Since 2013 the Future North project has been traveling, analyzing and documenting Subarctic and Arctic Landscapes. The research group, PhD scholars and several guest researchers have been on repeated visits to the Kola Peninsula, Svalbard, and the Barents Coast, with particular emphasis on Vardø.
Vardø forms a special case of in-depth engagement by the project. Over a period of 4-5 year the project has visited the town several times, often with students. The project has collaborated with the city development platform Vardø Restored to help develop strategies for city development and innovation. A seminal impact of this work has been the empowerment of single individuals who are struggling with how to rescue large valuable wooden buildings, and revive them in a way that makes better for the entire city.
The Future North project received additional funding to carry out two important events to mediate results from the project. One was a public seminar in Oslo, in Norwegian, in order to disseminate knowledge and reflections on the Arctic. The seminar Det fremtidig Arktis, ressurser, landskap og politikk was held at Litteraturhuset on October 23, 2016 and featured researcher from other Arctic research projects to complement our own perspectives. Gro Ween, UiO, Brigt Dale, Nordlandsforskning, Johan Schimanski, UiO, and Arild Moe, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, proved competent and inspiring guests and conversation partners.
The second event was a larger seminar in Vardø, with Vardø Restored. After many years of visiting and working in Vardø, we wanted to open our work to the locals who have been watching us walk the streets of Vardø, photographing, filming and talking with a selection of property owners. Over four days in November 2017 the Future North group, Vardø Restored, locals, visiting researchers, the mayor of Vardø, and property owners participated in seminars, workshops, town walks, lavvo talks, including evening presentations at Nordpol Kro. All meals were served in the lavvo, prepared by the Varanger chef, Tor Emil Sivertsen.
The most central events in the walkabout-part of the program were visits to Østre and Vestre Molokrok, two of the largest fish processing buildings in Vardø, purchased and in the process of being restored by Jørn Jensen, a local teacher. Work has been supported with help from Vardø Restored to secure funding for the restoration.
Jørn Jensen is one of the property owners that Future North has sought to support and empower with ideas and extended discussions about the potential of Vestre Molokrok. He clearly expresses the importance of this support for his decision to risk purchase and undertake restoration of the two large buildings. A rare, valuable and difficult to document research output.
- Former students Miles Hamaker and Brona Keenan showed their diploma project Savor the Past, Taste the Future in Nordpol Kro. The project draws out an infrastructure for community food processing alternatives in Vardø, suggesting that empty buildings be revived as community kitchens where locals come together to exchange knowledge, refine and enterprise local food products.
- The project Vardø Rebaked was shown in one of the empty bakeries in town. With students at the Tromsø Academy of Landscape and Territorial Studies, Victoria Cobena Serrano has mapped and researched the history of bakeries in Vardø, of great interest to present-day inhabitants. It draws out possibilities for establishing a bakery in one of the now empty bakeries, based on an analysis of the circulation of locals and tourists, in order to ensure a social function for locals and contributing to enhance and support the town attraction on tourist.
The remaining student projects under the auspices of Future North is presented in Future North: Vardø, with articles by Future North members that have been involved in Vardø work.
During a full day seminar in the former Grand Hotel, Future North presented its views on Vardø for the community. The most important event was still the Grand HUB workshop on the last day of the seminar. With Maria Bertheussen Skrydstrup, owner of the former Grand Hotel, Future North has established the Grand HUB project, seeking to develop it as a creative hub. Maria wants a transparent process, and invited locals, researchers, and the mayor to a brainstorm of how to use the large area of the building in a way that may help strengthen the city. Model-building of the Vardø island in seaweed, ideas workshop and discussions resulted in an agreement on continued collaboration and new work models, with the Vardø municipality as a dedicated and formalized collaborator.
Mari and Jørn have a common desire to develop their building to the best advantage for Vardø. Future Vardø projects will include both projects.
For a research projects seeking community impact, a closing event could not have ended on a better note.
Future North-prosjektet er basert på reisevirksomhet til tre hoved-destinasjoner: Kola-halvøyen, Vardø og Svalbard. Vi fikk i 2012 tildelt en stor reisepot, som vi i dialog med NFR løpende har omfordelt i forhold til utviklingen i prosjektet.
Vi har brukt mer reisemidler enn planlagt, men foreløpig ikke mer enn hva vi totalt hadde. Vi har imidlertid på det nåværende tidspunkt brukt opp reisemidlene våre og søker herved om en tildeling som vil gjøre oss i stand til å oppsummere og utstille vårt arbeid i Vardø, samt avvikle en avslutningskonferanse på litteraturhuset i Oslo i oktober.
Sluttfasen av prosjektet inkluderer to seminarer med ulike fokus. Seminaret i Vardø vil være rettet mot lokalbefolkning og utviklingsaktører. Det tar utgangspunkt i arbeidet til Vardø Restored, Komafest og Future North i Vardø. Det har som mål å løfte opp resultater fra og eksempler på kartlegging av kulturell verdi i Vardø og diskutere hvorledes dette konkret kan danne utgangspunkt for en ny byplan og fremtidstenkning i forlengelse av Future Norths overordnede mål.
Seminaret i Oslo fokuserer på å formidle Arktis-forskning til et bredere publikum. Vi inviterer andre Arktis-forskere og samfunnsaktører til en bred diskusjon og spekulasjon om nordområdenes fremtid sett fra et sosialvitenskapelig og humaniora-perspektiv. Vekten vil ligger på sosial og landskapsutvikling, med stor vekt på mulige og håndgripelige resultater av forskningsarbeid i nord. Det tar for seg samtidig og fremtidig utvikling i nordområdene og Arktis og vil legge vekt på lokalt initiativ og bottom-up strategier.