People move away from northern areas, it's a fact. Many times we ask what's the future for our youngsters. Why to stay or why to come back to Inari after studying. Tourism, high technological testing work, working for health and for to take care about old people who have done their lifework already, reindeer hearding naturally for those who have the possibility. Sàmish culture and work for sámi people of cource a big part in these areas.
These are the usual, most common to be said when thinking about future. Mining maybe, but maybe not so good for nature image of Inari, quite wounerable because of rapidly varying economic issues. No, too risky, takes euroes out from country, threat to spoil original nature etc, too many buts... No more forest industrial things practically, that time went because of globalization and saving nature and rescuing environment, no come back with that to be seen.
So big challenges. How to guarantee possibilities to children of my generation. One dimension in addition to those mentioned is the direction to east, North-Western Russia. When our Youth Parliament visited Finnish Parliament a few years ago and met the member from Inari those days Mr. Janne Seurujärvi, one of his main message was that: great future to Kola Peninsula. Lots of possibilities. Learn Russian language, learn the culture... Do it, don't wait.
Why with Russia...
Janne is not alone with his thoughts. Almost all development programs for Lapland sing the same song. Nobody knows when, but many persons are looking forward to the future: some day.
We in Inari often forget one fact: the nearest real city is situated quite near, as near as Rovaniemi. But it's not Rovaniemi. It's Murmansk. Now people in north know more about it: during weekends the most spoken language in Ivalo markerts, even in Rovaniemi sometimes seems to be not Finnish but Russia.
So it's because of commercial issues. But on the other hand and from youthworker's point of view it's more: because we live so near. Important at northern areas: get to know each other and know the situation and culture of neighbouring country. And we often speak about this dimension when we speak about international youth work. But in practice: the efforts and interest have been more to other parts of Europe. Maybe the reason for that is supportissues, European Youth change programs, a really good method in itself, has given more attention for that.
Why not and other ???:s
Barentsian co-operation, not only Russia - Finland but Norway and Sweden too: a lot of speak and ceminars, not as much action. Sometimes to an ordinary-everyday youthworker it really looks like that. Of cource there's BRYC but in Finland. Speaking, not doing.
Same with cooperation to Russia. I've been thinking about reasons. To official and governmental structures I have one proposal: visa freedom for youth change. If we really want to improve situation, we could give a supportive sign by that and make things at least a bit easier. Of cource there's EU but anyway. If Russian youngsters under 18 get free visa for youth change to Norway why not to our country? Why not a visa freedom area Lapland - Murmansk region? Maybe it's future. I hope anyway.
In practice there has been some difficulties because of language problems. Seen by long term that's true even by my experience. But then comes the but: these days the situation is totally different, younger generation especially at voluntary organizations speak more than earlier English. English is really good choice for a common third language. More equality, less interpretors if you can't Russia. Makes things more straight. So not a problem any more....
What else? Lack of money and lack of time, if You start You`ll get more work to usual agenda. True, I easily understand. Travelling for instance from Rovaniemi to Murmansk and back in itself is an effort. But all interesting has it's costs.
Then there are still existing some second thoughts and doubts: how can You trust and what are the real motives anyway? Hmmm.... only thing to walk over: get to know, do together. No alternatives but worth to try.
New culture - new partners
One reason can also be the fact that there isn't knowledge enough. My experience is that there has been a lot of changes especially during the last maybe 5-7 years. A lot of you new way to think and some structures to help for developing co-operation.
If governmental connections seem to be too... too something, so there's alternatives. One good is Barents Youth Co-Operation Office (BYCO) supported by governments of Barentsian four countries. Maria will help, no doubt. Another good to mention and with which I have too really good ecxperience when co-operating, is Non-commercial Partnership Socium+. All kind of projects with infrastructure, oil etc. and among all also projects for cultural issues and youthwork. Leading project manager Irina finds surely out a proper project if there is any need to have change. As near as the nearest computer...
From youthworker's point of view maybe the most interesting is Mr. Pink, Murmansk newiest Youth House runned by youngsters themselves. Mr. Pink is a platform for more than 40 different projects ideapowered ja implemented by youngsters living in Murmansk. The place itself is something almost amezing... I'm sure that Zhenja the president and Natasha the vice will say wellcome to all who are honestly interested to visit Mr. Pink and to see what's happening there...
Common thing: new generation doesn't wait anymore. It doesn't just think, it acts. Those people want to make their dreams true. Actually they face the same fact as we here in Lapland. People, especially youngsters leave their hometown and the direction is to Petrozavotsky, St. Petersburg or Norway or Finland. The amount of the citizens in the city has rapidly got lower. Mr. Pink and these others want to fight against this. They want to make their homecity more comfertable for youngsters to live.
Hmmm... have I heard something like that somewhere else. So the conclusion: common language is not only English... Let's think about this.
So I recommend to try. For the first timer it's an experience with black or white results, it's either or: never again or next time as soon as possible. Since 1992 at my youthwork: I've never counted my visits...