Video Bridge /







On the 10th of February 2012, a meeting took place in a large hall in the Russian town of Pikalewo (pronounced "Pitkalyowo"), 250 kilometers east of St. Petersburg in Leningrad oblast. Pikalevo was getting some headlines in 2009 after a hard economic downturn threatened the livelyhood of the population - which turned out in spectacular protests catching the attention of Russian government and many observers abroad. The reaction to this by the Russian government was the broad recognition of a problem hitherto largely ignored. The problem is that the country’s so-called “monotowns,” small to mid-size Stalin-era establishments are almost entirely dependent on a single industry. The turmoils of the economic crisis make them extremely vulnerable, threatening total economic collapse for the town if just one company goes under.

The Russian Ministry for Regional Development said two years ago that one trillion rubles (about 25 billion Euros) would be required just to modernize one hundred of them. Therefore, public discussion in Russia is leading to extreme viewpoints like even getting rid of them totally.

Of course, there are people like our friend GlebTyurin that want to prove that even without those giant investments and just by mobilizing the right patterns and energies there IS future in smaller cities - if the leadership and the people get it right - and that was exactly the purpose of this meeting.

A broad coalition of institutions supported this meeting, and it was well - visited by people from the town, and representatives of neighboring towns. The Panel in front of the audience said "NEW PIKALEVO".

The meeting started with GlebTyurin presenting the concept of the project New Pikalevo.

Then came a Report from a Foundation that supports Business Development. Second came a Report from BASEL Corporation (Basic Elements - 200.000 employees in roughly a dozen factories around Russian federation), a company that wants to manage the necessary transition to a much smaller worksforce in a socially responsible way. Then spoke a Rector of ... University. Afterwards there was a report from the Union of Small Cities and speeches by 2 mayors.

After that I, FranzNahrada from Vienna, had the honor of adressing the crowd by Skype - from my office in Vienna:

This is what I said:

Hello Pikalewo!

I am very glad to meet you this afternoon, my name is Franz Nahrada and I am talking to you via Internet from Vienna in Austria - I would like to send you my best wishes for everything you do in your town. And we will be very glad to learn about what you do and put this information on our sites.

I am member of ECOVAST (was president of Austrian Section for some years) and founder of the GlobalVillagesNetwork. I am consulting citizens groups, towns and municipalities here in Austria and Germany, and we are just building an unprecedented project of live video talks, the Village Innovation Talks - trying to foster cooperation and knowledge exchange between the real innovators.

Small cities and Villages all over the world are facing the same problems - big problems - to find their economic future.

Why do these problems occur, what is the reason of that?

The reason is simply: Production which is based on big factories does not need so many producers any more.. Literally, a few cities in China can nowadays deliver goods for the needs of the whole world. There is a large competion globally in mass production.

If we are dependent on this big, big competition then we pay very high costs - and by costs I mean not only the monetary costs, but also the social costs.

Fewer and fewer people make money and can buy all that stuff - We feel it in Austria, in Greece, all over Europe!

Our answer is clear: we must turn back to the local. Its a sphere of unlimited possibilities. Mainly due to two factors:

  1. We now have become empowered by new products of industry to produce efficiently ourselves
  2. We have been connected worldwide to exchange and share our ingenuity.
We must pave the way for the rest of us to contribute productively in society, to be entrepreneurial in a small and smart way. I will be very glad to be together with you and think how we can cooperate."

The speech was very well received.

After that, the local teams gave their presentation. This is the local team on education, talking about new concept of education in the city:

Then came the local economy team. the concept of local economy is relatively new to Russia, but there were many ideas that sparked the imagination of the audience:

I will continue to add content as it comes in ....