Gathering Stories from Europe’s Northern Regions on a Digital Platform
The concept of storytelling is extremely timely. More and more companies are recognizing the power of creating a soul for their product by telling its story, preferably one that is anchored in the local cultural heritage or landscape. The StoryTagging project is based on this phenomenon. The project gathers stories of life in the north, and the brand name Northword has been adopted for this purpose. StoryTagging is financed by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA), and it spans over a larger geographical area than e.g. the Botnia-Atlantica Programme. – This gives us new and interesting partnerships, tells Ms Ann-Sofi Backgren, Project Leader on the Finnish side of the Kvarken region. The project encompasses five northern partner regions – the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland, Kenozersky National Park in Russia, the Kvarken Council in Finland, Region Västerbotten Turism in Sweden, and two organizations in Northern Ireland, the Ulster University and Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust.
The selection of the Northword platform’s materials can touch on landscape, coast and water, people and industries, dialects and culture, myths, legends, and folklore from the northern partner regions participating in the StoryTagging project. Photo: Esa Siltaloppi
The aim of StoryTagging is to highlight the natural and cultural heritage of these northern societies by gathering and documenting various stories and bringing them to life – perhaps also with new products.
– We’re working from a European perspective, and we’ve used this starting point to create the brand name Northword– northern stories and words. These can include old tales, myths, legends and actual events, and the materials will be collected in both written and recorded form. We will also create a digital portal, open for all kinds of visitors, Ms Backgren explains.
At the project’s early stage, Ms Backgren will work together with Ms Kajsa Åberg, Project Leader on the Swedish side of the Kvarken region, to establish cooperation with other actors and to build networks.
– We collaborate with others who work on the same theme, thus benefiting each other and drawing on each other’s experiences, Ms Backgren tells. The selection of the platform’s materials is based on geographical balance and the relevance of the materials for the whole region. The stories can touch on landscape, coast and water, people and industries, dialects and cultures, myths, legends, and folklore. The project also focuses on supporting selected companies that are keen on developing new products based on the gathered materials.
The purpose is to produce concrete examples on how entrepreneurship can be linked with our cultural and natural heritage, and how storytelling of life in the north can serve as a marketing tool. – The power of stories can provide an extra push for sales, and we already have some really good examples of this in our region, Ms Backgren states.
– Our regions have strong storytelling traditions as a link between history and modern entrepreneurship, Ms Åberg adds. Often the things that we take for granted are precisely those that make us unique in the eyes of others. The project can help us to find ways to work actively with this.
Ms Ann-Sofi Backgren and Ms Kajsa Åberg from Region Västerbotten Turism manage the StoryTagging project within the Kvarken region. The project focuses on gathering stories and establishing the Northword digital platform.
After the completion of the project, the Northword digital portal containing the materials and stories will function as a platform for companies to market themselves at European level.
– This will give local and regional companies the opportunity to shift gears and start operating on a larger scale, in a European market. At the same time, the regions are marketed individually in the project, and the aim is also to provide insight on the different regions for an outsider, Ms Backgren adds. Some of the regions have already carried out similar projects.
– This is a chance for us both to learn from their experiences and create something that suits our circumstances. It’s the first step on an interesting journey together, Ms Åberg tells. Northword will reveal the inner power of local cultural heritage both for the tourism industry and the economic life.
Text: Anna Sand/bySand Photos: Anna Sand, Esa Siltaloppi and press photos storytagging.interreg-npa.eu