New life of unacknowledged heritage

Sep 16, 2019 at 18:48 • Culture

A workshop for Cultural Mosaic winners has ended in Arkhangelsk Oblast. The workshop was attended by representatives from non-profits that won the competition Cultural Mosaic: Affiliate Network, as well as spokespeople for the organizations running the competition in federal districts. They served as experts running the training module. The studies focused on distinctive aspects of non-profits, corporate strategic and tactical objectives, and distinctive features of process and personnel management. After a two-day training session in Arkhangelsk, the group headed for Pinega Raion in the east of the state. There the workshoppers learned about the projects implemented by local action groups and non-profits, such as Pinega Fairyland, which is sponsored by Cultural Mosaic.

The participants visited a family museum, the village of Yerkino, whose residents reintroduced the oatmeal porridge and offer it as a tourism product, and the village of Tserkova, where energetic babushkas set up Darochkina Izba, a programme to bring back the crafts of Pomorye.

In sharing her impressions of the trip, programme participant Anna Brusnitsyna confessed on Facebook that she liked both the musical names of villages and the heritage of Pinega – solid log houses and barns. “New life is breathed into these unacknowledged heritage items. In Verkola we stayed overnight in a guest house, an old building remodelled and repurposed very professionally. The Yuryeva Sloboda guest house — I recommend it to all travellers in Pinega Fairyland! An item of interest: a pottery in Tserkova. This is a group of energetic grannies who self-organized and welcome guests in traditional Russian dresses and talk about their village and its traditions as if at a get-together. The village was famous for its pottery traditions, which became irrelevant in Soviet times. But what we have here is old wives, as they call themselves, who got together, taught themselves, reinvented the process, bought equipment and are now teaching others and making clay souvenirs – a sight for sore eyes!”

It is not only the aged who are active in Pinega. Higher-formers and young professionals offer and implement their ideas. They are assisted in this by Pinega Initiative, an NGO set up by a group of fellow enthusiasts. Many of them are executives at culture and tourism centres in the Pinega district. Anna singled out an aspect of the activities of these people that we find very important: “They think their mission is to enable the residents rather than to organize everything for everyone and meet the proverbial targets.” It is indeed true that the involvement and willingness of the locals to take charge of local growth are a precondition for a change for the better in small population centres. This is borne out by the experience of the Cultural Mosaic programme.

Tutorials and internship programmes are part of the activities that the Charitable Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko has been organizing for the entrants in and winners of the Cultural Mosaic competition. In 2015 the Timchenko Foundation developed a strategy for Cultural Mosaic and launched a long-term programme to grow small communities. It is designed to promote successful initiatives to form sociocultural development centres capable of energizing local communities through cultural tools, building partnerships and developing and implementing local growth strategies.