|A few years ago I was working at the headquarters of Swedbank in Stockholm and I had a chance to participate for the first time in my life in the Almedalen Week in Visby in July 2010, an event that is considered a kind of phenomenon. The Swedes describe Almedalen as a socio-political Woodstock Festival. Every summer for almost half a century, the festival brings together different people from all over the country in an informal atmosphere, starting with the heads of constitutional institutions and ending with sharp-witted and active people from anywhere.|
|In Visby, I had the same feeling that I had experienced before at some summer cultural festival. The only difference was that people were not listening to the music, but the thoughts of sharp-witted people who thought, spoke and sometimes also worried about the development of society – regardless of their origin or profession. I experienced an atmosphere that was caring and constructive and where people respected and listened to other participants. It was interesting and people were relaxed expressing exciting thoughts. More involvement, more responsibility and more sympathy – these were the keywords that kept haunting me.|
|The next summer, I took my bank colleagues from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to Visby so that they could experience the atmosphere of Almedalen, meet different people who participate in Almedalen and discuss whether and under what conditions such an event would be possible on the other side of the Baltic Sea. The visit resulted in a cautious view that yes, it would be possible, given the uniqueness and background of each country.
Last summer while back in Estonia and sharing my experiences of life in Sweden with different people whom I consider to be my friends or members of my professional circles, I always ended up talking about the idea of whether and how such an event would be a success in Estonia and what kind of benefits it would offer. One thing led to another until on one nice day in this year’s late winter it turned out that there are dozens of people – Maiko, Urmo, Kaarel, Margo, Anvar, Daniel, Katja, Eva, Agu, Mall, Linnar, Ott, Andreas, Taivo, Meelis, Hindrek, Viktorija, Allar, Annela, Kristi, Ruti, Rainer, Ülle, Mairon, Alari, Kaido, Tiina, Piret, Reet, Kärt, Urmas, Maarja, Maarja-Liis, Sulev, Sven – whose good thoughts, energy, feedback and volunteer work make the event happen for the first time this summer, in a manner unique to Estonia and inspired by what we experienced in Visby.
|We hope that this will be the beginning of something that after decades will have a similar meaning as the project which was started 45 years ago by our overseas neighbours. That a new tradition and summer venue will be born. That we will all have more interest, be open to new ideas and have our say on issues important for Estonia. And that Estonia will become a better place.