How a Former Refugee Revives a Russian Village Using Knowledge of Conflict Studies and Principles of Cultural Policy

How a Former Refugee Revives a Russian Village Using Knowledge of Conflict Management and Principles of Cultural Policy

“A Muscovite would rather understand a New Yorker than a resident of the village of Tyukovka - the gap between megacities and the rest of the country is so strong in Russia. When I returned here, every time outside the Moscow Ring Road I had the feeling that everything was dying, ”recalls Ekaterina Zatuliveter. Today she is a social entrepreneur, author of projects "Alturism", agency for the development of small areas "Purpose 11", online course "Nezavalinka". But the previous chapter of her biography is more like a movie.

In 1992, the Zatuliveter family fled from Kabardino-Balkaria, where the riots were taking place, to the Stavropol Territory. Ekaterina will forever remember how in one day she became an enemy for yesterday's friends, and when she grew up, she took up the study of conflict management at the Faculty of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University, and then at Bradford University in the UK. She wrote her thesis and worked as an assistant to a member of the House of Commons in Parliament, but in 2010 intelligence suspected her of espionage. Later, Ekaterina Zatuliveter became the first to win a trial against the British intelligence service MI-8. But she didn't stay in London.

Ekaterina returned to Russia and began to think about what to devote herself to. “Money for the sake of money is not my story. And in charity, you have to constantly adjust to what the situation will be tomorrow, ”says Zatuliveter. In 2014, she came across a video about social entrepreneurship - an approach that states: you can earn income from business and at the same time find solutions to important social problems. Dying villages became such a problem for Catherine: “The gap [in the development of different territories] was felt even in Moscow. At some point it became clear to me: either I was doing something about it, or I had to leave. When cities grow and everything else dies, this is not the future I want for my country. "

How Alturism appeared

The key to the solution was found in the cases of the UN and the OSCE, which Ekaterina met during the course of conflict resolution and later, while working in the British parliament: “For example, two tribes are at war, then a peace treaty is concluded. But by itself, it does not change anything, it simply means that both sides are weak enough and cannot continue to fight. For peace to emerge, it is necessary to return to the local residents a sense of belonging to their land. " Territories fall into desolation when the people living on them treat them like strangers, wait for someone else to come and fix everything. But if you help them to unite efforts, the feeling of alienation can be overcome: “At some point, those who believed that nothing could be changed, looking at the activists, see: if you unite, you can create the place in which you want to live.” It remained to figure out how to persuade the activists to come to the provinces, what product to offer them and how to make money on it.

Ekaterina did not know where to start, but she told all her acquaintances about her “crazy idea to save the Russian village”, and they retold it to their acquaintances and acquaintances of acquaintances. In the winter of 2015, a call rang - on the other end there was a married couple from Tutaev, a tiny and very beautiful ancient Trans-Volga town in the Yaroslavl region. “They said: let's try. I immediately went to them, explained the concept, ”recalls Zatuliveter. The first "investment" in "Alturism" was 800 rubles for a ticket to Yaroslavl. After the conversation, Ekaterina understood: a trip to the outback is the product for which people will pay. This is how Alturizm appeared - a travel agency during which you can relax in the village, get acquainted with local life and traditions, and at the same time do something useful - clear the territory, equip a dam, pier or bridge, restore a burned down house, preserve ancient household items , and at the same time rally local residents.

The project started out as a Facebook page that posted travel announcements that responded to both those wishing to travel and those seeking change in their hometown or village. Their organization did not require any investments: the participants immediately paid all expenses. True, several trips that year did not take place: the required number of applicants was not gathered. Then the site appeared. No promotion tools were required, the audience found Zatuliveter's trips themselves through word of mouth.

Feeling something more for the price of a ticket to Paris

A trip for two or three days in Central Russia costs about 20,000 rubles - the price includes everything except train tickets. The group has an average of 4–8 people. The basic rule is that local residents provide transport, food and lodging for Alturism, so they have the opportunity to receive guests and earn money. Someone meets the group at the station, someone organizes breakfasts, lunches and dinners and provides guest rooms.

Alturizm has minimum requirements for the quality of services, the compliance with which is checked during “reconnaissance” trips. “There are world-class examples - for example, the tower in Astashovo. I like the village of Przhevalskoye in the Smolensk region, the restored Romanovo house in Tutaev. In private houses it happens in different ways: somewhere more modest, somewhere richer, but when you arrive, the stove burns, you are poured a drink, brewed right there, people gather with whom you are interested, the rest does not matter, "Zatuliveter said. ...

There are no tourists in Alturism: “We build relationships with local residents in such a way that they understand our concept. They are not visited by tourists, but by guests, they come not to use, but to support. This changes the attitude. We are greeted as their friends, they do as they would do for themselves, ”says the founder of the project.

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