Veronika Westerling and Patrik Andersson stand outside their house with their children Alma (3) and Malte (2). Veronika and Patrik are both from a part of Älvdalen called Brunnsberg and recently moved into Veronika’s grandmothers old house. Patrik’s grandmother was a close friend to Veronikas grandmother as they grew up. Their older sisters were best friends too and their mothers were colleagues and friends. Veronika and Patrik are very interested in traditions. Apart form speaking Älvdalska, Veronika makes traditional clothing. She also has a working horse that she takes on sleigh rides along with Patrik and a group of like-minded friends. Patrik has a rather specific and traditional profession - he makes ‘gärdsgårds’ - traditional wooden roundpole fences. Roundpole fences were traditionally used to fence off animals rather than marking property boundaries.
The isolated valley of Älvdalen ('River Valley'), in Dalarna, central Sweden, is by no means stereotypically Scandinavian. Both landscape and lifestyle seem to have more in common with a nostalgic 1950s vision of the United States, where hillbilly meets rock-and-roll.
This project focuses on the relationship between generations in a changing social climate. Some 3,000 people in Älvdalen speak Älvdalska (Elfdalian) - an ancient language with strong links to Old Norse, the language once spoken by the Vikings - but only about 45 of these are teenagers. The community is dealing with the threat of the extinction of Älvdalska in an unusual way. Knowing that the key to revitalization is to encourage a new generation of speakers, local authorities in Älvdalen give grants of 6,000 kronor (about €730) to young school-leavers who sign a contract obliging them to 'actively try to use the language at all times possible'.