Foto: Christine Butz

Every town needs a social meeting point

Did you ever hear the German word ‚Heimat‘? It’s a term that is quite unique and cannot really be translated to English or Norwegian. ‘Home’ might be the word that comes closest to it, or maybe even better: ‘the feeling of being at home’. Though ‘Heimat’ often refers to the area where one is born, it need not necessarily be that. Bausinger describes ‚Heimat‘ as a connection between a physical place and a social togetherness – a place where we feel very safe, understand the cultural rules and feel that things are manageable.

At a project last year at SISA (Culture centre in Alta) people from all over the world came together to discuss what ‚Heimat‘ meant to them. The answers were as different as we humans are; while it was the smell of roasted rice from their mum’s kitchen for some, it meant the wagging tale of a dog when coming home or the hug from your husband after a long day of work to others. Though the details people came up with were different, all agreed that feeling safe and home was mostly connected to other people, to friends, family and neighbours. Likewise, the strong, emotional bonds that connect us with the people around us were an important key to the theme. These mosaic parts echo the research results in psychotherapy that show that it is not so much the kind of therapy one approaches in need of help, but rather the quality of the bond one develops with the therapist that is important.

In times of globalisation, where people choose not to live where they are born, either because they want to or because they are forced to, the question arises whether it is possible to have more than one place that we refer to as ‘Heimat’.

I personally feel that this is possible and that social meeting points like SISA in Alta and the Arctic Meeting Point in Tromsø can play a big role in the process of feeling at home at a new place. They offer the opportunity to get in touch with new people, get insider tips about the region and have a cosy time drinking a cup of coffee or tea. Since this magazine is being distributed both in Alta and in Tromsø, I would like to give a short introduction to both of these places to give students that just moved to the North a place to connect with others.

Photo: Christine Butz
Photo: Christine Butz

SISA is situated in Bossekop, next to the Coop building. It offers various things like speeches, international food days, art exhibitions, trips, catering, markets, a tailor, a haircutter and much more. There is also a shop in the building that is made of old EU palettes and sells handmade things. If you produce something yourself, this could be the place to start selling it. But most of all, SISA is an open house with a small café where you can drop in and meet great people.

The AMP (Arctic Meeting Point) in Tromsø has still not grown as much as its big brother SISA. Though it is not connected to the church at all, the rooms are situated in the Methodist Church close to the public library in Tromsø. They offer courses like Qigong, have an open coffee and tea meeting every Monday evening and different cultural events like during Kulturnatta. Every Sunday at 19:30, the creative ‘Living Room’ meetings take place there, featuring changing themes like cooking, storytelling or improvisation theatre.

Both culture-houses are open for everyone and are always in search of and welcoming people with their own ideas to start something new. So if you feel like you have an idea for a special kind of course, a small business or one-time events, both the folks from SISA and AMP would appreciate you dropping by or contacting them.

Just take a friend and show up, you won’t regret it.

Text: Christine Butz