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A bit of Fluxus, some Medieval sites and the grand final.

With a slight feeling of spring in the air our first trip this friday took us to the village of Malpartida de Cáceres. An old wool washing industry here has been converted into a fantastic art museum – The Vostell museum. With bits and pieces from modern society´s artefacts like cars, TV:s and motorcycles, Vostell has created an atmosphere that made us reflect upon our lifestyles in the western world. Sustainable art indeed! https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/vostell-malpartida-museum

The damm that used to keep the water for the wool washing industry.
A fountain of modernism in the garden of the Vostell museum.

Next stop on our tour was the capital city of Cáceres. The inner core of the city dates back to 25BC. The medieval walled city center is a Unesco World Heritage. You might have seen it before since the sceneries where uses in the Game of Thrones.

Capital letters for the capital city of the province.
Welcome to the historical quarters of Cáceres!
Touching the foot of a saint surely will bring her luck!

Life in a medieval city meant keeping the water resource safe. That is a task which also has a bearing on our modern life. How can we make sure that 7 billions of citizens on this earth can access safe drinking water?

The Moorish cistern of Cáceres built approx. 1000 years ago.

Underneath the old city are the remnants of its moorish past. Once built by recycled roman and visigoth building materials into arabstyle architecture, the king of Spain made sure the basin was allowed to remain intact after the reconquesta. On the way back to Mérida we saw an abundance of storks. The Extremadura region is a part of an EU-financed project to restore the habitats of the storks.

The Stork project has revitalised the habitats successfully!

When we came back to Mérida it was definitely time for lunch. Of course our hosts had prepared a fantastic paella.

The fantastic paella!

The late afternoon took us back to where we started. Not longer newcomers the feeling in the air was that of accomplishment. The tones of Halleluljah, spanish guitar and Chopin beautifully performed by students from Poland and Spain, gave the closing ceremony the right air of dignity. Certificates of attendance where handed out, the winners of an environmental kahoot where being “crowned”. The spanish team has been wonderful. Thank you! We are so much looking forward to next meeting in Kaunas, Lithuania. Let the environmental work continue. “Viva España! ahora Lituania está esperando”.

Cello duo playing Halleluljah.
Proudly presented with our certificates.

Planting trees for a better future

Waking up to a sunny morning, getting ready and dressed for a day outdoors but first we gathered at the school for a seminar about the initial survey of our project. A great job had been done by the statistical co-ordinator of the project Mr Eduardo Corbacho and his students at Sáenz de Buruaga school. Down to a detailed level of explanation we learnt about our current answers to some of the critical issues of our times. The total report is said to span over almost a hundred pages! What an effort.

The statistical co-ordinator of the project: Mr Eduardo Corbacho and his students.

After a short break close to a “swedish fika” we got on the bus. This bustrip was to take us to Cornalvo http://visit-western-spain.com/cornalvo-natural-park/ a Natural Park with holm oaks and cork oaks. On the way there we caught several glimpses of livestock.

The visitors center at Cornalvo Natural Park
A case full of protectors, essential equipment when one is planting saplings!

In the mediterranean forests on both sides of the road the famous Iberian pigs roamed in large flocks. From them comes the famous pata negra. Arriving at the main building we then got a briefing from the rangers about the wild-life of the park, its trees and flowers. We also learnt a bit about how to plant holm oaks. Then we had applied sciences! Well, anyways, we got to practice our treeplanting skills. This was an awesome thing for us. Planting a tree for a better and greener future is something emotionally satisfying. Since the trees will be protected they will also give each and everyone of us a reason to return to the park to check up on their growth, maybe even violate them a bit – leaving a carved in heart in memory of someone special on their bark in the future?!

Getting the work done!
Under a cork oak
One of the rangers together with Mrs Giovanna Nieddu from the Italian team.

The problem of deforestation has been known since late 1800s. Being a country where shepherds have roamed the countryside with their herds of sheep since the middleages has led to a loss of soil and other adverse consequenses for the environment. As early as 1867 a reforestation commission was created in Spain. Healthy forests are essential for preserving the soils and also acts as barriers when heavy rains washes the land. Another aspect of a tree is that it capsules carbon dioxide. Today we dug in to do a small part of this reforestation work!

After a delicious lunch outdoors we went back to Mérida. The late afternoon was spent in the National museum of Roman art: http://turismomerida.org/what-to-see/national-roman-art-museum/ a beautiful building drawn by the renowned spanish architect Rafael Moneo . Just outside a roman soldier – Abel, teacher in latin language – was waiting for us and inside we were given an introduction to the museum and its collection by Ph.D. Trinidad Nogales Bassarade: today in charge of the museum but earlier in her career she has also been the minister of education and culture in the Region of Extremadura.

Our host and Erasmus project co-ordinator Luis Ignacio Mur with our roman soldier Abel.
The past meets the future.
Our spanish hosts introducing us to Roman history.
Inside NMRA – the National Museum of Roman Art.
A commercial from the past.
At the arena.
A mosaic floor from a Roman villa in Augusta Emerita.

Regional efforts of Extremadura

This morning we where invited to the Extremaduran assembly. It was a very representative place in the middle of the city of Mérida. Here we learnt a bit about how an autonomous region works and that the Extremadura region has more ambitious goals than the Kingdom of Spain! When Spain has 20% of the energy coming from renewable sources, the figure for Extremadura is 50%! Our students also got to meet a politician from the assembly – Mr Felipe Redondo Milara, a member of the socialist party. One of the questions he was asked by our students was: “What are the politicians of Extremadura doing to improve the circular economy of Extremadura?”. He told us about the creation of a new National Park to protect biodiversity and the eco-system of the flora and fauna of the region. There is also approx. 160 other projects going on in the region. Many of those projects are about solar energy replacing fossile fuels as sources of energy production.

Entering the Extremaduran assembly
Swedish team outside the Assembly
Mr Felipe Redondo Milara with our translator Ines Pino, english Teacher at Sáenz de Buruaga
The alabaster decorations – lungs and hearts filling the people of the region with emotions and energy.

Next official visit was at the mayor´s office. The mayor himself: Antonio Rodriguez Osuna, held the opening speech. A panel made up of the head of the board of education, the head of environment and the principal of the Sáenz de Buruaga School told of us about their work with circular economy and sustainable tourism, then all students were presented with a gift from Merida, a T-shirt of course in spanish red.

The mayor Antonio Rodriguez Osuna was also wearing the 17 climategoals of UN on his lapel.
Anna Sierra the principal of Sáenz de Buruaga and Susanna, the head of Education.

When all questions had been answered we walked back in time to 37 AD, the date when Augusta Emerita, the “grandfather” of Mérida was founded. The Romans built a fort at the northern banks of the Guadiana river. The fort was later taken over by the arabs and turned into an Alcazaba. A remnant of its roman history is kept alive in the current coat of arms of the city – a two-arched bridge. Our guide through this long history was the archaeologist in charge of the excavations. Whoever was in charge of this fort controlled the only bridge from the north to the south in the province of Lusetania!

A picture of a coin imprinted with the two-arched bridge.
Our guide explaining the origins of the fort which later became an Alkazaba.
From the walls of the fort you have a great view over the bridge once built by the romans over the Guadiana.
Essential for all forts is a well, here is the entrance to the one watering this one.
The path used by the horses used for carrying the water supplying the 2000 soldiers living inside the premises of the fort.

Those of us who had some energy left after this went to Dolmen de Lacara and after that we had a dinner together before finally getting a night of sleep, preparing for another busy day experiencing the spanish hospitality.

The Dolmen of Lácara

Hydro electric power plant and Roman bath in the village of Alange

Tuesday morning was a sunny and cold morning. We gathered at the IES Sáenz de Buruaga school where we got on a comfortable bus taking us to the hydro electric powerplant of Alange. The dam at Alange is a gravity dam built in 1992. It has two main uses; providing fresh water for the Mérida region and producing hydro electric power. Nuclear power is the most important source of energy in Spain at the moment (45%) but renewable sources like sunpower, aeolian power and hydro electric power are growing in importance.

The village of Alange is a sleeping beauty at this time of the year. Its approx. twothousand inhabitants are recovering from previous season and are expecting the next. When the fourhundred hotelrooms are full of tourists they have nine busy months of working around the clock. The main attraction is the Roman baths dating back to 300 AD. They are dedicated to the goddess Juno.

Overlooking the village is the Castle of Alange, once held by the military order of Santiago after they had conquered and won it from the Moors. The symbol of the order is said to date back to the age of the crusades.

The cross is also a prominent feature inside the Church of our lady of Miracles in the central part of Alange. In the walls of the church swifts have their nests which is seen as a symbol of fertility, giving extra power to the church.

In the evening our students spent their time with their hostfamilies meanwhile we got to enjoy the hospitality of our spanish co-ordinator Inaki trying different kinds of tapas.

Of course we sang along with the food!

Getting beyond being strangers

Now we are all here in Mérida, Extremadura, Spain. All teams have arrived with their students and we are enjoying the spanish hospitality. The day has been intense, like a paso doble. No bulls are roaming the arenas anymore but the river Guadiana is still wetting the pastureland around the city and the heart of the spanish people is warm and red and welcoming.

All countries started out by introducing themselves to eachother. After a short break we then got to the more serious tasks of sharing knowledge about different environmental issues with eachother. The spanish students led the way. They introduced different sources of environmental problems to us. The Czech Republic followed up by furthering our knowledge of the causes of deforestation. In the Czech Republic draughts and the birch-beetle have severely harmed the forests. Italy and in particular Sardinia is experiencing loss of biodiversity and we got to know a little bit more about the albino donkey and other red-listed animals. Lithuania told us about garbage accumulation and Poland about pollution. The swedish girls then finished the theoretical part of the day by sharing their knowledge about the clothing industry. There we all can participate by using, reusing and mending our clothes.

After a typical lunch – chickpea stew – we went to the Roman theater in Mérida, one of twelve treasures of Spain. The site inspired Ridley Scott when he worked on the film Gladiator and today it also inspired us. Agrippa made an entry into the historybooks of us all when he financed the buildings of the arena and the theater in the decade before 0.

So, here we are, people from six european countries. Our main aim is to do something about the climate but a co-benefit of it all is that we get to learn about eachother! Tomorrow the experience will continue…. for today, we say thank you!

Fifth project day

Today, October 25, we began a work meeting to determine the ongoing work.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ireland/en/youth-outreach/ambassador-school-programme

At Lund Municipality with Anna-Karin Poussart, environmental strategist and Helena Görtz – Tourism Developer.

Lund Municipality has decided that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by at least 50 percent by 2020 and emissions by 2050 will be close to zero. The goal is tough, but we see that we are on the right track. Greenhouse gas emissions in the area have decreased by 47 percent compared with 1990. The biggest contribution to the reduction has been that the proportion of renewable energy in district heating increased dramatically when the Örtoftaverket was put into operation in 2014, which means that natural gas is no longer used in the district heating network.
Lund Municipality is located in an expansive region and in order to create sustainable, attractive urban environments, we need to be forward-looking in our urban planning where we maintain a compact city with a vibrant center. At the same time, the opportunities for green environments in the city for the well-being of the inhabitants must be safeguarded. It should be easy to walk, cycle and use public transport, so that we can reduce car dependency. By densifying the city, the good soil is also saved, which is extra important as Lund’s city is surrounded by 10+ soil – the best arable land in the world.
A rich, vibrant nature with great biodiversity and well-functioning ecosystem services is the basis for long-term sustainable development. Ecosystem services are the benefits that nature provides us with such as water purification, pollination and recreational opportunities. The challenge is how to protect them and create opportunities and strengthen them in connection with exploitation.
Clean water and fresh air are essential for all life. In Lund, the quality of the air is continuously measured and the goal is to stay below the low-risk levels that the state and the EU have set for various harmful substances. When it comes to water, we have problems with surface water, partly because of eutrophication, which is something we have to work on to reach the EU directive.
LundaEko is a target program based on the sixteen national environmental quality targets and on the Bruntland Commission’s definition of sustainable development. Based on the sixteen national environmental quality objectives, the above eight priority areas have been developed. Within each priority area there is a main goal and below it a number of sub-goals.

Fourth project day

Fourth project day
Today, on October 24, the day began with a work lunch in Kulturens restaurant. We were received in the City Hall by the chair of the municipal council, Mats Helmfrid, who lectured on the city’s history and its interesting present. The city, founded around 990 AD, when Scania was part of Denmark, has gone from being a Christian metropolis, with 27 churches and monasteries, to becoming a modern Swedish city of 123,000 inhabitants, with a university of 43,000 students and very modern innovation industries in medicine and communication, in close collaboration with the university.
In the evening we visited Stångby, an old village with historical traditions. The biggest battle ever fought in Scandinavia took place here, the so-called Battle of Lund, December 6, 1676, with 9000 dead. The battle was between Denmark and Sweden. From the battle, Denmark gave Skåne as lost and the university, founded in 1666 on the initiative of the archbishop, helped to transform the former Danish country into a Swedish province. Here in Stångby we met Philip Sandberg, the young and energetic chairman of the municipality’s board, and the executive mayor of Lund, who was very positive about our project.

Third project day

Today, Octobr 23, the day started with a bus trip to Skäralid, in Söderåsens National Park, which is a 100 meter deep crack valley with steep rock walls. At the bottom of the ravine, Skärån flows. From the Copper Hat viewpoint you have a fantastic view to the ravine stream and beech forest with all the beautiful autumn colors. In Skäralid there is also an end moraine and some snow drive niches to look at.
Back in Lund, we attended a seminar at The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University. Professor Lars Hansson presented the department’s work and presented how environmental awareness and sustainability have a positive effect on a country’s economy, from macroeconomics to the individual company. With statistics he showed which are the main sources of global warming and how different countries, especially China where he is a visiting professor, are trying to reduce CO2 emissions.
Doctoral student Steven Curtis presented his research on shared economics, electric scooters, Airbnb and the like, how this type of economy affects the environment.
Finally, we visited Kulturen, the world’s second oldest open-air museum, which contains the living environment from different social classes at the end of the 19th century. On the way home we took a round around central Lund and visited the cathedral, the university house and the academic association.

Second project day

Backåkra, Kåseberga, Ale stenar, Ystad, Johannamuseet.

The day started with a trip to Dag Hammarskjöld’s holiday home in beautiful Österlen. Dag Hammarskjöld was the UN Secretary General between 1953 and September 1961 when he was killed in a flight accident in Africa, which many believe was sabotage. During his time as Secretary General, he had to deal with several conflicts: the Suez War of 1956, the conflict in Lebanon, the conflict in Laos. During the civil war in Congo, which erupted in 1960, Hammarskjöld took the initiative to send UN forces to be sent there. He also personally tried to mediate between the combatants. For his efforts, he was rewarded posthumously with the Peace Nobel Prize in December 1961.

Hammarskjöld  left his summer home, Backåkra, to the Swedish state with all the equipment he had in his office in the UN. There are paintings of eg. Picasso. There, the UN Security Council held a meeting in May 2018. It was the first time the Security Council met outside New York.

We then went to Ale Stenar, an archaeological mystery. The ancient remains are already mentioned about 1515 in a list of Lund’s founding lands: an ager called dississ Hesten (a field known as Hedsten). The oldest location for the name Ales Stones, Als Stene, is considerably younger, from 1624. In his description of the shipwreck, the parish priest Niels Ipsen in Valleberga then reveals a local tradition that All had built a harbor below Kåsehuvud.

The oldest depiction of the ship setting is also linked to the sea and shipping. In stylized form we find Ales stones marked on Gerhard Buhrman’s coastal map from the year 1684. Apparently the ship’s setting was used as a landmark at this time. The first more detailed drawing was made in 1777 by the antique artist C.G.G. Hilfeling that depicted many ancient remains in Skåne. The first known photograph of Ales stones was taken in 1914.

These and many other older descriptions and depictions are important to the knowledge of Ales stones and the local environment. On two occasions – the years 1917 and 1956 – the ship’s restoration has been restored. Several stones had then fallen, and sand dunes covered large parts of the ship. An aerospace system erected by the military at the site during the Second World War also contributed to the decay. The restoration in 1917 is poorly known, but the interventions that were made were certainly not as great as in the 1956 hard-hand restoration. Then extensive excavation work was done with excavator and bulldozer without close follow-up by archaeologists.

This has contributed to the fact that the knowledge of Ales stones has long been virtually non-existent. There was no actual measurement of the ship’s setting and information on the number of boulders varied. They also did not know which ones were in their original positions. The dating was based solely on comparisons with other, better known ship phrases. There was also a lack of knowledge about the local environment. Did Ales stand alone or were there other monuments on the site? We really don’t know.

Martin Martinez told of his theory that it would have to do with Phoenician sailors, 3000 years ago. He showed similarities between a Phoenician ship and ship depicted on rock carvings in Tanum. For this he has support in the pictures but also in the knowledge that the Phoenicians traded with amber from the area, which was then sold in the Spanish city of Cadiz. 3600 years ago, the lifestyle in Österlen changed dramatically. From paddling in canoes in the Stone Age, southeastern Scandinavians became boatbuilders and long-distance sailors in no time. With amber as a commodity, the Österlen residents took the step right into the Mycenaean and Phoenician worldview of the Bronze Age, and the traces are still left on Österlen. As researchers Bob G Lind, Nils-Axel Mörner also claims.

Kåseberga has been mentioned in the literature during the Middle Ages together with, among others, Skanör, Falsterbo, Malmö, Skåre, Ystad and Simrishamn as regulated fishing locations for fishing and fish trade. At present Kåseberga it is a small fishing village with only 110 inhabitants, of which only a few are fishermen. There are smokehouses and restaurants. During the summer months, about one million tourists from Sweden and around the world visit Kåseberga.

After Kåseberga we visited Ystad. We wandered the town’s medieval streets, among its old houses, and then visited the Church of Mary and the Franciscan Monastery. We could see the oldest school building in Scandinavia, Latin school from the end of the 1400s.

The day ended with a visit to the Johannas Museum. A work of a man, who in 1952 decided to preserve all that he had experienced from his youth. In an old farm he gathered everything, from school desks, whole shops, musical instruments, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, clothes, machines of all different kinds. a spectrum of things that explain the evolution of technology from the mid-19th century to the present. The museum is now run by the founder’s son. He stated that it all started with his father buying an old T-Ford from 1914 in the fall of 1952 and then continuing to collect material throughout his life, he died in 1997. The current owner plans to expand the museum with agricultural implements from the Stone Age to our days. It will be ready by 2021 and will be an important excursion destination for all schools in southern Sweden.