Altai Mir University initiatives are structured to support local efforts.
- Our primary initiative, as of November 2007, is to support the surveying and registration of tracts of indigenous communal and ancestral lands before the window of opportunity closes in 2010. Indigenous Altai people are now a minority in their own ancestral territory, and there does not appear to be the political will to ensure access to the lands necessary to sustain their culture. Instead, prime lands are already being sold off to the highest bidders, who are usually tourism development firms from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Novosibirsk. Although education in both directions is our preferred mode of involvement, the urgency of this particular situation led to direct leadership support and financial investment in the creation of land trusts.
- The seminal initiative, begun in 2005, was a Clean-Up
and environmental education program for the
Mt. Belukha region, which is increasingly inundated with trekkers’ garbage.
- Sergey Shafarenko and Lena Lebedeva of the World Wildlife Fund - Russia,
- Valery Yakubovsky of the Republic of Altai Mountain Rescue Service,
- Igor Sailankin, director of the Belukha National Park administration, and
- Galina Lebedeva of Vuisotnik Tourist Base.
WWF-Ru made a year-long effort to bring together all the stakeholders
to make a comprehensive plan, with moderate success. However, the result (aside from the
actual, successful clean-up efforts), was the realization of the need for organized, collaborative,
on-going planning communication, not only regarding Mt. Belukha, but to support any development
effort in the region. Out of this need, Altai Mir University emerged.
- Altai Mir University fostered the development of leadership skills in Altai with two international programs in 2007. We were the primary sponsor for the First “EARTH CHILDREN” International Youth Festival for Social Creativity, bringing several Native Americans and a mixed Jewish/Arab Israeli delegation to Altai for two weeks in July. The project was initiated by the Siberian Center for Eurasian Projects; and co-sponsored by Altai Books, the Government of Altai Republic, the Galactic Research Institute of the Foundation for the Law of Time, the Authors and Publicists International Association, and the Planet 3000 team in Altai.
- We also facilitated the participation of the first specifically indigenous delegation to the Library of Congress Open World exchange program. Four young Altai leaders were hosted in the Indian Nations of the American Southwest by Cherokee citizen Jonathan Hook, as organized by the National Peace Foundation.
- The first Altai Mir University leadership development initiative was an international “Peace-Mapping Summit” in July
2006 with sponsorship from Vuisotnik Tourist Base, using
Open Space Technology
format. We included educational materials on how to organize Open Space Technology events, which are extremely powerful tools for bringing together diverse groups to find effective, action-based solutions.
- This was followed in August/September 2006 with an international “Fact-Finding Mission” in collaboration with Takeshi Utsumi of Global
University Systems and Linda Hawkin Israel of MAMAs, with fantastic support by Marina Tyasto
of Siberian Academy for Public Administration and Lyudmila Komkova of the Russian NGO
“Connect.” Participants included top-level educators, municipal administrators,
regional cabinet ministers, hospital directors, communication specialists, cultural and
environmental NGOs, and citizen activists. Primary funding was provided by Eurasia Foundation.
- With the major involvement of Marina Tyasto of the Siberian Academy for Public Administration, we followed up on the Fact-Finding Mission with two interregional Open Space strategic planning conferences. In Gorno-Altaisk, the “Sustainable Communication System in Altai Republic” conference brought together about 80 participants from government, education/universities, public health, NGOs, environmental and cultural groups, and business. In Novosibirsk, the “Leadership Role of Universities in the Development of Altai Republic” conference facilitated by Marina Tyasto brought together about 25 participants. Both conferences were also sponsored by Gorno-Altaisk State University, Novosibirsk State Medical University, and Russian NGO “Connect.”