Scan Magazine | Special Theme | Our Big Swedish Winter Wonderland Guide
Photo: Patrick Trägårdh
A village worth fighting for That two electricians, a farmer, a journalist, a career advisor and a blacksmith would go on to create a nature experience destination with an award-winning restaurant, treehouse-style birds’ nests and an eco-hotel might sound unlikely. But that is exactly what happened in the case of Granö Beckasin. By Linnea Dunne
“Jan-Erik Sjöblom was an old man who lived in a tiny little house down by the river and had dedicated his entire life to the conservation of birds and animals. He didn’t like killing animals, but he went rummaging through the woods to find dead animals and people would bring him birds that had flown into windows and so on,” says Annika Rydman. “He had a big swan in the kitchen and the basement was chock-a-block with animals. His favourite was the snipe (‘beckasin’) – so that’s where our name comes from.” The story behind Granö Beckasin is nothing short of extraordinary. It started 38 | Issue 95 | December 2016
with the threatened closure of the village school in Granö, a northern village of about 350 inhabitants and a beautiful setting right by the river with a backdrop of mountains and farmland. “This was happening all over Sweden at the time, but we realised that if the school closed down the whole village would die,” Rydman says. So the locals decided to take action. They developed a proposal for how to save the school, invited local politicians round for coffee and buns, and their mission was successful.
A lifestyle close to nature The event gave the locals a taste for citizenship action, and they set out on a mis-
sion to preserve the village life they all cherished. “It was about a lifestyle – living close to nature, never having to lock your door. And that’s when we thought of tourism,” Rydman explains. Inspired by the late Sjöblom and his decision to donate his entire collection of stuffed birds and animals to the municipality, the group decided to make Granö into a destination with a bird museum at its heart. Rydman, who worked as a journalist at the time, had an office in the nearby city of Umeå that she happened to be sharing with an architect. He developed a proposal for a building shaped like a bird with its wings spread, counting 58 metres between the tips, and the dream to teach visitors all about birds, nature and the local traditions grew stronger by the day. The financial crash in 2009 meant that the group behind what was to become Granö Beckasin, of which Rydman is now the CEO, had to start at the other end;