Troll_Illu_1One day, a researcher asked an old man what spontaneously came to mind with the concepts of intelligence, reason, perception, utility, reality, illusion, belief, education and logic.

Unbenannt-17-1024x704The old boy lent forward on his chest and muttered: “You can harp on for hours, trying to persuade people that they are absolutely not on a small, peaceful and motionless strip of land, but that at this very moment they are hurtling towards the sun at a truly dizzying speed; you can teach them at school, make them learn it by heart, you can even convince them that’s how things are, but it will not stop them from firmly believing that at this precise moment the sun is calmly rising over this small strip of peaceful and motionless land.’

So much for the concepts of intelligence, reason, perception, utility, reality, illusion, belief, education and logic.

Translation: Jackie Dobble




The exhibited object has been irreversibly consumed

bv1-300x300In Iceland, the forests are too few to camouflage the rubbish, which is why farm machinery, cars and other old junk generally lie rusting at the back of houses.

Sometimes you can find real museum pieces, such as an only Rafha range with beautiful spirals that used to be a glowing red.  There are certainly plenty of people who hold onto things, like the employees of the Seyðisfjörður Technical museum. But many Icelanders have no real rapport with old objects and are sceptical about upcycling objects that have become ‘worthless’.

Ásgeir Jón Emilsson (Geiri): chairs created with aldoses

Nevertheless, the practice of recycling is progressively catching on in Iceland and a few towns are very seriously looking at recycling and converting household waste.  For decades, Ásgeir Jón Emilsson (1931-1999), nicknamed Geiri, a fisherman and artist in Seyðisfjörður, had his own system of recycling. He produced picture frames with cigarette packets and his tools transformed tin cans into diaphanous chairs.

House of Geiri in Seyðisfjörður

It is highly unlikely that Geiri followed statutory regulations for recycling waste.  This obstinate artist had little respect for civil servants or police officers whom he treated like beings from another solar system. Geiri didn’t have an easy life.  The youngest of 12 siblings, he was born blind in one eye and deaf in one ear.  The catalogue published to coincide with an exhibition of his works, by the Skaftfell arts centre in Seyðisfjörður described him as charismatic and serious and always championed the disadvantaged. The Gerahuis, this self-taught artist’s brightly coloured house, can be visited on a visit to Seyðisfjörður.

Smámunasafn Sverris Hermannssonar

Unlike Geiri, Sverrir Hermannsson (1928-2008), originally from Akureyri, was unable to destroy even the lowliest of everyday objects. This carpenter by trade kept each nail and each hammer that ever came into his hands.  For example, despite the nail being rusty and bent after pulling out of the wood when renovating the Nonni house, Sverrir was incapable of throwing it away.   And Sverrir was involved in renovating many a historic building.

Smámunasafn Sverris Hermannssonar

When his house in Akureyri was on the point overflowing, Sverrir transformed his passion into a public collection.   To the south of the Eyjafjord, in the Smámunasafn Sverris Hermannssonar or “Museum of small things,” his passion for collecting is documented with great aesthetic sensitivity. While the keys, door handles and drill bits all look somewhat similar, their placement obeys a carefully considered, hidden order that has been lovingly explained.

‘People think that I must be mad … I haven’t thrown away a single pencil since my apprenticeship in 1946 … They see me as eccentric … Isn’t that strange!’ The visitor, who at the beginning can only see grotesque, oppressive clutter of an impulsive hoarder, is gradually won over by the cheerful serenity with which Sverrir presents his hobby.    You then find yourself marvelling at an old pen holder, which a mouse has dragged into its nest and gnawed a bit, before changing its mind.

So what can we do with an empty can, that supposedly technically outdated Rafha range, and what should we do with last century’s fishing tackle? Over the long-term, museums and art centre won’t solve the problem of recycling alone.  Visitors also have to make an effort.

In Grenivík, right at the end of Eyjafjord, in a little fishing village, there is a wooden hut that was previously used to hang up the bait on longlines and salt the catch.  Tools, fishing lines, working clothes and containers are exhibited.  Dried fish hang from the ceiling on green straps.  It’s a public holiday and at the entrance they are giving away dried fish with butter.    These are those fibrous strips commonly sold in preprepared packs.

Dull cries ring out in front of the cabin.  A few Icelanders are trying to shred a large fish.  It requires a certain amount of strength to grind down and wear away this dry, brittle mass.  So much so that the hammer head flies off and just misses the head of an bystander.  Finally, broken up and reduced to fibres, the fish yields and the distribution begins.

Relicts in front of Útgerdarminjasafnid

While I am still chewing, I discover a green strap close to a rock that was used as an anvil.  A suspicion flies through my head, which is confirmed in the hut: the hammer was a museum piece, but so was the fish.  I swallow – the exhibited object has been irreversibly consumed.  I glance at the circle of eaters and wonder to myself if the Icelanders are taking the issue of recycling just a little too seriously?

Translation: Jackie Dobble

deDas Exponat ist unwiederbringlich verzehrt

frL´objet exposé est consommé sans retour

The baker

troll-imadeWEB-1Every morning, the men but also a few women used to philosophise on the bench, while people arriving at the East train station hurried to catch their bus and get to work or school on time.   The workplace of the men and women on the bench outside the East station was this bench.  This was a good thing because they therefore saved the money for the fare to take a transport mode which in this country passes as public.

In this country, we don’t let a passenger board just because he promises the bus driver that a lady is waiting for him at his destination and she will pay his fare, even though he knows very well that no such lady is waiting.  This was how a passenger, who was anything but blind travelled across the whole country, visiting Heimaey in the islands and Vestmann and was very surprised when he was refused access on finally opting to take a plane to explore his next destination.  The prospect of a lady waiting for him to pay his fare was insufficient.

Tryggvi wanted to know what I thought of this and was surprised to hear me say that it made no difference if a bus crossed the country with ten seats free instead of eleven.  In return, I was also surprised as I didn’t know Tryggvi was like that.  I only understood better when he explained that the boy in question was only nine at the time.   I hadn’t guessed that this fraudster whom the bus driver had allowed to climb on board was only nine years old, because at nine, most children would say ‘mother’, ‘my aunt’, ‘my grandmother’ or ‘my sister’ but never ‘Kona’: ‘a lady’.  Nine-year old Icelanders don’t therefore say mother, aunt, grandmother or sister, they say ‘a lady’.  And occasionally at this age some of them are already  Landshornaflakkari , vagrants.

The country where alcoholic men and women provide sustenance for the needy on a bench in front of the East station, is another country.  In this country, children would say mother, aunt, grandmother, sister or something similar, if in panic they have forgotten their ticket or simply the truth.  However, this won’t help them to get to class to write the terrifying test which represents their last chance to move up to the next class.  No, it won’t help them at all.  Whether the boy had been terrified by this important test to the point of forgetting his season ticket, or even if he played by the rules and preferred asking the driver if he could travel this time without his season ticket rather than risk being called a cheat; none of that would help him.  And if the bus driver waited, less than 50 cm from the stop, while the traffic lights changed from red to amber, then to green, this would not help him either: for him the door would stay closed.  His imploring bangs on the windows could have been heard, but his plea would have remained without response.   Bus drivers also have the right to exercise their authority.  Just like in this country.

Fortunately, not far from the East train station, is a ‘Good Bakery’ run by a lady baker.  Customers love this place, since the proprietor makes her pastries herself and sells Russian cakes or Apfelstrudel in the Turkish style along with the standard industrial pastries like the poppy seed spirals, etc. For workers, there are the homemade soliankas, at prices they can afford.  On the window of the bakery, the proprietor used to write phases visible from afar.  For example, I noticed the following sentence, when I was already sitting on the bus.

We can build beautiful things, even with with stones that lie in our path.

The following morning, I asked the proprietor, who already spoke German well, who it was that wrote this phase.  She gave me an astonished look and told me that it came from Goethe.  Each weekend she wrote a phrase on the shop window and rubbed it out on Monday, as she was cleaning the panes.  But the day before, she had arrived too late to clean the panes.


After this, she always wrote the name of the author under the phrase, since she had registered that in this country, we are interested in the who and not in the what.  And so we saw one phrase after another appear:

Be the change that you wish to see in the world

Week after week, always a different sentence.  And the author’s name was always under the phrase.  Until one day, the bakery window was decorated with a phrase bereft of its author:

Without love
Any sacrifice is a burden
Any music is but noise
And any dance tiring

She waited for my question for four days, then she couldn’t hold back.  As she placed my Russian cakes in their bag, she asked me as if to pass time, whether I was interested in the name of the author of this phrase.   The lack of a name was intentional then.  But what she didn’t know was that she had chosen the wrong phrase for her ruse, which I thwarted by answering:  ‘Yes, but I have known his name for a long time.’

Since then, no names are provided under the phrases. As the philosopher Daniel-Pascal Zorn rightly said:

If you believe in philosophers, you have learnt nothing from them.

Wittgenstein-300x225And since any gift should be followed by a return gift, I gave the baker a phrase which she noted and which took its place in the bakery window for an entire week.  Without giving a name.  Since what should we think of a what that needs a who to be a what?  If a what owes his survival not to himself, but first of all to a who, what is the point of his survival?

The sting in the tail: The Good Bakery is just opposite a school.  Children gladly shop at the bakery, or they read the phrases from the bus stop opposite, while waiting for the bus that will take them to their tests.  The schools in this country don’t teach philosophy.  Philosophy comes up to the school, but has no wish to enter.  It is happy to be in front of the door, and also, so to speak, in the street.

At the East train station in Munich, the needy appreciate being close to charitable men and women who use a bench as their workplace The needy always drag a little trolley on wheels behind them and rummage through the rubbish bin next to the bench with long sticks to see if they can perhaps still find a little gem waiting to be saved, such as an empty beer bottle that some machines will exchange for a few coins.  Since the government introduced a social programme, which it named after the HRD of a large company, because he fulfilled the required qualities of disloyalty and favouritism, well after that time, the needy collect the returnable bottles in the rubbish bins.  And they always find what they are looking for, this is way they willingly come back, to the alcoholics.  The charitable men and women sitting on the bench see none of this.  They have more important things to do.  They have to philosophise.

And the nine-year old boy with his ladies?  All I know is that he must already be close to forty, if he is still alive and perhaps he can still read tales about his journeys.  In the archives of the Reykjavik newspapers.  Under the title:  Landshornaflakkari.

As the fisherman Stefán Hörður Grimsson said so well in his poem Orsök:

‘As absurd as it might sound, we should let any man assert that he knows himself, but to say the he knows another man is either impolite or polite as any civilised man who eats his food wisely knows.  ’

He was a fisherman poet.

Translation: Jackie Dobble

deDie Bäckersfrau

frLa boulangère

Speak loud and clear

troll-imadeWEB-1For thousands of years, every newborn baby, regardless of their day or place of birth, is able to understand any human language in a very short space of time, without any explanations from a teacher or complicated exercises.

Anyone who has ever been born, regardless of their day and place of birth, has just to hear grammatically correct sentences spoken, during the first fifteen minutes after their birth in a language that they have never heard, and after only fifteen minutes, all these newborn babies, regardless of their day and place of birth, recognise those grammatically correct sentences spoken in this unknown language.

I call this essential ability ‘efficient understanding’; without this, any representative understanding would be impossible and without representative understanding, a human would be perfectly incapable of identifying an apple as an apple and would therefore starve to death.

I must ask the reader to be very discreet about the fact that I am the kind of person who has lost this ability over time, as I have to admit shamefully that I am now more foolish than I was on the day I was born.

Basic principle of efficient understanding’ [“Die Entwicklung des Gehirns und seine Risiken”, Mrs. Dr. Kipp, University Saarland, 2006]

The meaning of a sentence is its use. This would imply that the designated thing be described, in other words, this reference object, to which the identifier, (the word), is attached, necessarily requires a specific representation to be associated with it; yet if different representations were linked to this reference object, we might create an identifier devoid of an identified thing, which raises the question of why this identifier was created in the first place.

Translation: Jackie Dobble

deSprich laut und deutlich

frParle haut et fort

isTala hátt og snjállt

Introduction to Territorial Intelligence

GirardotThe fundamental principles of territorial intelligence were established by the Catalyse method of assessment and observation and is organised around three areas:

  • Consider the needs expressed by the communities concerned as the starting point for developing action projects.
  • Seek participation that unites all intelligences, elicit cooperation of wills and energies, and encourage people to work together to transcend boundaries, divisions and tensions.
  • Scientific instrumentation. TIC enables stakeholders to work in a network despite the distance and differences in sectors. The use of scientific tools such as multi-criteria analysis and spatial representation provide the distance needed to help generate new projects. These tools will then be useful for stakeholders to pitch their projects, and subsequently to manage and assess their actions. They will also be able to observe their territory and have a forward-looking vision.

At the time, as is still often the case, the projects’ success were based on stakeholder skills or – worse still – projects were designed by managers who were too often far removed from the theatre of operations. This focus on needs quickly proved to be consistent with the conceptual framework of sustainable development. Catalyse then quickly addressed the fears of stakeholders and users by three ethical principles: privacy, cooperation and involvement.

Mosaïque, the collaborative project of the Departement of Doubs, which saw the development of Catalyse by researchers and stakeholders, was one of the 40 pilot schemes of 3rd European programme to combat poverty, this was then followed by Horizon, the first European programme for economic and social inclusion. Mosaïque was selected after a local assessment of the RMI (Guaranteed Minimum Income) demonstrated the complex and diverse needs of RMI beneficiaries in the context of the socio-economic crisis of the 1980s. The needs outstripped the welfare state’s social service schemes and assumed the decompartmentalisation of social service programmes and the involvement of both public and private stakeholders. Mosaïque helped almost 3,000 marginalised people, and delivered good results for economic and social inclusion. It supported many initiatives in the areas of social services, housing, preventive health care and social protection as well as mutual support, micro-credit, and above all economic and social inclusion networks. The health card, which later became the Universal Health Insurance, is one of them. It has been emulated around Europe such as in Charleroi, Belgium. Mosaïque also originally supported les Jardins de Cocagne, which demonstrates how it factored in the ecological dimension at the same time as helping society’s most marginalised people to find employment. Regular assessment of Mosaïque, at the European Commission level, with the support of the national assessors, has demonstrated the importance of social and economic inclusion for young people, workers without qualification, older and rural workers. From 1991 Mosaïque coordinated with other European pilot schemes and the first employment support centres (mainly in Huelva, Charleroi, Auxerre, Perigueux), the first European Network of Economic and Social Inclusion (REIES) which convinced the European Commission to broaden the theme of poverty to include economic and social inclusion, as part of the Horizon programme.
As part of REIES, scientific ambitions emerged which would subsequently lead to territorial intelligence, and assessments and observations were carried out on many innovative initiatives, including:

  • A social Map, a Local Employment Observatory and assessment of the Urban project ” Huelva acción” in Huelva (Spain)
  • Assessment of the charity shops of the Foundation Abbe Pierre and the Haltes des Amis de la Rue
  • Assessment of the Mission Régionale de l’Emploi de Charleroi (Belgium) (Regional employment support centre), the Employer group for employment support, the Qualification de Pontarlier and the employment support centre in Yonne
  • Preliminary audit for the Departmental Plan for employment support in Doubs
  • National Network of migration observatories, Accem (Spain)
  • Network of regional observatories for implementing the minimum income in Portugal

In 1998, the concept of territorial intelligence stated its scientific ambition to gather together “all the multi-disciplinary knowledge that helps understand territorial structures and dynamics and also aims to be a tool for sustainable development professionals in territories”. The research work undertaken then led to the creation of the European Network of Territorial Intelligence in 2002 which brought together research teams and stakeholders in different territories, and then to the European scientific coordination of the European Network of Territorial Intelligence (caENTI) for the 6th Framework Programme of Research and Technological Development of the European Union, from 2006 to 2009.

The Catalyse tools have evolved a great deal thanks to CaENTI’s scientific research in the fields of cooperative territorial observation and participatory governance.

Beyond identifying opportunities and technical constraints that it encounters at the local level (especially at the sub-municipality or district level), territorial observation has proved itself as a meta-method for integrating and analysing information from local government areas. Its objectives are no longer restricted to helping policy makers make decisions, but also to become an information tool accessible to all with the goal of improving participation.

Governance is also important, particular at the level of the territory (local government area), for a cooperative sustainable development process to foster the involvement of the community as a whole, in order to resolve a tangible problem in a given time. Territorial intelligence has distanced itself from the concept of economic intelligence, which is driven solely by economic and financial principles. Clearly focussed on sustainable development, territorial intelligence has added new ethical principles for participatory governance: co-construction, learning, solidarity, rationality, transparency, prevention and precaution.

CaENTI led to the creation and integration of a European network that has grown from fifteen members in 2006 to about fifty partners in 2009, both in Europe and the rest of the world. After having replied to several large scale European programmes that addressed major social issues, the network was awarded an international coordination role: “International Network of Territorial Intelligence” (INTI), with a strong participation from Latin America and now North African countries. Contacts in Asia and North America are also bearing fruit, both with research teams and local initiatives.

Faced with social issues exacerbated by the economic crisis of 2008 in which the depletion of fossil energies and environmental disruption are taking an ever larger place, territorial intelligence has turned its attention to making tangible progress toward sustainable development. How can we tangibly combine the economic, social and environmental objectives of sustainable development at the local government level? What processes are needed for a territory to engineer a socio-ecological transition towards sustainable development and how much time will it take? How can we strengthen the resilience of a territory against economic, social, cultural and environmental risks? Socio-ecological transition, inherent changes in individual behaviour, territorial resilience, lateral governance are the new key concepts which have significantly influenced proposals for European projects and which have become major communication goals in the INTI network’s international conferences and seminars: “Social and ecological innovation” (Strasbourg, France, September 2010), “The sustainable economy within the new culture of development” (Liege, Belgium, September 2011), “Intelligence, Communication, and territorial engineering” (Gatineau, Quebec, October 2011), “Vulnerabilities and resilience between local and global” ( Salerno-Caserta, Italy, June 2012), “Territorial Intelligence and globalisation. Tensions, transition and transformation” (LaPlata, Argentina, October 2012), “Territorial intelligence, socio-ecological transition and territorial resilience” (Besancon and Dijon, France, May 2013), “Social Innovation and new modes of governance for ecological transition” (Huelva, Spain, November 2013) and “Towards a sustainable intelligence of territories: the scales of the resilience” Roscoff, May 2014.

As part of scientific events, territorial intelligence encounters and is also interested in a range of new concepts aimed at contributing to sustainable development such as assemblies, capabilities, common property, environmental justice, circular economy, etc., with which it seeks a convergence within a new development model based on human behaviour, and geared to the search for the well being of each and every person. It also produces new concepts such as adding value to the land (terroir) and the quality of the territory.

The aim is to let each local community focus on sustainable development by combining tangible social cohesion, cultural diversity, environmental protection and economic efficiency.

Of course these new directions are also reflected by new initiatives:

  • Observatory for socio-ecological transition in Franche-Comte
  • Fountaines d’Ouches, a district in transition, Dijon, France
  • Observatory for territorial intelligence and transformation in Minas, Uruguay
  • Integrated management programme to deal with climate change in LaPlata, Argentina
  • Observatory to enhance the territory of the Province of Ouarzazate, Morocco
  • Audit on the quality of the territory of Bejaia, Algeria
  • The role of women in grass root initiatives and struggles to improve the quality of environmental, social and economic life (Argentina, Franche-Comte, Guadeloupe)

Thus INTI has improved the collaborative research project of territorial intelligence by replying to calls for projects and by participating in local initiatives. This project, updated with each scientific event, proposes four research areas and two interdisciplinary themes:

    • Territories are links between geographical areas and communities in transition to sustainable development (University of Franche-Comte, France)
    • Information, communication and knowledge in an alternative culture of development guided by the well-being of each and every person (University of Franche-Comte, France)
    • A governance agenda that organises structural reforms and initiatives for socio-ecological transition (University of Huelva, Spain)
    • Models and observation systems for sustainable territorial development (University of Liege, Belgium)
    • Territorial vulnerability, vulnerable populations and territorial resilience (University of Rennes, France)
    • Gender and sustainable territorial development (University of Salerno, Italy)

Over three sections, this special issue will present the conceptual contributions in the different research areas of territorial intelligence, major initiatives, and new contributions. Our goal is to increase the awareness of policy makers to these action research fields.

Houda Neffati og Jean Jacques Girardot

Translator: Jackie Dobble

frIntroduction à líntelligence territoriale