks with progressive Nordic educational institutions to introduce bit&Byte into their programmes. The academy recently opened in Berlin. It is not a stand-alone facility, but uses the empty offices of tech companies on weekends. bit&Byte acts as a game changing force and a meeting place, inclusive and open to growth, involving the best tech
people in the industry, companies and governmental institutions. ‘No more a project of small impact, we’ve grown physically, financially, and technologically into the new generation of social entrepreneurship. Our mission is simple—to nurture tomorrow’s creators. Kids born into the digital world have to be shown where technologies are coming from and how they are designed, so that they may not only link technology with desired experience, but will also create it.’ Apart from weekend classes, bit&Byte runs strong social initiatives, headhunting skilled tech entrepreneurs for collaboration, and bringing a creative introduction to coding to Lithuanian schools.
A few minutes into our conversation Monika comes out with an inconvenient statement— healthy conflict is instilled into the brand. ‘Technologies have already transformed our lives. And kids don’t have any nostalgia for a world without it. As adults, we have to curate, not control or restrict their interest. For example, in our classes, we already talk about the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence.’
I spoke with Monika Katkutė, founder of the bit&Byte academy of creative technologies for kids— Monika calls them ‘tomorrow’s creators’. Since 2015, the academy has been teaching essential programming concepts to kids aged 7–12 through experimentation and creative challenges. Working with kids and technology involves many leaps of trust. The kids design VR experiences and websites, prototype apps, program simple games, and do scratching— creative coding and problem solving, with limitless creativity and plenty of emotion. bit&Byte’s perfect pitch for conscious parents: ‘Turn your child’s digital browsing habits into practical creative technology wisdom’ has proven effective—the community is now over 800 strong. The more I spoke with Monika, the more I started seeing bit&Byte as not merely a tech-education project, but as a spark with the potential to become a strong brand, aiming to design the future we all live in. And, secretly, mainstreaming the creative spirit of ‘sane fools’ (sveiki nupušėliai in Lithuanian).
‘You either create technology or stand in the sidelines.’
Monika Katkutė. Phtography by Linas Masiokas Monika Katkutė My Story About Trust # TRUST 32
It is inconvenient to admit that technology is so permeable and so strongly present in our lives, that we are forming new relationships with it, unexpectedly learning more about ourselves: technologies help one stand apart, retreat into oneself, and then accept oneself. ‘I often console crying boys when they don’t succeed, never a girl. They get more involved, losing a sense of distinction between what is real and what isn’t, and they lose it. I also feel that in the coming century it is going to be more difficult for boys than girls in general, as they will have to grow their empathy and learn to share.’ A pristine place ‘I can allow myself to think clearly, distancing myself from social constructs. I am seeking to keep a pristine place inside me, where genuine curiosity and trust in my own understanding of the world lives. You have to leave a place for trust. This is where the Why? questions arise. Curiosity is trust in advance.’ About trust ‘Trust is the reason I started bit&Byte.’ Monika told us that when
she was working and studying in London, she used to firmly identify herself as a Northern European, a choice that isn’t obvious to many Balts. A bearer of an inquisitive mind, she reflected on the secret to the success of our Scandinavian neighbours and identified it as their lack of fear, a profound sense of safety that stems from growing up in a Scandinavian society. Monika points to education in Lithuania, which, she believes, is a shaky platform rather than strong, nurturing roots: ‘it doesn’t help you orientate yourself in the modern world and it doesn’t nurture personalities.’ After selling a tech start-up she was part of and starting a family, Monika has decided to focus on what she calls ‘our collective pain’ to help future creators become fearless with technology, empowered through teamwork (‘technologies are very connective, new insights on teamwork come from our best tech companies’), and ready to take on responsibilities. ‘To become fearless is to learn to leave space for failure, chaos, getting lost. This is crucial. I also want to leave space for teachers in technological industry, I trust their power’.
Sane Fools For Lithuania’s 100th anniversary this year, bit&Byte has organised an Hour Of Code, with 6000 thousand kids participating and solving creative tasks, celebrating technology, artistic collaboration, and historical and independent Lithuanian personalities, or, as Monika says, the ‘sane fools’. ‘They were the kind of Lithuanians I would like to see today— visionaries dedicated to their mastery, passionate believers in their power to change the world, and some true hipsters. To this day, our pilots Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas (the first to cross Atlantic ocean flying from the US back to Lithuania in 1933 in a Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker in 1933–Ed.) leave all our current ultramarathon runners behind.’ After the centenary celebration, a reality check hit. Faced with questions Why? and So what? Will it change anything?, Monika took the Hour of Code to Latvia and embarked on a new mission in Lithuania—to visit 100 schools and introduce children to coding and creative technologies: ‘I want to be part of the solution, to reduce
the separation between kids living in the outlying regions and the tech elite, to bridge the gap between two distant realities. Technology is my torch for starting conversations and creating change.’ ■ bit&Byte are open to collaboration and to bringing their academy of creative technologies abroad. Reach out to Monika Katkutė: firstname.lastname@example.org bitbyte.lt
Giedrė Stabingytė envisioned and co-founded N WIND to promote creative exchanges in Northern Europe and the idea of the New North. Professionally a brand strategist and conceptualist at Black Swan Brands, Giedrė has worked with multiple companies, entrepreneurs, and visionaries in the region to help envision ideas that create structures in chaos.
Block Bills N WIND x CRYPTONEWS.COM Future # TRUST
Trust is in crisis. Since witnessing a healthy peak of 77% in 1964 (according to data concerning the US government), it has repeatedly sunk to discouraging lows. According to Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer, in 2017 only 47% of the general global population trusted the ‘four institutions’—government, media, business, and non-governmental organizations.
BLOCKCHAIN IS SAVING TRUST BY MAKING IT IRRELEVANT
Block Bills: Influenced by bitcoin’s popularity, artist Matthias Dörfelt has designed a series of 64 bank notes that imagine what the cyber money might look like in physical form.
Mantas Aleksiejevas Yet there’s hope for those who fear that trust—particularly in institutions—might become an endangered species. Digital innovations (e.g. the internet) have already begun helping increase transparency over the past decade or so, by making government processes and outcomes more accessible to the public. And more recently, a new technology has emerged that promises to increase transparency even further: ‘the blockchain’. While there are different types of blockchain, and examples applied to real-world problems remain very limited, their base functions seemingly make them an ideal solution for our lack of faith in institutions (and in each other).
# TRUST TRUST
N WIND x CRYPTONEWS.COM Future
Essentially, blockchains are decentralised digital ledgers, records of information maintained by distributed networks. Because they’re maintained by such networks, the information they store can be updated and altered only if every single node within the network agrees on the exact content of an update. As such, they can never be corrupted or falsified, while the decentralised—and public—nature of the network ostensibly removes the need for anyone to trust in a central institution or middleman. Their potential for revolutionising trust is therefore considerable, something which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the growing number of Baltic and Nordic startups trying to replace centralised organisations with blockchain-based platforms. Such startups are targeting a range of sectors, such as e-commerce, media, energy, education, and social networks. Their efforts are increasingly complemented by local and national governments, which are beginning to look into the possibilities of using blockchain
technology to reduce corruption and increase efficiency. However, while there is certainly a great deal of potential in this area, closer investigation reveals that the decentralisation of blockchains has its limits, meaning that trust in central institutions is still necessary. Decentralisation = immutability An example of applying blockchain technology to a field where there is a clear and justified use for it is provided by Monetha, a startup founded in Lithuania in 2017. Monetha is planning to launch a platform in June that aims to provide ‘universal/transferable trust’ for the e-commerce industry. Simply put, buyers and sellers using the platform will be able to build a single reputation rating for all of the online marketplaces (e.g. eBay, Amazon) they visit. The company’s co-founder Andrej Ruckij explains the issues Monetha addresses: ‘There are multiple reports of reputation systems manipulating their records. Swaying the average records both ways, even almost blackmailing companies to delete unfavourable reviews.’ Monetha aims to resolve these problems by putting customer and business ratings on the blockchain, which, due to its decentralisation, means the records it keeps are unchangeable, or ‘immutable’ in blockchain-speak. As Ruckij says, ‘Immutability is one of the main factors that is going to encourage trust between users of Monetha […]. Immutability allows you to trace the whole evolution of a user’s reputation which makes it easier for you to make a decision.’ Mantas Aleksiejevas, chief business development officer at WePower, also highlights ‘immutability’ as a key blockchain feature. Based in Lithuania, WePower will begin testing its own energy-trading platform in July and is scheduled to be operational in Spain, Australia, and Estonia
by November. According to Aleksiejevas, much of its purpose revolves around the fact that certification of sustainability is often ‘susceptible to fraud, corruption, and manipulation’. ‘The fact that [blockchain] runs an open, decentralised, immutable ledger gives the opportunity to transparently monitor energy production and accounting’, he clarifies. ‘Anybody and everybody can see what sort of energy their consumption is composed of.’ Such openness and transparency are one of the happy side-effects of decentralisation. Another advantage of decentralisation is that trust is detached from central institutions or companies. ‘Decentralisation brings the power of owning your reputation rather that giving it to a centralised marketplace which does not let you export and apply your hard-earned reputation in other mediums’, Ruckij says. This 'ownership' of reputation is important because it will help to increase overall levels of trust within society, given that people can effortlessly transfer trust from one place to another rather than having it siloed in a single location. Trust will expand to reach wherever a blockchain reaches. Effects on interpersonal trust While Monetha and WePower promise an increase of trust between businesses and customers, another company is setting its sights on increasing trust at a more human, culturally oriented level. White Rabbit is a Norwegian startup that’s building a blockchain-based platform through which users can directly pay the makers of the films and TV series they stream online. Planned for official launch in early 2019 and due for a token sale that closes on June 10, its upcoming platform will revolve around a browser plugin that automatically recognises the content a user is streaming ‘from any [peer-to-peer] or open server streaming site’. Its reach and com-
There is, in other words, a distinct skepticism that such institutions are doing what they claim to be doing, a lack of trust that has arguably engendered the surge of authoritarianism and populism the world has seen in recent years.
Elena Arkhipova While the decentralisation of the blockchain is likely to improve interpersonal levels of trust in the case of White Rabbit, other platforms serving other needs are likely to witness contrasting effects. For example, Sola (formerly Plague) is a Lithuanian startup that’s already operating a decentralised social network with almost one million users. Having sold over two million dollars’ worth of its SOL token in an ICO that ended in December, it’s set to distinguish itself from the likes of Facebook and Twitter by
In short, the blockchain may end up providing a solution to the 21st Century’s lack of trust, not by finding a way to increase trust, but by side-stepping it. Decentralising everything Despite blockchain’s relative immaturity, many commentators believe that it’s only a matter of time before decentralised ledgers become ubiquitous, causing significant impact as a result. Swedish entrepreneur and author Johan Staël von Holstein is one of them. He suggests that the technology is part of a historical progression towards the decentralisation of power and wealth—the government’s ability to affect situations is going to decrease, while individual freedom and responsibility are going to increase. ‘Blockchain is facilitating that, and the favourable perspective is that we will be able to affect decisions are to be made, carried out, and evaluated in a much more trustworthy and
‘If people know how much money […] is taken out of the hospital industry by politicians buying consultancy work that is unnecessary or leads to nothing; if they see exactly how much money is going where and what they’re getting out of it, there are going to be some serious changes’, he adds. In the short term the use of blockchains is going to benefit governments immensely, becauvse they’re going to be faced with their inefficiency and will have to improve the system, according to Staël von Holstein. Increased transparency will cause people to start trusting the government more. In the long run, however, the entrepreneur estimates that blockchain will disrupt the centralisation of government and of politics. ‘Once you start decentralising this, it will eventually decentralise everything.’ This might encourage people to move from trusting traditional public bodies and groups to trusting decentralised technology platforms.
Sola: sola.ai WePower: wepower.network Monetha: monetha.io White Rabbit: whiterabbit.one
N WIND x CRYPTONEWS.COM Future
Similarly, the platform will alter the relationship between content creators and fans, who will ‘become responsible rebels’ by virtue of paying for TV and film while still streaming through ‘unofficial’ peer-to-peer apps. In addition, White Rabbit plans to introduce virtual film screenings and forums where fans can interact with filmmakers, enabling the kind of fan-artist relationship that wouldn’t be possible if people weren’t using the platform and its cryptocurrency to pay for content.
‘Blockchain is based on the ‘no one can trust anyone’ principle’, she says. ‘In such systems, the level of trust is obviously higher, since everyone only trusts information they own [or can access]. However, it is not a trust held between people, but more a trust between the people and the system. So if we are talking about changing the nature of trust, it’s moving from a personal level to trusting the system instead.’
These are big claims, but Staël von Holstein—an early dot-com investor as well as a noted speaker on technology—believes they are highly probable, because blockchain will ‘create [economic] abilities that are unstoppable’. Blockchain will provide the companies, institutions, and nations using it with a competitive advantage over those that don’t, enabling them to become more profitable and more efficient, and will cause people to ‘simply move from the countries not making the necessary changes’ as a result. This will put such countries at a disadvantage, which will eventually force them to embrace blockchain. Once they open the floodgates, greater trust is likely to follow, at least insofar as blockchains allow us to get rid of hulking, centralised institutions that are often inefficient or corrupt.
# TRUST TRUST
CEO Alan Milligan explains that transparency will improve relations and creativity within the film industry. ‘If you take money out of the equation’, he says, ‘I find human relations improve dramatically. I think the least mentioned advantage of blockchain is how it fosters human trust. We no longer have to be suspicious or worried about getting ripped off, meaning we can focus our relationships on all the other exciting, creative, and forward-thinking ideas and challenges that lie ahead.’
profound way than ever before, through the transparencies that are enabled via blockchain’, Staël von Holstein says.
The platform’s use of blockchain and smart contracts (a computer code that executes certain agreements and eliminates the need for a middleman) will ensure that streaming revenues are distributed transparently, with no room for ‘mistakes or mischief’.
establishing a reward system for its users. Because it is decentralised (i.e. its source code is open) it’s considerably less prone to censorship, cyberattacks, misinformation, or disproportionate influence from any single set of coders or service creators. However, Sola’s marketing manager, Elena Arkhipova, explains that this will have the wider effect of increasing trust in systems and platforms, instead of between people or groups.
Johan Stael von Holstein
mercial potential has already earned it deals with production companies such as K5 International.
National governments are increasingly open to the use of blockchain technology. This is shown by a number of recent developments: the Swedish government’s plan to use its own private blockchain for land registration; the recently announced European Blockchain Alliance; the November agreement between the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian governments to cooperate on blockchain development; and the Danish Foreign Ministry’s December report on the possibility of using blockchain technology for the delivery of foreign aid. However, as encouraging as it is to see governments flirting with blockchain tech, it’s also apparent that if they actually manage to roll out blockchain platforms, trust in the platforms they use is likely to be a function of public trust in them. This can be clearly seen in Denmark. René Taus Hansen, Deputy Head of Department at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reports that the Ministry remains receptive to its partners using blockchain platforms. However, while he affirms that decentralisation will help foster greater transparency in the area of foreign development assistance, big dilemmas remain regarding governance of the platforms. ‘Decentralised platforms built on blockchain still need to be regulated by someone’, he says. ‘Land rights or a personal ID stored on a private blockchain still have to be enforceable in court and therefore the algorithm needs to be sanctioned to some extent.’ One of the biggest challenges facing the technology, therefore, may not be the technology itself, but the governance and regulation behind it. Such comments resonate with the criticism blockchain technology has received from the likes of Kai Stinchcombe, CEO of True Link Financial, a US-based financial services company. In a recent Medium blog post he pointed out that a truly ‘trustless’ platform (e.g. for delivering aid, or for selling e-Books) would require users to take the trouble to audit its integrity and the integrity of the data it holds. This would be prohibitively time-consuming if blockchain were to become commonplace. Since such auditing isn’t practically feasible for 99% of us, we would be forced to go back to trusting a middleman or an institution, whose association with the blockchain we’re using would give us the confidence to trust that it works.
# TRUST TRUST
N WIND x CRYPTONEWS.COM Future
Unstoppable? Still, even if centralised institutions will always be necessary, this doesn’t mean that blockchain won’t ultimately increase people’s trust in them, in businesses, and in each other. By applying blockchain to a process, a company, a group, or a government will inspire greater trust in this process and in itself, since it will give the inquisitive among us a chance to scrutinise said process, and it will also show that the organisation in question is serious about doing things transparently and justly. This can only be a good thing, and even though it’s arguable that plenty of things will remain ‘off-chain’—things that won’t be transparent or immutable—the introduction of blockchain in one area will create pressure for it to be introduced elsewhere. As Johan Staël von Holstein says, regarding the recent spread of cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs), and blockchains—‘It’s absolutely unstoppable.’ ■ Simon Chandler is a freelance tech journalist, based in London, contributor to Cryptonews.com
N WIND X CRYPTONEWS.COM
Does blockchain need government?
This article has been brought to you in collaboration with cryptonews.com Among dozens of blockchainbased startups in the Baltics, there is a project that does not build any chains of blocks but is nevertheless very important to the emerging crypto industry. Launched in January, an international media project based in Lithuania, Cryptonews.com aims to help the general public navigate the extremely dynamic world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The project is backed by Antanas Guoga, blockchain investor, founder of the International Blockchain Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania, entrepreneur, and Member of the European Parliament. ‘The website offers original coverage of the global blockchain and cryptocurrency news, provides opinions, reviews, and guides, and introduces people to the crypto space with an aim to help the general public understand and successfully use these technologies now and in the future’, as they describe themselves. Speaking of trust, Linas Kmieliauskas, editor-in-chief of Cryptonews.com, underlines its necessity as follows:
‘TRUST IS THE MAIN ASSET A MEDIA COMPANY CAN HAVE, AND ONE NEEDS TO BE IMPARTIAL, TRUTHFUL, TRANSPARENT, AND ACCURATE IN ORDER TO BE TRUSTED. WITHOUT SUCH INTEGRITY, THE ROAD OF THE BLOCKCHAIN INDUSTRY TO SUCCESS WOULD BE MUCH LONGER AND BUMPIER, IF POSSIBLE AT ALL.’
THE KRATT WHISPERER OF TALLINN
Still, there are a few constraints. Complex AI, like Skynet, still being far off, the project is limited to simple, narrow, algorithm-based AI. Technologies we already have, while ‘smart’ and
We spoke with Marten Kaevats, national digital advisor about these developments and their importance to Estonia as well as to the wider world. Kaevats, an urban planner by training, got drawn to artificial intelligence via his research to utopias. Driven by a desire to make an impact, he accepted the invitation to join the task force for self-driving cars in 2016 and currently speaks on these topics to wide audiences. According to Kaevats, the initiative may be viewed in a twofold manner. First, adapting society to an ever-increasing rate of change, technological and otherwise. Second, building the necessary societal and legal foundations for new technologies. Kaevats believes that mindset is the key to coping with change, some of which is already present and some of which is emerging. Like many young Estonians, openness is a key value for him. He loves to quote Frank Zappa’s quip: ‘A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.’ The other half of openness is acceptance of failure. It is better to normalize failure, take what can been learned, and grant everyone a new beginning. There are a variety of dystopian scenarios that attempt to predict future interactions between AI and man. As an example, Marten brought out the fantasy of solar flares kicking out all electronics with a newly helpless mankind left to fend for itself. What might help in this dark scenario is social trust. How can we improve on existing trust and sow the seeds of future cooperation? These are big questions. Perhaps digital technologies can help a bit in
- AIs as legal people, much like corporations, and of course natural persons. Radical, exciting, and unlikely to be enacted, but certainly a necessary thought experiment. - A robotics act that would define conditions and regulations in the field of AI. - A robotics act plus a change in the definition of ’will’ in Estonian law so that it would include algorithms. The government’s role in dealing with technological challenges is to roll with them if they are successful, and possibly even guide and lead the changes. Its particular task is to keep in mind vulnerable social groups and defend them. This will have an impact on trust. The vulnerable will ask: can we trust where society is going? It is the task force’s belief that in this case success is derived from ambitious change. In the domain of the ‘kratt law’, government can contribute quite a bit. Simply having the ‘kratt law’, in whatever form, will establish certain clear and predictable conditions for the various actors concerned. Entrepreneurs will be able to expect predictable outcomes, at least legally, inasmuch predictability is a part of this world at all. So, testing various prototypes becomes possible. In concert with the e-Residency laws, that give entrepreneurs a legal framework for their AI activities under Estonian law, this could be a powerful combination. Naturally, this fulfils the public’s need for jobs, as well as having a beneficial impact on investment. In a broader sense, this issue can be viewed as a catalyst for a big discussion with participants from an everwidening public, starting in Estonia. ■ twitter.com/martenkaevats Heiki Eesmaa is a systemic counselor, consultant and a systemic constellations facilitator. He began as a government lawyer for various ministries but returned to school for a further degree in Psychology. Currently based in Tartu, he counsels clients on both personal and business issues. He considers trust to be the general feeling of success we have as life unfolds naturally and evolves in the right direction.
Marten Kaevats Future
It all started with the worldwide push for testing self-driving, autonomous cars as the technology became available. In 2016 an Estonian expert task force convened to define the conditions of putting self-driving vehicles in the streets. It soon became evident that dealing with a mere subsection of traffic laws would be not be enough. The field of AI is much more complex and vast than that. Self-driving vehicles, yes, but what about self-navigating ships? Furthermore, the field would encompass trading bots in stock exchanges as well as household appliances— from freezers to TV sets.
helpful, lack the complexity to cause most sci-fi dystopias.
Kaevats envisions three alternative futures:
A national identity as a country that is visionary when it comes to information technology is a source of pride for many Estonians, as well something they take for granted by now. Estonia was a pioneer in declaring Internet access a human right, holding parliamentary elections online, legalizing ride sharing and delivery bots, as well as allowing e-Residency for foreign citizens. So, it is utterly unsurprising that the country has now reached the point of drafting legislation for artificial intelligences. An AI bill to govern Skynet and Ultron?
Kaevats and the task force have begun referring to the draft law as ‘kratt’—a golem-like magical creature made of household items and hay in Estonian folklore.
Photography by Tõnu Tunnel
many conflict situations and great demands on resources. Estonia’s gift to the world could be the innovator’s mindset—Estonia as a ‘Village of the Inventors’, like in the renowned Lotte from Gadgetville cartoons (2006–2011). It is important that the ancient ways not go completely unremembered—openness is not blind faith. There ought to be a balance of different modes and worldviews.
Giedrė Stabingytė, Simon Chandler
Rachel Botsman speaking at Nordic Business Forum
IT IS ENERGY CHANGING FORM
Rachel Botsman Future
When we started compiling the Trust theme, we at N WIND knew we wanted diverse perspectives for what seemed a critical but almost ethereal subject. Little did we know that trust was winning the biggest stages at worldwide conferences and meetings of global leaders, and that it had a charismatic ambassador—Rachel Botsman.
Rachel is a researcher, writer, lecturer, and a thoughtful, funny storyteller who can make complex ideas meaningful to a wide audience. Her TED talks have been viewed more than 4 million times and Monocle named her one of ‘the world’s top 20 speakers to keynote your conference’. Mrs Botsman recently launched her new book Who Can You Trust?, and brought a big idea to the world stage: she is certain trust has become our new currency. Sceptics cite the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, which seems to reveal a world in stagnant distrust,1 but Botsman tells us that trust has not been destroyed, it has just changed form, like energy does.
Mrs Botsman answered a few questions on trust and the role of technology for N WIND. N WIND (NW) What led you to research trust and its importance? Rachel Botsman (RB) I’ve been intrigued for a while now by how important trust is—Why is it so critical to every interaction and relationship? When I wrote my first book, What’s Mine is Yours on the so called ‘collaborative’ or ‘sharing’ economy, I became deeply curious as to how technology could make us engage in behaviours that might previously have been considered a little creepy or outright risky, such as opening our homes and cars to strangers. The currency that makes these ideas work is trust. At the same time, I was studying how trust was continually being eroded by key institutions in society—incidents from the lurid and criminal, to the plain stupid and depressingly routine. I had a hunch something deeper was connecting these issues. My new book Who Can You Trust? charts a theory, a bold claim: we are at the start of the third, and biggest, trust revolution in the history of humankind. Trust, the glue that holds society together, hasn’t disappeared; it has shifted. NW You speak about trust as energy that is never destroyed. What interests you about trust and how do you approach and analyse it? RB Trust has evolved in three distinct chapters. The first was local, where everyone knew everyone else. The second was institutional, where trust was intermediated through contracts, courts, and corporate brands, to create an organised industrial society. And the third is distributed trust, which returns us to the horizontal direction of trust. Instead of flowing upwards to key institutions, experts, authorities, and regulators, it now flows sideways to peers,
neighbours, colleagues, and strangers. I call this the era of distributed trust that can help explain a lot of the complexity and disruption happening in our lives. That means we’re as likely to trust say, a stranger, a bot on the web, an Airbnb host, or a new cryptocurrency as we are an established authority or institution. The consequences of this shift, good and bad, cannot be underestimated. NW How has technology impacted this trust shift? RB The current trust shift is taking place in a landscape of rapidly shifting and evolving technologies, from artificial intelligence (AI) to blockchain to the Internet of Things (IOT). We are already putting our faith in algorithms over humans in our daily lives, but this is just the beginning. We will soon be trusting our very lives to the unseen hands of technology. It’s an age of trust in speed, one in which we increasingly outsource our capacity to trust to algorithms. Technology is enabling and accelerating millions of people to take what I call a trust leap. A trust leap occurs when we take a risk and do something new or in a fundamentally different way. Once it happens, you cannot reverse the story. Humans are remarkably good at taking trust leaps to break down barriers and to create new forms of value. The difference today is we are being asked to leap faster and higher than ever before. NW You wrote in Who Can You Trust? that ‘we stand on the threshold of a chaotic and confusing period’ regarding trust and that we therefore need to construct ‘a new era of hyper individual accountability… a new kind of vigilance and decision-making’. What role do you
trust the idea of the blockchain—the system, the programmers, miners, entrepreneurs, and experts who establish and maintain the cryptographic protocols. A large dose of faith is required. Blockchain technology is not immune to human manipulation or interference. For example, what would happen if a handful of the largest mining pools in China worked in concert? The processing clout could give them veto power over changes to bitcoin software. What if they decided to forbid all US blocks of transactions from being added to the system? Blockchain technology does not replace the need for human trust. At the end of the day, even if the math works perfectly, trust is not simply a matter of code. NW Have you seen any specific examples, beyond the cryptocurrency world, of blockchain technology being used to foster greater trust?
NW What specific issues and problems currently damaging trust do you think blockchain technology will be suited to solve or remedy? RB When it comes to trust, the principle behind blockchain technology is the same: a digitally decentralized, shared ledger that relies on users to power the network by confirming transactions. This means that people who have no particular confidence in or knowledge of each other can exchange all kinds of assets without having to go through a trusted third party such as a lawyer or bookkeeper. It’s why the blockchain is likely to disrupt industries like law, banking, real estate, media, and intellectual property—industries that typically involve layers of complex processes and lots of ‘middlemen’ to handle matters of trust. NW What are the limitations of blockchain tech when it comes to building more trustworthy institutions, processes and platforms? What can't they do or guarantee? RB Blockchain tech has been described as ‘trustless trust’ but it’s a misleading term— trust is clearly still involved. You have to
NW What do you think will happen to trust in the future? RB There’s a lot to be optimistic about. I think we’re living in a time when we can use technology to redesign systems that are more inclusive, accountable, and fair, disrupting many of the systems and monopolies that have benefited the privileged few. But my optimism comes with big caveats. The consequences of this re-distribution of trust are vast. You must be very conscious of who is filling the trust vacuum and what their intentions are: from bots and algorithms cleverly designed by tech experts, to populist politicians. We need to question, challenge, and test these people (and bots) every step of the way, because trust is society’s most precious asset. ■ rachelbotsman.com 1 Edelman Trust Barometer: edelman.com
Giedrė Stabingytė envisioned and co-founded N WIND to promote creative exchanges in Northern Europe and the idea of the New North. Professionally a brand strategist and conceptualist at Black Swan Brands, Giedrė has worked with multiple companies, entrepreneurs, and visionaries in the region to help envision ideas that create structures in chaos.
Rachel Botsman Future
RB We experience every day how the internet has transformed the transfer of information. In about five years’ time, we will look back and be able to see how blockchain technologies have reinvented the transfer of all kinds of value. It is a transparent truth machine around moving assets—a distributed public ledger that offers the possibility of a reliable record for any asset transfer, whether it’s currencies, a contract, stock, equity, or bond, deeds, property titles, the copyright to a song, and even your identity.
see blockchain-based technology playing in this new era?
WE ARE AT THE START OF THE THIRD, AND BIGGEST, TRUST REVOLUTION IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND.
RB Much of the interest (and a lot of hype) is focused around how decentralized ledgers can create a shared version of single proof or a digital truth about the identity of assets. One exciting example I came across was the platform Everledger. Founder Leanne Kemp was fascinated by the potential of the ledger to track the origins and ownership of material goods. She began with the diamond industry and discovered that it was plagued by problems such as synthetic diamonds, insurance fraud, theft, and tampering with paper certificates. So far, Everledger has digitized the ID of more than 1 million diamonds, and has partnered with big financial players, including Barclays and Lloyds. The company is now building an anti-counterfeit database. Everledger is essentially building a platform that tracks the true identity and reputation of objects.
THE INEVITABLE PITFALLS OF BRANDING A COUNTRY: DID ESTONIA GET IT RIGHT THE THIRD TIME?
Branding Estonia Trustful Societies
In 2017 Enterprise Estonia, a state foundation promoting business and regional policy in Estonia, unveiled Brand Estonia—a toolbox with the aim to help any person or company introducing Estonia to do so in a somewhat uniform way. Let’s just say people had a lot of opinions on that. To make sense of the media frenzy that followed the presentation of Brand Estonia, one needs to go all the way back to the beginning of the 2000s when Enterprise Estonia first started to develop a brand for Estonia. After a few years and millions of kroons a simple logo with the message ‘Welcome to Estonia’ was publicised. The reaction was ruthless and ‘Welcome to Estonia’ was, for many years, more of a joke than a salute. The conclusion was that for the wider audience, an Estonian brand is, primarily, a logo. Some people hoped for a new logo to be designed to replace ‘Welcome to Estonia’ and its tarnished legacy. In 2016, a national contest for designing a new Estonian brand was declared a failure despite more than 600 entries, most of them quite amateur. No winner was selected. Branding Estonia was never set up to be an easy job that would inspire the admiration of the public. The team behind Brand Estonia, led by noted designer Alari Orav (a partner in Estonian design company AKU, which has worked with the likes of Huffington Post and Tallinn Music Week) knew that. They tried a different approach, starting from the premise that unified principles and introductory
materials—facts, pictures and videos—help state institutions and different businesses get their message across in better, faster and cheaper ways. This means that in the case of an international fair, a state institution or private business does not have to invent the wheel to represent Estonia, but can use Brand Estonia’s toolbox instead, complete with freely available photos, videos and a special typeface named Aino. Alari Orav specifies that he defines a brand as a collection of information and experiences that are associated with a certain product, company or state. ‘A brand exists whether we want it to or not,’ says Orav, ‘we can only control some aspects of it.’ He states that neither his team nor Enterprise Estonia designed the Estonian brand, but informed and coordinated actions can raise the profile and reputation of Estonia in the world. Three main topics were chosen to be part of Brand Estonia: independent minds, a clean environment and digital society—Orav assures us that these are not taglines, but things that actually matter. After a press event introducing Brand Estonia and the toolbox in January 2017, journalists focused on one certain design aspect— the digitally rendered image of
a boulder, which, to many, bore resemblance to either a random blob or a puking hedgehog. Media contextualised the boulder as Estonia’s new logo despite confirmations by Enterprise Estonia that it was meant only as one possible design element, and, inevitably, the memes and jokes came pouring in. Alari Orav admits that they could not fight the media uproar caused by the misinterpretation fast enough, despite the fact they never even planned to design the new Estonian logo. As the actual aim of the new brand was unclear to the public, people were expecting a replacement for the old ‘Welcome to Estonia’ logo, and got a typeface, some photographs and a green rock instead. Alari Orav says that if given the chance to start the whole Brand Estonia process over again, he would present the project differently and prepare more examples featuring the toolbox before publicising the concept, so people could understand fully what Brand Estonia was meant for. Martin Lazarev, a photographer and designer living in Brazil, known for designing the compact ID-card reader ‘ID+’, considers Brand Estonia pretty, but meaningless, more of a tourist leaflet than a brand. ‘There is no need for a brand to sell, the brand itself should be so good that it becomes dear to people who would want to use it.’ Lazarev notes that while the design is beautiful, it is doubtful whether the brand works in the eyes of the public and communicates the intended message to foreigners. ‘The brand should not be an Enterprise Estonia project meant purely for developing business. A good state brand develops from certain characteristics, general impressions and legends. No one cares about the business side…
a project set up purely because of business reasons is destined for failure,’ he remarks. Current project manager of Enterprise Estonia’s Estonian Brand Services, Liisi Toots, states that coordinating materials for introducing a country are cheaper and more effective—if the message coming from Estonia is clear and unified, it will be easier to remember. Brand Estonia’s toolbox was used by about 70 institutions and enterprises last year, including Estonian ministries, the Port of Tallinn and the Estonian Jazz Union. Thousands of accounts have been set up to download the materials from toolbox.estonia.ee and several Estonian tourist and
educational websites have been upgraded accordingly. Liisi Toots predicts that with regular updates, Brand Estonia tools can be used for another 10–15 years. So, while Brand Estonia is not popular with the wider population, it is a helpful tool for many institutions and businesses. But should locals love their country’s brand? A good example of a branding idea that quickly became dear to the public was the socalled ‘EST-concept’ created by Dutch e-Resident Peter Kentie. It’s a play on words: Estonia—the fastest, smartest, greenest country. Although developed by Kentie, he has granted Enterprise Estonia permission to use it, and it is currently mentioned on the Brand Estonia website. Martin Lazarev has used Kentie’s concept on t-shirts (with captions like ‘dopest’ and ‘best before’). by two unsuccessful branding attempts, making the institutionoriented toolbox a hard sell. Brand Estonia’s stylish Nordic solutions may make Estonia appear more trustworthy when used for presentations abroad, but perhaps its own citizens’ trust cannot be won by branding anyway. ■ Brand Estonia toolbox: brand.estonia.ee
IN ESTONIA, CLEAN AND UNTOUCHED NATURE CO-EXISTS WITH THE WORLD’S MOST DIGITALLY ADVANCED SOCIETY. IT IS A PLACE FOR INDEPENDENT MINDS WHERE BRIGHT IDEAS MEET A CAN-DO SPIRIT.
Branding Estonia Trustful Societies
Silvia Urgas is a freelance writer, passionate about music, copyright issues, wooden houses and commieblocks. Silvia has written for several Estonian publications and has published a book of poems.
It seems that Brand Estonia was meant for PowerPoint slides rather than t-shirts. ‘If I’m in a foreign country and I need to do a 10-minute presentation about Estonia, what will I show, what will I talk about? This is where our work comes in handy,’ Orav explains. Certainly, clear guidelines and a choice of excellent stock photos is better than using Comic Sans and tilted horizons from your own Instagram feed. Despite what one thinks of Brand Estonia’s toolbox, using public assets for less tangible things like designing and developing a brand—a term bearing different meanings even for people working with branding daily—will always attract critics. The general public’s trust has already been broken
Johan has worked at Falkman Råd & Retorik since 2003 as a course leader, lecturer and consultant.
ARISTOTLE IS BORING AS HELL, BUT HE HAS A POINT
Emilie Toomela Rhetorics & Trust Trustful Societies # TRUST 42
Rhetoric is the ancient art of persuasion. When you think about it, public speaking skills can be used for good or ill, it just depends on who is doing the speaking. Johan Falkman, leader of the Swedish family business Falkman Råd & Retorik, has trained people from all over the world in the mechanics of creating excitement and proving your point. He argues that the ability to convince is not a superpower you are born with, but the fruit of hard work. Tune in to his inspiring thoughts on Aristotle, our current leaders, and his personal ethical compass on detecting fake truths.
Emilie Toomela (ET) Your family has worked in the field of rhetoric for decades now, tell me how it all started. Johan Falkman (JF) My father founded our company Falkman Råd & Retorik in 1987 and it really has been a family affair ever since. My mother joined the company and ran it together with my dad until end of the 1990s. On the other hand, I have never felt any pressure from my family to take this path. I was very much into
music when I was younger, so I did not consider studying rhetoric until after high school, but rhetoric felt like the perfect choice for me in the end. Some five years ago, after my parents retired, it was time someone took over the company, and that is what I did together with my sister Elinor. ET Thanks to your family, you probably got your first glimpse of what rhetoric means already as a young boy, how has its essence changed during the last decade?
JF The main thing is that people are more informed about rhetoric in general. People are not as easily fooled anymore. You might have heard about ethos, logos, and pathos, which are the three pillars of rhetoric. This theory was also Aristotle’s main contribution. I believe the most important one of the three is logos—the facts, the things you know. My father always said: If you know the facts, you are in the clear. What I have seen over the past five years, is the rise of fake news and muting truth, which
RHETORIC IS NOT ABOUT TRUTH, IT IS ABOUT PLAUSIBILITY. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR SUCCESS THAT YOUR AUDIENCE BELIEVES WHAT YOU ARE SAYING TO BE TRUE.
JF I agree that in modern times Brexit is a clearcut example of using rhetorical methods for ill-doing. But this has always been true, actually, and history is full of examples of entire countries that have been duped by false narratives. Rhetoric cannot exist in a vacuum, other social tendencies are factors. Brexit happened as a result of political rhetoric, but also due to the fact that citizens were tired of EU policies. It was the same in Germany in the 1930s and you can look back as far as Ancient Greece, how Cicero used rhetoric to bend the truth to his will. ET Any tips on noticing political false truths? JF When it comes to politics and opinion pieces, the big trend in rhetoric is branding oneself as a teller of truths, as a representative of the silent majority. By pointing to ‘the others’ and claiming that they do not work for the good of the people, politicians like Donald Trump build their brand and gain people’s trust. My advice is to be sceptical. Think about what goals the person delivering the message has. We used to trust our intuition, but with the rise of social media, when everyone can be a publisher of truths, it is not as easy anymore. I can be grim when looking towards the future (laughter). ET A knife can be used for both cooking and killing. Rhetoric can be used both ways, too—for honest and dishonest purposes. JF This is why you see more and more work for fact checkers, there are so many media outlets now entirely devoted to checking news facts. For private citizens it’s really hard, mostly even impossible to confirm what politicians, or anyone else for that matter, are saying. We should challenge ourselves to not always give in to confirmation bias and be wary of the way social media and search engines show you the world. What I have tried to do is to actively look
up information, politicians, and parties that I absolutely do not like. I wish to listen to all sides of the story in order to form my own opinion and not just go with the flow.
off by telling a story, maybe even half a story, to raise interest. Now the only way people can find out how the story ends is to keep listening to you.
ET It is said that only unfulfilled love can be romantic, is augmenting reality in rhetoric something that is essential to its success?
ET You said you can often be found in close proximity to your band IIIII (Lines) studio. What have you learned from your creative work as a musician about establishing trust with your audience?
JF Any kind of communication is about choosing what is more important and what is less important. At the end of the day, communication comes down to your choices—what you wish to highlight or downplay. It is important to anyone engaged in communication, when making those choices, not to go too far. If you do, you lose your audience’s trust. Keep your ear to the ground, listen to what is important to the people, and yes, go ahead and talk about it. Rhetoric is not about truth, it is about plausibility. It is essential to your success that your audience believes what you are saying to be true. ET What are the best ways to practise your own rhetorical skills? JF It is a common misconception that rhetoric and being convincing is a talent. That is not how it works. It is all about technique, method, and training. That is what I wish to teach when I give lectures or do training. The art of rhetoric is over three thousand years old, so I talk a lot about Aristotle. I try to do it in a fun way, because Aristotle was boring as hell. The beginning of the presentation, the hook, is key to capturing your audience’s attention and then keeping it. How you choose to do it is up to you, but it should generate a question mark, or an exclamation point above your audience’s heads. ET What are the best ways of creating hooks that lure people into listening to you? JF A common mistake that people make when giving speeches is that they start with what they wish to convince people of. The issue with starting your presentation in this way is that if you have, let’s say, 20 people in the room, they might have the same attitudes you do, but they might also think the opposite is true. Getting people to change is terribly hard, and the only way you can do that is if they agree that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. You can start
JF As a musician, in some sense of the word, I act or play a role. On stage, I am ‘the performer’, and combining that role with who I am as a private person is what gets my audience to trust me. Regardless of the setting, the most important thing is always honesty and preparation. People can accept that unexpected things happen during a performance, but they will never accept that you have not prepared properly. ET Who are your best examples of great speech givers? JF Barack Obama is fantastic of course, so is Michelle Obama. My favourite speech is by author J.M Coetzee. He held it at the banquet when he received the Nobel prize in literature. Look it up, it’s lovely! ■ falkman.se
Emilie Toomela is a communications strategist, and PR and marketing consultant for government organisations, enterprises, and events. She is skilled in political communication, startup marketing, growth hacking, and community management. She is also known as a freelance film critic, as well as a sci-fi and old school Western film enthusiast. ‘Trusting your intuition goes a long way. An old Native American proverb says that the longest road you will ever have to take in your life is the sacred journey from your head to your heart. We used to trust facts, but now, in the posttruth era every man and woman can make their own truth. So, it is up to your heart—a human’s inner compass—to decide what is true and what is not.’
Rhetorics & Trust Trustful Societies
JF I believe logos should still be at the heart of your message, but nowadays it is also true that people tend to make up their own truth. Rhetoric therefore is under attack as part of the problem with fake news and alternative truths. It is and has always been a neutral technique than can be used for good or for bad. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American politician, has said that you are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts. It might sound a bit bombastic, but I believe as a citizen it is everyone’s role to push back and keep sticking to the facts. ET In the post-truth era, after the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, which are the most common heuristics and strategies politicians use for developing trust?
ET Has the flourishing of rhetoric diminished the role of other arts of discourse, such as logic?
have changed the balance between the three senders of rhetoric.
The family business Falkman Råd & Retorik is a rhetoric agency founded in 1987 and since then has trained and coached people in the techniques of convincing, creating excitement, arguing, inspiring and selling. Since 2015, Falkman Råd & Retorik has been managed by brother and sister, Elinor and Johan Falkman.
Written by the Artistic Director and Curatorial Team Artistic Director: Vincent Honoré Curatorial Team: Dina Akhmadeeva, Canan Batur, Neringa Bumblienė, Cédric Fauq, Anya Harrison
TRUST WITHIN THE BALTIC TRIENNIAL 13
Vilnius chapter of Baltic Triennial 13 GIVE UP THE GHOST Ieva Rojūtė ONE THING, YOU ARE SLIPPERY 2018 Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius Photo: Andrej Vasilenko
N WIND x Baltic Triennial 13
Baltic Triennial 13 tackles questions of independence and dependence through the prism of belonging, to disrupt our crystallized perspectives on identity. Their main strategy was to showcase a range of voices which would act as witnesses to different ‘situations and ways of belonging’. Embracing such issues suggested that we—the curatorial team— had to get rid of our preconceived ideas of what it means to belong. This could be one interpretation of the title ‘Give Up The Ghost’—get rid of simplistic ideas about how we belong and what we belong to, and welcome complexities and misunderstandings. In that sense, BT13 is an attempt to better grasp a contemporary situation, and, by extension, to belong to the era we are living in. Baltic Triennial 13 GIVE UP THE GHOST Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius 11 May – 12 August, 2018
Tallinn Art Hall (Kunstihoone) 29 June – 2 September, 2018 kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga 21 September – 18 November, 2018
In Vilnius, the largest venue of the Triennial, the exhibition is filled with yet-to-be-named organisms and dystopian landscapes, questioning the concepts of territories and social bodies. The Tallinn chapter will focus on sensuality and intimacy as parameters that must be taken into account when reflecting on belonging. Taking the form of an epilogue, the Riga exhibition will set an otherworldly backdrop for a series of performances and events privileging gestures of generosity and humility in equal measure. The very format of the Triennial, conceived as a multitude of events, can be seen as an
asset—we had to trust time and the different rhythms of the project. The fact that BT13 has been devised through ellipses, repetition, anticipation, and fast-forwarding should enable the project to better host contradictions, intricacies, and even conflicts. To trust time, however, does not mean to ‘let it go’. In the context of such a project, it is generally difficult not to chase time. Our relationship with time was always in question: How best to communicate with each other? How to plan ahead? How to be as efficient as possible? Questions of productivity are all time and project
Working with the three commissioning institutions of Baltic Triennial 13 required a degree of trust on their part as well. That Vincent Honoré and the curatorial team were given an immense degree of artistic freedom to allow the Baltic Triennial to infiltrate and take over for the duration of the exhibition with absolute carte blanche is a testament to that trust. This trust is most visible in the Triennial chapter that has already opened—the Berlin-based architect Diogo Passarinho, who worked with the curators to produce the architecture of the Vilnius chapter, proposed profoundly reshaping the very fabric and character of the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), where the exhibition takes place. Layers of the building have been ‘peeled off’ to expose skylights and a floor that had been covered at some point in the building’s 50year history. The removed materials form the architecture in which the artwork at CAC exists. Turning the building inside out, making its ‘ghosts’ visible, resonated deeply with the concept of giving up the ghost and became one of the central elements of the exhibition. This intervention is a material
manifestation of the confidence the Triennial’s commissioners had in the artistic vision of Vincent and the curatorial team. The decision to focus on poetry was not only in pursuit of reactivating language, but also words, thoughts, rhythms, and movements. The distrust inherent in unquestioned and preconceived uses of language empowers this year’s iteration of the Baltic Triennial. We must reconsider which ghosts to give up. Baltic Triennial 13 is the most ambitious exhibition to date in that it privileges a format that transforms through space and with time. From the very beginning, the decision was made to untether the Triennial from its conventional structure, instead organising three distinct and consecutive exhibitions across Vilnius, Tallinn, and Riga, as well as the Prelude that took place in Vilnius in September 2017 and the Bastard Voices performance in London in March 2018. This has enabled us to address the Triennial as a large-scale exhibition, to question how it might behave, and to discover if we could retain a sense of humility at its core. Launching the Triennial in Autumn 2017 with the Prelude necessitated trust in BT13, trust that it would evolve with each chapter and remain responsive and attentive to each distinct setting. ■
IT HAS BEEN QUITE A JOURNEY, WORKING WITH 70 ARTISTS TO PRODUCE NEW ARTWORK, SOME OF WHICH (THE PERFORMANCES IN PARTICULAR) WE COULD NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND BEFORE THEY WERE REALISED.
Performance, 20 mins Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Sultana, Paris Photo: Sandino Scheiddeger
N WIND x Baltic Triennial 13
Tallinn chapter of Baltic Triennial 13 GIVE UP THE GHOST Paul Maheke Seeking After the Fully Grown Dancer *deep within* 2016-18
Riga chapter of Baltic Triennial 13 GIVE UP THE GHOST Ben Burgis & Ksenia Pedan Celf Haul 2017 Installation view, performance Keira Fox Photo: Ben Burgis & Ksenia Pedan
An event as ambitious as this Triennial can only be possible with unwavering confidence in the artists and their proposals. It has been quite a journey, working with 70 artists to produce new artwork, some of which (the performances in particular) we could not fully understand before they were realised. The trust had to be shared. Artists needed to trust the curators, the curators needed to trust the artists and they way their pieces would resonate with the venue, resonate with each other, resonate with the audience. The artists had to trust that their work could be positioned in a large group exhibition, yet keep its individuality. This trust was built over time, either because we had worked with an artist before, or by carefully building relationships, explaining the project in detail, and dialoguing with the artists and accompanying their productions.
We hope that a sense of generosity emerges from these relationships we have built, allowing visitors to participate in the experience and become important actors in the triennial.
management issues that aren’t often touched upon within the arts. They were, however, crucial to BT13 as a first-time collaboration in between three institutions, which also meant three different ways of operating, and, on top of that, led by a London-based curatorial team. As such, trust was at the core of our working method. Not only that, but it enabled us to better grasp what was at stake with BT13: dependence and independence are notions intimately related to trust.
Lifelong Dance Practice: Project 45+
CONNECT TO CREATE!
and xenophobia’—writes Anne Szefer Karlsen, chair, Network Funding expert group 2014–17. The programme highlights a few exemplary projects:
Culture is crucial for grasping the opportunities offered by globalisation. The Nordic and Baltic Ministers for Culture agreed to promote mobility as an important instrument to strengthen the conditions for cultural and artistic cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic region. The Nordic Mobility Programme for Culture was established in 2007 and the Baltic countries joined in 2009. It focuses on mobility, network building, and artist residencies for artists and professionals working in the fields of art and culture. In 2017 the Mobility Programme granted a total of over 1.7 mil. EUR, and most of the applications were granted Mobility Funding—a grant that covers travel expenses for artists and cultural agents. N WIND asked Sofie Ilsøe Sjöblom, senior advisor at Nordic Culture Point, what the programme advisors look for in the
applications: ‘The expert groups are always looking for innovative, interesting, and meaningful collaborations between our countries. We prioritise projects that represent cultural diversity and cooperation between different types of artistic and cultural bodies.’ Kenneth Flak, member of the Mobility Funding expert group between 2014–17, emphasizes that the experts have been ‘missing voices and experiences from cultural and ethnic minority communities’ and are looking forward to ‘seeing how the countries will work towards integrating these voices as a natural part of their cultural discourse’. Network Funding aims to create possibilities for more in-depth and collaborative investigations, ‘we see that the importance of Network Funding is growing in a time of increasing protectionism
The project has been ongoing for several years. It seeks creative new ways to tell the stories of real people involved in prostitution. Four art books on the subject have already been published. Project members Eglė Plytnikaitė and Hanuka Lohrengel received Nordic-Baltic Mobility Funding for their journey to Helsinki (in January 2018) where they worked with contemporary circus performers Viivi Roiha and Sade Kamppila, whom they met during the Contemporary Circus Weekend in Vilnius where they were holding an intensive workshop on drafting a performance based on the real stories of prostituted people using the most vivid body language tools.
This project received Short-term Network Funding in 2016 and Long-term Network Funding in 2017. Their purpose is to enable networking between dancers and choreographers, 45 or older, in the Nordic and Baltic countries. They wish to discover new ideas and identify opportunities for ‘senior’ dancers and choreographers to continue developing their artistic qualities. Baiba Ozoliņa, project member, writes that they are ready to create a piece to perform in Hammerfest, Norway, in November.■
Mobility Funding: 23.07.2018 – 22.08.2018 21.09.2018 – 22.10.2018
DATES TO NOTE IF YOU WISH TO APPLY FOR FUNDING:
N WIND x Nordic Culture Point
Lifelong Dance Practice: Project 45+
Lilies of the Streets
Lifelong Dance Practice: Project 45+
Short-term Network Funding: 27.08.2018 – 27.09.2018 Long-term Network Funding: Early 2019, exact dates to be announced in September. Support for Artist Residencies: Early 2019, exact dates to be announced in September.