Latvia – Sweden Re-use Project

Re-usage of care facilitation equipment

Re-usage of care facilitation equipment (in Latvia)

Hi Guys!! (borrowing our course leader Mia’s rhetoric’s : )

Seriously, being a borne Swede, I had no idea of the meaning of the word Curmudgeon. Thanks to our well chosen course literature, Alan Atkissons so bloody-very-worth-reading book “Believing Cassandra,”  I now know:  it’s an ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions! Thanks for the enlightening!  The funny thing is, that in spite our world can sometimes seem so crowded of them (The Curmudgeons), I have found no trace of them, while starting up and carrying out my project! 

I don’t grasp it fully yet: - why is everything going so smoothly, and where are the Curmudgeons hiding? Well. I’m ready for you, Curmudgeons, if you show up!

I have laid down quite some effort on studying cultural differences and how cultural background and history affects our national identity and our ways of looking upon life. Tell me wouldn’t it be fun to be able to confirm, that Swedes are basically spoiled brats that always knows best,  Americans are generally shallow and fake-teared sentimentalists, Latvians are post-Soviet traumatized crooks and ….

..Just don’t get me started, I just MIGHT be able to find totally unfounded (although to some minimal extent “true”) prejudiced generalist statements about all of us!! Blink blink (no Smileys available here)..

Anyway, before getting to my point, I have been so happy to note, the Swedes I have been in touch with running this project have proved to be:  The Nicest. I almost get tears in my eyes (so who’s the sentimentalist now), thinking about how much unconditional will to help, that has already been shown, in these early stages of this project.

There are many things to consider, but if I have been able to go this far already, with a reasonably small effort, then how far could this project not reach?

Before I tell you what has been going on these weeks, please read my “worst case scenario” of the project. Its extracted from one of our assignments, it uses Atkissons terminology and it can serve as a description of the project.

So here’s The Fairy Tale about the project “Re-usage of care facilitation equipment”:

Once upon a time…

…Peter learned from his Latvian friend Lilija about an elderly care facility in Ergli, Latvia, that was in need of material upgrading. A while later, he came up with a project idea, - the Innovation, about how excess phased out equipment could be put into use again, instead of becoming waste and turned into scrap. The equipment he had in mind was not even sub standard or much worn; it mainly consisted of excess production resulting from market force influence, as social care recently had been subjected to private enterprises with profit making as their primary goal. Peter (the Innovator) encouraged the project team to act as Sales Agents and to contact potential possessors of the equipment concerned. Surely they must be willing to contribute, as the positive effects of such an effort is double sided; - a win-win scenario, the project team said. The receivers will be a able to solve a current problem, and the donors will gain as well! The project team started with contacting MedNet AB, a major retailer, and talked them into becoming the Transformers of the idea into reality; the company would actually take an active role by starting to donate. MedNet subsequently contacted their business partners, other companies retailing to MedNet. And manufactures, such as Salubrious AB and others; all companies in some kind of relation to MedNet. Hey, - already found the Mainstreamers, and now the snow-ball was rolling already. The “Innovator” was suddenly almost not in control of the process anymore, (Atkisson, 2011, p 170), as other Mainstreamers suddenly emerged, wanting to bask in the warming feeling of goodwill AND the anticipated long term benefits of the project!  An other Mainstreamer proved to be the shipping company Tallink, who no doubt also wanted to be recognized as taking part in a welfare orientated action in their geographical business area, and therefore agreed to bear a part of the transportation costs.

Now stepped in an Laggard, dressed as the company Zodiac who openly claimed that if donating, they would totally eliminate Ergli oldfolk’s home as their potential client, and they would not any longer need to purchase their products. Luckily the Mainstreamers talked them into realizing that the long term effects of The Innovation outweighed the potential short term loss.  Suddenly a Reactionary speaks out in local media. It is a representative for the political majority currently in charge in the Municipality where the Transformer (MedNet) is active. The Reactionary says “we” cannot do like this, as Sweden has a “moral responsibility” (and as almost always a self undertaken role to supervise other “less developed” nations). In a public debate on the privately owned Channel 4, a group of people concludes that “equipment not used here, shall not be used anywhere else either!”. It is the Union of Swedish Social workers, - The Iconoclasts! They want everything to be as it always has, no-one shall try to disrupt the order of things that they have had a hard time achieved during many years of labour. The politicians and the other Iconoclasts gets sudden support from a known but retired Swedish Army officer, The Curmudgeon, who declares that Russia will no doubt soon re-introduce the old empire and that elderly care consequently will be dealt with in a collective manner, - most likely in Siberia! Any effort to try to help is wasted time and equally not needed!

Luckily the good hearted and sensible Mainstreamers ensure that this opposition is countered by good common sense. The Innovation is also supported by the fact that material consumption and new production is halted, and that the Innovation is coherent with the political wish of facilitating for reduced CO2 emissions. Over time these facts grows into acceptance by new Transformers and new Mainstreamers: - the snowball of better material utilization keeps rolling and growing. Today there is an accepted scheme for re-usage and prolonged life-span of technically resource consuming production of equipment.

So what about the old folk’s homes in Ergli?

Were they able to address their current need while governmental resources and even subsidies were put into use elsewhere? By time production grew and unfortunately also Latvia increased investments in newly produced equipment. But the social and cultural heritage had taught them to live in a resource saving manner. However, that had of course nothing at all to do with the Invention, it was purely due to the Baltic common sense!

Who owns the past, owns the future” (George Orwell).    End of tale.