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Meeting in Helsinki as part of North-Western collaboration project

February 25-27: Friends of the Baltic held a kick-off meeting in Helsinki of the new project called the Baltic-Nordic Network for Capacity Building of North-West Russian NGOs in public education for sustainable solutions. The participants got to know about a number of environmentally friendly solutions being used in Finland, of new methods and forms of public education about such solutions, as well as discussed the further development of the project activities.

February 25-27: Friends of the Baltic held a kick-off meeting in Helsinki of the new project called the Baltic-Nordic Network for Capacity Building of North-West Russian NGOs in public education for sustainable solutions. The participants got to know about a number of environmentally friendly solutions being used in Finland, of new methods and forms of public education about such solutions, as well as discussed the further development of the project activities.

The meeting was attended by representatives of a few Friends of the Baltic project partners, such as: Youth and nature from Murmansk, Karelian society for nature protection from Petroskoi, Gaia from Apatity, Center for Applied Ecology from Tallinn, as well as volunteers — Baltic Sea embassadors from St.Petersburg. All were hosted by the Finnish Nature league Luonto Liitto.

This new collaborative project is supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers and implies the study of Nordic experience, forms and materials that may be used in order to develop our own educational activities in the North-West of Russia, and the exchange of our best-practices in this field — to implement realistic and practical environmentally friendly solutions and to inform public about them. A leaflet for general public and a booklet from NGOs covering these issues are to be published as part of the project. The booklet will give a survey of educational methods and examples of sustainable solutions in the Nordic countries and in North-Western Russia.

During the trip the participants visited the educational center of the city recycling center, where school kids and everybody interested may get information about different ways of reusing and recycling things. The center arranges educational guided tours to the city waste disposal site. Besides, there is a special educational program developed for kids, called Flying Squirrel Lennu and the Big Mistery which is available in several languages. This program has already been tried out in schools and keeps on being used for kids’ environmental education.

The second visit was to Luonto talo, the nature House, which serves as a place for diverse trainings and workshops by Finnish NGOs. Each room of the house has a topic focus and is aimed at visualizing different natural processes. For exaple, one room enables kids to imagine a food chain, another one reproduces the sounds of the sea. All Finns seem to believe that every house has a spirit living in it, and in the Nature House there’s even a special room designed to accomodate it.

Then, accompanied by Asta Eckman, a chemist from the nature school and laboratory of the city of Helsinki, went on a hiking trip on ice to Harakka island, to the very nature school. During summers this is a place for environmental education for kids and in winters there are artists working in it. This place is unique, because here kids become surrounded by nature and may follow the life of living organisms of the Baltic region. besides, therey may conduct hydrochemical and hydrobiological tests in the lab. On the island there used to be a secret military lab, but of course now all the military is gone, but the remnants of those times remain visible. The constructions haven’t been completely renovated, and everything looks the way it did 2 hundred years ago.

The busy day ended with a workshop by Jan Pankovets of Tallin’s Center for Applied Ecology. Jan showed how to make paints out of ecologically safe products such as egg yolks, beer and different natural dyes.

The last day of the visit was dedicated to the discussion of the future project activities. A few publications are to be prepared in the nearest future — an educational leaflet of Sea protection and a booklet on environmentally friendly solutions and methods of public education. In the end of August an international environmental youth camp for environmental activists is to be held in Russia.

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