Dialogue #2 - Alexandra Hvalgren, Visionsfonden

Welcome to this next episode of Dialogue with This Is Helsingborg, a video series where I chat with different people from around the city about projects, ideas, initiatives but mostly about community engagement. In this episode, I speak with Alexandra Hvalgren of Visionsfonden about how Sweden's only such community fund works and what goes on behind the scenes!

The next deadlines for Visionsfonden are February 21, August 15 and October 31. You can read more here on our website. Find them on Facebook and Instagram here.


If you prefer reading the interview, here is the full transcript:

Parul - So it's been great to see that, every time I see the list of people who got it, there's more international names and it's really really nice to see that people are finally trying and getting it.

Alexandra - Yeah and that has been so important to me that this is a fund for everyone in Helsingborg, not a selective part of the city who has a background in specific departments or sectors. You don't have to have any experience to do this. You just have to have that new way of seeing the city.

Parul - Hi and welcome to this next episode of dialogue with This is Helsingborg. This is a video series where I talk to people from across the city running projects, initiatives, community engagement ideas and innovation. I would have loved to do this in real life but if anything 2020 has taught us, it is that to improvise.

So I'm here sitting with my coffee, well my tea and I'm very excited to have this conversation with Alexandra Hvalgren from Visionsfonden. I'm sure most of you already met her or know of her or have seen her. Alexandra is the idea coach and the facilitator at Visionsfonden, also called the Vision Fund.

Thank you Alexandra for being here, very excited for this conversation.

Alexandra - Thank you that was an amazing presentation. I never had and it's nice people talk about me and I'm also drinking tea, so we have that in common too.

Parul - So my first question would be what is Vision in the Vision Fund?

Alexandra - That's a great question to start with. Okay in 2012, a new journey began for the city of Helsingborg because then everyone who works within the city, were asked to do some kind of work about a greater vision for the city and its future.

And in 2014, it was set so we now have a vision it's called Vision Helsingborg 2035. And if I could sum it up it's about that the city should be more equal, it should be more creative you should be more global but it should also be more sustainable. It's huge big words that you can use them almost anywhere and any how.

But it's a beautiful picture to see a city grow into a much more modern sustainable way of handling all of the challenges that we are seeing today so Visionsfonden has been active for almost eight years now.

Parul - Wow!

Alexandra - And granted over 120 projects and usually it's always two people working with the same projects and so we had a lot of people passing by the Vision fund and the vision.

Parul - Wow, This is Helsingborg is existent because of the Vision fund and I have to thank you and the municipality for this journey that I've had in the last one year. But what kind of projects, have you seen a change in the kind of projects from the beginning eight years to now? I mean what is that journey been like?

Alexandra - Absolutely. If it's something that we know it is that the fund is really sensitive to trends and what's happening in society. In 2014, it was a completely different wind in politics and in the culture sector. And also when it comes to media and press we were not using Instagram and Facebook like the way we're doing today.

So in the beginning, it was mostly projects that was very linked to culture like theaters, documentary films, books and things like that but as the funds grow and it's word of mouth, it's started to be more innovative projects, it was a bit more helping refugees to build their own bike and it began to be a bit more about integration. We've also seen that it has been a lot of about um how do you say this in English? Psykisk ohälsa?

Parul - Mental Health.

Alexandra - Mental health, thank you. We saw that a lot in 2016-2017 and last year was a big smash in the face for everyone. And then we opened up the fund towards if you had a project that could help the Corona crisis somehow in Helsingborg you can get funding in a lot shorter time that we usually do and then we got amazing projects.

For example, we have this mobile sound gallery. The project is not done yet because they're walking around in elderly homes. It's a mobile gallery to show sound, artistic sound music which is a really really small genre in the artistic field in Sweden, and they're doing that outside just to give them something.

So it's all about projects that makes the society better, and that is creative and is creating something new that is the most important thing, and then it could be in any sector.

Parul - Yeah I mean it's amazing when I look through the kind of projects that have happened over the last few years. You've got tech and innovation and on the other hand, like you said there's culture, here's books. I remember there was the skating tours in the city.

Alexandra - Yeah yeah I mean it's just so amazing.

Parul - So what happens behind the scenes, when you get projects what is it like? Is it the same jury every time or how does that work?