The terrorist attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 shocked me at the core. I was not directly affected, nor were any friends or dear ones, but all the same it felt so personal. The attacks were aimed at the democratic institutions and principles and they took the lives of innocent people, many of them young people who had dedicated their time, energy and passion to creating a better society through their political involvement. I spent two amazing years in Norway as a teenager, with other students from all over the world, we came together under the principles of peace and international understanding. The circumstances felt so similar and that’s why it got so personal.
The days and weeks following the attacks I talked to friends in Norway and Sweden and from all over. I felt that something needs to be done, we need to come together, we need to share and learn from each other. It just seemed so awful that at this point in time, all the Nordic parliaments have racist parties represented, there have been several incidents over the past decade that have increased intolerance, how do we learn from eachother so that we can actually put an end to it?
I ended up organizing TO OSLO, WITH LOVE - a Nordic meeting that actually gathered 70 people coming from 15 countries, in a three day dialogue on where we go from here. The format was an Open Space, so the people themselves were the ones setting the agenda. This resulted in some 30 sessions ranging from personal stories and accounts from the attacks, to philosophical and strategic sessions on the types of education we need to build empathy and social cohesion.
For me personally, this gathering felt very strongly like a coming together of a lot of different things that I believe in: intercultural understanding and antiracism, co-creation and collective intelligence, passion drives initiative and personal relations lead to success. I feel like there are a lot of things I learned and felt during the event as well that I haven’t even fully processed yet, so I’ll have to get back to that further on in my stories : )