The Bridging Ages Conference in Finland September 2009

Greetings from local organizers at Stundars, Kronoby hembygdsförening and Österbottniska fornforskningssällskapet!  

"Bridging Local History in a Global Context" was the theme of the Bridging Ages Conference 10-13 September 2009 in Ostrobothnia, Finland. In total 67 participants from seven countries took part in the conference. The participants, who represented both newcomers and also more experienced Bridging Ages-members, came from South Africa, USA, Turkey, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Finland.

As a warm-up, the conference started one day ahead with two options on the programme: Hands-on archeological school project in Malax or a Time Travel to the 14th century with the Christian Folk High School in Vaasa. This Folk High School has had Time Travel in their curriculum for years! Thursday and Friday was set apart for Business meeting and seminars at Stundars Open-Air Museum. During these days we were able to listen to various presentations about Historical Environmental Education. Remember to reserve enough time for discussion in the next conference, since Bridging Ages participants have great need to reflect upon the methods! (Evaluation Report www.bridgingages.com). We concluded the Friday evening with a refreshing Sauna bath in the Kvarken archipelago. The Finns were very impressed by all the braveness the international participants showed, specially since the sea was quite chilly.  

The Conference moved during Saturday and Sunday to the city of Kokkola, ca 120 km north of Vaasa along the coast. After a short stop at Oravais battlefield, from the Finnish war 1808-1809, we arrived in Kokkola ready for a Time Travel back to September 1809. The merchant Anders Roos senior was about to prepare a wedding for his son. All the people were looking forward to the wedding party, usually meaning a lot of food and happy company. Specially since this was the first wedding after the Finnish war. And even though the peace treaty between Sweden and Russia was about to be signed (17.9.1809), the citizens in Kokkola were still not very excited. After a few days Finland would become a part of the Russian Empire, and the Russian soldiers would be a daily sight in the landscape. This was actually the end of more than 600 years of the common kingdom Sweden-Finland. The Time Travel to 1809 was even more interesting because at this point the Bridging Ages conference merged with another conference, held by the Finland -Swedish Federation for Local Heritage. All together we were a company of 150 persons dressed in early 19th century clothes, which made ordinary Kokkola inhabitants raise an eyebrow...   Sunday was spent sightseeing in Kokkola and its surroundings. A visit to Tolvmansgården where ten year old girls from the local museum club were our guides, followed by a lovely lunch with a local touch made our day complete.  

The conference was organized by an Ostrobothnian network for Time travels and Historic Environment Education, existing since 2007.