IN SEARCH OF A GLOBAL LITHUANIAN IDENTITY:
A community building pilgrimage that explores and documents what it means “To Be LT” to those abroad.
It seeks to bolster unity and empathy by cultivating an inclusive and pluralistic identity that appreciates diversity. One that is resilient to the challenges of the modern world; One that embraces all her children. Five to eight individual 10-day trips to Lithuanian communities all over the world over the next two years. Each trip will be crowd-sourced with support and assistance and crowd funded by the diaspora. Will include mini-conferences, round-table discussions, creative collaborations, interviews, musical concerts, flash-mob interactions, and other activities; Produce a wealth of media: A TV and internet series, a radio single and a video-clip, articles, video and photography for social media and press, as well as other PR material.
The aim of the project is promote unity and values in line with a vision of a global Lithuania that spans beyond her national borders
We will do so by:
Helping those abroad make sense of their identity and show them how to reconnect; Reinvigorating the individual communities through engaging activities and creative interaction; Promoting a network of global Lithuanian collaboration; Cultivating understanding by highlighting what we have in common and what makes us unique; Communicating emotionally with the Lithuanians in Lithuania and outside; Stirring empathy by highlighting what we have in common and embracing the uniqueness of our differences.
We share a love for the same thing but have very little for one another
Lithuania’s people have been through a lot. Forced displacement, deportation, mass murder, discrimination, ethnic betrayal and cultural estrangement, have left their mark. Recent studies reveal that Lithuanians are amongst the least empathetic in the world. We top the charts when it comes to alcoholism and suicide. People are leaving in mass and not looking back. Although our history bears witness to a place and people that are uniquely tolerant and cosmopolitan, nowadays we are suspicious of our minorities, and have little empathy for those, who have made their lives elsewhere.
Many of those who have left, still harbour a longing; a bitter-sweet yearning to maintain and pass on something that is undeniably “Lithuanian”. They search for belonging, and wish to make sense of their roots in a foreign context. In many cases, traditions and customs have been carefully preserved outside Lithuania for over 3 generations. There is a sense of duty, a desire to maintain a connection, a commitment to serve.
Empathy, understanding, and solidarity are the key to achieving a sense of oneness. And yet, despite a common passion, there is little unity and understanding amongst those outside of Lithuania and those who remain. Although we share a love, we have little love for one another. Ironically each party has something the other craves. Each can heal each other’s ailments. Ones can bring Lithuania to the world, whereas the others can bring the world to Lithuania. Those abroad can help locals understand their place in the world and open doors. Those at home can provide connection to the source.
Is it a song, a language, a tenacity? Being Lithuanian means different things to different people. And every version is valid. Different stories and experiences, as well as interpretations of cultural heritage reveal what makes us unique, but also alike. This project seeks to explore the possibilities of an open, pluralistic and inclusive Lithuanian identity: One that can be embraced by a greater, global Lithuania; One that looks beyond national borders; One that is made up of myriad interpretations and compatible with the reality of the XXI century; One that includes members of the diaspora from all backgrounds, as well as minorities living in Lithuania.
Implications and Impact
A modern, pluralistic, inclusive and positive Lithuanian identity is of vital importance for: The successful development of Lithuania as a state; The cohesion of Lithuanians as a multi-cultural and diverse people; The preservation of cultural heritage, language and traditions in a modern world.
Weaving different threads into one
We do not seek to create a new artificial identity. We encourage people to explore other interpretations, accepting diversity and other possibilities. Respect, tolerance and empathy allow everyone to question and assess their identity; establish their own resilient sense of pride in harmony with those of others.
Solidifying through citizenship
Formal recognition in the form of citizenship for those who share Lithuanian roots or have assimilated the culture is a key aspect of this vision. Citizenship is the formal legitimation of affiliation. It is the maximum expression of belonging. This project seeks to educate and dispel fears of those in Lithuania of those abroad. Dual-citizenship is a theme that will be explored, as well as the relationship cultural heritage has to the state.
Cultural immersion and interaction through “pilgrimages” to each community
“Shared cultural experiences, community mobilisation, and rich story-telling are the best way of growing empathy and understanding. We wish to change attitudes and preconceptions by exploring, listening, creating together, and sharing that experience with others.”
Connect through: Words that speak to the mind – Activities that move the body – Love that warms the heart – Creativity that tickles the soul
ToBeLT: A community building pilgrimage that reveals a Lithuania that transcends Lithuanian borders
Five to eight individual “pilgrimages” to Lithuanian communities all over the world in the next two years will:
a) Reinvigorate individual communities: each trip will include different co-organised activities from round-table sessions to mini-conferences, workshops, personal visits, interviews, artistic collaboration, as well as a musical exchange and parties.
b) Document these activities and tell a story of the people: interactive cultural exchange with different members of each diaspora will result in a diverse view of the community. Tell stories of the past through interviews, show snapshots of the present, do something together to reflect what can be done in the future.
c) Reach and Touch Lithuanians in LT and abroad: every trip will be accompanied by a robust PR campaign: 20min or 40min series instalment will be aired on Lithuanian TV and online. Video snippets, interviews and other audiovisuals on social media. Press and articles for press and social media channels. 1 single or EP, born out of musical collaboration + music video.
*All materials will be produced and communications effected taking into consideration: a) local Lithuanian audiences b) local diaspora we are visiting c) the global diaspora
** Foreseen destinations: North America (Canada/US), South America, South Africa, Israel, Europe (England, Ireland, Germany France, Spain…), Russia, Asia +immersion into minority groups in LT
This initiative will be unique, dynamic, and authentic only if each community is allowed to form, fund, and curate their own cultural exchange trip. It will rely on:
a) Crowd-funding: We seek significant funding from a broad group of diverse donors from across the global Lithuanian diaspora. Achieving broad funding will grant independence. Funding will be transparently collected for the central backbone of operations, as well as each individual trip.
b) Crowd-sourcing: The global diaspora, as well as the individual communities, will be responsible for each trip. They will set the agenda, suggest stops, activities and provide soft assets, advice, and other support. From the start we aim to create an initiative that is inclusive, promotes volunteering and involvement from many different stakeholders.
A movement with a lean, but solid backbone:
“ToBeLT” should have a small office (2-3 people) dedicated to community management, coordination with partners and stakeholders to achieve political goals, and organisation of the individual trips. Most functions such as PR, audio-visual production, digital marketing, and so on will be sourced to experienced parties. There will be board of 3-5 trustees, who meet regularly to oversee, assess, and aid the project.
We aim to create an initiative that is inclusive, promotes volunteering and involvement from many different stakeholders.
Official ToBeLT website: http://www.tobe.lt
Official ToBeLT Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ToBeLithuanian/
Press and Media:
To Be LT: Kartu Amerikoje – Film Premiere (Alfa.lt – Lithuanian news portal)
To Be LT: Kartu Amerikoje at Power Hit Radio (Radio station in Lithuania)
About “To Be LT” project in “Draugas” Newspaper (Draugas – Lithuanian newspaper published for Lithuanians living in diaspora)
YOU ARE WELCOME TO GET INVOLVED, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH:
ToBeLT Project coordination and management: Agnė Vertelkaitė // firstname.lastname@example.org
General inquiries: Justina Bubulytė // email@example.com +370 64022127
Press and media inquiries: Greta Ašmantaitė // firstname.lastname@example.org